I was finally able to see the excellent Alaia exhibit at Paris' Palais Galliera over the weekend. Besides the obvious beauty and timelessness of the dresses on display, a few things stuck out from my experience.
When we think of Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord, we tend to think of either high level diplomacy or politics. Talleyrand however was also the consummate bon vivant and a firm believer in the power of fine food and wine as a way of enhancing his formidable negotiation skills. In fact, his estate outside Paris, the Château de Valencay, served as a frequent diplomatic gathering place where guests were treated to the cuisine of Marie-Antoine Carême, a father of French gastronomy. I was reminded recently of Talleyrand and the power of a good meal whilst attending Le Méridien's "Unlock Art" event during Frieze London.
Picasso reportedly once said that the purpose of art "is to wash the dust of daily life off our souls". Perhaps, but the high octane contemporary art scene with its power brokers, cast of characters and drama can be an intimidating experience for even the most culturally curious amongst us. Who hasn't found themselves bewildered by the fuss surrounding Tracy Emin's "My Bed" or Marina Abramovic's "Seven Easy Pieces" or Terence Koh's "88 Pearls" but were perhaps too shy or embarrassed to ask?
I'm off to London for a few days to attend Frieze Art Fair as a guest of Le Meridien Piccadilly (Starwood Hotels). In the era of global travel, the luxury hospitality sector is a highly competitive one and hotel groups are striving for ways to attract a new breed of luxury traveller. Thread count and spa treatments are no longer enough to set yourself apart from the competition. It's now all about "experiential luxury".
After losing his Michelin star at London's Claridge's restaurant in 2010, Gordon Ramsey got dinged again last week. The British chef's Manhattan outpost "The London" lost it's two star rating in the most recent edition of the Michelin Guide.
Charlotte von der Lancken, Sofia Lagerkvist and Anna Lindgren of FRONT with their design.
I had the privilege of attending the Paris unveiling of the design collaboration between Ballantine's (Chivas Brothers/Pernod Ricard) and the award-winning Swedish design team, FRONT. The choice of FRONT is an interesting one for despite pioneering women like Charlotte Perriand, Eileen Grey or Ray Eames, the world of industrial design remains even today very much a boys' club, not unlike the world of whisky. There is a certain irony therefore to entrusting the design of a whisky ritual to three women.
There is a school of thought according to which "all publicity is good publicity." That ethos seems to form the backbone of more than one brand's social media strategy. Case in point: The eagerness with which Charlotte Olympia (the shoe brand launched by London-based socialite Charlotte Dellal) gleefully shared an impromptu brand endorsement from Imelda Marcos, wife of former Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos via Instagram.