Third Wave Coffee, Psychedelic Cathedrals + Jean-Paul Gaultier: Montreal Turns 375

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The news at home is perpetually unsettling, the conversation endlessly divisive. So what better time to hop the quick flight over the border to one of BlackBook‘s most beloved destinations than during Montreal’s dazzling, year-long 375th birthday celebration? Canada’s grooviest city has divided the events into four seasonal themes – with summer and fall still to go, obviously.

On our most recent trip, we immersed ourselves in the celebratory cultural offerings, while also taking time to stroll the beautiful McGill campus and the city’s many green parks, imbibe a few fizzy champagne cocktails at the Ritz Carlton, and indulge in the city’s exceptional designer and vintage shopping.

Here were some of our faves…

Divine Lighting

Montreal’s Notre Dame Basilica is hosting AURA, a radical new show of music and illumination. Revealing the Basilica’s exquisite collection of statuary, Moment Factory (the same design and production studio that is artfully lighting up the Jacques-Cartier Bridge nightly) has designed an immersive experience that both sonically and visually captivates – enlivening the grandness of the cathedral interior with a psychedelic multimedia spectacle, featuring august orchestral sounds and a dramatic light spectacle. You’ll never look at being in church the same way again.

 

The Daily Grind

Montreal’s perpetual buzz might partially be due to its residents’ obsession with coffee. And not just any coffee, but ‘third wave’ coffee, where sourcing and production, origin and output all get equal attention. This artisanal focus is being championed by numerous local purveyors, which is why scheduling a cafe crawl with Thom Seivewright, the founder of Living Like a Local, is the best way to experience some of the city’s best offerings in the grooviest spots. These include Dispatch, where the sleek, minimalist interiors and packaging design rival the handpicked, farm-to-counter coffee selection. Some other must-sips are Cafe Osmo, in the Notman House, Le Moineau Masque in The Plat (one of the city’s hippest ‘hoods), and Crew Collective & Cafe, which is also a members-only co-working space and basement nightclub, located in the utterly spectacular former Royal Bank building in Old Montreal.

 

Crew Collective & Cafe

Avant-Garde Circus Folk

Cirque du Soleil was actually birthed in Montreal. And the experimental circus troupe’s latest show, VOLTA, is a spellbinding story about the freedom to choose and blazing your own trail – albeit in flamboyant costumes and roller skates. As you might expect, the transformational sets, lighting, original music and general choreographed mayhem assault the senses from all sides. VOLTA even features a full on BMX park, mounted on stage, where riders drop in to deliver breathtaking stunts.

Plugged In, Well-Fed

We were particularly privileged to spend time at the Society for Arts and Technologies. Set up in an abandoned public market in Montreal’s former Red Light District, the 20-year-old SAT bills itself as an incubator of talent, and center for research in emerging technologies. Inviting “visionary artists, techno-poets, enlightened artisans, atypical engineers and unconventional thinkers” to connect and create original work, it boasts over 30,000 members. The non-profit is also community-minded, even lobbying successfully to legalize skateboarding in the adjacent Peace Park.
Dining at Foodlab, atop SAT, is as adventurous as the centre’s programming. We were served a locavore-driven, eclectic menu (no poutine here), complemented by a renowned wine selection. Exchanges between chefs, sommeliers, mixologists and “audacious foodies” are also hosted regularly here. Post-dinner we were ushered into a Buckminster Fuller-esque dome, where we laid our well-fed bodies on giant beanbags and tripped out in the semi-dark over a cosmic show of mesmerizing light and sound.

 

Foodlab

Curated History Lessons

You may wonder (as did we) what those captivating projections on the buildings are as you traverse Old Montreal by night. Created by Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon, Cite Memoire invites viewers to meet a cast of notable historical characters involved in the evolution of the city. More than 20 poetic tableaux are brought to life through image, words and music, emerging from the walls and the ground, infused with just the right dose of whimsy. You can download the free app for maximum effect.
The newly opened Fort Ville-Marie pavilion at the Montreal Archaeology and History Complex, Point-a-Calliere, has dusted the former musty fustiness off the site of the city’s birthplace. The museum itself is built atop a restored sewer tunnel, which now features a walk-through light installation by the aforementioned Moment Factory. Props to the museum’s passionate curatorial team, who created a uniquely engaging experience – where visitors can view the actual archaeological dig site through a reinforced glass floor (the only one like it in the world, we were told), allowing the opportunity to connect with the very origins of the city.

 

Room With a Dazzling View

Au Sommet Place Ville Marie rightfully boasts the most beautiful view of Montreal. The 360 degree observation deck also currently hosts the #MTLGO exhibit, an interactive video portrait series of 55 notable Montrealers. We playfully clicked our way through the various personalities and perspectives, getting to know Olympic athletes like Jennifer Abel and Caroline Ouellette, choreographer Marie Chouinard, comedian Sugar Sammy, conductor Kent Nagano, DJ Ghislain Poirier, circus troop Les 7 Doigts de la Main, and restaurateur Martin Picard. (Alas, no Arcade Fire pics.)
From hockey to gastronomy, performance art, language (of course, everyone here speaks fluent English and French) and neighborhoods like the Plateau Mont-Royal and Vieux Montreal, we loved tagging points of interest on iPads as we moved along the exhibition’s perimeter, enjoying the panoramic view. As a nice little touch, everyone receives a printout of their customized journey to pursue at leisure.
Our hunger for knowledge turned to actual hunger – so we dined at the observatory’s spectacular restaurant, Les Enfants Terribles. Serving a mix of old and new Quebec cuisine (paired with a glass of one of their refreshing roses), the only thing we enjoyed more than the frites was the jaw-dropping view.

 

Au Sommet Place Ville Marie

Puppeteers and Fashion Shows

After a mouthwatering morning croissant – Montreal, by the way, has seen a boom in boulangeries and patisseries all across the city in the last few years – we set out for an arts-focused final day.
A Nous la Rue brings together 60 street theatre companies from six countries (France, Spain, Australia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and, of course, Canada), taking over Montreal’s streets every day in July with over 800 performances. We were particularly enchanted by the Big Little Girl, who brazenly squatted to pee as part of her performance; the dog who ‘panted’ as he trotted close behind her; and the enormous Deep Sea Diver. The “giants” enacted a touching story of Montreal via pulleys and strings controlled by dozens of energetic, red velvet-clad puppeteers.
Being as we are so sartorially obsessed, we also made a point of visiting the McCord Museum’s “Fashioning Expo 67” and Jean Paul Gaultier’s landmark show “Love is Love” at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts – both up through October, and not to be missed.
(N.B. We’re planning to return for “A Crack In Everything,” a paean to the recently deceased and deeply lamented Leonard Cohen, coming to the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal  (MAC) in November.)

 

Jean Paul Gaultier at the Museum of Fine Arts

 

Stylish Summer Escape: The Brentwood at Saratoga Springs

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Springtime is upon us, which means getting out of New York City at every single opportunity. One of our fave new places to do so is the stylish new Brentwood hotel, just a quick train or Zipcar ride up to Saratoga Springs, NY.

From Brooklyn’s Studio Tack, this revamped 12-room motor lodge is brilliantly situated directly in front of the Saratoga Race Course, making it nirvana for the equestrian obsessed. Every room enjoys a view of the massive, 50,000-seat historic thoroughbred track; yet the cozy-chic accommodations are perfect for a quiet, spring / summer weekend. The hotel also just made the Conde Nast Traveler 2017 Hot List.

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Avoiding that cookie-cutter soullessness we’ve seen in so many modern makeovers, Studio Tack took a homegrown approach to the design, collaborating with local craftspeople they consider friends and colleagues. Partner Brian Smith says, “Working with talented people helps us grow and learn as a company and always makes for a more compelling product.” The result, a refreshing eclecticism that goes just slightly irreverent.

The lobby, for instance, feels like a classic parlor room, with custom millwork, reclaimed white oak flooring from Hudson & Co., antique gilded mirrors and an intriguing collection of vintage oil paintings. Part check-in, part bar, and tons of welcoming charm.

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In the rooms, the solid clear pine beds with signature octagonal posts were handmade by Dave Cummings, a local woodworker in nearby Bolton Landing. While the custom, hand-dyed French bed linens are from Brooklyn-based textile purveyors Sharktooth. Even the vintage oil paintings hanging above each bed were handpicked from regional collectors, featuring bucolic scenes meant to complement surrounding Saratoga. And with considered amenities like bath products from our favorite, C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries, as well as rain showers, and a refreshment bar stocked with local snacks, the stresses of city living easily melt away.

Smith enthuses, “If you appreciate handsome and classic spaces, you’ll love our design. If you like small-town charm and, of course, horses, you’ll love our location.” And the property is delightfully dog-friendly – so there’s no need to leave Fido behind.

Top Restaurants in Saratoga Springs

Salt & Char, Gray Kunz’ modern American steakhouse; Lake Local for seafood classics and lakeside dining; The Mouzon House for farm-to-table Creole in a striking Victorian setting.

To Do in Saratoga Springs

Saratoga Performing Arts Center; Yaddo Artist Community; Saratoga Automobile Museum; National Museum of Dance; Tang Museum at Skidmore College (pictured below)

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Soul Purification, Good Tequila and Creative De-Stressing in Cabo San Lucas

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It goes without saying that one would rather be staring out into Mexico’s calm, beautiful blue Gulf of California than watching the endless American political tsunamis raging across our television sets every day. So when Cabo San Lucas came calling, we couldn’t pack our bags fast enough.

But our destination was not one of Cabo’s overamped celebrity resorts. Rather, we dropped our bags at the gorgeous, family-owned Hacienda Encantada Resort & Residences – perfect for those more discerning travelers (like us) seeking something a little more creative and personal.

Perched high above the stunning Sea of Cortez, overlooking rugged coastline, Hacienda’s unique appeal extends further than it’s dramatic topography. With a uniquely curated lineup of amenities and activities, an exceptional collection of local artworks, and a staff so friendly as to feel familiar, we wanted for nothing – and left Cabo already planning our return. 

 

 

“The essence of our family is to serve and try our best to be a great host,” said the resort’s gracious Gabriel Ibarra. “So I think what makes us special is that we try to pass this idea along to all of our employees through a very common saying: “Mi casa es tu casa. Our guests don’t feel that they are in a traditional hotel or resort at Hacienda Encantada.”

And we couldn’t agree more. There’s no one-vibe-fits-all here. Every staff member we encountered wasn’t just solicitous, but warmly welcomed us into their “home” with helpful suggestions based on our individual moods and interests. 

Here’s what we did.

 

Soul Cleansing

Aside from an exhaustive array of restorative treatments, therapeutic massages and fabulous facials on the menu, the opportunity to experience the ancient Mexican tradition of Temazcal was not to be missed. Temazcal means “house of steam,” from the native Nahuatl language, and is promoted as a “purification for the body and the soul.” Once inside the small, round chamber, hot stones are splashed with medicinal herb-infused water during the 90-minute session, for the ultimate in healing relaxation. Just a note, this native ritual cleanse requires four guests.

 

 

One if by . . . horse!

We loved the romantic allure of taking a horseback riding tour along the property, where panoramic views of Cabo San Lucas bay and the land’s end were just a gallop away. Make sure to book in advance though, as this equine option is only available on Fridays at the resort.

Tequila!

Staged on the outdoor terrace of the resort’s Barolo Restaurant, our tasting flight was led by the resort’s resident “sommelier.” Little did we know – or really care by the end – that tequila can only be called such if it is produced in the Mexican state of Jalisco (and in some select municipalities). Much like French Champagne, this agave-based distilled spirit is unique to the region and is known as “mezcal” anywhere else. Our favorite, after tasting six distinct varieties, was Blanco, or silver tequila. This popular ‘unaged’ tequila never touches wood, thereby delivering the purest notes of agave. Yes, we’ll take another shot please.

 

 

Mexican Flavors

Who better than the resort’s expert chefs to teach guests how to create one of the signature dishes of Mexico? During our al fresco cooking class, we watched – and then tasted – as our teacher expertly chopped onions and cilantro – the trick to the latter being, just bunch it up, stems and all, and dice finely. Combined in a traditional, volcanic stone molcajete (a mortar and pestle), pieces of gorgeous, ripe avocado met the freshest jalapeño, and was then topped off with lemon juice and sea salt. Can you say melt in your mouth? It did!

Sister Act

Taking a break from the sedate environs of Hacienda Encantada, we visited the resort’s sister property in downtown Cabo. Marina Fiesta boasted a lively poolside bar, La Palapa (it’s covered by a giant thatched roof) and four restaurants, all located along the bustling main drag. We dined at Los Deseos and were treated to a table side demonstration of the house speciality, heated Mexican cheese infused with tequila. Our gracious server was a good sport, taking our requests for more – and more – in amiable stride as he worked two spoons to serve us the deliciously gooey concoction.

 

 

Set Sail

No trip would be complete without seeing the Arch of Cabo San Lucas. And the best way is by boat, sailing by this distinctive rock formation at the southernmost tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula. Suffering from erosion in recent years, it now looks like a dinosaur drinking water. Accessing ‘El Arco’ on foot is best done in October when sea levels fall and you can walk under the arch. However, stopping off nearby at Amor (Lover’s) or Divorcio beaches (depending on your state of heart) can be done any time of year by boat. 

“Home” Cooking

To say we ate well at Hacienda Encatada is a significant understatement. There’s eight (yes, eight) venues, and we recommend trying them all during your stay. There’s of course ‘a la carte’ tacos every night at El Eden, ancestral Mexican cuisine at classy La Trajinera (reservations required and there’s a dress code), and ceviche and sushi at El Patio. The breakfast buffet (both American and Mexican) at Las Marias will have you dining on a balcony cliffside. Be sure to order the ‘off-the-menu’ Mexican coffee, a spicy and sweet elixir (a tip from Gabriel).
There’s even good pizza if you’re feeling homesick, at Il Forno. But the standout is Los Riscos. With its mesquite grill, and ethereal views, it was genuinely our favorite.

 

 

 

Art Everywhere

Seriously, everywhere. The lobby, public areas and restaurants were all decorated with original paintings by notable artists including José María Velasco, Jesus Helguera and Diego Rivera. Talavera vases from Puebla, hand-painted pottery and handmade lamps from Tonala, Jalisco, and ceramic sculptures by artist Rodo Padilla, are an eye-catching mix of art and craft.
You’ll notice the beautifully carved wooden furniture (a colorfully painted bench on every floor of the building we stayed in, the newest on the property), made by local Mexican carpenters. There were also several ornate iron pieces wrought by indigenous artisans. The entire resort is a celebration of Mexican architecture and design – with the exception of the rugs and the ‘gobelino’ located in the lobby, which we were told were imported from Europe.
The resort’s luxurious suites and spacious villas also include ceramic tableware made in the state of Jalisco, and mirrors with copper frames constructed in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato. Additionally, handmade wool carpets adorn the floors, woven in Oaxaca. Even the ceramic bath accessories are brought directly from Dolores Hidalgo Guanajuato. (We also liked the eco-friendly products themselves.) And as might be expected, the image of the lizard and iguana figure prominently throughout the resort – emblematic in numerous handmade sculptures and decorations. Though if you get the chance, try to make friends with a real one.

 

 

FIRST LOOK: CJ Hendry + Louboutin Exhibition at Art Basel Hong Kong

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Art and commerce seamlessly merge in the work of New York-based Australian artist CJ Hendry; indeed her latest work was created in collaboration with legendary French shoe designer Christian Louboutin.

The fittingly titled Complimentary Colors debuts March 21st at the Anita Chan Lai-ling Gallery at the Fringe Club in Hong Kong, Hendry’s first time showing in Asia. The artist’s fascination with material and pop culture has previously translated into her signature large scale, photorealistic black-and-white drawings of consumer goods. But this time around she’s turned her focus to an unmitigated celebration of color.

Specifically highlighting the color red as an homage to the iconic Louboutin soles, Hendry’s meticulously rendered, mesmerizing wax pencil drawings of thick oil paint dazzle in their vividness.

“I find drawing very intimate, as opposed to other mediums,” Hendry explains. “Drawing allows you to get very close to your craft; and I can reach that new level of detail in each piece. Pencils are very different from my usual medium: ink.” The artist by her own admission has OCD, so messy oil paints were actually never really a reasonable option.

 

  • Christian Louboutin by Paolo Ferrarini
  • Cj Henry by Matthew Kelly

 

This isn’t the first time she’s been inspired by Louboutin’s designs. Her series The Trophy Room in 2016 (her debut New York show) featured a So Kate heel dipped in bronze, before becoming the focus of one of her ink sketches; it was that work that caught the attention of Louboutin. Noting the obvious synergy between the two, he gushes, “There is something I love in her work that is very playful; and you can feel the artisanship.”

Since 2013 Louboutin has chosen the week of Art Basel Hong Kong to showcase emerging artistic talent. Hendry enthuses, “[Louboutin] is a force whose work I’ve admired for many years. For me, the brand represents what it is to be a strong female – they started with and maintain such a strong product: a high heel. I also love how colorful and playful they are, something I find really engaging. And I appreciate that they are willing to support a young artist like myself.”

Thoughtfully, she stops to reflect and shed light on her apparent obsession with brands: “I don’t think it was intentional to start. It was something that came from a very true place of where I was at the time. I’m interested to see where this new direction will take me.” And so are we.

 

Maude: Sex Accessories For Modern People

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Sex sells. Maude wants to sell it better – and the brand’s three female founders, Eva Goicochea, Dina Epstein and Maya Bodinger, are intent on disrupting the sex industry. Together they’ve combined their experience in retail, strategy and product development (Epstein was head of “toy” design at kinky lux label Kiki de Montparnasse), to create a line of products that puts the sexy back in sex (to)y. The goodies? Sleekly designed condoms, lubes and vibrators, simplified, sustainable and of particularly high quality – but still very much about getting it on.

They also put a feminist spin on an often gender-biased industry – which they inform us dates back to avery unsexy bit of history-as-inspiration. Little did we know that condoms were readily available and distributed (to male soldiers) in the mid-1800s – and then along came Anthony Comstock, a fervently religious military man, who lobbied for the making the sale of anything deemed “obscene” illegal, including condoms. Thus was born the Comstock Act of 1873.

Condoms

It wasn’t until the 1930s that the issue caught the attention of the FDA, which went on to create universal standards. Until this time condoms were sold in unmarked packaging so as not to attract attention. A popular supplier, Three Merry Widows, named their ‘rubbers’ Mabel, Agnes and Beckie. ‘Maude’ in name and design is a nod to the widows, the subversively beautiful packaging of that time, while “fighting the stigma of sex—much like they did almost 150 years ago,” says Goicochea. “While Maude is a female name, the spirit of Maude stands for all.”

As the big brands rushed in, companies like Trojan did loads of advertising to not only gain legitimacy, as Goicochea notes, but to get doctors on their side. She sneers, “And so began the era of Trojan: Overtly sexual condoms that defined sex through a hypermasculine lens.” Outdated…and terribly boring.

Maude is just the opposite, representing “interesting, diverse and real voices.” It’s pro-sex and progressive – or as Goicochea puts it: “Sex is great. Do it. We support the quickie. But wear a condom please.”

Maudern sex debuted February 14.

 

Teatum Jones’ New SS17 Collection Celebrates Scottish LGBT Tolerance

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Motivated by a passion for “human stories,” UK fashion label Teatum Jones (Catherine Teatum and Rob Jones) launched their latest London runway show for SS17 with a touchingly real, at times rambunctious video. “Talk to me, like lovers do,” made in collaboration with Nice Productions, features an eclectic cast of young Scots: artists, musicians, designers and poets, all “impassioned by their political and social environment” and all bedecked in the label’s colorfully cool, modern designs.

Intent on “making the world a better and inclusive experience for everyone,” Teatum says, “Talk to me, like lovers do” was conceived as a “thank you to the country of Scotland for its progressive legal protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities.” They’ve since received numerous messages from people telling them how “the film touched them or reflected how they believed, and the reasons they were proud of the Scottish outlook on inclusivity and life.”

 

The clothes themselves, an “open love letter to Scotland,” the designers note, reflect a seamless merger of exquisitely tailored shapes in bold hues and brilliant prints, in both men’s and women’s collections.

The designers, since winning the esteemed International Woolmark Prize earlier this year for their textile innovations, have been traveling the world launching their Woolmark collection at some of the most prestigious stores across the globe. But surely more importantly, they had the opportunity to show the video to members of the Scottish Parliament, “which made us feel proud that our message was cutting through.” Proving perhaps that love really does trump hate.

 

 

Your New Favorite BKNY Restaurant: Sunday in Brooklyn

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For all the enthusiastic global copycatting of the so-called Brooklyn restaurant aesthetic, its clichés (farmy pretentions, obscurantist ingredients, tattooed chefs) have actually become awfully predictable and tired.

But we’re officially in love with the invitingly named new Sunday in Brooklyn – which, by bringing a refreshingly unpretentious vibe and responsibly sourced food to a formerly lonely stretch of Wythe Avenue, actually lives up to its name every day of the week. Pedigreed partners Adam Landsman and Todd Enany – previously Chief Operating Officer and Director of Operations, respectively, of Major Food Group (Santina, Dirty French, Sadelle’s, Carbone and Parm) and Chef Jaime Young (formerly of the two-Michelin-starred Atera) offer up a progressive American menu – and marketplace – with sustainability as a mission more than a marketing ploy.

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“We are actively seeking to find and source better product,” Enany emphasizes. “We do our best to get our fish from sustainable sources, as well as utilize as much local produce as possible. It not only creates less of an impact on our environment, but it also supports our local producers.”

Tasty offerings like the wood fired “whole fish for two” (changing daily and prepared with smoked mussel butter), sea trout with clam dashi, and Boston mackerel with sunchokes are a delectable testament to Sunday’s investment in native seafood.

With seasonal cooking as its core concept, Chef Young actually anticipates “what’s to come,” rather than merely glomming on to extant and worn out trends. “It’s as exciting as it is challenging,“ he enthuses, “creating the right relationships with like-minded people to find what’s available and most delicious.” Each season gives him something to look forward to, for instance “tender young shoots and leafy plants in spring.”

Some other menu standouts include an exceptionally delish appetizer of black cod pastrami with rye sour cream and garden pickles, a tidy loaf of buckwheat sourdough bread served warm with yummy beer butter, and the most succulent roasted chicken we’ve ever tasted, fresh from their wood-burning oven. Note: there’s even a secret vegan menu available upon request.

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Inside, the large yet cozy, refreshingly not old-timey space boasts striking original timber ceilings, lots of rustic charm, a coffee counter and a take-out market where you can stock up on hot sauce, jams, and pickled vegetables. And Landsman let us know that this month Sunday is opening the upstairs dining room during the day as a community co-working space.

“We want to be a place that feels comfortable and conducive to creativity, but where of course you can also eat something delicious and hearty.”

The bar is open late, and there’s a Magnum Happy Hour weekdays from 6pm – 7:30pm. A roof deck garden will open in spring.

And what of the name? Just three best friends making the everyday – not just Sundays – about “serving those specialties surrounded by those we love.”

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An Insider Guide to Singapore Fashion & Style

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Shopping in Singapore is usually synonymous with splashy, high-end boutiques in even splashier sprawling malls, most along bustling Orchard Road or luxe Marina Bay Sands. But savvy stylistas look to a long thriving scene of homegrown fashion designers, who have been working to change this perception. For every Louis Vuitton or Prada (with repeat locations throughout the Little Red Dot), there’s the likes of In Good Company and Matter.

With a little guidance from local style guru Sharon Wong, here is our exclusive guide to the very best of Singapore’s indie fashion scene.

Matter

“Pants to see the world in” is how this socially conscious label got its start. Focused on creating affordable luxury (almost a misnomer in SG), co-founders Yvonne Suner and Renyung Ho have reinvented travel wear for the modern nomad. Matter’s mission: foster collaborations with artists and artisans, “inspire consumers to value provenance and process, and pioneer industry change and sustainability for rural textile communities.” No small feat, but one that has resulted in an eye-catching array of “dhoti” pants (think an updated version of this multifold draped style), versatile shorts, and even jumpsuits, all in their super cool, signature prints.

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Depression

Describing it’s aesthetic as “black, genderless and morbid,” this line from former advertising creatives Andrew Loh and Kenny Lim isn’t new to the Singapore fashion scene. Founded in 2006 as a rebellion against SG’s staid design industry, the aptly named Depression maintains its edgy vibe with men’s and women’s collections like ‘Inner Demons’, ‘Dark Nature’, and ‘Dysmorphia’. Mixing the macabre and Manga to create what the duo calls “street goth luxury,” the clothes are at once structured and free – just right for a cult-like following of well-dressed misfits.

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IN GOOD COMPANY

Eschewing the vicious cycle of seasonal trends, four friends founded this unique fashion label. Designers Sven Tan and Kane Tan, with managing directors Jacyln Teo and Julene Aw, together create thoughtfully edited women’s (and even kids, Mini Me) collections quarterly or bi-monthly. Minimal, modern, clean and simple, the homegrown selection in their stand-alone store at ION Orchard (one of those splashy malls) is at once modishly of-the-moment, yet completely transcendent. An affordably priced, fresh adaptation of wardrobe classics, In Good Company develops their textiles directly with local mills to ensure exclusiveness of fabrics, while maintaining an in-house sample room in Singapore. Did we mention their amazing eyewear and necklaces? They’ve even incorporated Café Plain Vanilla into the flagship space – an SG favorite for its exquisite baked goods.

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MAX.TAN

For those seeking unconventional basics with a darkly quiet edge. With a few prestigious industry awards already under his belt since graduating from The Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA, where he also teaches), Tan is one of the first designers selected to show during Singapore Fashion Week at the National Gallery, for which he collaborated with Microsoft Surface to present a stunning collection this past October. Encouraging women to “dress for no one else but yourself,” the MAX.TAN take on femininity is flattering and fluid; he takes shapes and drape to the next level. And it is his “masculine” spin on details like mesh, corsetry lacework, ruffles and fringe, that really sets him apart. If Rei Kawakubo and Rick Owens had a baby, he’d look a lot like Max.Tan.

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Elohim by SabrinaGoh

Singapore’s gleaming new Capitol Piazza mall may be difficult to get to (even Uber gets turned around), but Sabrina Goh’s one-stop shop makes it worth the trip. Featuring her own collection, ELOHIM BY SABRINAGOH, she also carries several other designers’ accessories and leather goods. Winning the ELLE Awards Singapore Designer of the Year in 2010 helped propel the local designer to international recognition, including Vogue Fashion Night Out Bangkok and Fashion Futures 2015 X Singapore Fashion Week/CFDA. Inspired by architectural form, she’s made a statement creating strong yet sensuous silhouettes; yet she has her playful side, doing an uber cute collab with Disney called Minnie Rock the Dots.

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Ong Shunmugam

Former-lawyer-turned-designer Priscilla Shunmugam eschews excess for longevity, evident in her very contemporary take on the traditional cheongsam. She’s taken this stereotypically Chinese body-hugging dress style and boldly reinterpreted it for today’s woman. In an array of textures and colors, with attention to craft and detail, she uses traditional Asian textiles in fresh new ways; and her prints are to die for. Collections are also produced in limited quantity, adding to the specialness of the line. She’s also exhibited at Beijing’s Chinese Museum of Women & Children and shown at Coterie in New York, the youngest Singaporean label to ever do so. And you’ll find her shop, Atelier Ong Shunmugam, as enticing as the brand’s beautifully curated Instagram account.

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Stay Singapore

Lloyd’s Inn

A minimalist’s dream, designed in a palette of (mostly) white, clean yet comfortable. Book the Big Skyroom for its lofty-vibe and outdoor private terrace, where you can thrillingly bathe al fresco.

The Patina Capitol Singapore

Find true, new luxury here. The hotel is actually two exquisitely restored, historic buildings, re-imagined by Starchitect Richard Meier and the late, celebrated interior designer Jaya Ibrahim. With a big nod to sustainability, this stunning property is certified as a Green Mark GoldPlus building.

Eat Singapore

Humpback

Seafood, seafood, seafood, in an adorable venue, situated along picturesque Bukit Pasoh Road. And get your drink on with their sister bar, Jigger & Pony, conveniently located upstairs.

Bincho

Housed in a 70-year old traditional kopitiam (coffee shop), this unique Tiong Bahru bar and restaurant boasts some of the most inventive Japanese-inflected bites in town.

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