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Whims

June 14, 2011
By Jordan Kisner | Whims

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Despite the many delights afforded us by portable computers, no one takes pleasure in lugging a laptop from place to place in a purse or a briefcase. Twelve South, a design firm that caters exclusively to Mac users, is out to change that, adding a little whimsy to an arduous task. The BookBook, one of 12 Twelve South accessories designed for Apple products each year, is a carrying case that disguises laptop computers as vintage books. The case features two leather hardback covers that are distressed by hand, lined with velvet and bound by a sturdy, weathered spine. When zipped shut and tucked in a purse, it looks like a tome plucked from the darkest corners of the library, stealthily misdirecting potential thieves and lending a literary air to even the most plugged-in tech lover.

Available in red and black, from $80. BookBook and other Twelve South products, including cases and accessories for the iPad, are available at twelvesouth.com.

Photo Courtesy of Twelve South LLC

April 28, 2011
By Brandon Perlman | Lifestyle, Whims

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Certain professional racing pursuits like, say, Formula 1 racing don’t transfer well to everyday life. It’s unfortunately rather difficult to buy a supercharged racer and drive it down Park Avenue or out to the Hamptons (that is, unless you pony up $2.1 million for the completely street-legal Bugatti Veyron. Cycling is one exception: It’s relatively easy to purchase and customize a Tour de France-ready bike and take it around the neighborhood, pretending to be Lance Armstrong for the afternoon. Giant’s top-of-the-line road bike, the Defy Advanced 0 comes with all the latest “supercycle” accouterments, including a 10-speed Shimano Dura-Ace component group for the smoothest shifting imaginable. But most importantly, it has a wheelset made of lightweight carbon fiber. For avid cyclists, the quality of a bike is measured in grams: the lighter the bike, the faster and easier the ride. Especially on long-haul journeys—trips over 50 miles—those grams can make all the difference. $5,850; giant-bicycles.com

April 19, 2011
By Tasha Green | Fashion, Whims

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Lately it seems as though America is experiencing a certain nostalgia for the nineties. And capitalizing on this mood is Giorgio Armani, who this month opened an exhibition of glossy photographs called “Momenti di Emporio,” a selection of advertising campaigns and fashion shots from Emporio Armani Magazine. Published from 1987–1997 under the creative direction of Rosanna Armani, the experimental publication commissioned fashion photography heavyweights—Michel Comte, Roxanne Lowit and Mario Testino, to name a few—to capture the youthful exuberance and sexually charged ease of the brand. In honor of this perfectly preserved moment in fashion history, Armani is releasing Emporio Armani Remix, a capsule collection of both men’s and women’s clothing inspired by these images. The exhibition and collection will be on view and for sale this month at the Fifth Avenue flagship location in New York, as well as the newly renovated San Francisco store. 717 Fifth Ave., New York; 278 Post St.; San Francisco; emporioarmani.com.

March 21, 2011
By Amanda Friedman | Travel, Hotel, Whims, Spa, New York

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This may be the first week of spring, but with a chilly mix of snow and rain enveloping the streets of Manhattan, it’s apparent that winter isn’t ready to go away just yet. This final cold stretch can feel like the longest of all, which is why there’s never been a better time for a nice, relaxing day at the spa. One of our favorite city options is the Spa-cation at The Peninsula New York, which, for $250, is also one of the best deals in town. In addition to a 60-minute treatment of choice—holistic massage, intensive facial or organic sunless tanning—guests have all-day access to the fitness center and classes, as well as use of the indoor pool, with panoramic views of Fifth Avenue from its perch on the 22nd floor. There’s also a delicious bento-box lunch, with choices like grilled beef sirloin with bok choy and poached salmon with roasted red pepper and Thai spices. We recommend getting there early to take advantage of the daily fitness classes—yoga, pilates, cardioblast—then following that with a relaxing treatment and finishing off with a poolside lunch. Who cares about the cold when you can have so much fun indoors?  At 700 Fifth Ave.; 212-956-2888; peninsula.com.

March 15, 2011
By Julie Coe | Whims, Books

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On July 21, 1933, Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Car made its debut to cheering crowds in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Looking nothing like the standard Fords that were its contemporary, the teardrop-shaped three-wheeler had the curved hull of a yacht and was almost zeppelin-like in stature—in fact, it had been built by William Starling Burgess, a preeminent aircraft and boat designer who moonlighted as a poet. It also offered superior gas mileage (35 mpg to the Ford V-8’s 18) and roughly three times the passenger space as the V-8. The car was part of a larger Dymaxion project—the word is a combination of Fuller favorites: dynamism, maximum and tension—that the inventor was working on, which included plans for a Dymaxion house. A combination of setbacks resulted in producing only three of the vehicles. Then, in 2008, British architect Norman Foster, who had worked with Fuller in the ’70s and early ’80s, decided to commission Crossthwaite & Gardiner, a British firm that reproduces ’30s racecars, to create a fourth. Like the originals, no. 4 was built from the chassis and parts of a 1934 Ford V-8 Tudor sedan. The rest was crafted to order, and the creation debuted last fall at Ivorypress Arts + Books Space, a Madrid gallery and bookstore founded by Foster’s wife, Elena Ochoa Foster. Out this month from the gallery’s publishing venture, the 223-page Buckminster Fuller Dymaxion Car uses archival and contemporary blueprints, handwritten notes and sketches, and period photos, including images of the plaster models done by sculptor Isamu Noguchi, to tell the full story of a visionary vehicle that looks just as futuristic today as it did in 1933. $75; ivorypress.com.

March 14, 2011
By Deborah Frank | Whims, Automobiles

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We recently drove the all-new 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon on the icy backroads of the Adirondacks in upstate New York, en route to a few days of skiing at Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid, and can honestly say we haven't had this much fun winter-driving in a while. Granted, we were in a six-speed manual, which made handling the 556hp supercharged 6.2L V-8 engine even more exhilirating, but we were also happily surprised with the wagon's nimbleness, the control we had in cornering and the solid grip of the 19-inch Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires. This outstanding performance was enhanced with heated Recaro leather-and-suede racing seats and a suede steering wheel and shifter, not to mention the superior sound emanating from the ten-speaker Bose 5.1 digital surround system. At a starting price of $62,000 (our model priced out at $68,500), it's definitely worth considering if you're in the market for a wagon that offers all the space and comfort of a large vehicle but has the performance of a sports car…and looks good, too (we did get double takes wherever we stopped). The one caveat: We estimated about 14 miles per gallon driving around town and only 19 mpg on the highway. cadillac.com.

February 23, 2011
By Candice Chan | Technology, Whims

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© Courtesy Panasonic

We love the DSLR Nikon D90, but it’s a little too big—not to mention clunky—for everyday use. Enter the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF1 Micro Four Thirds ($900; Panasonic). Light (just over half a pound) and portable, it's perfect if you're looking to upgrade from a point-and-shoot yet quick enough on auto-focus and shutter speed to satisfy those used to DSLRs. The key—and our favorite—features are the 720p HD video and interchangeable lenses, especially since Leica lenses can be swapped in when a mount adapter is added. Panasonic recently released the GF2 ($700; amazon.com), an updated model that includes 1080p HD video and requires greater reliance on the touch screen—but we prefer physical buttons when it comes to taking pictures, so we're sticking with the original.

February 16, 2011
By Stellene Volandes | Fashion, Watches, Whims

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© Courtesy Ralph Lauren

We first spotted this Ralph Lauren watch at the annual Salon International de la Horlogerie watch fair in Geneva. We've been fans of Ralph Lauren's überelegant Slim Classique model since the designer debuted it two years ago, but add the diamonds and a purple satin strap and our admiration turns to utter devotion. While we're dreaming about this watch, we're trading in the brown crocodile straps on our own timepieces for ones in the royal-purple hue. Ralph Lauren 42MM white-gold Slim Classique with one row of baguette diamonds and purple satin strap, $41,700; ralphlaurenwatches.com.

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