June 19, 2013
By Erin Schumaker | Books

Louis Vutton New York book
Photo courtesy of Louis Vuitton

French artist Jean-Philippe Delhomme was living in New York when Louis Vuitton approached him about illustrating a book on New York for its travel-book collection. The rest, as they say, is history. Travel Book New York ($56) is a clothbound tome in English and French that contains more than 100 of Delhomme’s vibrant watercolor paintings of the city. We caught up with the artist for the story behind his work.

Q: What inspired you to do this?

A: I’ve been traveling and working on different projects in New York since the mid-’90s, and I’ve always been inspired by the city. In fact, it’s difficult to find a place as visually exciting. The buildings, the signs—it’s by the water and it’s often industrial with this incredible light. And, of course, the tremendous variety of people, characters.

Q: What differentiates this collection from other travel works?

A: It’s a visual exploration. Instead of thinking of covering the classic New York views and landmarks, I let myself be guided by what inspired me to do drawings. I walked across the city waiting to be surprised.

Q: Do you have a favorite memory of working on the book?

A: I’m fascinated by the particular crispy and strong light, which I feel is unique to New York, especially the deep shadows that make the streets and sidewalks as dramatic as a theater stage. The buildings are often a dark-brick color or green cast iron—all this makes strong backgrounds that make people stand out. I’m also inspired by the old New York, would it be building lobbies, painted signs, garages or disappearing shops. There are even two pictures in the book, one of a Times Square record shop and another of a jewelry shop on Pine Street—both of which disappeared while the book went to print.

March 21, 2013
By Jamie Wiebe | Books

Astor Orphan
Photo courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers

Perched on a hillside above the Hudson River near Barrytown, New York, Rokeby house is cluttered with two centuries’ worth of knickknacks—some priceless, many worthless—a not-so-gilded tribute to the aristocratic splendor of generations of Astors and Livingstons who once lived there. It’s also the stifling scene of Alexandra Aldrich’s The Astor Orphan (Ecco), which brings to life the “confusion and the pain” of the author’s upbringing on the deteriorating, 450-acre estate, owned at the time by her grandmother, one of the 11 so-called Astor orphans who lived and studied at Rokeby after the unexpected deaths of New York congressman John Winthrop Chanler and his wife, Margaret Astor Ward. Aldrich recently returned to Rokeby with her son to renovate the “endless supply of broken things” that filled the manse. “Eventually, I realized that cleaning wouldn’t change anything,” she says, “so I started writing.”

March 20, 2013
By Francesca Giacco | Books

Cookbook Spotlight: <em>How to Boil an Egg</em>
Courtesy of Phaidon

In Paris, daily trips to the boulangerie for fresh baguettes and pastries are a way of life. Rose Bakery (46 Rue des Martyrs; 33-1/42-82-12-80) , tucked away in the Ninth Arrondissement, offers a fresh, flavorful and decidedly British take on the French institution. The bakery, where the line for cakes, tarts, quiche and salads often snakes out the door, is spare and understated, with the focus trained squarely on the seasonal, organic menu.

Rose Carrarini, the English chef who founded and runs Rose Bakery with her husband, already authored one cookbook, Breakfast, Lunch, Tea (Phaidon, 2006), which features recipes for the small meals that have become Rose Bakery staples. Her most recent effort, How to Boil an Egg (Phaidon; $35), is full of descriptions and beautiful paintings of the many egg-based dishes she makes daily. Carrarini chatted with us over coffee at her eponymous bakery about food, Paris and what comes next.

Q: Whenever I come to Rose Bakery there is always a line out the door. What is it specifically that people love so much, that keeps them coming back?
I think it’s simply the flavors and the trust they have that we have good-quality ingredients. The French always appreciate quality.

Q: Do you think the recipes in How to Boil an Egg can be duplicated in a home kitchen?
Yes, absolutely. It starts with the basics, like how to scramble eggs. I’ve learned from serving them in the restaurant—everyone likes eggs done differently. Everyone has their own special way. I’m always trying to make it simple. Even for me at home, I don’t spend a lot of time cooking. I’m not one of those chefs that spend hours in the kitchen. I really like to have things done within ten minutes. So this is a reflection on that—the way I actually cook.

Q: The design of the book is beautiful—all the painted illustrations. Where did that idea come from?
Well, I didn’t want photographs because every single cookbook is just photographs and recipes. I wanted something a bit unique. It had to represent the recipe, and the only way to do that was to find painters who deal in detail. So my idea was to look at botanical painters who paint flowers and vegetables, and luckily we found the perfect artist. The whole thing made it very special. I didn’t want an ordinary looking cookbook.

Q: What’s next for you and Rose Bakery?
There are three Rose Bakeries in Paris, soon to be a fourth. We’ll be opening in the Bon Marché. It will be a tearoom, and that’s my dream come true. We have some in Tokyo, which are doing very well, and one in Seoul as well. And at the end of the year we’ll be opening in New York. It’s going to be a completely frightening thing, but yes, it’s in the cards. New York, about ten or 15 years ago, inspired me to start cooking, so I feel a bit humble going back. It’s exciting.

December 06, 2012
By Erin Schumaker | Fashion, Books, Gifts

Gift of the Day: The Book Gruau: Portraits of Men
Photo courtesy of SARL Rene Gruau

Italian fashion illustrator René Gruau is lauded for the now-iconic imagery he used to promote women’s fashion in the 1940s, but his revolutionary work in men’s fashion is equally stunning. Gruau: Portraits of Men (Assouline, $75) is a 260-page work of art showcasing his depictions of the modern man—from the 1960s to the 1980s—with portraiture that is at once casual, confident, humorous and sexy.

November 13, 2012
By Ingrid Skjong | Books

A New Orleans Story
Courtesy of Assouline Publishing

To say that Debra Shriver is in love with New Orleans is an understatement as big as her city’s personality. A 12th-generation Southerner, Shriver, along with her husband, bought and restored a home there after Hurricane Katrina, a project documented in her first book, Stealing Magnolias: Tales From a New Orleans Courtyard. Her newest effort, In the Spirit of New Orleans (Assouline)—part historical narrative, part travel guide—walks readers through her town and all its richly fascinating culinary, musical and cultural hallmarks. Shriver, who splits her time between The Big Easy and New York, chatted with us about the sensorial allure that keeps people coming back for more.

Q: Wynton Marsalis wrote the book’s evocative forward and clearly gets New Orleans. What does it take to really understand this town?
It’s all about the five senses. There’s so much to see—architecture, the French Quarter and the Garden District, the levees along the revered Mississippi. But scent and sound are the real seducers. It’s the invisible that will hex you—the smell of jasmine or beignets and the music wafting from the corner bar. I always say, three visits and you'll need a realtor.

Q: Music and food are enormously important. How best to tackle both?
When you're sampling the culture, be sure to mix old and new. Book tickets for classic jazz haunts like Snug Harbor and Tipitina’s, but also drop by Irvin Mayfield’s new I Club for the latest mix of locals and visiting legends. Take the same approach with culinary choices. Go to Commander’s [Palace], August and Emeril’s, but also try Cochon Butcher. And don't forget about the cocktails. Start with the Old Absinthe House and French 75, and move on to SoBou, Bar Tonique and Cure. Your motto should be: I saw, I sipped, I supped and I slept ... on the way home.

Q: It is really like its own little country. How has it managed to hold onto its personality?
New Orleans was founded by Latins, not Anglo-Saxons, unlike Charleston [South Carolina] and Savannah [Georgia]. New Orleans was also geographically separated by the river, so it didn't associate itself with the Americas. French fathers, Spanish ancestors and a steady influx of Africans and Haitians have blended and whipped up the most diverse culture in the U.S. today. It’s the proverbial melting pot, serving up the headiest bowl of gumbo ever.

Q: What keeps you there?
New Orleans is one big seduction. I’ve written two books on the city hoping to single out what is so magical about it. I can think of a million reasons to love it, but it’s impossible to just name one. It really was, in my case, what the French call a coup de foudre—love at first sight. The moment I arrive, I do a slow, long exhale. My breathing changes, the pace slows, the air is warm and embracing, every meal is a sensation and the sound of jazz is always playing somewhere. What else is there?

February 02, 2012
By Jordan Kisner | Books

George Cruikshank (1792–1878), Oliver Asking for More / The Morgan Library & Museum.

February 7 marks the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens, and the third and final month of Dickens 2012, an international festival devoted to paying tribute to the famous author and his work. Here are five events not to miss:

1. Dickens on Screen: The largest retrospective ever staged of film and TV works based on or inspired by the author. The highlight of this month-long festival takes place on Charles Dickens’s actual birthday, February 7, with a celebratory première of the film Dickens in London, a multimedia collaboration, at the BFI Southbank. The exhibit will then go on tour, including a stop at MoMA in New York.

2. Dickens at 200: The Morgan Library and Museum in New York is exhibiting the author’s manuscripts, letters, books, photos and original illustrations—one of the two largest archival collections of Dickens in the world. Through February 12;

3. Rochester Dickens Festival: Rochester, Kent, figures largely in some of Dickens’s greatest works (the author spent the last 15 years of his life there), and the area is paying tribute to his bicentennial with festivities that include readings, music, theater, Victorian costumes and a special exhibition at the Guildhall Museum. Can’t make it on such short notice? The annual Dickens Summer Festival is coming up at the beginning of June. February 6–11;

4. Dickens and London: This show at the Museum of London is the U.K.’s first major exhibition on Dickens in over 40 years, featuring paintings, photographs, costumes, original manuscripts and commissioned films. Through June 10;

5. Dickens at the Lion: Shrewsbury’s Lion Hotel, where the author stayed and gave readings, is hosting a weekend-long festival, featuring Gerald Dickens, Charles’s great, great grandson, performing excerpts from Sikes and Nancy, The Christmas Carol and his own show based on his ancestor’s diaries. February 3–5;

January 05, 2012
By Jamie Wiebe | Books

Courtesy Louis Vuitton.

Louis Vuitton doesn’t just carry your luggage; the fashion house also tells you where to take it. In the label’s newest collection of City Guides ($33 each), follow L.V. through 40 cities’ vintage boutiques and gourmet feasts, hidden gardens and ancient trattorias. For the 2012 edition, journalists and authors travel along the Pearl River Delta, visiting expansive casinos and novel galleries in Hong Kong and Macau, and introduce travelers to the unexpected luxuries of five new European cities, including Birmingham and Zagreb. Each softback booklet features the wisdom of a local legend (think Sharon Corr’s Dublin) and playful illustrations from Cuban artist Ruben Toledo. After spending the past 14 years inking the City Guides’ lush artwork, Toledo’s drawings are memorialized in a 100-postcard retrospective ($78) he describes as a “treasure box of memories” —and a perfect chronicle of your travels.

November 02, 2011
By Marnie Hanel | Books

Courtesy Bruce Buck / St. Regis D.C.

Thornwillow Press has always had strong ties to Washington, D.C., but the beloved purveyor of handmade books and fine stationery has been an honoree in absentia, sending meditations on the capital— Thomas Jefferson Illuminated, In Search of George Washington, Lincoln at Home—from its bookbindery and letterpress in Newburgh, New York. That changes on Tuesday evening, when the bespoke publisher launches a library and shop just two blocks north of the White House, in the St. Regis Washington, D.C.

This will be the second St. Regis outpost for Thornwillow, which opened its Manhattan library last October. (At that launch party, an artist painted literary allusions on live models. How will buttoned-up D.C. counter?) As in New York, Thornwillow Press will become a part the hotel’s quilt, displaying rare books and prints, acting as
an on-site historian and offering stationery and invitation design—as well as cocktails and nibbles.

“It all hangs on this idea of the word,” says founder Luke Ives Pontifell. He contends that handmade stationery and artful archives are of even greater importance in an age of impermanence. “Now you can delete a book with the swipe of a finger, hang up a telephone, throw out a magazine. As technology charges forward, what we do becomes more relevant."

For the D.C. launch, Pontifell has curated “Washington’s Notable Neighborhoods,” a letterpress correspondence collection that celebrates Capitol Hill, Adams Morgan and Georgetown. Each set opens with a broadside containing a brief history of the neighborhood and contains five cards selected to represent it. For Adams Morgan, that’s an after-hours mix of a lightning bolt, waning moon and barware. For Georgetown, it’s a gilded bicycle and bold peacock feather. And for Capitol Hill, there’s a stately series of presidential motifs destined to sell out before the holidays. The images are so detailed, they may be best seen through a loupe borrowed from the publisher’s pocket. Then one might fully appreciate the feathers of a bald eagle, the eaves of the White House windows, the rigging of a ship set for the New World. One might also wonder who commissioned these extraordinary designs. Considering Thornwillow’s past clients—George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama—it’s no question at all. Thornwillow at the St. Regis Washington, D.C. is at 923 16th. Washington’s Notable Neighborhoods 15-card stationery set, $85,

October 12, 2011
By Marnie Hanel | Books

Marilyn Monroe, 1956. © Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s. Courtesy Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s.

Once described by Jean Cocteau as Malice in Wonderland and by Cyril Connolly as Rip-Van-With-It, Beaton lived a thousand lives through his lens—as a staff photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair, a World War II correspondent, a society snapper and the chronicler of boldfaced names in a boldfaced era. New York City proved to be an enticing playground for the British-born bon vivant. It was here that he forged a friendship with Greta Garbo and Andy Warhol. And captured the Pop art movement. And designed the celebrated costumes for La Traviata at the Metropolitan Opera House, which some say out-do his Oscar-winning creations for My Fair Lady.

In Cecil Beaton: The New York Years (Skira Rizzoli), Museum of the City of New York’s curator of architecture and design Donald Albrecht examines the influence of Manhattan on the photographer and the photographer on Manhattan. Packed with previously unpublished letters, costume designs and more than 220 photographs and drawings, the fascinating chronicle aims to document Beaton’s influential relationships and charismatic work. The accompanying exhibition at MCNY opens October 25 and runs through February 20.;

October 04, 2011
By Marnie Hanel | Books

Courtesy of Random House.

In 2005, Michael Gross unlocked the doors to the most exclusive address in New York in 740 Park: The Story of the World's Richest Apartment Building. On November 1, he's giving the West Coast the same treatment with Unreal Estate: Money, Ambition, and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles. Packed full of starlets and scandal, Gross's eleventh book begs to be read poolside. And if you skedaddle down to Los Cabos, Mexico on October 21-23, that's just where you'll devour it. Las Ventanas Paraiso, a Rosewood Resort, has invited Gross to host a book club through the hotel's Hot Type Authors' Series. (Adam Gopnik and Salman Rushdie are past guests.) A week before the book's release, guests will receive an advance signed copy of Unreal Estate—and a five-course supper with its author. Rates start at $2,430, based on double occupancy. For reservations, call 310-843-9142.

Check out: Going Down to Cabo