Louis Vuitton’s New Unisex ‘Les Colognes’ Are an Homage to ‘Le California’

 

 

Considering what an all encompassing lifestyle one is able to be immersed in by becoming a devotee of Louis Vuitton, it seems odd to think that their first men’s fragrance range was launched only last year – with the five scents making up the Les Parfums collection, bottles by Marc Newson.

Now they’re going unisex, with the equally concisely titled collection Les Colognes – and curiously enough for the French luxury house, the inspiration is, well…California. In which case the timing could not be more perfect; after all, with spring in full bloom, no one really wants to smell like a pine forest or a pile of dry firewood, do they?

Rather, we get such optimistically monikered fragrances – by LV’s Master Perfumer Jacques Cavalier Belletrud – as Sun Song, Cactus Garden and Afternoon Swim. The scents evoke the endless sky and sun, the wide open desert, and the all around ineffable pleasures of nature in the great Golden State.

All three come in stark but cool, almost apothecary like bottles, with the blue, green and yellow fragrances contained within aesthetically distinguishing each. Vivacious packaging is by L.A. multimedia artist Alex Israel. In fact, it’s all so cheerful, it might even inspire your average Francophile to the occasional sunny disposition.

 

Après-Ski Season: A Rather Sophisticated Springtime in Vermont – Part I, Manchester

Kimpton Taconic Hotel 

 

There are few places more idyllic than Vermont (and they’re probably much further away). In any season, its winding roads dotted with rustic covered bridges, villages seemingly untouched by time, and family-owned farms beckon with the promise of escape from the sometimes soul-crushing pace of New York City. But beyond bovines and Bernie, Vermont offers the best opportunity for a genuinely off-the-beaten path adventure, a rich arts and cultural history, and a revolutionary approach to often misrepresented farm-to-table cuisine.

 

 

We set out on a recent weekend to take in the pleasure of the Green Mountain State. And Land Rover was kind enough to loan us a Range Rover Sport Hybrid PHEV to get us there in style. While the vehicle isn’t yet available in the U.S., its agile handling and luxurious feel are the familiar hallmarks of Land Rover’s entire range of SUVs. We actually felt pretty cool tooling up the Taconic in the shiny red vehicle – and it was a dream to drive. In fact, when we set the cruise control, it almost drove itself.

We went first for bags of New England charm in Manchester, then a bit of rustic sophistication in Burlington. Here’s how Part I played out.

 

Manchester, Southern Vermont

The tiny village of Manchester is just three-and-a-half hours from New York City, yet it genuinely feels like a world away. Sweeping views of the Green Mountains to the east, and the Taconic Range to the west set the scene for all manner of outdoor adventure; but there’s a lot more to Manchester than skiing or wilderness hikes.

Land Rover Experience Driving School

Quite a lot of New Yorkers don’t often have the opportunity to get behind the wheel – and when they do, they’re not typically driving up a rugged mountain trail. We did an exhilarating half-day driving lesson with one of Land Rover’s professional off-road driving instructors, and seriously put our skills to the test (we also pick up a few new ones) as we crawled over boulders, waded through three-feet-deep ponds, and descended steep inclines – of course, all accomplished in our super-smooth-but-tough, luxurious Land Rover. You can’t do that in NYC.

 

Orvis Fly-Fishing School

Here we were taught how to cast like a seasoned angler. A half-day class at their state-of-the art schoolhouse will introduce you to the art and science of this beloved (and relaxing) activity. Before casting our reel, we learned how to choose gear and tackle, tie essential knots, learn about stream entomology, and how to read water and currents. And, on Orvis’ fully-stocked casting pond, you’re almost guaranteed to hook a fish worth bragging about.

Boorn Brook Farm

If you’ve gotten hooked on the current authenticity trend, it honestly doesn’t get any more authentic than Boorn Brook Farm, a private estate and working farm just five minutes from downtown Manchester. The restored barn, with soaring, hand-hewn beamed ceilings, offers magnificent views of the property, has two cozy bedrooms, an open floor plan, and wood-fired stove in the kitchen. The grounds are also home to the Green Mountain Falconry School where you can book a private lesson or take a hawk walk on the property’s three miles of groomed, wooded trails. And seriously – what could possibly be cooler than falconry?

 

 

Hildene

Of course, we also appreciate the more intellectual adventures. And we later made our way to Hildene, the historic Lincoln Family Home, originally the summer house of Robert Todd Lincoln. The Georgian revival mansion and 14 historic buildings have been fully restored, including much of the original furniture, and it functions as a campus for environmental and agricultural education. We toured the house and explored the grounds (making sure to visit the farm and goat dairy) and took a stroll through the gardens. You can also hike the many peaceful, meandering trails through the 412-acre property.

Southern Vermont Arts Center

The recently renovated Southern Vermont Arts Center is a gateway to the impressive cultural history of the region. Originally established almost a century ago by an eclectic group of local artists, the Center has evolved to become a multidisciplinary arts organization that includes music, dance, education, and workshops with visiting creatives. This season, the museum’s curated exhibits dive into culturally relevant issues; Unusual Threads: Stitching Together the Future of Fashion takes on sustainability in the fashion industry, and Everything is Still: Photographers Working in Motion Picture Film explores storytelling through the creation of single, still images made through the medium of motion picture film. Fascinating stuff.

 

 

Retail Therapy

Although you’ll not want to miss Manchester’s high-end outlets (Ralph Lauren, Yves Delorme, Theory), we found Manchester’s most memorable shopping at its independently owned stores. You can easily spend hours browsing the shelves at the Northshire Bookstore – make sure to check out the staff picks and selection of locally-made gift items. The Mountain Goat is great for deals on outdoor apparel, and at Above All Vermont, an old-fashioned country store, we loved the handcrafted, quirky, and delicious Vermont-made goods.

Kimpton Taconic Hotel

Our home base, the Kimpton Taconic Hotel, perfectly captures the cozy-chic aesthetic one would expect from a Vermont hotel, but with a bit of big-city sophistication. The lobby’s soaring stone fireplace, wide-plank floors and carefully curated local artwork distinctly nod to the character and voice of the community, and each of the 86 rooms and three private cottages offer luxurious accommodations and amenities including in-room spa services.
The hotel’s excellent restaurant, The Copper Grouse, reinterprets classic American tavern fare and regional dishes with ingredients sourced from local purveyors. We started with shareable snacks: the house made soft pretzel bites tossed in duck fat and served with a spicy cider mustard, hand-cut fries with truffle oil, sea salt, and fresh herbs, and crispy chicken wings with maple sriracha and blue cheese mousse.
For the main event, we loved the Copper Grouse Burger topped with local cheddar and house-made pickles and the maple plank roasted Atlantic salmon accompanied by charred root vegetables. Desserts included a formidable goat cheese cheesecake with cider caramel and maple walnuts, and a classic apple crisp (yes, it’s all very, very Vermont). After dinner, it was cocktails – they made a killer espresso martini – at the hotel’s blazing outdoor fire pit.

 

After Lagerfeld: Chanel Opens Stunning New Boutique in Seoul

Images by Tim Franco

 

Things will obviously never be the same at Chanel, since the shocking passing of Karl Lagerfeld just last month. But, of course, the house must go on.

To that end, Chanel has just opened its first new boutique since Herr Lagerfeld’s death, its tenth in South Korea. Of course, we have been known to visit for the K-Pop and the bibimpap, but a visit to this luxurious new Seoul flagship – located in the prestigious Cheongdam-dong neighborhood – will now be de rigueur.

From the imagination of New York architect, visual provocateur and long-time Chanel collaborator Peter Marino, the newly-built seven-story structure is encased in sleek black glass and lava stone. Seemingly impenetrable by light, the exterior imitates the glossy surface of a coveted Chanel shopping bag, while the interior holds all of its delights.

 

 

Once inside, sunlight floods the bright white and ivory space, which spectacularly frames the exquisite creations on display. The three lower floors are dedicated to ready-to-wear, handbags, shoes, costume jewelry and eyewear – along with a selection of fragrances and a dedicated space for watches and fine jewelry. The fourth floor is reserved for private receptions, and the two upper floors and an outdoor terrace are for special events and exhibitions.

In the Chanel tradition, art plays a vital role in defining the aesthetic. Thirty-one works by high-profile contemporary artists were selected by Marino to underline the boutique’s design manifesto, including pieces by Pablo Reinoso and Paola Pivi commissioned specifically for the project. Celebrated Korean artists Lee Bul, Ik-Joong Kang and Lee Ufan are also notably represented.

 

Santorini Chic: Vora Villas Is Greece’s Poshest New Island Hideaway

 

Surely among the most beautiful places on Earth, Santorini’s soaring cliffs, sweeping ocean views, and charming whitewashed villages are the antithesis of those gritty Athens streets. But while her breathtaking beauty is unquestionable, she’s become increasingly thronged with international tourists in search of those perfect Instagram opportunities. But we still believe the Aegean gem to be one of Greece’s “must” destinations – especially if you can find an out-of-the way spot from which to indulge her charms.

And just such a place is the newly built Vora (the newest member of Design Hotels), which offers three private luxury villas that have been artfully hand-carved into the caves and cliffs, and suspended dramatically above the sea. Secreted away in the quiet residential community of Imerovigli, the location is a hideaway for those who crave tranquility, but also want quick access to the buzzing cafés, tavernas, and shopping opportunities in Santorini’s capital, Fira – only five sunny minutes away.

 

 

Designed by one of the hottest Greek design firms of the moment, Athens-based K-studio, the villas were inspired by classic Cycladic architecture: think gentle arches, whitewashed cement exteriors, elegant lines, and strategically placed staircases. In a nod to Santorini’s history, volcanic rock dapples the exterior and is extensively used in the interior of the villas. A mix of custom-made furniture by local craftspeople and K-studio designers, give each space its unique aesthetic and character. All three boast a private terrace and infinity plunge pool, set against breath-stopping views of the Aegean Sea.

They’re also more reasonably priced than one might expect: rates start at approximately $700 per night and include breakfast, Wi-Fi, and other amenities. As per the norm with European villa rentals in these times, Vora will also coordinate private chefs, drivers, winery tours and exclusive local experiences.

 

 

First Images: The Opulent Marble Courtyard Boutique Opens at Versailles

 

If binge-watching all three seasons of Versailles has left you longing for the legendary palace’s gilded halls, a visit to the Sun King’s legendarily extravagant chateau may be in order. And while there, you can now do a spot of equally extravagant shopping, at the newly opened La Boutique Cour de Mabre (or, for the less imaginative visitor, The Marble Courtyard Boutique)

Stocked is a smartly curated selection of French brands that evoke the spirit of court life, while representing a new guard of unique Gallic designers and artisans. And far from your typical museum store, the space was designed by Paris-based interiors firm Supercraft Studio, in collab with members of the renowned artisanal paper and textile design firm (and Gucci collaborator) A Paris chez Antoinette Poisson.

Located at the foot of the Queen’s staircase (where else?), the grandiosely expansive 11,000 square foot space invites Ancien Regime devotees to stroll through four elegant areas. The first room, The Queen’s Apartments, takes as its inspiration Marie-Antoinette’s boudoir at le Petit Trianon. Decorated in soft greys and lined in wallpapers designed by Mlle. Poisson, this ladies’ salon offers everything a self-respecting noblewoman might need: perfume, crèmes, jewelry, and other luxuriant fashion accessories.

 

 

A second room invites would-be royals to indulge in cake-worthy dinnerware, linens, and other tabletop items from the finest French names, while a third takes a more masculine turn, as it brings to life the King’s Apartments (sans courtesans, bien sûr). Inside, you’ll find richly scented candles, slippers, and high-end men’s leather accessories alongside objet d’art representing games, science, and hunting.

And, we must not forget les petits! Our favorite room offers children’s antique toy reproductions, books, furniture, and authentic-looking princess, marquise, and queen’s costumes – for that special little Francophile aristo in your life.

The boutique is intended to celebrate French culture and illuminate the grandiosity of life at the Court of Versailles – so visitors can continue to bask in the Sun King’s rays long after they’ve returned to la vie quotiedienne.

 

Artful Weekend Getaway: The New ‘TOURISTS’ Boutique Hotel Opens in North Adams

Image by Nicole Franzen

 

Autumn’s arrival typically coincides with Instagram feeds full of pumpkin-spiced-everything and flannel-clad friends romping through apple orchards and corn mazes. For those seeking, say, a more cultured seasonal getaway, North Adams, Massachusetts, nestled in the Berkshire hills, offers spectacular views of nature’s painterly autumnal strokes, alongside celebrated art museums, farm-to-table fare, and a recently opened boutique sleep, the charmingly named TOURISTS.

Four years in the making, it’s the first new hotel to open there since 2001…located on the old Mohawk Trail, now a well-traveled road about halfway between the post-industrial city of North Adams and the idyllic village of Williamstown, home to Williams College. Founded by Broder’s Ben Svenson, along with Wilco bassist John Stirratt, James Beard Award winning chef Cortney Burns, local brewery owner Eric Kerns, and Scott Stedman, founder of Brooklyn Magazine, the property offers a thoughtfully curated experience for the modern traveler.

 

Image by Nicole Franzen

 

Designed by architect Hank Scollard, a protégé of MASS MoCA architect Simeon Bruner, the hotel’s design still evokes the property’s former life as a mid-century motor lodge. Rebuilt from the foundation up, TOURISTS’ minimalist façade, clad in vertical slats of white oak, opens to reveal a grassy courtyard and heated salt-water pool nestled into the hillside and surrounding forest. The Hoosic River rambles along the back of the hotel, and a 220-foot-long suspension bridge beckons visitors to cross and explore the campus’ winding trails.

Each of the 48 rooms features soaring ceilings and large windows that overlook the courtyard, river, or woodlands. Airy and elegant, the whitewashed spaces are decorated with vintage photographs, cozy window nooks, and private decks with outdoor showers. The in-room radio is tuned to a playlist curated, naturally, by Stirratt himself. Every detail has been well thought out, from the complimentary reproduction vintage postcards (no stamps necessary – the staff are happy to mail them for you) to the mini-bar filled with locally sourced provisions.

 

Image by Nicole Franzen

 

Burns’ food and beverage program is in its nascent stages – there’s a small on-site kitchen located on the Deck Bar that offers a preview of what’s to come in the spring, when she opens her highly anticipated restaurant LOOM. Until then, a creative beverage menu as well as light supper and breakfast can be enjoyed by the fire pit on the deck, or in front of the fireplace in the Lodge. Beyond the restaurant, there’s an 1813 farmhouse on the property, where they will occasionally host live music.

While you can play outside all day and never get bored, the area’s art museums and restaurants offer an ideal culture fix for those New Yorkers who need an escape from urban sensory overload, but in finding themselves temporarily out of their element, also need a dose of the familiar.

 

Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art

MASS MoCA’s repurposed 19th century factory buildings house installations by Jenny Holzer, Laurie Anderson, Liz Glynn, and host performances across the artistic spectrum. Notably on view through the end of 2018 is Robert Rauschenberg’s thought-provoking, Japanese-inspired Lurid Attack of the Monsters. Après art, pop next door for lunch at A.oK Berkshire Barbeque, for their melt-in-your-mouth brisket sandwich, paired with a locally brewed Rothko Red or Glass of Heart Blonde Ale from Bright Ideas Brewing.

 

 

The Clark Institute

While The Clark’s sleek Tadao Ando designed Clark Center is a study in modern simplicity, its galleries contain the decidedly more visceral works of American, British, and European masters. It’s an imperative destination for their highly respected collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist art, including paintings by Renoir, Degas, Pissarro and Sisley.

 

 

Mezze Bistro + Bar

This picturesque bistro serves up farm-to-table cuisine in an elegant, rambling farmhouse. Founder Nancy Thomas and Chef Nick Moulton create classic American fare with a nod to the former’s Moroccan-Greek heritage. Vegetarian and vegan options – heirloom tomato risotto, roasted hen of the woods – abound; and the desserts are veritably life-changing.

 

 

PUBLIC Eat & Drink

Casual dining meets Berkshire county bounty, in an inviting, rustic-industrial space. PUBLIC features a classic pub menu with a hearty selection of burgers, pasta, fish, and flatbreads, crafted with local ingredients. Though there’s farro risotto and a marinated tofu sandwich for the more health conscientious.

 

 

Cricket Creek Farm

No visit to the area is complete without a stop at Cricket Creek, a small working farm that produces award-winning cheeses, raw milk, pork and beef. The owners welcome visitors and are happy to answer questions or offer a taste of their sustainably produced products. While there, pick up a supply of their flagship Maggie’s Round, a semi-firm raw-milk cheese that took first place in the 2011 American Cheese Society Competition. (Yes, there’s an American Cheese Society.) And perhaps make a new bovine friend or two.