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April 27, 2011
By Candice Chan | Automobiles

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With 60-plus models spanning almost a century, Ralph Lauren’s sports car compilation is considered one of the world’s finest, and as of April 28 he is sharing his treasures in "The Art of the Automobile: Masterpieces from the Ralph Lauren Collection" at Paris’s Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Seventeen of his cars—including a 1929 Bentley Blower, a 1933 Bugatti Type 59 Grand Prix and a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO—were handpicked by curator Rodolphe Rapetti (with input from Lauren, of course) to illustrate the arc of European automobile design from the 1920s through the 1990s. "In the beginning, the cars are more obviously mechanical," Rapetti says. "But the evolution from one car to another is really obvious when you see the exhibition." Rapetti has also included an immersive element for true auto enthusiasts: Visitors can view archival film footage of each car in a historic race like France’s Le Mans, and hear the engine’s purr (or roar, as the case may be) from recent rubber-burning sessions near New York City. Don’t miss the 1996 McLaren F1 LM or the aerial view of the cars from the third floor. Rapetti phrased it well: "You have majors and minors in automobile history. These are only the major majors." For those who aren’t able to visit the museum, a specially designed catalogue, which includes an interview with Lauren and a foreword by Rapetti, is available at select Ralph Lauren stores (888-475-7674; ralphlauren.com). On view through Aug. 28 at 107 Rue de Rivoli, Paris; 33-1/44-55-57-50; lesartsdecoratifs.fr.

Photo Courtesy Michael Furman

April 27, 2011
By Departures Dispatch | Travel

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April 1 was a big day for the St. Regis franchise, as it added not one but two stunning new hotels to its fold. The St. Regis Bangkok, a 47-story tower situated in the heart of the city, was designed by Brennan Beer Gorman Architects, whose past projects include Bangkok’s Peninsula hotel as well as the Smyth Tribeca in New York. The 227 rooms—including 51 suites—are the most spacious in Bangkok, with floor-to-ceiling windows, natural wood floors and an urban-Zen feel. Also on site are three restaurants (one is ZUMA, the sister restaurant to the eponymous London sushi spot), a wine bar called Decanter, a drawing room for afternoon tea and the famed St. Regis bar. Try the Siam Mary, the hotel’s Thai chili-infused twist on the traditional Blood Mary. The hotel is also home to the only Elemis spa in Southeast Asia. About 1,200 miles northeast, in Tibet, the St. Regis Lhasa Resort officially opened its doors. Situated atop the Roof of the World at 12,000 feet above sea level, it is the first international luxury hotel in Tibet and the first St. Regis property in China. The 150 rooms have spacious marble bathrooms and are accented with local artifacts, and the restaurant Si Zi Kang serves Tibetan and Nepalese cuisine. To ease any altitude sickness, the Iridium spa offers Tibetan herbal treatments, a gold-leaf immersion pool and yoga classes in its meditation garden. It’s also a green hotel, employing a fleet of hybrid cars and making use of solar energy and underground water to save on diesel fuel consumption. And true to St. Regis tradition, both properties have ever-present yet unobtrusive butler service. St. Regis Bangkok rooms from $465 at 159 Rajadamri Rd.; 66/2207-7777; StRegisBangkok.com. St. Regis Lhasa Resort rooms start at $580 at 22 Jiangsu Rd.; 86-891/680-8888; StRegisLhasa.com.

Photo Courtesy of St. Regis Lhasa

April 27, 2011
By Sarah Smith | Fashion

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Fashion exhibits have been rolling into museums as of late: Balenciaga at the de Young in San Francisco and Roberto Capucci at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, to name a few standouts. This week, two important shows will join the ranks. April 28 marks the opening of "Inspiration Dior" at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow. The venue’s second tribute to a fashion house (the first was to Chanel in 2007), it will comprise more than 120 Dior pieces, including couture, jewelry, watches, accessories and perfumes. Alongside them will be artwork that echoes Dior’s "New Look" aesthetic from masters like Picasso, Renoir, Cézanne and Gaugin. In New York, the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art will debut its highly anticipated retrospective "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty" on May 4. The tribute to the late designer will feature 100 of his provocative masterpieces, among them the famous Bumster trouser, vertiginous Armadillo shoes and flower-adorned Sarabande dress. Don’t miss the June 27 personal tour led by the show’s curator, Andrew Bolton, followed by a private lunch in the gallery ($350). Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, 12 Volkhonka, Moscow; 7-495/609-9520; arts-museum.ru. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave., NYC; 212-535-7710; metmuseum.org/alexandermcqueen.

Photo Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph © Sølve Sundsbø / Art + Commerce

April 20, 2011
By Sarah Smith | Shopping, Books

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The new boutique from publishing house Assouline, which opened April 15 in London, is much more than a simple bookstore. Assouline Books, Gifts & Lounge, a 1,000-square-foot space set within the venerable Liberty of London department store, is really a cultural salon of sorts. With more than 1,000 Assouline titles in stock, on topics ranging from fashion, art and design to history to travel and food, the shop also offers a collection of vintage tomes that guests can peruse at the classic library table. In addition to the books, the boutique also has literary gift items, like leather book bags, vintage bookends, candles with a "library" scent and a limited-edition Goyard trunk that can shelve up to 100 books. Whereas most libraries forbid food or drink, here it's encouraged: The lounge serves shoppers French Champagne, Italian and Turkish coffee and a variety of teas and homemade sodas. Regent St.; 44-207/573-9680; shopassouline.com.

Photo Courtesy James Harris for Assouline

April 20, 2011
By Departures Dispatch | Automobiles

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Taking to the open road in a Ferrari, Lamborghini or Bentley is now a dream more easily realized. On April 23, World Class Driving launches its 45-city U.S. Supercar tour, giving auto enthusiasts the opportunity to get behind the wheels of a whole fleet of high-performance vehicles. Every convoy consists of five supercars, and drivers get to pilot each one along carefully chosen, scenic-yet-challenging routes, stopping every half hour to rotate at designated checkpoints. Starting in May at the Monticello Motor Club, about 90 minutes northwest of Manhattan, World Class Driving will also offer the 360 Track Experience, a day-long racing school in purpose-built Ferrari Challenge cars. The morning session will include instruction on safety, weight transfer, braking and driving trajectories; in the afternoon, motorists will set out on the 4.1-mile track. A one-day booking of the U.S. Supercar Tour is $1,700, the 360 Track Experience, $4,000; 877-597-6403; worldclassdriving.com.

Photo Courtesy Bill Reiss for World Class Driving

April 20, 2011
By Departures Dispatch | Lifestyle

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At New York's Le Parker Meridien hotel, men now have a special place to prep and groom. Opened on April 11, Sharps Barber and Shop brings back the glory days of a nearly bygone institution, offering a range of hot-towel shaves, haircuts and beard and mustache trims by seasoned professionals with decades of experience. With hand-laid marble floors, subway-tiled walls, tin ceilings, dark woods and three simple barber chairs, the place has an old-school vibe. As the name implies, it's also part shop, offering the full line of Sharps products (the hotel liked the goods so much, it now uses them as amenities in its 731 rooms). Walk-ins are welcome, and hotel guests can also book in-room services. 119 W. 56th St.; 212-557-4400; leparkermeridien.sharpsnyc.com.

Photo Courtesy Steven Pipes

April 20, 2011
By Departures Dispatch | Dining

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The fourth-annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine event will tee off April 28, starting four days of foodie heaven and bringing more than 70 renowned chefs and 250 wineries together on the coast of California. In attendance will be, among others, Daniel Boulud, Michel Richard, Masaharu Morimoto, Jacques Pépin and Tom Colicchio, who will celebrate the tenth anniversary of his restaurant Craft. On every epicure's can't-miss list are the two Grand Tasting events, held on April 30 and May 1: In a 60,000-square-foot tent, 25 celebrated chefs will serve samples of their signature dishes and sign books, while oenophiles will have the chance to try 500-plus vintages. Other highlights of this year's festival are Food & Wine Best New Chefs Alumni dinner; cooking demos with Colicchio and Pépin; the Robert Mondavi dinner with Napa Valley's most notable chefs; and, of course, the grand finale dinner, prepared by Charlie Trotter, Michel Richard and Gary Danko. VIP-ticket holders will also have access to after-hours parties with the chefs and vintners. Tickets range from $100 for a single event to $4,750 for a VIP four-day pass; 1700 17-Mile Dr.; 866-907-3663; pebblebeachfoodandwine.com.

Photo Courtesy Pebble Beach Food & Wine

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.

April 13, 2011
By Departures Dispatch | Arts + Culture

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The world knows Frank Stella as a painter and Santiago Calatrava as an architect, but the two have come together as artists, collaborating on an installation to be unveiled for the first time on April 15 at the New National Gallery in Berlin. In 2008, Stella painted the bright, 98-foot-long piece on multiple sheets of tarpaulin and titled it The Michael Kohlhaas Curtain, inspired by the German poet Heinrich von Kleist's 1811 novella. Calatrava then constructed a torus-shaped steel sculpture—he says it complements the gallery's architecture, done by Mies van der Rohe—inside of which Stella's painting is mounted. Suspended from the ceiling, the installation will have unobstructed views from all angles on the ground and is on view through August 14, when it will travel to Zaragoza, Spain. At 50 Potsdamer Strasse; 49-30/266-424-242; smb.museum.

Photo Courtesy www.palladium.de, Barbara Burg/Oliver Schuh

April 13, 2011
By Departures Dispatch | Shopping

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The image of a bespectacled Gregory Peck as attorney Atticus Finch in the 1962 movie To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most iconic in film history (the performance also earned Peck an Academy Award). So it's fitting that on the heels of the 50th anniversary of Harper Lee's novel, Oliver Peoples worked with the actor's son, Anthony Peck—who kept the original pair of glasses worn by his father during filming—to introduce the new Gregory Peck frame, in boutiques now. The style has a round P3 lens shape and an exaggerated keyhole bridge, and comes in black, buff and two tortoiseshell esque shades called cocobolo and raintree. The Peck family's portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Los Angeles Public Library. $315 at Oliver Peoples boutiques; oliverpeoples.com..

Photo Courtesy Oliver Peoples

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