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May 13, 2014
By Ingrid Skjong | Fitness

Healthy Flats, Healthy Feet
Courtesy of Blake Brody

We caught on to Blake Brody’s simple, functional in-studio footwear (from $100) back in 2012, excited to find an alternative to going barefoot or wearing socks in Pilates, yoga and other studio classes. Now the brand has taken to the streets with a chic line of ballet flats (from $275) that prioritizes the good of your feet.

Designed in partnership with podiatrist Louis Galli, who tends to the Rockettes, the shoes have full support in the back (something many ballet flats lack completely), which allows the entire foot to hit the pavement versus just the heel. Raised curves in the sole provide stability, which in turn promotes overall body alignment while striding along. Vegan, antimicrobial and moisture-wicking, the flats come in a variety of styles including a spring-friendly nude or sapphire lizard print (pictured above) and a neoprene version for rainy days. Bottom line? Sometimes it’s nice to have a shoe that works for you, not against you. blakebrody.com.

May 12, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Restaurants

201405-b-db-brasserie-las-vegas.jpg
Courtesy of B. Milne

"I love Vegas! I'm excited to be back," exclaims chef Daniel Boulud of his newest restaurant, db Brasserie—a high-end, high-energy eatery that officially opened last week at The Venetian.

It’s heartening to know that, even after writing eight books and launching 14 concepts worldwide, an award-winning chef can still get excited. The opening is Boulud’s triumphant return to the city, four years after closing his first restaurant there in 2010. The new 280-seat outpost—helmed by chef David Middleton (previously of David Burke, Marché Bacchus and Scarpetta)—is Boulud’s "ideal" brasserie. Unlike his more traditional projects, it adds a contemporary, international touch to staples: Consider the hamachi cru with eggplant-cumin aigre doux, finger lime, harissa and shallots or the roasted Tunisian lamb chop with merguez sausage, couscous, red-pepper tagine, lemon-braised spinach and chickpeas. (For a more traditional take, there’s also an 18-ounce rib-eye with béarnaise sauce, pictured above.)

Even the design of the space—with its rich leathers, geometric floor tiles, brass hardware and Beaux-Arts–inspired faux skylights—echoes the objective, infusing the timeless aesthetic of famous French brasseries (namely Brasserie L'est in Lyon and Cafe de la Paix and Brasserie Julien in Paris) with a clean, modern finish.

"It serves elevated cuisine in an elegant setting yet has the feeling of a neighborhood café—a place where anyone can walk in off the street for a great meal," says Jeffrey Beers, the restaurant's designer. That just might be what helps Boulud's second Vegas stint stand out among the showy gastronomic theaters on The Strip—and, perhaps more importantly, what allows it to stick around for good. 3355 S. Las Vegas Blvd.; 702-430-1235; dbbrasserie.com.

May 09, 2014
By Nell McShane Wulfhart | Art

Amtrak Mural Exhibit
Artist: Katrina Grosse; Photo by Steve Weinik for the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

Those riding the rails between New York and Washington, D.C., will be cruising through a complete art installation starting May 17. The Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, in cooperation with Amtrak, has commissioned Berlin-based artist Katharina Grosse to install a series of seven large-scale murals on the blighted warehouses and walls of North Philadelphia.

Titled psychylustro, the public arts project consists of enormous, Christo-like works of intense color popping against the abandoned buildings located between the North Philadelphia and 30th Street stations. An audio guide (available at 215-525-1045), complete with a soundtrack, will let passengers listen to an interview with the artist as the murals fly by.

Grosse, who has a history of working with architecture and installations, doesn’t restrict her choice of canvas to the blank wall. The sites chosen for psychylustro are uneven and riddled with holes, and the entire project embraces planned obsolescence, allowed to decay as the landscape gradually takes back the space.

Monumental and spectacularly vibrant, the murals are meant to inspire viewers to think differently about the area they pass through. “The work arrives to not just alter the appearance of the train ride but also to perhaps alter viewers’ perceptions of the landscape around them,” says curator Elizabeth Thomas, “to consider the histories and futures of such spaces and the varied forces—natural, economic, social—that act on this specific space, but also, in reality, all urban spaces.” muralarts.org/katharinagrosse.

May 07, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Exhibits

On Display: Frida Kahlo in Chicago
Frida Kahlo

In 1978 the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago (220 E. Chicago Ave.; 312-280-2600; mcachicago.org) presented the first solo museum exhibition of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo in the United States. Nearly four decades later, the institution presents “Unbound: Contemporary Art After Frida Kahlo,” which puts two of Kahlo’s rarely seen portraits, La Venadita and The Tree of Hope, in dialogue with artworks by 30 international artists working today, including Sanford Biggers, Nan Goldin and Cindy Sherman.

On view through October 5, the show is organized around four themes in the portraits: gender performance, national identity, the political body and the absent or traumatized body. Here, MCA curator Julie Rodrigues Widholm discusses the exhibit.

Q: What inspired you to put this show together?
A:
I have felt energy around a new wave of feminist activity and dialogue, mainly in the pursuit of equality and human rights for everyone, not just women. For me, and for many, Kahlo is an icon of individuality, courage, freedom and the transcendence of very difficult obstacles in one’s life. I also wanted to do this show now to bring an important artistic figure, who over the years has become a kitsch celebrity and whose paintings are often overshadowed by her life story, into a conversation with contemporary art to show how important and revolutionary her work was, and still is, today. It merits a fresh look. And most importantly, the issues that were addressed in her work are still highly relevant. In particular the question of gender seems very timely, as there is more of an open public dialogue around LGBTIQ concerns and gay marriage.

Q: What do you hope to glean from showing Kahlo’s works alongside those of contemporary artists?
A:
I’ve placed it in a new intergenerational context to show how art history is an ongoing process of looking forward, backward and sideways. It allows us to think about the prescience of her work and find threads that connect her with artists of subsequent generations. It also shows us that artistic expression and the struggles of what it means to be human—and to be ourselves—transcend place and time and are universal.

Q: Are there any parallels or comparisons in particular that you hope to draw?
A:
In general we are making thematic connections derived from what is visible in Kahlo’s two paintings [La Venadita and The Tree of Hope]. But we are also invoking her spirit of rebellion, transgression and subversion both in terms of content and art-making and aesthetics.

May 07, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Jewelry

Christie’s Puts Unparalleled Diamonds Up for Auction
Courtesy of Christie’s

Pull out the auction paddles: On May 14, Christie’s will hold its Magnificent Jewels sale in Geneva at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues (Quai des Bergues 33; 41-22/908-7000; fourseasons.com), featuring more than 250 lots estimated to fetch roughly $80 million.

History is ready to be made. While the number itself is significant—just shy of a 20 percent increase over the $65 million pre-estimate sale in 2013—the reasons behind the uptick, points out Christie’s international head of jewelry Rahul Kadakia, are what truly deserve attention.

Two notable pieces, returning to Christie’s for the second time, include the Belle Époque Devant-de-Corsage brooch (pictured above; estimated at between $7 and $12 million), commissioned by Solomon Barnato Joel, director of De Beers Consolidated Diamond Mines, South Africa from 1901 to 1931. “He asked Cartier to mount his four best diamonds,” says Kadakia. “This brooch is one of few jewels that can boast magnificent diamonds, a delicate design, a remarkable make and a famous provenance.”

The other is the Rajah (estimated at between $3 and $5 million), a brilliant-cut diamond from the legendary Golconda mines in India. If the pedigree weren’t enough, the jewel once belonged to art patron Isabella Stewart Gardner, who wore it as a hairpiece.

Other highlights include the largest flawless fancy vivid blue diamond in the world—weighing in at 13.22 carats and projected to fetch between $21 and $26 million—and the largest fancy vivid blue-green diamond in existence, which will net between $7 and $9 million.

“This salesroom has seen diamonds reaching higher prices than works of art—which is unheard of,” says a Christie’s spokesperson. “It’s these types of stories, usually only found in museums, that make this auction so exceptional. We’re offering clients not just magnificent jewels, but jewels that cannot be found any longer. It’s a very unique opportunity. It’s really an event.” 41-22/319-1730; christies.com.

May 07, 2014
By Ingrid Skjong | Fashion

Ferragamo’s New Fiamma Handbag
Courtesy of Ferragamo

Family has always been central to Ferragamo. And for the launch of its new Fiamma handbag collection on May 7, which honors Fiamma Ferragamo—the late daughter of paterfamilias Salvatore, who was the brand’s shoe and leather accessories designer for nearly 40 years and founder of the iconic Vara—the label keeps with tradition.

A corresponding digital film series stars different generations of women from iconic families. The likes of Anika and Sydney Poitier, of Los Angeles; Princess Patricia and Princess Mathilde Melusine Ruspoli, of Rome; and Stella, Lola and Jacqueline Schnabel, of New York, are featured, showcasing the Fiamma styles they adore. São Paulo native Helena Bordon carries the large python version ($6,900, pictured above) in the production.

Offered in a variety of materials (python, crocodile, calfskin, pony hair) and hardware, with silk print linings from the 1970s, the bag has a chic, freewheeling feel; combinations like fringe-embroidered napa leather, tweed punctuated with dégradé Swarovski crystals and lizard-skin handles, and calfskin with stingray details keep things fresh and fun. A true take on modern luxury, it proves that, just like the women featured, anyone can find a look they will love. ferragamo.com/fiamma.

May 05, 2014
By Ingrid Skjong | Jewelry

Miriam Haskell Jewelry
Courtesy of Miriam Haskell

Costume jeweler Miriam Haskell unveils a capsule collection inspired by the designs of couturier Charles James, who the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute gala (held tonight, May 5)—and its corresponding exhibit “Charles James: Beyond Fashion”—honors this year.

The designs, presented in black and white, are meant to evoke James’s renowned attention to structure, fabric and silhouette. “He was a visionary; his eye for style and design was impeccable,” says Linda Fialkoff, Miriam Haskell creative director. “He and Miriam Haskell both represented the best of American fashion design during their time; he for his beautiful ball gowns and innovative silhouettes and she for her attention to detail and love of color. They both treasured the art of hand craftsmanship and applied it to their work with precision and dedication.”

Pieces include a radiant collar necklace of Swarovski glass pearls and crystals (pictured here; $4,400), a jet starburst cuff of oxidized silver-plated brass with hand-wired Swarovski faceted crystal stones ($820) and cascading drop earrings of glass pearls and Swarovski crystals ($550).

Continuing the jewelry brand’s history of collaborations (it has paired with Marchesa, J. Crew and vintage boutique Decades), the new collection is glamorous, textural and does what every piece of jewelry aspires to do—engender a bit of change in its owner. “They almost take on a bit of a regal quality,” says Fialkoff. “so we hope that would translate to the wearer.” miriamhaskell.com.

May 05, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Art

Marie Lorenz
© Marie Lorenz

The massive art fair Frieze New York opens its tent doors on May 9 for its third edition on Randall’s Island in Manhattan (through May 12; 212-463-7488; friezenewyork.com). With 190 galleries participating from 28 countries, there is plenty to see. Here, five new items to add to the top of your list.

  • As part of this year’s Talks program, former Pussy Riot members Masha Alekhina and Nadya Tolokonnikova speak with David Remnick of The New Yorker about their involvement with the infamous feminist art collective and the recently launched Zona Prava, a nongovernmental organization advocating for prison reform. May 9, 4 P.M.; the auditorium.
  • Continuing the fair’s tradition of honoring artist-run spaces of the past, Frieze Projects pays special tribute to Al’s Grand Hotel—conceptual artist Allen Ruppersberg’s fully functional seven-room project, first constructed in 1971 in Los Angeles. Reinterpreted in collaboration with Public Fiction (publicfiction.org), the installation original Jesus Room (featuring a giant wooden cross leaning against the bed) and Bridal Suite (decorated with cheap plastic flowers and a wedding cake) have been reconstructed inside the fair. While a lucky few can book reservations to stay overnight (May 8–12; rooms, from $350; 646-578-8471), all attendees are welcome to pay a visit during regular fair hours. P7, between D10 & D11.
  • Like the Armory Show earlier this year, Frieze is seeing an uptick in single-artist presentations. Don’t miss Sam Gilliam, at David Kordansky Gallery (C3); Carroll Dunham, at Gladstone Gallery (B6); and Viviane Sassen, at Stevenson (D24).
  • Since 2005, artist Marie Lorenz has been documenting New York’s waterfronts in her rowboat water taxi called the Tide and Current Taxi. As part of Frieze Projects, the artist invites fair-goers to explore the city’s archipelago in “Randall’s Island Tide Ferry,” both an alternative (and functional) transit service and the fair’s first river-based artwork. In keeping with this year’s theme of participation and social interaction, visitors can even row the artist’s makeshift boat (made of salvaged materials) themselves. P4, along the riverfront.
  • With so much to see and do, refueling is necessary. Along with returning eateries like Roberta’s and Marlow & Sons, the fair features three exciting additions: Danny Bowien’s Mission Cantina, the brand-new Furanku (a 50-seat omakase bar from Frankies Spuntino) and desserts from David Chang’s Milk Bar. Lucky ones can also catch their breath at the Neuehouse VIP Lounge, complete with custom-made cabanas and a private outdoor deck.
May 05, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Fashion

Cremieux
Courtesy of Cremieux

A slice of St.-Tropez’s famed Passage du Port—that celebrated corner of luxury shopping located steps from the sea—made its way to New York last week with the opening of Cremieux’s new flagship store in SoHo. Started in 1976 by designer Daniel Cremieux, the preppy French menswear label is best known for bringing bright colors, patchwork shirts and club-stripe ties into Europe’s closets when darker tones were in vogue. (Take, for example, the extra-fine wool polka-dot suit [$1,242] and silk striped tie [$160] pictured above.)

One generation later, Stéphane Cremieux, the heir to the family brand, gives the signature Ivy-League-meets-French Riviera sensibility its first true American home just a stone’s throw from the company’s recently relocated design headquarters.

“Our clothing has been sold throughout department stores in America since the year 2000,” explains Stéphane. “However, we wanted to create a store that represents exactly what we have in our mind. We already have returning customers, which is the most important thing, as it means they understood the message.” 65 Mercer St.; 212-343-3838; danielcremieux.com.

April 30, 2014
By Ingrid Skjong | Boats

The Ultimate Powerboat
Courtesy of Hunton

Powerboats are traditionally anything but subtle. And in the case of those produced by British company Hunton—which is now available to the U.S. market for the first time in its 30-year history—they are also anything but mass manufactured, evidenced in the new bespoke 43-foot XRS43 (pictured above; from $800,000). “It’s a high-performance sports cruiser while also being a fabulous, very luxurious day boat,” says Hunton CEO Fiona Pool. “It is the perfect combination of speed, handling and luxury.“

Nearly any design idea is fair game, with a variety of colors (11), fabrics (13) and woods (beech and walnut included) available, as well as teak decking and leather upholstery. (A recent model featured Loro Piana cashmere and fully customized leather.) With room for eight to ten passengers, berths for two to four guests and a top speed of 80 miles per hour, the boats are as functional as they are beautiful. Each is made by hand by a 32-person team in Hampshire, United Kingdom, and takes up to six months to complete. The company makes about 24 boats a year—and now, one of them can be yours.

“From 2010 the business has been under new ownership, and we are now taking the brand global,” says Pool. “It’s a really exciting time for us.” hunton.co.uk.

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