luxury blog

luxury

Bottega Veneta Photographs Culture in Shanghai

Bottega Veneta Photographs Culture in Shanghai
Photo courtesy of Bottega Veneta

Bottega Veneta may be best known for its sumptuous woven leather goods, but the Italian label is quickly establishing itself among art connoisseurs. Five art exhibitions have already been produced by the brand out of the second-floor gallery space of its Yifeng Galleria boutique in Shanghai, and earlier this summer it unveiled its sixth: A collection of photography by seven artists entitled “Pleasures of the Imagination.”

“I’m delighted with the latest exhibition and hope our clients find it inspiring,” says Bottega Veneta creative director Tomas Maier. “Photography is one of my passions, so I’m particularly pleased with how well these exhibitions have been received by everyone who has visited.”

Following shows that have examined the art of the portrait, objects of everyday life and China’s heritage, “Pleasures of the Imagination” investigates how the seven participating artists interpret modern Chinese life and culture. And while Bottega Veneta ultimately hopes to foster the next generation of artists, it also seems to be strategically differentiating itself from its contemporaries. The shopping experience offered in Shanghai, coupled with a chance to peruse a culturally relevant compilation of esteemed local talent, demonstrates the brand’s understanding of a discerning customer that appreciates quality, craftsmanship and creativity in art as well as fashion.

“Our clients have high expectations and our goal is not to just meet those expectations, but to surpass them,” says president and CEO Marco Bizzarri. “I think we have managed to give them something they truly do not get anywhere else, but most importantly, something they appreciate on a personal level.”

While we’re hoping plans for stateside shows are in the works, it’s hard not to be excited by this thoughtfully holistic interpretation of luxury shopping. Through September; 86-21/5306-7650; bottegaveneta.com.

Six Senses Launches Yoga Programs Worldwide

Six Senses Launches Yoga Programs Worldwide
Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas

While it might seem as though everyone is in a yoga class at this point, doing it and truly feeling connected to it are two very different things. Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, which recently launched yogic programs at its properties worldwide, prefers the latter approach.

“We wanted to be able to deliver not only general yoga but targeted programs, as yoga has so much more depth to it,” says Anna Bjurstam, vice president of spa and wellness.

Offered at Six Senses properties including Zighy Bay in Oman and at its spas in hotels like Soneva Fushi in the Maldives and Puntacana Resort & Club in the Dominican Republic, the lineups are geared toward all levels. Mark Sands, area director for Asia and formerly with the Ayurveda resort Ananda in the Himalayas, created the program, pulling in yoga expert Dorelal Singh, Six Senses corporate yoga teacher, for further development. Instructors must have a solid background in hatha yoga and are rigorously assessed to assure high performance.

Yoga’s benefits—from improving mood to lowering stress to upping brain function—are kept top of mind. Discover Yoga is for the newbie, focusing on private sessions that illustrate basic principles and how to engage the body in a variety of poses. Hatha instruction is built around an easy flow of asanas (postures), and Yogic Detox speaks to the experienced yogi.

Going a step further, and piggybacking on the relaxation and calm that yoga can bring, Yogic Sleep (expected to launch later this year) will introduce guests to nidra, a practice that puts the body on the road to a deeply meditative state. Combined with breathing techniques and spa treatments, its goal is to improve sleep. We have a feeling the benefits won’t stop there. sixsenses.com.

Harrods Comes to Heathrow

Harrods Comes to Heathrow
Harrods

Chef-driven restaurants, in-terminal spas, quality shopping and blue-chip architecture and design are just a few of the ways airports have stepped up their game to become more than bland boxes of limbo—or, even worse, interminable entrapment.

Heathrow’s Terminal 2 in London has just upped the ante with the Harrods Fine Watch Room, which is curated by the iconic store’s fine-watch buying team and features more than 30 brands, including Montblanc, Longines, Rado, Baume & Mercier, Tag Heuer, Zenith, Maurice Lacroix, Frédérique Constant, Omega, Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC, Chanel, Hublot, Chopard and Tudor (launching in September).

Though it may be the first time Harrods has taken its timepiece department outside its Knightsbridge flagship, it has managed to translate all the key components of the experience to the 1,700-square-foot airport space. Outfitted with leather furniture, crystal chandeliers and limestone-mosaic, black-granite and gold-metallic details, it is an excellent way to help get you where you’re going on time—and in style. 44-20/8976-7755; heathrowairport.com.

Spirit to Sip: Monkey 47 Dry Gin

Spirit to Sip: Monkey 47 Dry Gin
Sidney Frank Importing

Ask Alexander Stein, founder of Black Forest Distillers, why he chose to make Monkey 47—a dry gin named in honor of the number of handpicked ingredients used to make it—and he’ll tell you it’s because he thought he could do the spirit better. After years of testing 130 different distillations in a minimalist facility in Schwarzwald, Germany, Stein and his master distiller, Christoph Keller, have done just that.

While the European market has been lucky enough to enjoy the award-winning spirit since 2010, Monkey 47 only began arriving stateside this summer. The charming, 375-milliliter apothecary-style bottles are flying off the shelves at specialty liquor stores, and bartenders are hoarding their own stocks. It’s garnered such a dedicated following, in fact, that some consumers are collecting the metal rings around the small cork stopper as a clubby, in-the-know keepsake.

Why has it struck a chord? The distinctive use of regional Black Forest botanicals like lingonberries, spruce tips and acacia certainly contributes. But there’s also the pure molasses-alcohol backbone, sweeter than the typical neutral-grain spirit used in most gins; a unique percolation process, in which a basket of secret botanicals is suspended in the still during distillation; a mandatory maturation period of at least three months in traditional German earthenware containers; and a coarse-filtration process, which maintains the spirit’s prominently floral, peppery flavor and fragrance.

Given all that, we suggest drinking Monkey 47 as unadulterated as possible, like in a gin and tonic or a martini—or, for the truest fans, entirely neat. monkey47.com.

Restaurant Opening: Obicà Mozzarella Bar

Restaurant Opening: Obicà Mozzarella Bar
Photo courtesy of Evan Sung

When the Roman mozzarella-bar chain Obicà opened a café in 2008 in Midtown Manhattan (590 Madison Ave.), the crowds came quickly and have stayed ever since. While the atrium setting serves the eatery’s four signature varieties (classic bufala, smoked, burrata, burrata with black truffle), flown in twice a week from a small farm in Italy’s Campania region, the fast-dining-and-takeout format doesn’t lend itself to lingering.

That will change when the brand’s first New York restaurant (its 20th location worldwide) opens July 24 in the Flatiron District (928 Broadway; obika.com). The 120-seat outpost celebrates Obicà’s ten-year anniversary, with its star cheese highlighting dishes like thin-crust pizza topped with spicy sausage and oozing burrata or baked pasta binded with bufala. Umbrian executive chef Enzo Nero also offers cheese-free creations, such as a bone-in breaded veal cutlet with wild arugula and black cod with rosemary chickpea puree. 

Whatever the renditions, the real surprise might be the garlic-and-onion-free kitchen. Managing partner Raimondo Boggia, who oversees the cooking, talks here about his vision for the new space and why he serves Italian sans its two most prominent ingredients.

Q: What is the concept of the new restaurant?
A:
It’s contemporary Italian cuisine that’s simple. We want to stay away from overwhelming diners with too many flavors and we want to showcase the best ingredients, both local and from Italy. The produce is mostly organic and comes from farmers in the area, and everything else like the salami, olive oil, sea salt and pine nuts comes from Italy. We pride ourselves on making everything in-house, including the breads, pastas and gelatos.

Q: The café serves a small selection of wine. How does alcohol figure in here?
A:
It’s definitely something we are emphasizing more. We have 190 wines by the bottle and 16 by the glass from all the regions in Italy. They are from small, hard-to-find producers. There is also an extensive selection of cocktails.

Q: To the real question: What do you have against garlic and onions?
A:
The food is meant to be light and fresh and we want to let our superb ingredients shine. When we cook with garlic and onions, which do taste fantastic, there is a tendency to abuse them and use them to mask other flavors. They can weigh down dishes. Our goal was to let all of our other superb ingredients shine.

Q: But aren’t they essential to Italian cooking?
A:
Absolutely not. Italy has a variety of flavors that does not include garlic and onions. The country is like an artist who loves painting with two colors. That doesn’t mean he can’t have a picture without them.

Q: It’s hard to find a recipe for a basic tomato sauce without garlic. How do you make yours?
A:
Fresh Roma tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh organic basil and sea salt. It’s delicious—as good as my grandmother’s back in Italy.

Handbag to Hold: Rauwolf

American Designers: Rauwolf
Photo courtesy of Jens Mortensen

A veteran of the exotic-skins-centered brand Devi Kroell, Kristine Johannes moved away from animal materials when she introduced her own architectural collection, replacing leather with futuristic-looking mirrors and Plexiglas. From $1,190; rauwolfnyc.com.

A New Way to Stay at The Inn at Little Washington

A New Way to Stay at The Inn at Little Washington
Gordon Beall

The Inn at Little Washington, which opened in 1978 in Washington, Virginia, a 90-minute drive outside of D.C., was never conceived of as solely a cozy place to stay. Under the direction of chef and proprietor Patrick O’Connell, the 23-acre campus of gardens, greenhouses and well-appointed rooms was assembled with pieces of history restored—made all the more charming, of course, by a modern approach to luxury.

In his latest contribution to the area’s decades-long beautification process, O’Connell has opened the Parsonage—a six-bedroom, 6,000-square-foot Victorian home refurbished inside and out to its 1850s-era origins, with help from London designer Joyce Conwy Evans.

“With each restoration and renovation, our goal is to make it look like nothing happened,” O’Connell explains. “We let the house and the architecture dictate the feel.”

The result? A whimsical interpretation of the past in the form of one charming abode, complete with individually decorated guest rooms with working fireplaces and Bulgari amenities; a tiled Victorian conservatory inspired by French country homes and Moorish influences; a wide, luxurious porch; and a garden dotted with centuries-old trees. Access to the inn’s famous tea service and culinary creations is just a request away.

“More than anything we’ve done, I think this casts a spell of incredible tranquility because it’s a self-contained little universe,” says O’Connell. And with plenty more land (ten acres)—and clever ideas—left to explore, no doubt the Parsonage won’t be his latest way to step back in time for long. Rooms start at $575; 309 Middle St.; 540-675-3800; theinnatlittlewashington.com.

Test-Drive: A Mercedes-Benz Debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed

Test-Drive: A Mercedes-Benz Debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed
Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Our visit to this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, held in late June in England, was a bit like going on a date only to discover that you prefer the unavailable sibling more. Mercedes-Benz used the occasion—Goodwood is a posh automotive garden party on the massive estate of Lord March in Chichester, West Sussex, a few hours drive south of London—to debut its 2015 CLS 63 AMG 4matic Coupe, which will be priced north of $154,000.

The main event is a race that is unusual by American standards: Instead of competing on an oval circuit, vehicles of varying stripes—Formula 1 racers, expensive supercars, Mini Coopers, motorcycles—speed up a squiggly, one-and-a-half-mile hill road. The fastest time (generally under a minute) wins. The race isn’t without its hazards, as Olympic-cycling-gold-medalist-turned-driver Sir Chris Hoy discovered when he crashed a Nissan GT-R Nismo through four hay barriers, emerging unharmed from a total wreck.

Our drive was less harrowing but exciting nonetheless. The 4matic Coupe has a revised front end highlighted by a new grille and front bumper with larger air intakes. The car also has a number of technical improvements, led by LED headlights with a longer reach and the ability to make minute lighting adjustments as traffic and circumstances warrant.

Roads around London make a strong argument for autonomous driving (or self driving), as major highways like the A3 are clogged with traffic and lesser roads are assigned speed limits of 30 miles per hour or less and are so narrow it’s not uncommon to get stuck behind a bicycle. We departed the city’s highly recommendable Rosewood Hotel (252 High Holborn; 44-20/7781-8888; rosewoodhotels.com) and managed to find a few spots on the way to Goodwood where we could let the horses out, so to speak.

The CLS Coupe is an excellent car, and a new 9-speed transmission, married to a 577 horsepower V-8 engine, performs admirably. But our eyes wandered toward a sexy shape we hadn’t seen before: the CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake, sister of the CLS Coupe, which was also on hand for testing. “Shooting brake” is simply a more romantic term for what Americans call a wagon. AMG, the performance arm of Mercedes-Benz, elevates it to 585 horsepower of V-8 muscle-car strength in an all-wheel-drive vehicle featuring a large cargo area with teak flooring.

It’s as beautiful inside as it is out. It roared. It purred. It seduced us so thoroughly we didn’t even ask about the price. It also broke our hearts. The Shooting Brake will not be coming to America; the Germans believe that Americans aren’t interested in high-performance wagons. They’re right, but it’s so wrong. mercedes-benz.com.

Atlanta Unveils the National Center for Civil and Human Rights

Atlanta Unveils the National Center for Civil and Human Rights
Photo courtesy of Albert Vecerka & Rockwell Group

Sometimes there is no denying a good idea. In 2005, now late civil rights icon Evelyn Lowery told then mayor of Atlanta Shirley Franklin that the city needed a civil rights museum. Politician and activist Andrew Young came next with the same suggestion. Nine years later, after generous gifts from local entities (a substantial land donation from Coca-Cola) and mounting excitement, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights opened its doors on June 23.

Using the American civil rights movement as a framework, the 42,000-square-foot museum weaves a compelling, immersive experience aimed at bringing an integral point in history to life. “This is really created for generations that didn’t live through the civil rights movement,” says Judith Service Montier, the center’s vice president of marketing. “To help those individuals understand history in a way that inspires them and empowers them to create a more just and human future.”

Thanks to an unorthodox design team—including Tony award–winning theater director George C. Wolfe, curator of the center’s “Rolls Down Like Water: The American Civil Rights Movement” gallery; architect Philip Freelon (in partnership with architecture/interior-design firm HOK), who co-created the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, in Washington, D.C.; and exhibition designer David Rockwell—storytelling and a sense of place play key roles. In one exhibit, visitors can sit at an authentic lunch counter and hear equally genuine audio of racially fueled taunts and jeers. In another, a mock-up of a Freedom Riders bus is covered with photographs of the diverse people who went on the road throughout the South for equality. A rotating selection of pieces from the Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection brings a familiar face into clearer focus.

The Human Rights Gallery takes things a step further, illustrating the global struggle for parity and acceptance. And while the hope is to pull in as many as 400,000 visitors a year, the ultimate mission goes beyond tourism statistics, putting an American movement at the heart of a decidedly global goal. “You see that it created a vocabulary that is used around the world in other human-rights struggles,” says Service Montier. “You’ll see this throughout the exhibits, [like] the women in Saudi Arabia that are fighting for the right to drive calling themselves freedom drivers.” 100 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd.; 678-999-8990; civilandhumanrights.org.

Handbag to Hold: Fairchild Baldwin

Handbag to Hold: Fairchild Baldwin
Photo courtesy of Jens Mortensen

As the daughter of legendary WWD publisher John Fairchild, Jill Fairchild was destined to work in fashion. Her and partner Karen Baldwin’s new collection has both practical cotton totes for day and modish top-handle bags for night. From $995; fairchildbaldwin.com.

Most Recent Features