There is a reason Hermes, the French purveyor of beautiful things and the gold standard for luxury goods remains on top of the luxury heap. They are at the pinnacle in terms of profits, desirability and awesome products because they set themselves apart. They are the leaders—while the fashion bandwagon is standing on their head to get a sliver of attention from millennials, Hermes is content to surround themselves with the smart and accomplished who are also the persona of their customer.
The brand’s instagram feed is experimental and whimsical and appeals to the artful and intelligent who also has the means to invest in their slow brand of products. Slow to produce; time is a commodity that is needed to wait on lists to acquire a Birkin or a finely crafted settee. One such insta-post shows handsome male models at the beach around a cubist sandcastle. Promoting the clothing seems secondary to the scene which is captioned “be the king of the castle—time to take the throne.#Hermesmanifest.” Or another post shows a model swinging too and fro with feet teasing boots and shoes. In a smoky mirrored room the video titled,”The Swing” plays. The brand is not immune to hashtags and promoting products but somehow you don’t ever feel a blatant marketing ploy.
I was invited to the ” HermesHereElsewhere” installation which was a night to show off their latest home and furniture goodies, and there was no question I would attend. At Cedar Lake event space in Chelsea the artist, Robert Wilson, set up a surrealist circus for the night. There were taxidermy parrots sitting on the shoulders of men who sat at a jewelry cabinet, so elaborate and refined, the imagined purchaser can only be a middle eastern queen. Past the flying sofa with a lady reclining on the ground grasping for feathers, another room revealed wall to wall video screens. Smack dab in the middle was a undulating dancer on a platform in this completely circular massive space.
My favorite part of these events is the well-heeled ladies and gentlemen who attend. I’m never sure of who they are—many have come from the mother ship in Paris. But they are quiet, sophisticated and exude a self assurance that I don’t see very much press events where the object is to flank the room with celebrities in skimpy clothing. The room is quiet and respectful and you feel something important is happening. I do note Robert Chavez, CEO for the Americas and Alexi Dumas, the Creative Director and part of the dynasty in attendance but the un-trendiness seems completely on trend. I always feel at home and completely grateful to have seen the show.
Ever watch reality TV shows like “Naked and Afraid” or “Alaskan Bush People” ? Our modern lives are so disconnected from the natural world that it’s fascinating to drop all traces of our technology laden cushy lives to see how a butt-naked couple survives 2 weeks on bugs and berries. Granted there is the safety net of the film crew who no-doubt swoop in with doctors should a naked life be in danger. “Alaskan Bush People” explore the lives of the Brown family —blase’ when face to face with the producer’s iPhone for the first time. They meet daily challenges of bears tearing up their house, broken boat motors, getting stuck on a desolate road with a flat tire and cutting down trees for lumber to make their house. They love every minute of their daily strife and despite their difficulties. But I digress…
Our lost connection to the natural world parallel another world— that of mechanical watches. Watches are no longer a necessity— they are a luxury. I’ve been told over and over that cell phones have replaced the need for a wrist watch. However I take exception to that point and find a flick of the wrist reveals the time of day faster than pulling out that other machine. But watch aficionados are in love with the intricate workings of these tiny machines and appreciate it on many levels. It’s so much more than a watch. It signifies slowing down, the love of handmade objects, and getting back to basics.
In Switzerland, white-coated craftsmen labor at their workbench with tweezers looking through a magnifying glass and placing minuscule gears and pins in sequential order to create movements and assembling the end product—the watch itself. The lengthy process takes weeks sometimes months to complete and is what makes the piece an object of desire. The admiration is based on time-honored methods passed down through the generations. It sits on a wrist as a sign of defiance to modern age—signaling a return to things that matter, and a respect for the past.
But it is a business—watches need to be sold and the Horlogerie world has minions of marketers who are never at a loss for platforms and ideas to drum up sales. To that end the marketers conjured up Madison Avenue Watch Week for NYC and this is it’s sixth year. The find time starts on April 13th—sponsored by the most prestigious brand names that span the Swiss generations. They will show Basel’s latest releases to the well-heeled enthusiasts, sometimes partnering with a former astronaut as with Breitling’s Emergency Watch or a wildlife photographer as with Jaeger LeCoultre whom express their admiration for the timely world.
Interested? The elegant fun is happening up down the pristine streets of Madison Avenue. The champagne will be flowing and the stories too.
Last night Hublot kicked off the celebrations with a cocktail party at their boutique. Hublot does things in a big way just like their watches, so they timed the release of Aaron Sigmond’s DRIVE TIME: Watches Inspired by Automobiles, Motorcycles, and Racing with the event. Aaron was on hand to sign copies of the book ( see event photos below). Scheduled events are throughout the week so check in with the main website below.
To request an invitation:
To request an invitation and see listing of watch brands:
The Milan fashion runway is off to a wacky start with antics to cut through the noise and create brand buzz. Fashion designers work intensely at making their show a fashion happening. Below are highlights from the catwalk commotions with a wink to whimsy.
Crystal Light (Moschino designed by Jeremy Scott)
Fire Sale Chic (Moschino for Jeremy Scott)
“The Revenant”— trophy cape. (Prada)
Where’s Waldo? (Fendi)
The Cat in the Hat Comes Back— in fox fur that is (Fendi)
“Captain Kirk, my sensors indicate I’ve seen this before” (Diesel)
“Are friends electric?” Gary Neuman gear. (Diesel)
A cardboard box and a subway grate completes this look (Prada)
Big Bird goes blue ( Byblos)
Moth eaten Momma ( Etro)
DIY is where it’s at and face it— You Tube instructs everyone from a plumber to a rocket scientist to be a fine artist or fashion designer. No longer do we have to stay in our lanes. Style conscious people—practically the entire universe—want a personalized approach to almost everything they purchase. Individuality is key. It’s that inner fashion designer and fashion critic in all of us that is driving the trend. So it makes perfect sense to give consumers the power to create and fine tune an item into a one-of-a-kind “designed by Mimi” (insert name), bespoke—thing.
Dizaind is the latest to bring design into the hands of the consumer. On Dizaind’s web site you, the purchaser, decide on leathers, colors, handles, and metals creating a one-of-a- kind piece that you won’t see everyone sporting on the subway. Mix and match with their easy on-line tool with the 30 colors and two types of leathers. They’ve got 7 shapes of bags—drawstring bucket, top handle, tote, zipper clutch, double handle satchel. All the basic shapes for a respectable handbag. The prices of bags start at $300.
It’s not an overstatement to say that Karl Lagerfeld is a prolific designer, filmmaker and photographer, and December’s pre-fall fashion show (officially called Metiers d’ Art), held in the iconic Cinecitta studio in Rome, is proof that creativity improves with age.
Season after season Chanel’s fashion shows explore a particular theme with an all-out extravagance in terms of the set and the setting. It’s become Chanel’s norm for shows to take place all over the globe in their mission to spread the gospel of Chanel—not that they need to scream at all—devotees already pray at their altar. Chanel is one of the top selling brands for luxury emporiums and retailers— the reason they can indulge in lavish presentations.
The theme of this Roman happening was French and Italian cinemas, set in the studio that Federico Fellini created many of his films. The stage was set on well-worn streets of Rome with authentic shops on corners with the fashion crowd viewing from cafe tables. Details like pools of curb water from a recent rain, added to the reality of the production as models strolled through hidden back roads of the ancient city with 1960’s hair.
There were 86 looks—an incredibly prolific display of creative prowess for the designer (most fashion shows have 40 to 50 passages).The clothing was not overshadowed by the spectacular sets or the gorgeous models and was some of Lagerfeld’s best. There were Chanel classics like tweedy suits made sexy and modern with lacy hosiery. Patent leather pencil skirts, pared with simple silk shells and heeled mules. Handbags were fashioned into a film cameras and the use of intricate French lace were stand-outs. Sorry but you’ll have to wait until June to buy anything—so hang in there.
Guests enjoyed a cocktail party prior to the start of the show with a viewing of Karl Lagerfeld’s new short film starring Kristen Stewart and Geraldine Chaplin. After the show, the shops and cafes bustled to life with cocktails and canapes for all to enjoy. Performances from DJ Paolo di Nola and Pachanga Boys concluded the evening’s festivities
courtesy of Cartier
Not only is Cartier known for exceptional jewerly but they are also known for exceptional parties.Today’s morning press breakfast at the recently opened Baccarat Hotel was another. The excuse for this gathering was the release of a film which showcases incredible diamond jewels from the mason staring, model and songstress, Karen Elston.
The dreamlike film showcases the the fierily red head dressed in a cherry dress dancing with a group of dapper men in a retro rendition of Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend sung by Ms. Elston. Cartier really turned on the sparkle for this film with exaggerated effects on the diamonds with a stunning result.
Out of respect for the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris the event was postponed from its Monday evening original date.The film highlights some of Paris’s iconic sights like the Eiffel Tower and the carousel and Cartier found it distasteful to premiere the film the Monday following the deadly attack.
The event was held at the Baccarat’s bar with its mix of traditional and contemporary art on the walls and a modern French decor. The film played on as press enjoyed cappuccinos and was dazzled by the showcases of actual diamonds from there high jewelry collections which was also on display. The intricate pieces were all in platinum with white diamonds and one of a kind.
The crystal company with 250 years of history in France is making history on New York’s tony West 53 Street with the opening of the Baccarat Hotel and Residences.
This is the brand’s foray into the lifestyle arena: The midtown glass tower with 114 guest rooms designed by French husband and wife team, Gilles and Boissier, is a paradigm of modern luxury with a prismatic glass facade and an array of opulent crystal chandeliers placed throughout the hotel to a dramatic effect.
The chocolate brown and beige decor extends throughout, and the Grand Salon is accented with velvety crimson rose floral arrangements, and inviting coyote chairs that guests can sink into as they sip tea. The bar is an ode to the past and present, with art spanning centuries gracing the walls above the bar and the white settees.
The restaurant, Chevalier, is named after longtime Baccarat creative director Georges Chevalier, and can be accessed via a dedicated entrance. Michelin-star awarded chef, Shea Gallante’s, goal in creating the menu is a “brasserie deluxe in a modern setting.” Gallante also lent his culinary talents to the Grand Salon where small bites can be ordered.
The rooms are similar to private Parisian residence, decorated with a similar beige and chocolate brown color scheme than the public rooms. No detail was spared to make the sleeping space feel like a home away from home.
The spa will be run by the the prestigious La Mer, and will be the first full-service spa opened by the company.
The service is top notch if not impeccable with friendly but able hospitality agents eager to serve.
Room rates start at $899 and you can access the hotel website here.