Interpol’s Paul Banks’ New Project ‘Muzz’ Have an Ethereal New Single + Video



We haven’t heard from our beloved Interpol since 2018’s excellent Marauder…but frontman Paul Banks has proven nothing if not reliably prolific since the New York quartet exploded onto the scene with 2002’s Turn on the Bright Lights—even cultivating a worthy solo career on the side.

But his latest project Muzz is actually rather surprising: a trio with Matt Barrick of The Walkmen / Fleet Foxes, and Josh Kaufman of Bonny Light Horseman / Day of the Dead. And though there’s no word of a full album yet, they’ve just released this hauntingly pensive new single “Broken Tambourine,” which, if we might say, seems to call upon the ghosts of Leonard Cohen and Jeff Buckley for spiritual inspiration…while aesthetically harkening back to Peter Gabriel era Genesis.

The accompanying video is an ethereal meditation on the vastness and weightlessness of space—especially welcome at a time when most of us are feeling the anxious crush of reality, stuck for however long between the limits of our four walls.

It’s like nothing we’d ever expected from these three—but then, Banks’ far-reaching talents have never been in question, really. We eagerly look forward to more.



Fendi’s New #BaguetteFriendsForever Short Stars Winnie Harlow + Shannon Hamilton



If we’re being honest, we really just can’t take any more bad, nay quasi-apocalyptic news right now. So the arrival of the next clip in Fendi’s heartwarming #BaguetteFriendsForever series has made us particularly, if momentarily happy this week.

The ongoing campaign brings together real life, and famous but not spectacularly so best friends—BlackBook, for instance, recently featured the episode with Tommy Dorfman and Naomi Watanabe—for a brief but fabulous adventure that ultimately revolves around the exalted Fendi Baguette bag. In the newest installment, The Unexpected Baguette, model Shannon Hamilton, in New York at the time, rings up pal Winnie Harlow in Miami, earnestly expressing how she wishes she could be there with her—which curiously enough, seems like a very relevant sentiment right now in this time of stifled travel and mass quarantining.



Later, during a seemingly solo Fendi shopping session, Harlow is checking out the scented FENDIFRENESIA, when someone comments, “Nice bag.” And, well, guess who it is?

“The best part about our friendship,” Harlow explains, “is that we have been and always will be there for each other. I can always be completely myself with Shannon; there’s nothing like having someone in your corner that’s going to have your back through thick and thin.”

With so much fashion advertising coming off so aloof and unattainable, we genuinely applaud Fendi for not only creating something so earnestly endearing…but also for celebrating the unparalleled joy of best friends spending carefree moments together. It will definitely make you want to pick up your phone immediately and tell your BFF just how much you miss them. Especially now.


First Images: Stockholm’s ‘Hem’ Has a New Soho Studio Space

Images by Brian Ferry



Over the last couple of decades, the American obsession with Swedish design has become essentially a matter of fact. And so the recent U.S. invasion of Stockholm-based Hem has seemed almost inevitable, if not way overdue.

Indeed, the brand (whose name simply means “home”), was founded in 1983, at a time when the States were more concerned with outré movements like Memphis. But a new, post-millennial wave of style magazines have ceaselessly exalted all things Scandinavia, paving the way for a primary 21st Century aesthetic that hasn’t much tolerance for wacky shapes and pastel colors. Hem actually opened its first outpost just last year in Downtown Los Angeles; and now it has unveiled its first New York studio, a 2500 square foot historic loft on Soho’s Broome Street—long where the city’s best design shops have clustered.

Hem has ever been known for its simple but elegantly modern lines, with an emphasis on craftsmanship over ostentation. And to be sure, classics like the Kumo Sofa, Last Stool, Alle Tables, Touchwood and Udon chairs, and the Alphabeta pendants will all be on offer, alongside new pieces like the Max Lamb Max Table and Bench, and the Powder-Vases by Jenny Nordberg—all of the latter making their first appearances in the States.



Fully embracing their new NYC home, which is a typically high ceilinged Soho space, a notable feature is the site-specific sculptural installation by Brooklyn duo Chen & Kai, which stands at around ten feet feet tall, and is characterized by 20 mirrored panels. So guests can take in a kind of “broken” or schizophrenic view of themselves…though Hem describe it as a kind of deconstructed skyscraper.

“New York has been our single most important market since Hem’s inception,” enthuses Petrus Palmér, CEO and Founder. “It is a city filled with creativity and entrepreneurial ambitions and home to many architects and designers we admire. While it took some time to find the perfect space, Soho was always a must for us, as one of the most walkable and visually striking parts of the city, and center for so much of its design and creative leaders. We’re thrilled to make it our home.”

For those who cannot make it to one of the Hem U.S. locations, shopping online is also an option.


Daniel Arsham’s ‘Future Relics’ Sculptures Bring Dior Into Your Living Room



As the very notion of Fashion Week has faced existential threats from an increasingly digital world, the top houses have taken to ratcheting up the conceptualizing—as we reported recently of the Prada and Ferragamo Milan shows.

For his Summer 2020 Men’s presentation for Dior, Artistic Director Kim Jones went as far as erecting a tent in Paris’ epic Place de la Concorde, ultimately paying tribute to late punk stylist and fellow Brit Judy Blame (who passed away from cancer in 2018). He also enlisted American artist Daniel Arsham as a creative collaborator on the sets—and now miniaturized versions of his sculptures are being offered as an exclusive collection in Dior boutiques worldwide.



Arsham has become well-known for his haunted, “decaying” sculpts of familiar everyday items, cameras, sneakers, etc. For Dior, he has created a series of five called Future Relics, which are perhaps the perfect metaphor for the gradual degeneration of Western ideals and values. Included in the collection is an homage to Christian Dior’s 1951 book Je Suis Couturier, now a jewel box.

These will surely be among the most talked about must-haves of 2020. For our part, though, we’re just trying to decipher if the clock being stopped at 10:10 is trying to tell us something.


First Images: Torel Palace Porto Hotel



Over the last decade, Lisbon has finally been getting the recognition it deserves for its combination of history, breezy sophistication, and ethereal, red-tiled-roof beauty. But just about 300 km to the north, Portugal‘s second city of Porto remains one of those rare “undiscovered” European cities, with its stunning mix of architectural styles and majestic position along the Douro River.

Boutique hotel development has been correspondingly slow, and international brands like W or Andaz are certainly nowhere to be found. But independent hoteliers have been decisively taking to the task—and the gorgeous new Torel Palace Porto is the most sublime recent example of this.



From the Torel Group’s Torel Boutiques collection, it’s housed in an elegant 19th Century palace along the Rua de Entreparedes. A stunning, original skylight above a dramatic staircase sets the aesthetic tone, which strikes a delicate balance between the classical and modern. Rooms have etched ceilings, gossamer drapery, and carefully chosen antiques—yet might also hold contemporary, cow print chairs. Each is named for a famous Portuguese novelist or poet (Florbela Espanca, Raul Brandão, etc.)

The onsite restaurant is named Blind, not because you’re made to eat in the dark (that trend has long come and gone), but rather it’s a reference to José Saramago’s 1998 novel Blindness. Still, diners are also encouraged to let award-winning chef Vitor Matos and their own senses guide them through a unique culinary experience.

There’s a tiled pool (adorned by opulent chandeliers, why not?), and a SKINLIFE Wellness Suite with luxurious facial, massage and other treatments—so you get to enjoy the intimacy of a 24 room hotel, with the services of a five-star. But most of all, it’s a great reason to visit a new city that still holds untold surprises…so go, before everyone else figures it out.


BlackBook Premiere: New Buttertones Single ‘Fade Away Gently’ Harkens Back to Post-Punk Glasgow



They’re American. But LA’s The Buttertones startlingly recall the early ’80s post-punk Glasgow scene, more specifically Postcard Records, home of the likes of Orange Juice and Josef K. Which is never a bad thing.

Their new album Jazzhound is due out April 10th, via Innovative Leisure. And in the lead up, BlackBook enthusiastically premieres here the new single “Fade Away Gently,” which to be honest is probably not the best title for these worrying coronavirus fraught times. But with its lush synths and dreamily flanged guitars, the track strikingly harkens back to those great Scottish new-pop bands. Singer Richard Araiza even kind of nails the trembly vocal style of Orange Juice’s Edwyn Collins, as he laments, “Suffer still but carry it all / Hold your head high / It’s a walk we all take.”





Bassist Sean Redman explains, “This is a coming-of-age song that focuses on an individual’s journey. Melancholy and full of regret but acceptance that we’re in the midst of life and we need to be open to change. Musically this track has a resemblance to our earliest days as a group.”

The Buttertones will also embark on an extended North American tour at Higher Ground in Burlington, VT April 11, which includes a stop at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on the 20th, and concludes with three dates back home in Los Angeles from May 28 – 30.

Summer Olympics Stay: The Stylish New K5 Hotel Opens in Tokyo



While China tries to contain this worrying coronavirus, July will bring the 2020 Summer Olympics to a hopefully unaffected Tokyo…and we couldn’t be more thrilled for a zeitgeist defining visit.

Alas, we’ve often lamented the lack of truly worthy boutique hotels in the Japanese capital. But an intimate, buzz-generating new property will open this month, one that seeks to attract a more discriminating contemporary traveler (we like to count ourselves amongst that group). Indeed, the K5—which sounds a bit “intelligence agency” if we’re being honest—is a 20 room stunner, and a notable element in the revitalization of the Kabuto-cho district. It is also the latest member of Design Hotels.



In a four story edifice that dates to the 1920s (and was once a bank), inside, Swedish designers Claesson Koivisto Rune treated the original features with appropriate reverence, leaving intact the elements of cedar wood and Japanese stucco. But original concrete floors have been updated using similar materials. And following the guiding principal of “aimai,” spaces have been given amorphous beginnings and endings, with boundaries being left somewhat ambiguous—which, by the way, doesn’t mean the bar will be anywhere your bed…but the reception desk does double as a coffee shop.

Rooms, considering it’s Tokyo, are generously proportioned…enough to fit large central columns dressed in indigo fabrics. The designers have installed their own furnishings—including custom washi paper lamps—for stylistic parity, along with items by Emeco and Maruni. Bathrooms feature wood benches, cedar ceilings, and bright white tiling. Playing to the trend, each has a turntable with a smartly curated selection of vinyl.



A restaurant, the intriguingly monikered Caveman (a spinoff of Kabi), serves contemporary Japanese cuisine amidst concrete walls and parquet flooring, while Ao is for cocktail aficionados. Downstairs is B, actually the first Brooklyn Brewery taproom outside of New York (ah, globalization).

Most strikingly, colored glass at the back of the hotel reflects automobile headlights into the corridors, creating a kaleidoscopic effect. The dazzle, of course, is included in the room rate.


Images: Prada’s Fall / Winter 2020 Milan Fashion Week Show Goes Full Conceptual



Fashion houses have made much of celebrity associations to stay current. But none have advanced the cultural and intellectual gravitas of fashion quite like Prada under her magnificence Miuccia. And for this year’s Milan Fashion Week, the conceptualizing was taken to a particularly spectacular level.

Taking over the Grand Hall of Deposito, the epic function space at Fondazione Prada, the brand’s Fall / Winter 2020 Womenswear show took place within a pair of hallucinatory “piazzas.” Each was created around the illusion of voided out space, to give the perception of floating in, well…nothingness. A statue of Atlas was perhaps was meant to suggest the socio-political-psychological weight we are currently carrying on the shoulders of the world, even in regards to our relationship to fashion.



Striking geometric flower imagery was meant to reference Vienna Secession architectural facades, some of which carried over into the clothes. And the new collection featured fringe skirts, boxy jackets, bohemian patterns, provocative but feminine sheer draping, elegantly delicate graphics and futuristic looking puffers. Which is quite a lot to pack into one—okay, two—season(s).

The show’s front row sported the requisite star/influencer power, including Emily Ratajkowski, Rachel Brosnahan, Susie Lau and Sinead Burke. But it was the conceptual setting, which ultimately raised questions about the public and private, the real and the imagined, that left the greatest mark on our psyches.

Curiously enough, it was all followed by a startlingly industry-shifting announcement, whereby Prada has named Antwerp’s own Raf Simons as Co-Creative Director with Miuccia. We are literally atwitter with excitement over the possibilities.




BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: Dreamy New Single ‘Magpie’ From London’s Fassine

Image by Jimmy King



We’re not sure if anyone has confirmed it as an actual genre as yet, but London trio Fassine seem to have landed on a style that could only be described as psychedelic/dream-pop. To be sure, new single ‘Magpie’, which BlackBook premieres here, equally reminds of Stereolab, Lush and the Strawberry Alarm Clock, with its languid, spacey Teutonic/hallucinogenic atmospherics, and spooky, synthesized harpsichord.

Charismatic singer Sarah Palmer intones with a Siouxsie like coolness and aplomb, but her vocals are silky and elegant, as she lyrically admonishes a selfish, inequitable lover: “Some say its green / Some say its black / Your magpie heart takes / And it never gives back.”



“[It’s about] a magpie-type lover and all that comes with it,” she explains, “luring us in to the hope of a beautiful relationship. It’s as close as we could get to writing a pop song on this album.”

Said album is their upcoming third full length, titled Forge, which will be released March 27 via Trapped Animal. No Stateside tour plans have yet been announced, so those wishing to catch them live will have to hop the pond for one of a pair of April UK dates. We’re guessing it would be well worth it.