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luxury

March 09, 2011
By Dispatch Departures | Travel

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Luxury travel isn't always about penthouse suites and high thread-count sheets, and UK-based travel outfitter Black Tomato knows it. Since its inception, in 2005, the company, whose name refers to a rare delicacy, has offered bespoke travel experiences focusing on "getting back to your explorer roots." Two weeks ago, the founders launched a sister venture, Epic Tomato, which arranges expeditions to rarely visited places. Led by expert guides fluent in local dialects (some are even former members of British Special Services), the trips cover five terrain categories: jungle, desert, mountain, polar and rivers. Skiers can travel by private boat through Norwegian fjords and spend the day skiing the pristine slopes of the Lyngen Alps. Other potential adventures are climbing a volcano in South America's Atacama Desert or a nine-day stay with the Dani tribe of West Papua, where visitors learn to construct a proper bow and arrow, attend a traditional pig roast and sleep in villagers' huts. Each itinerary is completely tailored to the client's goals and wishes. Price upon request; 877-815-1497; epictomato.com.

Photo Courtesy Epic Tomato

March 02, 2011
By Dispatch Departures | Arts + Culture

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Contemporary art collectors and admirers, rejoice! The Armory Show begins today. Running through March 6 on Piers 92 and 94 on Manhattan's west side, this year's fair hosts 274 galleries from 31 countries. At the Paul Kasmin Gallery booth, sculptor Iván Navarro has installed 82 feet of neon-lit fencing, while multimedia artist Sam Van Aken has transformed the Ronald Feldman Gallery stand into an orchard of live trees genetically altered to simultaneously produce peaches, plums, cherries, nectarines and apricots. Hirschl & Adler Modern is showing seven marble sculptures by Elizabeth Turk, the first exhibition of her work since she won a 2010 MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant. Eighteen galleries, both renowned and up-and-coming, from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela will represent Latin America at the second edition of Armory Focus, a curated, invitation-only section of the fair showcasing a particular artistic community (last year's featured Berlin). Don't miss the Casa Triângulo stall, where Brazilian painter Mariana Palma's colorful work will be on display. For its art-loving guests, private club and hotel Soho House is hosting a series of panel discussions and brunches with presenting artists, and offering guided tours of VOLTA NY, an Armory Show satellite exhibit on view on 34th Street. One-day admission to the Armory Show is $30 and a combination pass, including entry to VOLTA NY, is $40; thearmoryshow.com; voltashow.com. Soho House is located 29-35 Ninth Ave.; 212-627-9800; sohohouseny.com.

Photo Mariana Palma, Untitled, 2011, oil on canvas, 250 x 150 cm. Courtesy Casa Triângulo.

March 02, 2011
By Dispatch Departures | Lifestyle, Books, Cooking

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We at DEPARTURES have been looking forward to this moment since we ran Bruce Feiler's article on Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking (The Food Lab) in our November/December issue. Well, the wait is finally over: The 2,438-page, six-volume set comes out March 7. Compiled by a team of 30 cooks and researchers, Modernist Cuisine is the brainchild of former Microsoft chief technology officer Nathan Myhrvold and his two coauthors, Chris Young and Maxime Bilet, both veterans of London's experimental restaurant the Fat Duck. Much more than a standard cookbook, it's an extensive study of food science (explaining, for instance, the anatomy of a grill and how the combustion of meat juices creates aromas and flavors), with a collection of recipes from out-there chefs like Wylie Dufresne and Heston Blumenthal. The 3,500 visuals are stunning: Many are interior shots of food equipment in action, which the photographers captured by bisecting each apparatus and sealing the open side with heat-resistant glass. $625; modernistcuisine.com.

Photo Ryan Matthew Smith; The Cooking Lab, LLC

March 02, 2011
By Dispatch Departures | Travel

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Kuwait's not exactly a hop, skip and a jump away, but a visit to the city's new Hotel Missoni—and the Maserati limo ride from the airport—may be worth the trip alone. The 18-story hotel, which opened on Tuesday as part of Kuwait City's new Symphony Centre, is awash in color and full of smart design. Nearly 10 million mosaic tiles were used to create the iconic zigzag stripes that appear throughout the hotel, including the floor of the swimming pool overlooking the gulf. Inspired by the beaches of the Arabian Sea, creative director Rosita Missoni chose a color palette of turquoise, gold and beige for the 169 guest rooms, each of which has a sea view. She also outfitted them with some of the same items she has in her own home, like Hans Wegner's Wishbone chair. As for the 63 suites and the 2,260-square-foot penthouse, they are more like chic apartments decked out in vivid Missoni shades. The hotel has three restaurants—the Italian eatery Cucina, the Arab-Mediterranean fusion restaurant Luna and a café for a quick espresso and a pastry—and a ten-room Six Senses spa with two yoga studios and a juice bar will open later this year. A caveat: Though Kuwait remains one of the safer places to visit in the Middle East, it's always wise to check the State Department website for travel advisories. Rooms start at $385. At the Symphony Building, Gulf Road, Salmiya; 965/9999-1357; hotelmissoni.com.

Photo Courtesy Hotel Missoni

March 02, 2011
By Dispatch Departures | Shopping

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Last year Gucci's iconic Bamboo bag, which made its debut in 1947, got a makeover courtesy of creative director Frida Giannini. Featuring a draped metal chain, fringe tassels and nickel hardware, the New Bamboo bag became an instant classic. Now Gucci has introduced a made-to-order service at its Madison Avenue store, allowing clients to choose from three bag sizes, each available in 25 shades of matte, shiny or metallic crocodile. The color palette is extensive, with neutral tones like ivory, camel rose and soft sand at one end of the spectrum and bolder hues of Indian blue, emerald and burgundy at the other. For the finishing touch, the owner's initials are embossed on the flap interior and the mirror case. Prices upon request. At 840 Madison Ave.; gucci.com.

Photo Courtesy Gucci

March 02, 2011
By Dispatch Departures | Fashion

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Red was out in full force at the New York fall shows, sometimes as a kicker to a mostly black-and-white ensemble, but more often as the main event. First down the runway at Chado Ralph Rucci was a neon-red Mongolian lamb jacket worn with a matching hooded dress, gloves and over-the-knee boots. Soon to follow were a scarlet-and-black chinchilla coat and a gold-and-carnelian paisley jacket lined with red mink. Michael Kors's all-crimson suit paired a dyed-fox coat with a jersey bodysuit and high-waisted wool-crepe trousers. At Marchesa, the candy apple-colored numbers included a puff-shouldered trench and lacy cocktail dresses. Ralph Lauren favored more romantic, wine-tinted hues, sending out a duo of bordeaux velvet dresses and a burgundy tuxedo jacket (while accenting the black looks with red-heeled shoes). Oscar de la Renta's collection delivered a Park Avenue meets Silk Road feel, showcasing a fuchsia and plum chiffon-trimmed alpaca coat, a bordeaux cashmere-jacquard cardigan atop a laser-cut suede skirt, and plum fox-brimmed hats. It seems that seeing red will have a whole new meaning this fall. Chado Ralph Rucci, 212-819-9066; michaelkors.com; marchesa.com; ralphlaurencollection.com; oscardelarenta.com.

Photo From left: Courtesy Oscar de la Renta, Courtesy Michael Kors, Courtesy Ralph Lauren

February 28, 2011
By Thomas Dunne | Golf

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© Courtesy Callaway Golf

Last October, Lamborghini
lit up the Paris Auto Show with its Sesto Elemento concept car—a matte-gray
dream machine that made extensive use of advanced carbon-fiber technology to
weigh in at a feathery 2,202 pounds. Now Callaway Golf has partnered with the
legendary automaker for its new RAZR
Hawk driver
, released last week, which utilizes the same technology. The
advantage conferred by carbon fiber is simple: It’s much lighter than titanium,
allowing for greater acceleration in a sports car and greater clubhead speed in
a driver.

Composite materials aren’t
new to the golf industry, but the challenge has always been how to use them
without compromising the clubhead’s structural integrity. Back in the mid-’00s,
manufacturers were only able to build a potato chip–sized piece of composite
into the crown, so the weight savings were fairly insignificant. Most companies
eventually let the trend pass—more than 90 percent of drivers on the market
today are all titanium. The RAZR Hawk, however, is the first-ever driver to
feature carbon fiber in both the crown and the sole. (The clubface is still forged titanium.) This weight savings,
Callaway says, reduces energy loss during the downswing by 43 percent over the
company’s previous offering

The visual affinity between
the RAZR Hawk and the Sesto Elemento is obvious. Is this savvy marketing by
association? Sure. But with the Sesto Elemento estimated to sell for a cool
$3.5 million and unlikely to enter even limited production, Callaway’s promise
of adding a few extra yards on your drive is probably the more attainable
fantasy.

RAZR Hawk
is part of a full equipment line that includes fairway woods, a hybrid designed
with input from Phil Mickelson, and three sets of irons. $400;
callawaygolf.com.

February 28, 2011
By John Wogan | Fashion

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© Courtesy Patrik Ervell

Spring is almost here (finally!), and the first order of business is stowing away those heavy wool coats and breaking out lighter outerwear suitable for cool nights and the occasional spring shower—the best of which comes from Patrik Ervell, a multiple CFDA-award nominee and this year’s contender for GQ’s Best New Menswear Designer. His hooded Air Jacket Pullover ($460; patrikervell.com) is water-resistant and features open gussets for ventilation as well as a drawstring waist for an adjustable fit. It’s stylish, functional and comfortable. We like to pair it with Ervell’s simply handsome leather Daypack ($600)—think of it as the sophisticated grown-up version of your favorite backpack—which is perfect for storing all the necessities while running around the city. Another hit from the emerging master of minimalism.

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 23, 2011
By Dispatch Departures | Travel, Hotel

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© Courtesy Mondrian SoHo

Last week, the fall 2011 ready-to-wear collections were unveiled at New York's Lincoln Center, but this week features a different type of NYC debut: the long-awaited opening of Mondrian SoHo. Like its sister properties in Los Angeles and South Beach, Florida, the 270-room hotel, which opened Tuesday, is the quintessence of sophisticated cool, with some modern-day fairy tale touches. Interior designer Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz, whose résumé includes the aforementioned Mondrian Los Angeles and the homes of Sean “Diddy” Combs and photographer Mark Seliger, drew inspiration from Jean Cocteau's 1946 fantasy film La Belle et la Bête, choosing a bright white and powdery French blue color palette as a backdrop for custom chrome desks, mirrored nightstands and marble foyers. The building is the tallest in the neighborhood, so rooms on or above the 17th floor offer stunning views of the midtown Manhattan skyline, as do each of the four suites and, of course, the 1,170-square foot, 25th-floor penthouse, which has not one but two terraces. A favorite of the Fashion Week beau monde, the hotel's bar, Mister H, evokes the feel of 1930s Shanghai with its red leather banquettes and damask walls. Yet to be unveiled is chef Sam Talbot's seafood restaurant, Imperial No. 9, due to open March 1. Special introductory rates start at $240. At 9 Crosby St.; 212-389-1000; mondriansoho.com.

Photo Courtesy Mondrian SoHo

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