Menswear to Up Your Savoir Faire
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Superlative experiences that add an element of surprise to your romantic night out, or in.
WHAT'S A ROMANTIC experience? Is it roses and chocolates? A couple’s massage? Champagne on a yacht? While the aforementioned all sound lovely, I believe a romantic experience must be decidedly potent and a little surprising. It can be poignant, delicious, eerie, or utterly calming, but it must be immersive enough to make me forget about the unread emails propagating in my inbox; the unscheduled, overdue doctor’s visits; the unfinished errands; and the health and wellbeing of every human I’ve ever loved. A romantic experience needs to pleasantly tether me to the here and now so I can genuinely share a moment with someone else.
This list of romantic experiences is not the most heart-shaped one ever created, but it’s special to me, comprising a small collection of foods, places, and things that, over the past few months, have manifested some truly marvelous, shared moments.
A full omakase dinner served in your very own home
I recommend this undeniably delightful experience for a double date or a small group (four to six people is best). Offered across New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Maryland, it starts with a professional sushi chef arriving at your front door with their own equipment, even chopsticks, napkins, and flatware. It’s an entirely self-contained operation and an abundant one at that. As the multi-course meal unfolds, so does a seemingly never-ending stream of gorgeous nigiri — sweet shrimp, velvety king salmon, perfect little butter-like slabs of raw scallop, and a hand roll crowned with a lump of bright, salty roe, just as it should be. Except this is in your living room, so it’s expertly served while you’re doing little happy jigs in comfy pants, or a ballgown. The dress code is whatever you want when the venue is your house. Another plus: The concept’s co-founder, Max Weiss, is a dream to correspond with when setting up the experience, as is the incredible sushi chef, Lim Piao, who texts ETAs leading up to the dinner. EXPLORE MORE
An arty escape in a sprawling loft of wonders
The wholesomeness of Happy Medium is what makes it so damn cool. I stumbled upon this hidden, sprawling studio in the Two Bridges neighborhood, just southeast of New York City’s Chinatown, right after it first opened. Behind an unassuming, street-level sign, up a long staircase, I found an oasis of art supplies, inspiration, Noguchi-style paper lamps, and other warm, rustic design touches — with cozy little drawing nooks. Founded by Tayler and Rett Carraway, Happy Medium offers an “art cafe” by day — with a menu of offerings such as willow charcoal, clay, or watercolor — and art classes in the evening, including figure drawing with live models and a Build-A-Chair workshop in the downstairs studio. Drinks and snacks are available at the bar. There are lots of fresh flowers and warm, soft light. Everywhere you look lies something curious, beautiful, and nice to sketch. It’s a place to use your hands — a tender experience for you and someone special, or for an earnest dose of self-love. EXPLORE MORE
Stirring, candle-lit concerts in crypts, catacombs, cemeteries, and caves
When I was a little girl, I was supremely taken by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera,” both on Broadway and in the 2004 film adaptation starring Emmy Rossum and Gerard Butler (the latter not quite a songbird, but he can do no wrong). The rock ’n’ roll gothic romance of it all, the candelabras, the subterranean singing … I’m breathless just thinking of it! My first Death of Classical concert, in the crypt below Harlem’s Church of the Intercession, struck a similar chord. The series gives voice and visibility to underrepresented composers and performers through concerts in bone-chillingly beautiful subterranean locations. The context is pure poetry: live music flowing through a space reserved for spirits. After a bit of wine and cheese in the rectory, I watched a trio called Empire Wild perform beneath dark, vaulted stone ceilings. Jazz and more modern sounds wove through their classical notes, which culminated in a heart-rending rendition of “Moon River.” I cried. EXPLORE MORE
A late-night gallery and fine dining in an architectural jewel box
With locations in New York City, Stockholm, Tallinn, Miami, and soon Berlin and Shanghai, Fotografiska is an opulent, velvet-clad, art-and-cuisine experience that comes to life after the sun goes down. I visited the New York City location, housed in the old Church Missions House, an 1892 Renaissance Revival landmark on Park Avenue between 21st and 22nd Streets. Open until 11 p.m., the multi-floor gallery is an ode to the beauty of photography, with an eclectic, curated mix of iconic names and fresh faces: The most recent exhibit was a poppy, psychedelic David LaChapelle show. After feasting your eyes on world-class photography, you can enjoy a meal on the second floor, at Veronika. Oscar Wilde and his luxurious, fur-lined jackets would have fit well in the Roman and Williams-designed space, among the velvet banquettes, double-height ceilings, dramatic drapes, and glowing chandeliers. The restaurant serves decadent classics like martinis with a side of caviar, briny East Coast oysters, schnitzels, and steaks. It’s open until midnight, which makes dining at this level that much sexier. EXPLORE MORE
A hotel, spa, brasserie, and bar — inspired by the city of love
The endlessly charming and sumptuous Hotel Barrière Fouquet’s just landed in Tribeca. I experienced the French hotel group’s property during a staycation with my partner, and it felt like a trip to Paris — the hotel’s bevy of French guests heightens this effect. Velvet-lined and intimate, awash in playful shades of rose and the lightest pistachio, Fouquet’s is worlds away from the gritty, honking chaos of New York City.
Its restaurant, Brasserie Fouquet’s, is a tribute to the original 1899 Fouquet’s, located in Paris on the Champs-Élysées. Chairs are cushioned in red velvet and chandeliers bathe the ceilings in amber. My partner and I kicked off the meal with a bitter argument about communication styles paired with caviar and Champagne, followed by French onion soup, endive salad, lobster, and potato gnocchi. We ended with two digestives and peace. Beginning the evening with utter wrath and ending it with a kiss across the table speaks to the decidedly lovely nature of this place. A drink beforehand at the hotel’s discreetly located bar, Titsou, is a must. With plush plum interiors and glowing art deco lamps, it’s like an enlarged jewelry box serving phenomenal cocktails. I ordered the Oh-La-La, a juicy, effervescent, tropical getaway in a glass.
Complete your stay with a visit to the subterranean Spa Diane Barrière. Its steam room, sauna, and indoor hot pool are excellent places to forgive and forget any lovers’ quarrels from the night before. EXPLORE MORE
A device to start and end the day with calm and connection
I’m not a morning person. Never once have I woken up and leapt out of bed with a sunny disposition. Normally, I feel ill and ill-humored. My partner, who I wake up next to every day, does not find this romantic. Nor does he find my inability to wind down at night romantic. Loftie is hoping to change all that. It’s a two-part system composed of lighting and an alarm clock promising to ease your nights and mornings into a better rhythm. The base of the beautifully designed lamp glows like an enchanted stalagmite, beckoning you toward a calmer lifestyle. It signals to your body that it’s time to sleep by slowly lowering its glow from top to base, like a personal sunset. In the morning it does the opposite, becoming a sunrise lamp — gently lighting up from base to top.
The alarm clock, which doubles as an ambient sound device, sleepy storyteller, bluetooth speaker, and meditation-breathwork-sound bath app, wakes you up in two phases. The first, quieter alarm gently lifts you out of consciousness with a soothing sound of your choosing. The second alarm has a bit more energy to it, though neither feels jarring. I’ve always hated waking up in fight-or-flight to the panic-inducing blare of my iPhone and having the first thing I look at be my iPhone. Now, while one could argue an alarm system isn’t the sexiest addition to a list of romantic experiences, I say, what’s more alluring than waking up as your best self? SHOP NOW
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Sophie Mancini is an editor at Departures. Born and raised in New York City, she holds a degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University and has a background as a writer in brand and editorial.
Ahonen & Lamberg is a multidisciplinary design studio based in Paris. Founded in 2006 by Finnish designers Anna Ahonen and Katariina Lamberg, the studio concentrates on art direction, creative consultancy, and graphic design.
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