Editor’s Letter | Nov./Dec. 2012

Mary Hilliard

Traditionally, this holiday issue has been devoted to shopping, or what around these parts we like to call The Art of the Appropriate Acquistion. After all, this is the time of year when that’s very much on our minds, despite the election, the economy and what’s in store down the road. And for sure there’s plenty of that in this issue. Take, for example, the cover story, “It Happened One Night,” by our fashion director, Amanda Ross. For two nights, she and her team, including photo editor Michael Shome and our contributing editor for all things design, Wendy Goodman, commandeered Bergdorf Goodman, the historic Fifth Avenue emporium for shopping. Alas, I wish we could have shown every last image that photographer Jennifer Livingston pulled out of her hat, including model Darla Baker on roller skates in the jewelry department, accompanied by a life-sized polar bear. But that’s the tragedy of too much that’s too good. What we present in the ten pages of women’s fashion is the best of the best, from designers to the store itself. But being an equal-opportunity shopping magazine, there’s plenty to go around for both women and men. There’s “Rugged Individualism,” for those urbane outdoorsmen who need the perfect boots, denim jacket or oversized sweater. There’s “My Own Private Atelier,” which sources everything from our favorite new sartorial discoveries (including a private men’s tailor from Istanbul who will knock your custom socks off) to Chris Gentile, who sells rare surfboards in Brooklyn. As always, there’s a good personal history behind most of these stories, nowhere better told than by Lesley M. M. Blume in her piece on Luke Ives Pontifell, whose Thornwillow produces some of the most beautiful stationery and bookbinding in the Western world. And don’t miss “The Men Who Recycle AK-47s,” about Peter Thum, a philanthropist-cum-businessman who, with his partner, John Zapolski, has a company called Fonderie 47, which makes high-end jewelry through the removal and destruction of AK-47s and other assault rifles in Africa. Talk about the Art of Appropriate Acquisition.

And as far as traveling these holidays? Our new senior features editor, Stan Parish, has packaged a pretty great BlackBook section this issue, which includes Patagonia, Berlin, a host of jet-setter favorites and senior editor Jason Chen’s weekend along the road to the ruins of Tulum. Maureen Orth, who in September wrote on fly-fishing in Belize, returns in this issue with a piece on Colombia, which surely has to be one of the more remarkable transformation stories—and travel destinations—around. For those in search of purely hedonistic pleasures, associate managing editor Christina Ko pays a visit to St. Barths, which has its fans as well as its naysayers. In fact, as the title asks, “Is St. Barths over or is it just getting started again?” You decide.

And one final note. Recently I was in Seville, Spain, where I spent a weekend with friends in late September. My hosts were Cedric Reversade and his partner, Paul-Maxime Koskas, who run Unique Properties & Events (uniquepropertiesandevents.com), one of the more interesting London-based travel companies, with access to some of the greatest rental houses throughout the world. Though we stayed at the newly redone Hotel Alfonso XIII, Cedric and Paul-Maxime, who have their own weekend home in Seville, introduced us to amazing people and places, including a rare visit to the Palacio de las Dueñas, residence of the Duchess of Alba. Here we tiptoed around quietly, as the 86-year-old aristocrat was taking a nap on the Saturday afternoon our little group visited. And along the way, we met Antonio del Junco, an extraordinary photographer and guide who personally escorted us through the palace and gardens. It was a terrific three days, and a trip I would recommend to any culturally minded traveler who would like a weekend under the warming Spanish sun come even the chilliest of winter days elsewhere. All this and sangria and the seafood paella afterward at La Isla? A real holiday…whatever the season.

Follow me on Twitter @MrDepartures.