Editor’s Letter | September 2011

Mary Hilliard

This issue is, to be honest, about much more than just New York style, though that does seem a fairly quick way to telegraph three big stories that look at three very different “worlds” within the city. In our cover story, “Fashion’s Night at the Museum,” photographer Rodney Smith and Departures Senior Style Editor Tasha Green decamped with two models for three days in one of Manhattan’s most beloved cultural landmarks, the American Museum of Natural History. Here they, together with Photo Editor Michael Shome, got to know the institution inside and out. For those of us who love the museum, our affection is basic and primal—like the creatures within its 142-year-old walls. Who can ever forget their first visit? I still remember mine and seeing the flying squirrel in the snowy little diorama when I was 12, and those great elephants in the Akeley Hall of African Mammals, which, quite literally, take your breath away. In that very hall, Departures began its production. And, from there, continued through sometimes familiar—but often not—historic rooms. The museum’s only requirement was that we not photograph any fashion involving fur.

Across town on East 55th Street, between Park and Madison avenues, Mark Van de Walle takes you inside a very different institution: the world of the private New York membership-only, six-year-old Core Club, which New York Times reporter Guy Trebay declared as one of Manhattan’s most important “Portals to Power.”

On a much more inclusive note, Departures senior editor Joshua David Stein finds a vibrant culture that, however much fueled by city denizens, takes place just outside the geography of the city itself. In “Best New Brooklyn Restaurants,” Stein dines in one of the most vibrant and fertile laboratories for serious cooking in the world—the outer boroughs of Manhattan, from Queens to Brooklyn. Four restaurants in particular highlight the newfound energy and talent (and lower-priced rents!), not to mention mouthwatering potato confit topped with truffles and delicious bone marrow laden with garlicky escargot, being created by young culinary enthusiasts.

But those are just a few of the entrées on this issue’s menu. Contributing Editor Wendy Goodman, one of the most talented observers of interior design and New York magazine’s design editor—will play an even larger role as the editor of our new Home + Design section. Likewise, Alexandra Wolfe will bring her gimlet eye to New Think with regular features on the amazing people, places and things that are changing our world now. This month, she reports from Silicon Valley on how the singular style of the young masters of our universe is reflected in the way they personally live today.

Elsewhere, BlackBook again takes you to remarkable destinations. Some, like Baja’s Capella Pedregal Resort in Cabo San Lucas, are new; others are more classic, like Sicily’s Palazzo Hedone; and still others, like Nairobi, were in need of serious revisiting: Thanks to “a new constitution, the hallmarks of democracy and the promise of more on the horizon, Nairobi’s streets, once fields of fire, are blossoming with arts spaces, new hotels, chic restaurants and country-proud designers.” Take note, intrepid travelers.

And on a final note, “Fall 2011 Fashion Trends” is a story in which I have a particular interest. Have you ever noticed, or rather aren’t you constantly flabbergasted by, how too many fashion writers—and in all fairness, magazines—never ask the simple question: “But is it...wearable? Worth it? Does it work on a real human being as opposed to a 16-year-old Ken doll?” Perish such mundane musings! I was reminded of this very pedestrian obsession (silly me to think “Wearable?” when one is spending, what is it, 2,000, 3,000 smackers on a summer-weight linen jacket) during Men’s Fashion Week in Milan this past June. In fact, when one reportedly serious fashion scribe ended her opinion of Giorgio Armani’s stylish and most refined collection by writing “The final outfit was a bold zigzag of patterned top over low-slung pants, as though Mr. Armani were saying ‘Take that!’ to anyone who imagined that he could not register the current power of print,” I said to myself, “Whatever.”

Funnily enough, many designers—Armani is only one recent great example—have reset fashion’s metronome, allowing it to swing in a more balanced place, with symmetry and exactitude, in the new world. New Times and New Think. Reporter Horacio Silva sets the record straight this season in his report from the front on what to wear now.

The time has come, my friends: on Twitter, follow me @MrDepartures.