luxury blog


A Ball for Artists at the Brooklyn Museum

Alyson Shotz Sculpture
Alyson Shotz, Untitled, hand folded aluminum with enamel paint, 2014 (Courtesy of the Artist and Derek Eller Gallery)

The Brooklyn Artists Ball, held this year on April 16 at the Brooklyn Museum, aims to champion both its home borough and the talent that lives and works there.

Honorees include artist/activist Ai Weiwei, conceptual artist Jenny Holzer and portraitist Kehinde Wiley (as well as David and Jane Walentas, instrumental figures in the development of the Brooklyn neighborhood Dumbo). But 16 featured artists—all based in the borough—will take center stage, each producing an installation on a 40-foot table: Oliver Clegg’s rotating circular seating setup, a crocheted creation by Olek inspired by still-life paintings, Jeremy Couillard’s 16 dioramas. An after party will follow cocktails and dinner; proceeds from the event will help support the museum’s educational programs and special exhibits.

Needless to say, creativity runs high. And select works by the artists (like the sculpture pictured here by Alyson Shotz) make up an online auction, which will be at the gala, hosted by the digital art platform Artsy. Bidders can bid through April 16.

“Our guests leave the ball knowing that [we are] deeply committed to Brooklyn-based artists, who are a driving force in keeping the museum on the leading edge of contemporary art,” says museum director Arnold Lehman. “As more artists make their way to Brooklyn…the arts community continues to converge here at the Brooklyn Museum.” Tickets start at $1,000; 200 Eastern Pkwy., Brooklyn; 718-501-6436;

Trend Spotting: The Gin and Tonic

Trend Spotting: The New Gin and Tonic
Paul Johnson

The history of the gin and tonic is a simple one. In the 1800s, British officers found that adding water, sugar, lime and gin to quinine—their malaria medication—made the bitter-tasting drug more palatable. Two centuries later, the cocktail is still sipped around the world. But, like any good thing with humble beginnings, there’s always room for improvement.

Dave Arnold, of New York’s Booker and Dax (202 Second Ave.; 212-254-3500;, has spent years reinventing the drink, searching for new ways to recreate its signature balance of bitter, sweet, acidic and refreshing. “What is compelling is that it’s seemingly very simple—ubiquitous, but often very bad,” he says. “The simpler something is, the more difficult it is to cover flaws. It’s why they’re also the hardest things to do well.”

Recently, bartenders across the country have taken up the challenge, sparking what just might be the next cocktail craze.

Oceana, New York
With more than 45 bottles on its back bar, Oceana has long had a fondness for gin. In the last year, wine director Pedro Goncalves has upped the ante on his gin-and-tonic program, trading unbalanced mainstream tonic for his own housemade versions. The four types—spicy, sweet, bitter and citrus—are made with quality ingredients (cinchona bark; lemongrass; clove; lemon, orange and lime peels); each is paired with a recipe and a specific gin: St. George Botanivore, Beefeater Burrough’s Reserve, Nolet’s and Greenhook Ginsmiths, respectively. 120 W. 49th St.; 212-759-5941;

Flintridge Proper, Los Angeles
Flintridge Proper owner Brady Caverly sticks with one tonic (Fever Tree) and lets the gins speak for themselves. Try one of the “improved” gin and tonics here, which pair six different gins with two complementing fruits, herbs or botanicals (lavender and serrano pepper, blueberry and sage). With more than 200 bottles in its collection (the country’s largest), the bar is the perfect place for gin doubters to discover what works for them, whether it’s floral, cucumbery Hendrick’s or earthy, peppery Caorunn. 464 Foothill Blvd.; 818-790-4888;

Paper Plane, Atlanta
At this hot spot, bartender Paul Calvert has refurbished the classic G&T by avoiding tonic all together. First developed as a cold-weather answer to the original, the Brief Hibernation uses a mix of Salers gentian liqueur, Cocchi Americano, Dolin Génépy, Royal Dock Navy Strength gin and lime juice to hit all the notes—refreshing, dry, crisp and sour. 340 Church St.; 404-377-9308;

A First-Ever Exhibit of Warhol’s “Jackies”

A First-Ever Exhibit of Warhol’s “Jackies”
Andy Warhol, Nine Jackies. 1964, The Sonnabend Collection, on Long-Term Loan to Ca'Pesaro, International Gallery of Modern Art, Venice, Italy, Nina Sundell and Antonio Homem © 2014 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / ARS, New York, Source image on image no. 1 and 9; photograph Henri Dauman, 1963

There’s no shortage of recognizable works by Andy Warhol in this world, whether in exhibitions (the recent show at Florida’s Dalí Museum) or on branded consumer goods (Perrier’s limited-edition bottle). But for the first time ever, Blain|Di Donna gallery has dedicated an exhibition entirely to Warhol’s “Jackie” (opening April 10), marking the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination with more than 50 works that tell the story of that emotional week in 1963 vis-à-vis the evolving appearance of Jacqueline Kennedy.

The show highlights a curated selection of silkscreened canvases, each 20 inches by 16 inches and arranged into “Multiple Jackies” or into larger compositions of individual works displayed as triptychs, grids and friezes. All derived from eight magazine photographs, the pieces follow Jacqueline Kennedy, from her cheerful arrival in Dallas to the day of the funeral.

“The Jackie paintings are an extremely important body of work from the 1960s,” says gallerist Emmanuel Di Donna. On the one hand, he explains, they represent the first fine-art portraits to resemble newspaper images; on the other, they demonstrate Warhol’s fascination with contemporary media culture, celebrity, glamour and death.

“Those images of Jackie stem from a cataclysmic event in American history,” he explains, “which was for the first time experienced on a global scale through the media. Warhol was giving the word ‘icon’ its most modern meaning—an image, a painting of a holy being to be revered.” Through May 17; 981 Madison Ave., 2nd fl.; 212-259-0444;

Fitness Find: A Wellness Program in Puglia

Fitness Find: A Wellness Program in Puglia
Courtesy of Borgo Egnazia

Whether your goal is to start a healthier routine or continue one, there are few more motivating places to do it than the coast of Puglia, Italy—home of the recently debuted wellness program FU’RE at Borgo Egnazia hotel and resort.

FU’RE, which means “outside” in the local Apulian dialect, stays true to its name, taking full advantage of Borgo Egnazia’s grounds and focusing the six-day retreats (available in either high or low intensity) on local traditions, ingredients and ways of being. Classes consist of no more than seven guests and cover traditional fitness territory (yoga, resistance training, cardio) and more unorthodox choices (music therapy, juggling, table tennis, dance, saltwater flotation sessions in the VAIR Spa’s Roman baths). Certified personal trainers and professionals in areas like bodywork and naturotherapy are in charge; analyses of body composition and daily calorie intake can also be woven in.

Of course no Italian venture is complete without delicious food. Resident dietician Agostino Grassi meets with participants and develops menus featuring local vegetables and traditional pasta dishes. With that to look forward to after, say, boot-camp training overlooking the Adriatic Sea, the allure is clear.

“Borgo Egnazia is the perfect setting for a fitness-and-spa program: wild, various scenarios, mild weather, generous and a relaxing environment that stimulates your body and mind,” says owner Aldo Melpignano, who, while admitting that weight loss isn’t the main focus of FU’RE, shed six pounds the last time he participated. “[It] is a great kick-start if you want to rebalance your life or simply take some time for yourself.” Six-day program starts at $1,800 (excluding accommodations); rooms start at $290; Savelletri di Fasano; 39-080/225-5000;

An Exclusive Restaurant Reservations App

Zurvu: An Exclusive Restaurant Reservations App
Courtesy of zurvu

Scoring a table at an of-the-moment New York restaurant has always been about good timing—that is, until now. zurvu, a reservations app that debuted this month, grants users access to some of the city’s best eateries with minimal strategizing required.

Simply enter the desired date, time and number of guests, click “search” and see which of zurvu’s partnering restaurants have open tables. In exchange for, say, a 7:30 P.M. reservation for four tonight at places like Alder, Charlie Bird, Freemans, Lupa, Toro or The East Pole, members pay a convenience fee of $5 a seat for a table. It’s like slipping $20 to a hostess, but better—and guilt free (zurvu donates one dollar of every reservation purchased to Wholesome Wave, an organization dedicated to helping underserved communities make healthy food choices).

“No matter how connected you are, you can’t have connections everywhere,” says zurvu creator Dave Levin. “zurvu offers restaurants a way to qualify diners from the multitude of unknown reservation requests [they] receive. That’s how our diners get priority reservations—it’s a win-win for everyone.”

While the service is currently by invitation only, DEPARTURES readers can sign up online using the code “departures” and get the first reservation for free.

The Culinary Conclave Reports on the Future of Food

Culinary Conclave
Photo © Aki Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine

Two weekends ago, chef Ferran Adrià, of El Bulli fame, brought together nearly two-dozen members of the world’s food media to discuss the past, present and future of gastronomy at the Culinary Conclave, held at the 12th-century Spanish hotel and winery Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine (47340 Sardón de Duero; 34-983/680-368; Here, Andrés Araya, the event’s organizer and managing director of the hotel (pictured above [right], with Adrià [middle] and chef Andoni Luis Aduriz), shares a few tidbits—from thoughts on how eating has changed to El Bulli’s next big move.

Q: Tell us about some of the most significant gastronomic shifts over the last 20 years that participants noted.
They identified historical moments that were gastronomic watersheds in their particular countries that demonstrated how gastronomy affects society, and vice versa. For example, an Italian journalist claimed that the Piedmont wine scandal in 1985 brought a new emphasis on quality that caused both Italian wine making and gastronomy to flower. A British journalist said winning the 1996 European Soccer Championship opened the door to accepting all things British—and notably that British cuisine has validity.

Q: Is there a sense of where the next great culinary hub might be?
Rather than one great hub, the consensus was that the quality and awareness of cuisine is rising worldwide, influenced by internationally shared information on everything from the Internet to food shows on television. With the sharing of experiences on social media, we do not need to eat in bad places anymore—and have a good idea of what to expect before we even arrive at a restaurant or destination. A guide such as Michelin that once had a monopoly is losing its importance.

Q: As far as El Bulli, any details on the future plans?
Adrià explained that he has been working with top business schools and universities, such as MIT, to help define both how he should present his foundation and safeguard his legacy for the future. The original buildings of El Bulli will be transformed and enlarged, including adding a recreational center, workshop, laboratory, and a permanent exhibition explaining his restaurant’s historical and culinary evolution. The complex is expected to open in March 2016. Another project, called elBulli 1846, after the number of dishes served at the restaurant over the years, will open May 15 in Barcelona, with a research laboratory and a creative team of 40 experts, in not only gastronomy but also other cultural fields. It will continue what was initiated at the Culinary Conclave at LeDomaine, with the main goal being the decoding of gastronomy’s genome. Finally, Bullipedia will be a curated online resource to inspire and teach, as well as provide proper descriptions of what cooking and cuisine are.

Highlight Reel: Salone del Mobile in Milan

Salone de Mobile
Photo © Aki Furudate

Starting next week, the 53rd edition of the Salone del Mobile (April 8–13;—the Frieze Art Fair of home furnishings—will take place in Milan, this year displaying the exceptional kitchen and bathroom wares of 2,400 exhibitors from 260 countries. The five-day affair is split into three categories—Classic, Modern, Design—and features a mix of high-profile first-timers (Hästens, Kvadrat, Tom Dixon) and returning favorites (Treca, Wittmann, Flötotto). Here are five things to catch when you’re there.

  • Celebrate the opening of “Seminato,” an exhibition dedicated to the beauty of the floors we walk on (and often ignore), presented by Pin–Up magazine at POMO Galerie (April 6 to May 2; Via Giuseppe Sirtori, 6; 39-02/3652-3236; Afterward, drop by gallery/restaurant Il Crepaccio (Via Lazzaro Palazzi, 19) for antipasti and “Design Divas” (April 7–8), an installation of portraits of Milan’s foremost design gallerists.
  • At "SupperScene," a one-off theatrical dining event at design boutique Spazio Pontaccio, Michelin-starred chef Matias Perdomo will serve dinner to 50 guests on limited-edition tableware by Federico Pepe, Lee Broom and Alessandro Zambelli. The dinner will be staged in the store’s display windows, and the setting will be recreated and on view through April 13. April 8 (8:30 P.M.); Via Pontaccio, 18; 39-02/805-7025;
  • “Where Architects Live” showcases the homes of Zaha Hadid, Massimiliano ad Doriana Fuksas (pictured) and Daniel Libeskind (among others) via video, exhibiting how the world’s leading design minds live. April 8–13 (9:30 A.M.–6:30 P.M.); Milan Fairgrounds, Rho, Pavilion 9.
  • Italian designer Martino Gamper showcases “In a State of Repair,” an exhibit that celebrates the transformation of objects that break and undergo restoration. April 8–13 (9:30 A.M.–9 P.M.); Piazza del Duomo, 3.
  • Set in the former bakeries of the XXIV Maggio military barracks, re-opened for the first time to coincide with Salone, “Urban Stories” showcases installations by internationally renowned designers including Emmanuel Babled, GamFratesi and Alvin Huang. April 8–13 (noon–10 P.M.); Via Vincenzo Monti, 16.

A Ritz Paris Bartender Makes a Stop in London

A Ritz Paris Bartender Makes a Stop in London

Just because the fabled Bar Hemingway at the Ritz Paris (15 Place Vendôme; 33-1/43-16-30-30; is closed for renovation (along with the hotel) doesn’t mean you need to wait till the 2015 reopening for one of its famous cocktails. From April 7 to 13, Colin Field (pictured above, left), Bar Hemingway’s formidable bartender, will take up a weeklong residency in London at the Connaught (Carlos Pl., Mayfair; 44-20/7499-7070;, partnering with the director of mixology there, Agostino Perrone.

“I will be so lucky to work alongside such an iconic personality in the bar world,” says Perrone (pictured above, right). “Colin Field is a legend. I’m sure we will learn some new techniques and he will give us fresh inspiration!”

In addition to presenting a menu that features each bar’s signature cocktails—consider Field’s Serendipity (mint, apple juice, Calvados, Champagne) and Perrone’s martini mixed with housemade bitters—the two have created two new collaborative drinks that blend their respective styles. One is a Champagne-based concoction that marries rhubarb (a classic British ingredient) with Suze (a French aperitif). The second, which Perrone describes as a “truly gourmet cocktail,” features a mix of gin, dry sherry, Galliano L’Autentico herbal liqueur and celery bitters.

“Every time I work with a professional of many years’ experience, a kind of osmosis installs itself,” says Field. “I feel very comfortable talking [with] and learning new techniques from Ago, and there is a real chemistry between us.”

Kaleidoscopic Quilts at MFA Boston

Kaleidoscopic Quilts at MFA Boston
© 2014 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

No matter how progressive galleries and museums have become in recent years, the debate among the art world about what constitutes art verses craft—fine art versus folk art—remains in dispute. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is the latest institution to remark on the rift with its “Quilts and Color” exhibit, opening April 6.

Showcasing 60 quilts, all taken from the acclaimed Pilgrim/Roy collection, the show demonstrates how many of the works—which range from the 19th to the early 20th century—intuitively echoed, or perhaps even predated, the likes of abstract expressionism, optical art and the color field movement.

“The makers of these quilts, although probably never trained in the fine arts or color theory, understood how to combine color and use pattern to create visually powerful statements,” says Pamela Parmal, David and Roberta Logie curator of textile and fashion arts at MFA Boston.

Grouping the quilts’ energetic patterns (the carpenter's wheel is pictured here) and bold hues into sections, displayed alongside a painting or a work on paper (culled primarily from the museum), the exhibition maps the principles of color theory—vibrations, mixtures, harmonies, gradations, contrasts, variations and optical illusions—to examples in the collection. The prescient artisans were indeed ahead of their time; their work came well before paragons like Interaction of Color, an instructional handbook by artist Josef Albers that debuted in 1963.

“Working with the familiarity of cloth, needle and thread without the intimidation that would have been associated with paint and brush,” says collector Gerald Roy, “quilt makers managed to create an abstract art form that would not be discovered by the fine-art world for a hundred years.” Through July 27; 465 Huntington Ave.; 617-267-9300;

American Ballet Theatre at the Abu Dhabi Festival

American Ballet Theatre at the Abu Dhabi Festival
Photo © American Ballet Theatre.

For its debut performance at the Abu Dhabi Festival last week, the American Ballet Theatre wanted to introduce Emirati audiences to the classical repertoire, since there wasn’t much of a ballet tradition in the region. (In fact, there was zero ballet tradition, since, until oil was discovered there about 50 years ago, Abu Dhabi was a tiny outpost of pearl divers and Bedouins.) That ruled out modern dance. The company was also told to present something “family friendly,” according to ABT’s artistic director Kevin McKenzie, so there went Swan Lake, with its tragic ending and hints at bestiality. (More importantly, says McKenzie, the auditorium at the Emirates Palace, where the Abu Dhabi Festival’s performances were held, could not support the technical requirements involved in ABT’s elaborate production of the classic.)

With those restrictions in mind, McKenzie chose to put on Léo Delibes’s Pygmalionesque comedy Coppélia, based on the late Frederic Franklin’s staging, which itself owes much to the original 1870 production. During Friday’s performance, it was as classical as it gets: all tutus, grands jetés, pas de chat and men in tights. More notable, for fans of ABT, was the casting of Misty Copeland as Swanhilde, the New York ballet sensation’s debut in the role. Copeland, the company’s first African American female principal dancer, who has gained national attention with her new memoir Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina (Touchstone), will premiere the role in New York in May. During last week’s production, aside from a few wobbly poses that will no doubt be smoothed out before next month, Copeland exuded a star’s grace.

One sure sign of the locals’ unfamiliarity with the form was the uncontrollable giggling from the women dressed in black abayas behind me, at the sight of dancer Herman Cornejo’s decidedly non-family-friendly bulge. (To be fair, it did seem in need of a codpiece.) But overall the production, backed by the Dresden Philharmonic, transcended the tameness of the material and earned a standing ovation.

As McKenzie put it in an interview that morning: “Dancing to music—who in the world cannot relate to that?”

Most Recent Features