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April 13, 2011
By Departures Dispatch | Travel

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The Indian city of Gurgaon (a 15-minute drive from the Delhi airport) has become a financial hub in recent years, with a slew of multinational companies like Coca-Cola, Microsoft, IBM and American Express setting up operations there. As such, it attracts more than its fair share of weary business travelers who can now find a respite at The Oberoi, Gurgaon. Opened April 1, the 202-room property appears truly deserving of the term "urban oasis." Guests are collected from the airport in Rolls-Royce or BMW 7 Series limousines and arrive via a winding, forest-lined driveway. The architecture is centered around the "jewel box," as the mostly glass and mirrored lobby is called. But the hotel is all about size: the nine acres of landscaping, the 10,000-square-foot vertical garden, a 36,000-square-foot reflecting pool and the largest rooms offered by a city hotel in India, starting at 620 square feet. There's also an Indian art gallery, a 24-hour spa offering a variety of Ayurvedic treatments, two restaurants (including a seafood one that features fish caught less than six hours prior to serving) and the country's first exclusive cigar room, where guests can buy hand-rolled Cubans. Special introductory rates from $360 at 443 Udyog Vihar, Phase V, Gurgaon; 91-124/245-1234; oberoihotels.com.

Photo Courtesy Oberoi Hotels & Resorts

April 13, 2011
By Sarah Smith | Fashion

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At a cocktail party last week in his SoHo boutique, designer Elie Tahari introduced the fashion set to his new Emmy bag, designed in collaboration with actress Emmy Rossum. Available in four different sizes and in materials like natural raffia and soft glove or metallic leather, the bucket-shaped bag is as functional as it is polished, the kind of piece that can be carried everywhere, every day of each season. It has multiple interior and exterior pockets, is lined with soft cotton canvas, and comes in six classic colors: natural, black, white, mushroom, yellow, and washed metallic with yellow contrast stitching. A portion of proceeds will be donated to Safe Horizon, an agency aiding families affected by domestic violence. Tahari has also announced the launch of T Tahari jewelry, a collection of necklaces, bracelets, statement rings, earrings and brooches due out this fall. True to the Tahari way, the pieces will be replete with hues of gold, tassels, black diamond briolette-cut stones and clear crystals. The Emmy bag ranges from $400 to $800 at Tahari, 417 W. Broadway; 212-334-4441; elietahari.com.

Photo Courtesy Elie Tahari Collection Boutiques

April 11, 2011
By Christina Ko | Beauty

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Last summer saw the U.S. debut of Sulwhasoo, Korea's top skincare brand, highly coveted for its effective incorporation of herbal medicine formulas. (Devotees, both in Korea and stateside, swear by the First Care Serum [$80], which increases the performance of your entire skincare regimen.) Sold only at Bergdorf Goodman, Sulwhasoo uses powerful indigenous ingredients, such as ginseng and white lily, which are blended together using poje, a traditional method that involves baking, steaming, fermenting or vinegaring each element. It may sound strange, but these ancient techniques, according to the company, enhance the beneficial qualities of the ingredients. This month Sulwhasoo introduces its Snowise collection (from $60), a new line that brightens and evens your complexion, especially good for those with dark age spots, hyperpigmentation and acne scars. With ginseng to restore the skin's vibrance and hedyotis diffusa—an herb that's said to even have cancer-fighting qualities—to help circulation, the Snowise Brightening Serum ($200) is notably light yet effective. To see fast results, New Yorkers can book the customized Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng facial at Bergdorf Goodman (free with $150 purchase of Sulwhasoo products). Trained at the company's Seoul headquarters, the aesthetician selects products for your specific skin type and also performs traditional treatments, such as a detoxifying facial massage using jade. Call 212-872-8726 for appointments; bergdorfgoodman.com.

April 05, 2011
By Departures Dispatch | Arts + Culture

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Some creative collaborations amount to more than the sum of their parts, and this is one of them. Last month, Lalique released to its boutiques the first of 83 "Winged Victory of Samothrace" crystal sculptures that incorporate the artistic methods of the late French artist Yves Klein. After a year of experimentation with a chemist, Klein discovered an intense, completely absorbent shade of ultramarine blue, a hue now known as IKB (International Klein Blue). The scientific formula—a combination of copper and cobalt oxides—remains a secret, but Klein used the color to paint many of his sculptures, including Winged Victory, the moulds for which he acquired in 1962, the year of his death. Nearly fifty year later, Lalique comes in: the glassware and jewelry house worked with Klein's estate and revived its cire perdue (or "lost wax") method, in which a molten wax coagulates into a material described as crystalline skin. The result is a life-sized Winged Victory sculpture made of IKB-colored Lalique crystal, priced at $110,000. Two of the 83 that were crafted have already been purchased. For more information, please visit the Lalique New York boutique at 609 Madison Ave., or call 212-355-6550.

Photo Courtesy Lalique

April 05, 2011
By Departures Dispatch | Lifestyle

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Audi of America has teamed up with Renovo Hardwood Bicycles to introduce a manpowered, two-wheeled version of its Quattro: a bicycle they've dubbed the duo. Introduced on April 2 and handmade in Renovo's Portland, Oregon studio, it features a monocoque frame made of hardwood, noted for its ability to absorb shock while remaining both durable and lightweight (the weight per cubic inch of wood is about one-fourth that of aluminum). The duo takes its design cues from Audi, with woods that match, for example, the cars' interiors and the use of LED lights. The three models come in two colors: espresso brown and serrando red. First, there's the City ($6,530), an 8-speed leisure bike with an upright position and a rack over the rear tire. The 11-speed Sport model ($7,350) is better for fitness and long-distance riding with its drop handlebars, grease-free Gates CenterTrack belt drive, and medium-width tires, which make for less rolling resistance. For the century club rider or racer, there is the duo Road ($7,460) with narrow tires, no fenders and a compact 20-speed gear train. On top of all this sleek design and sophisticated technology, the duo is also biodegradable and one hundred percent recyclable. To order, visit audi-collection.com/duo.

Photo Audi of America

April 05, 2011
By Departures Dispatch | Shopping

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Spring is in the air—and with it, the desire to change one's fragrance. Here, two new options to consider. Bulgari's Mon Jasmin Noir is a multifaceted floral scent inspired by the black jasmine, a fictional flower that symbolizes feminine sensuality and whose scent changes depending on the time of day. Parfumeurs Olivier Polge and Sophie Labbé created a blend of golden cedrat, musky nougatine, precious woods like cashmeran, cedar and patchouli, and two types of jasmine (sambac absolute and angel wing). Maison Martin Margiela just introduced its first perfume, called (Untitled) in keeping with Monsieur Margiela's custom of not appearing in public. The unisex scent and distinctive bottle are also consistent with the house's knack for reincarnating forgotten traditions. The fragrance relies on green notes, the unsettling, almost bitter freshness created by galbanum, box green, lentiscus, cedar and bitter orange. The vial resembles something out of an olden-day apothecary with its round stopper, Olivetti typewriter font and white string-tied neck. Mon Jasmin Noir, $105, is available at nordstrom.com. (Untitled), $140, is available at saks.com.

Photo Courtesy Bulgari

April 05, 2011
By Sarah Smith | Fashion

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The arrival of bathing suit season offers a few chic styles we found particularly exciting. First up is Vilebrequin, celebrating its 40th anniversary with special-edition swim trunks ($550). The patchwork design features many of the company's most memorable pastel prints, including salamanders, starfish, fruits and kangaroos. Tommy Bahama's fast-drying Hybrid of Paradise trunks ($98) double as sporty cargo shorts with a fixed waistband, a proper zipper, a button and belt loops for those beach clubs with strict dress codes. Orlebar Brown continues to roll out its Edition series (a selection of shorts with the same visual theme) such as its the Dog collection ($285), featuring digitally printed close-ups of man's best friend, and the Alan Aldridge collection ($325), displaying colorful illustrations by the artist. For serious surfers, there's the new Blade short ($110) from Oakley. It has a saltwater-durable inner compression short to increase muscle power and therefore the rider's control of the board. The outer short fabric has a nanotech coating that repels waters rather than allowing the fabric to absorb it, and it can stretch up to 120 percent.

For women, there's the debut of Thom.Dolan, a new line from Bill Blass and Ralph Lauren veteran Thomasine Dolan. Her Whitney suit ($165), an all-cotton, madras triangle-top bikini, is lined with a men's striped-shirt pattern that would be right at home on Nantucket. Cult designer Lisa Marie Fernandez has debuted a few new wetsuit-inspired numbers, including the amethyst-hued neoprene Nikki bikini ($345) with self-tie straps, curve paneling details and low-rise briefs.

Photo Courtesy Vilebrequin

April 04, 2011
By Jordan Kisner | Dining, Travel, Hotel, Southern California

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While Southern California's year-round beach weather has always made us jealous, it didn't have much of to speak of when it came to fine dining. That's now changed with Addison—the only five-star and five-diamond restaurant in the region—led by Relais & Châteaux grand chef William Bradley. From the grounds of the luxury resort The Grand Del Mar, in San Diego, Bradley meticulously prepares local, seasonal ingredients in a contemporary French style. The four-course tasting menu ($98 per person, offerings change with the season; 5300 Grand Del Mar Court, San Diego; 858-314-1900; addisondelmar.com) offers selections like licorice-glazed squab with candied red cabbage and plums, fois gras pot de crème and delicious handmade sweet pea agnolotti with ham hock. For dessert, the coconut custard with pistachio brittle is a must. The wine list, created by Jesse Rodriguez (formerly the head sommelier of Napa's French Laundry), is an oenophile's dream, with an innovative mix of high-end vintages from Europe, new wines from South America and New Zealand as well as California cult favorites. You can also make it a full day by starting at The Grand Del Mar's spa: Begin with the Spring Refresher facial ($180, lunch and day access to all spa amenities included;  858-314-2020; thegranddelmar.com), continue with a yoga or Pilates class and a plunge in the pool, then take a sunset walk through the property until you arrive, finally, at Addison, refreshed and ready for a dinner to remember.

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March 31, 2011
By Shannon Adducci | Fashion

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Every season shoe designs become more and more outrageous: more studs, more exotic skins, more death-defying height (who could forget Alexander McQueen’s ten-inch Armadillo heels a few years back?). Which is why the new spring collection of Aperlaï, designed by founder Alessandra Lanvin (granddaughter-in-law of Jeanne Lanvin) with Central Saint-Martin grad Geraldina Bassani Antivari, is a welcome change. The 40 pairs in the collection, which feature ladylike details and sumptuous shapes, are sexy but feminine. To be clear, the styles still have their share of super-thin metal stilettos and rich python and croc—plus the new exotic favorite, stingray—but they’ve been mixed with softer, colorful details like raffia ruffles, thick satin ankle wraps and even seersucker. Take the Clara heel, trimmed in black raffia, or the hot pink–strapped Chiara, with subtle nude snakeskin details. Each heel is at least four inches, but Aperlaï also offers suede and python moccasins for true comfort. The shoes are available at Bergdorf Goodman—albeit in limited quantities—and a Paris boutique is in the works. Shoes, from $570. For more information, contact Aperlaï at aperlai@aperlaiparis.com

March 29, 2011
By Sarah Smith | Fashion

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The chic shops of Paris have added a few new members to their ranks in early 2011. A month ago on the Rue St.-Honoré, Michael Kors opened his first store here, which, at 7,000 square feet, is his largest retail space to date. The focus is on accessories, with a lineup of handbags, shoes, eyewear, watches and fragrances featured prominently on the first floor. Up the dramatic staircase and under the expansive glass ceiling are the women's ready-to-wear collections. A few blocks away, the Herrera mother-daughter team debuted their 3,330-square-foot CH Carolina Herrera boutique earlier this month. Lit by six enormous windows, the interior is a combination of dark woods, silk, raw linens and aged-brass fixtures. The space is divided into four distinct atmospheres: women's, men's, handbags and footwear, and special home and travel items. Not to be missed and exclusive to this store is the Paris shopping tote ($940) featuring a colorful map of the boutique's elegant neighborhood. A special side note: For an après-shopping lunch with the international fashion set—Christian Louboutin, Bruno Frisoni and Lanvin's Alber Elbaz have all been in—take a 20-minute walk through the Tuileries and across the Seine to Ralph's, the American restaurant Ralph Lauren has opened adjacent to his St.-Germain flagship. The fare includes Maine lobster and strip steaks from Lauren's Colorado ranch. Michael Kors, 279 Rue St. Honoré; 33-1/70-36-44-40. CH Carolina Herrera, 10 Rue Castiglione; 33-1/58-62-41-03. Ralph's, 173 Boulevard St.-Germain; 33-1/44-77-76-00.

Photo Clockwise from top left: Courtesy of Michael Kors, Courtesy of CH Carolina Herrera, Courtesy of Michael Kors, Courtesy of CH Carolina Herrera, Courtesy of Michael Kors

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