The heartbreaking yet genuinely inspirational new documentary All In: The Fight For Democracy tells the often shocking story of the history of blatantly racist voter suppression in America, via Stacey Abrams’ 2018 run for the Georgia Governorship (it’s not a secret that the election was literally stolen away from her). It sets it all up in a particularly chilling way for the already-in-motion efforts to suppress the black vote leading up to the presidential election in November—possibly the most crucial in America’s entire history.
And these days, where there’s smoke, you can probably find return fire from the endlessly awesome and fiercely fearless Janelle Monáe. The confrontational songstress, in fact, recorded a new single for the doc, tellingly titled “Turntables.” It’s not, as one might guess, about spinning vinyl. Rather, it’s a rallying cry to storm the polls and once and for all turn the tables on an increasingly fascist regime, one that will seemingly stop at nothing to stay in power.
But as Ms. Monae makes clear, they’re going to have to go through her first.
“I keep my hands dirty, my mind clean
Got a new agenda with a new dream, uh
I’m kickin’ out the old regime
Liberation, elevation, education
America, you a lie
But the whole world ’bout to testify
I said, the wholе world ’bout to testify
And the tables ’bout to
T-t-tablеs ’bout to turn”
For awhile there, it seemed like California, Florida and Arizona were locked in a coronavirus race to oblivion, as cases continued to skyrocket in all three states. For the latter, the numbers are still not good—but have at least achieved a hopeful downward trend.
Into this worrying reality comes a shining new beacon of hope (new hotels are always beacons of hope, aren’t they?) called the Tuxon. As you can guess from the name, this strikingly designed new sleep is situated in the desert just outside of Tucson, dramatically set at the foot of Sentinel Park and along the banks of the Santa Cruz River. It’s an area proudly referred to as “the birthplace of Tucson.”
But don’t come looking for flouncy spa amenities—rather, the Tuxon strikes a clever balance between boutique design resort, and retro roadside hotel. The luxury ultimately wins out, with 112 stylish rooms done up with elegant but rustic grey woods, patterned textiles that reference local southwestern/Mexican/Native-American heritage and Tucson-centric minibars.
It’s also a design geek’s dream, with the most instantly iconic feature being the boomerang-shaped pool, which acts as the hotel’s central social hub. A private desert garden area further reminds of the hotel’s geography—as do the handcrafted “slushes” and southwestern-inspired bites at The Pool Bar.
Fittingly, it is also Arizona’s first member of the exalted Design Hotels group.
Co-creator Sunny Patel explains, “Through design, service and our programming, we are delivering a truly authentic experience that celebrates the spirit of our community. The Tuxon stays true to its surroundings by paying tribute to the retro vibe and road trip feel of the past, while building upon Tucson’s modern legacy.”
That legacy includes it being a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, flaunting some of the country’s most exalted and authentic Mexican eateries—and two of them, El Charro and Mi Nidito, are within biking distance of the hotel. As is “The Loop,” a 131-mile hiking trail around Tucson.
This being 2020, naturally, the Tuxon is also very much a safety-forward property.
“We continue to take all of the proactive steps needed to ensure a safe and clean environment,” promises partner Vishal Patel. “Prioritizing the health and safety of our employees and guests remains of the utmost importance.”
Fashion may be stuck in neutral at the moment, as business offices are mostly still closed, and nightlife remains all but entirely shutdown. Simply put, people don’t have all that many reasons to get dressed up right now.
For our part, we surely can’t wait until the day that we can slip on a pair of gorgeous pumps again, and step fabulously into a room full of fabulous people. But in order to calm our worries about the future of fashion, it seems like it could just be worth taking a look back at the past, to remember just how we got here. And speaking of stylish pumps, Ferragamo had actually started us down that historic path by introducing its engaging new TRIVIA game back in April. And now they’ve launched a branded podcast, debuting today, August 31, which will take us even a little deeper.
Indeed, founder Salvatore’s glittering autobiography Shoemaker of Dreams was first published in 1957, just three years before he was taken by cancer at just 62 years of age. (His wife Wanda, who died in 2018 at 96, then built the business into a global empire.) Said book is now the inspiration for Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino’s feature-length Ferragamo documentary of the same name, premiering September 6 in the Out of Competition portion of this year’s Venice Film Festival, which takes place September 2 – 12.
The story traces Salvatore’s remarkable journey from Naples shoe apprentice, to young Hollywood hotshot footwear designer, to his return to Florence, where he birthed his namesake brand / aforementioned empire. And the podcast will feature famous Ferragamo friends Stanley Tucci, Jessica Alba, Michelle Monaghan, Hero Fiennes Tiffin and Caitriona Balfe, to name but a few, each completely reading one of the 22 chapters of the book. We must admit, we are especially looking forward to the Isabella Rossellini episode, for reasons that hardly even require explication.
It’s actually a notably clever idea, offering up both a captivating narrative, and a welcome degree of substance to go along with it—and most urgently, certainly, as the podcast landscape has become one of so much rambling, disinteresting narcissism. And as with the book itself, it’s dedicated, as Salvatore would say, “To all those who must walk.”
When Parasite won the Best Picture Oscar in February of 2020, it hit on more zeitgeist points than anything should ever be allowed to.
To wit, the immediate backlash regarding a foreign film taking the top prize went a long way to further explaining how Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has been so “successful”; it also incisively tapped into the rising tide of global class warfare; and, well, it deftly captured the new sort of contemporary, technofied anxiety that has characterized life in this 21st Century, and has only been exceedingly accelerated during this still carrying on pandemic.
What it also did was make Best Director Oscar winner Bong Joon Ho a very hot commodity in the film world. And as happens when someone suddenly becomes so very famous, a reassessment of his pre-fame work has been decisively put into action.
And so we get the re-release of his exalted 2003 crime thriller Memories of Murder, a digital remastering of which will be in theaters for a two-nights-only engagement, October 19 and 20. It was his second effort, and his first of four starring Song Kang-ho. The Hollywood Reporter has called it “An international cult classic.”
It’s built around a not unfamiliar trope: two small town, seemingly inauspicious detectives are on the trail of a series of rapes and murders, which may or may not be the work of a single culprit. What distinguishes the film from the typical American crime drama, is that the latter usually follows a fairly linear path from murder through investigation to satisfying resolution. But Bong chooses to make it about the detectives themselves, and how the machinations, stresses and disappointments of the process take their toll personally, and psychologically, despite the generally held belief that such a job requires training in emotional detachment.
There’s also a cockeyed quality to their own self-belief. Detective Park claims, “There’s a reason I survive as a detective. I may know nothing else, but my eyes can read people.” Yet regardless of how germane that is made to seem at first, nothing in the film actually bears it out.
The cinematography, indeed the entire aesthetic of the film, is more gothic than noir, with surely accidental nods to the likes of David Fincher and David Lynch. Darkness and shadows are practically featured characters.
It’s worthwhile to point out here that Americans are so confident in their universal crime solving ability, that for twelve seasons (of Murder She Wrote) we allowed that even a meddling old biddy with a book contract could catch the criminal week after week. But the proof that Bong’s detectives in Memories of Murder are pretty much in over their heads is summed up by this definitive exchange:
“How can a detective be such a bad fighter?,” sneers one. The reply: “How can a detective have such a bad eye for criminals?”
Like hotels and restaurants, fashion can surely play a crucial role in healing our battered collective psyche, which has already endured five months of isolation and perpetual news of yet more casualties of the coronavirus. People haven’t been traveling, haven’t been eating out…and, very visibly, have not been dressing up to go out.
Luckily, our friends at Fendi are coming to the rescue with an uplifting new campaign for their already beloved Peekaboo bag, a Silvia Venturini Fendi design first introduced in 2019. Starring an ethereal Zoey Deutch (who happens to be the daughter of director Howard Deutch and actress Lea Thompson), her infectious smile lights up the screen, as the lush strains of The Horrors’ opulent synth-goth track “I See You” fill the air—and frontman Faris Badwan dreamily croons “I can see your future in it / I can see it there.”
Zoey beams at eager paparazzi on the sidewalk, before a photo session in the studio finds her…”peeking” into her own Peekaboo bag, leaving us to wonder just what she might be hiding in there.
“I love that the bag opens up in a deep ‘smile’ to reveal the interchangeable inside pockets,” she says. “It is comfortable yet classic. Chic, while also able to carry everything you could need. And I have been known to want to fit everything—and more—in my purse. I definitely need four. Obviously.”
Of course, just seeing anything that isn’t accompanied by the words “this was shot in my apartment” is hopeful in itself. But Ms. Deutch seems particularly thrilled with how the Fendi session played out.
“It was one of my favorite shooting days ever,” she enthuses. “There was a lot to get done in a short time, but everyone was in such a great mood. Good people, great energy and amazing bags…what could be better?”
And isn’t that just the sort of positivity we need right now?
At one time filling endless column inches with the goings on of her really super supermodel life, Naomi Campbell has stormed the zeitgeist once again with the launch earlier this year of her now wildly popular No Filter With Naomi YouTube series. It debuted April 6, just weeks after the worldwide lockdown, when everyone was fresh with panic and dread. She struck a nerve with her honest about her previously not widely publicized germaphobia.
It has since evolved into a show where she gathers up the women of Cooldom and Awesomeville for a chat about what it means to be perpetually awesome. This has meant virtual link ups with the likes of Christy Turlington, Sharon Stone, Karlie Kloss, Anna Wintour, Serena and Venus Williams…you get the idea. But after a short hiatus, she returned on June 23 to deal with the very serious matters at hand, following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. So the guest list morphed into civil right activist Opal Tometi, activist/poet Cleo Wade, trans actor Indya Moore, and the like.
But we are all very much in need of music to calm our savaged souls—and so were beyond excited to hear that today, August 25, No Filter With Naomi will feature none other than ethereal songstress and former First Lady of France Carla Bruni. The latter has a gorgeous new single, “Quelque Chose,” and a full album coming in September—and we just can’t get enough of her right now.
Although we’re not likely to be hopping a flight to the Asian continent before year’s end, Japan is far atop our list for when we once again get our wings—keeping in mind that they have decisively fended off the coronavirus. And having already done sufficient time in Tokyo, exciting new hotel openings in Osaka and Kyoto have us already plotting out our next visit.
The latter, just a 30 minute train ride from the former, is the Japanese city of our daydreams: historic architecture, contemporary cool, a thriving music scene, and bleeding edge fashion. And now it has a strikingly designed new hotel, which is likely to become a magnet for the the city’s culture vultures. Indeed, the recently opened Node Kyoto (a member of Design Hotels) is dark, enigmatic and, most of all, uncommonly stylish.
It is also an “art hotel” that actually knows something about art. Indeed, rather than some willy nilly collection spring from someone’s indifferent marketing plan, the 60+ pieces on display carry some genuine heft, including those by Gerhard Richter, Barry McGee, Bernard Frize, Tomoo Gokita, Shinro Ohtake, Nobuyoshi Araki and Yukimasa Ida. The Node is also laid out to resemble the private home of your best friend art collector—you know, the one who makes you jealous every time you visit.
Of course, that friend’s impeccable taste extends to every corner of the house. To wit, the dark, brooding lobby, which has an almost raw, Corbusian feel, yet is also welcoming and cozy—made more so by the genteel, on-site library. Elsewhere, metal-coated ceilings create a unique aesthetic dialogue with aged white oak flooring, and marble/iron custom furnishings by Seiichiro Takeuchi, the Kyoto-based, Tadao Ando trained architect who also designed the five story reinforced concrete and glass construction that houses the hotel. Additional design pieces come by way of India, Sweden and Germany, while enigmatic lighting by local artist Junpei Ohmori puts a visceral touch on the decidedly equivocal atmosphere.
There are just 25 rustic-industrial rooms, as well as a gorgeous, double-height bar looking out over floor-to-ceiling windows and a nearly 20-foot high living wall. And well, the Node is just a short walk from both the Nishiki Market, and the Kyoto International Manga Museum—both of which are obviously not to be missed.
Though sitting in overheated outdoor cafes doesn’t exactly call for a sweeping wardrobe overhaul, it doesn’t mean we have to entirely ignore that fashionable voice in our head, the one that’s been suddenly re-awakened by at least a partial emergence from our months long quarantine. Yes, we are going out again.
Now surely, what we really wish we were doing right now is sharing negronis on the rocks at La Terrazza rooftop bar above Florence’s Ferragamo-owned Hotel Continentale. But considering the utter impossibility of such a thing, we’re otherwise contented with the news that the exalted Italian fashion house is bringing Firenze style to us, with its new men’s accessories collection, evocatively titled Tornabuoni 1927.
The name itself is a joining of the famous via where their HQ is located, with the year that Salvatore Ferragamo returned to the Tuscan capital from Hollywood, to make a future legend of his eponymous shoe brand. And, as that moniker gives away, the line is decidedly imbued with a classical cool and distinctly Italian sort of understated chic.
The Tornabuoni 1927 logo appears on deerskin sailing bags, totes, and clutches, in refined black or white, as well as approachably priced nylon backpacks, waist bags, shoulder bags and totes, in red, white or black. Small leather goods include a wallet and credit card holder.
Being Ferragamo, of course, the accompanying campaign was shot in a moodily lit manor house somewhere in the Florentine hills—making the collection all the more irresistible. And after about 20 weeks of lockdown, we can say without hesitation that we’re most definitely in need of a bit of Italian elegance right now.
Despite the devastating effects of the coronavirus shutdowns on the business of culture, what has been most encouraging has been the remarkable creativity that has grown out of this terrible crisis. To wit, livestreamed DJ sets, Zoom thinktanking sessions…we could go on.
Mexico has been hit particularly hard, of course, with nearly half a million cases and more than 53,000 deaths reported up to now. But the urgency to reengage with its hallowed cultural institutions is surely fueled by the reality of the inarguable healing power of art. We need culture right now to stay sane. And so it was that renowned Mexican contemporary artist Mario García Torres hatched the idea for the new Museos Uno En Uno, or Museums OneIn One program, which allows art lovers the almost zen-like experience of having a museum entirely to themselves for a period of 40 minutes—with Torres, select fellow artists, and invited curators acting as custodians.
Inaugurating the program are the Museo Frida Kahlo and the Museo Anahuacalli, the latter devoted entirely to Diego Riviera. Symbolically, it makes perfect sense, as the exalted couple holds an almost mythical status in Mexico, one which has carried over through the generations. So the opportunity to commune alone with their works, and their tumultuous but ceaselessly inspiring story—with minimal intrusion from museum staff—carries the genuine possibility for a deeply-spiritually-imbued moment or two, certainly.
No surprise, among the sponsors of the program are boutique hotel stalwarts Grupo Habita, who have made a mission these last twenty years of creating and nurturing a cultural community around their cognoscenti-magnet, destination design hotels, from Mexico City to Oaxaca and beyond.
Explains Habita Managing Partner Rafael Micha of the program, “Our committed and ongoing support of the arts and the continuing sponsorship of Mario García Torres’ idea @museuosunoenuno was a no brainer. And to do so in the iconic Frida Kahlo Casa Azul, honoring one of Mexico’s most celebrated artists, was a welcomed challenge—but will now be a reality starting August 18th.”
And it’s a startlingly not expensive proposition, with a price tag of $250 MX, about $12 US. And considering the sheer once-in-a-lifetimeness of being handed the keys to an entire museum, it seems a particularly egalitarian gesture.
The Museums OneIn One program will continue on to other prominent Mexican museums—though any further specifics have yet to be announced.