Prema’s NYFW Mohawks + Merkins for Kaimin Proved Why They Are a New Creative Force

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Images by Elizabeth Cohen


For all the dissemination of style minutiae during New York Fashion Week (as well as those in Milan, London, Paris), there’s curiously very little focus on, well, hair.

But a genuine highlight of last week’s NYFW was the FW18 runway show by NYC label Kaimin (lorded over by the South Korean born designer / filmmaker / conceptual artist of the same name, and known for dressing stars like Björk and Lady Gaga) for its fourth collection, titled Oriental Garden – Utopian Discord. It featured – yes – “vagina mohawks,” striking merkins realized by stylists from Australian hair collective Prema, led by Creative Director Dale Delaporte (with an assist by Charlie le Mindu), and using exclusively ANTI hair products. The theatrical coifs played dazzlingly on the early ’80s trend towards skyward styling, and caused one of the great sensations of the week.

“Kaimin’s latest collection really pushes the themes of individuality and the power of being the best version of one’s self,” says Delacourte. “Unapologetic pride in all aspects of your own uniqueness is an overriding theme that we wanted represented both in the mohawks – which were individual to each model (although with commonalities) – and the merkins, where we mirrored that model’s hair look.”

Creative Consultant Elizabeth Cohen described it thusly: “The Kaimin show had this incredible energy emanating from the powerful, diverse models displaying this explosion of creative talent, with a very modern digital tech vibe. Kaimin’s wildly imaginative designs were integrated with PREMA hair stylists bringing it to life with the extraordinary mohawks – and all combined with spectacular visual art projected throughout the show.”

Prema, originating in Sydney, actually opened their first NYC salon on the Lower East Side just about a year ago (flamboyant rapper Brooke Candy is a regular) – but are already garnering a significant amount of attention here. Along with ANTI, they were notably very busy last week – they also created signature looks for the Barragán FW 18 show.

Expect the buzz to continue. Prema will be hosting regular “in salon” events in collaboration with local LES fashion designers, artists, musicians, dancers, body painters, Tarot card readers, etc.


BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: Exuberant New Single ‘Day of the Child’ by Dublin’s Le Galaxie

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Photo by Mark Duggan


The Irish Times called them “architects of exuberant electropop” and “the best live band in Ireland.” And indeed, Dublin’s Le Galaxie have built a reputation very much on the strength of their exhilarating live performances.

But the electro pop mavens are no slouches in the studio – their 2012 track “Love System” was nominated for Choice Music Prize’s “Song of the Year.” And their last album, 2015’s excellent Le Club, went top ten in their home country. A new single “Day of the Child” (which BlackBook premieres here) is genuinely electrifying, with lush synths, bracing beats and an ethereal vocal performance by new member May Kay Gegharty, graduating from her previous role of guest artist.

“This is May Kay’s calling card,” explains the band’s David McGloughlin, “a song she co-wrote for the album, and a signpost towards the development of our songwriting and our sound. Although she would probably tell you better herself, [the lyrics are] about having to dig in your heels and rise above the people and circumstances that let you down.”

Obviously, we can genuinely relate.

N.B. – Should you be left wanting more, Le Galaxie’s third album, Pleasure, will be released April 6, through US label Red River. They’ll also be appearing at SXSW, taking the stage March 15 at Austin’s Velveeta Room.




Archives Opened for ‘BOWIE’ Photo Exhibition, Debuting This Month at Morrison Hotel Gallery

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Photo by Geoff MacCormack


Two years after his epochal passing, the sense of David Bowie still being front and center of the cutural zeitgeist is palpable – especially in the way his music continues to influence yet another generation.

But the physical manifestations of our love for him are still many and sundry, as well. And a new exhibition at the Morrison Hotel Gallery, succinctly titled BOWIE, will debut this week, just days before the opening of the Brooklyn Museum’s David Bowie Is – which happens to be the final stop on the tour for that monumental show, that had originated at London’s V&A back in 2013.


©Duffy Archive


The Morrison Hotel Gallery show will feature some of the most striking images of The Thin White Duke ever captured – and done so by the legends of rock photography including Mick Rock, Bob Gruen, Geoff MacCormack, Barry Shultz, Duffy and Neal Preston. It will simultaneous open at their NYC, LA and Maui locations.

“An enigma and masterpiece of his own creation, it’s no secret that the multitudes of David Bowie have redefined the very essence of rock & roll,” explains Marcelle Murdock, director of Morrison Hotel Gallery in NY. “From the Aladdin Sane album cover shot by Duffy to the intimate portraits of Geoff MacCormack, this exhibition explores his countless angles and identities. As much a tribute to the man and the myth as a celebration of the photographers that have immortalized the legend in glitter and glory, BOWIE is bound to be this spring’s most talked about show.”

We’re inclined to agree.


From top: Barry Shultz; Geoff MacCormack

BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: Captivating Video for Jackson Penn’s Acoustic Version of ‘Streetlights on Mars’

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You may not know Jackson Penn’s name, perhaps – but you’ve probably heard his songs. Indeed, as Freddy Wexler, he has penned gems for Kanye, for Steve Aoki, for Selena Gomez…we could go on.

But he’s been saving some of those songs for himself lately – or at least for his solo alter ego Jackson Penn – including a particularly profound one titled, intriguingly, “Streetlights on Mars.” He recorded a version in 2017 that was characterized by its cool, calypso-new-wave musical undercurrent. But with its poignant lyrical musings – “Holy rolling on ecstasy / She said to me / Promise not to wake me if it’s all a dream” – it was practically begging for a more stripped down version.

And so it is that we premiere here precisely that very version, with a video showing Jackson Penn singing to the accompaniment of nothing but acoustic guitar. We asked him to elaborate…


You’ve written songs for artists that tend to employ mostly really elaborate production. What inspired you to do such a stripped-down version of “Streetlights on Mars”?

The song came from a pure place, so I wanted a simple version with no distractions. I think great songs are about melody and lyrics.

You use a lot of metaphors: “streets of gold”, “streetlights on Mars,” “tripping on fields of marigold.” Do you try to paint pictures with your lyrics?

I loved reading stories growing up, and I spent more time living in my imagination than in reality. I guess I still do.

You sing “This is the start / Even if we don’t know where we are.” Is this song a kind of “spiritual” journey, if you will?

It’s about a night that gets so crazy, you question if it’s even real. I think a crazy night can get pretty spiritual.

Will you be releasing more singles this year? A full album?

I’m putting out a new single called “Babylon” in March – and I’ll hopefully put out an album this summer.



Next Neighborhood: Fort Point is Boston’s New Waterfront Creative Hub…Still

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Let’s face it, NYC’s hunger for novelty and change often doesn’t produce the most worthy results (see: health-conscious cocktails). So little wonder about our esteem for cities like Philadelphia and Boston, where such change occurs at a more, let’s say, considered pace.

The latter’s Fort Point neighborhood is a case in, well, point. Long a harborside area known for its…parking lots, it nevertheless actively cultivated and supported the local artistic community. But we know the formula by now: developers discover it, and up go the skyward condo buildings and the prices. Yet Boston is a very different place from New York, and even amidst the gleaming new high rises, an artistic soul is yet tended to here.


Envoy Hotel lobby


To wit, on our recent stay at the stunningly designed Envoy Hotel, located right along the waterfront, we discovered that a space within the hotel was given to the Fort Point Arts Community, to stage exhibitions by its member artists. FPAC is non-profit founded back in 1980 – and it sees to the needs of the more than 300 artists who still live in the district (visit their site for gallery listings). And it fits quite nicely with creative mission of the hotel, if we do say.

The area is noticeably changing. Just up the road, Harpoon was the city’s first microbrewery (dating to 1986), and is still producing its excellent Winter Warmer and Dark Beer / Stout, amongst others. But just around the corner from the Envoy, Scorpion Bar does velvet-roped, signature margarita fueled evenings in extravagantly decked out, nightclubby surrounds.

Here’s what we discovered.


The Institute of Contemporary Art

It arrived before the recent rush, opening in a spectacular new waterfront location in December 2006. But the ICA itself actually dates to 1936, and is regarded as one of the most important American contemporary art institutions. Its thought-provoking shows will make you smarter (the current Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today) and also more engaged with the socio-political zeitgeist (We Wanted a Revolution, Black Radical Women 1965-1985, opening June 27 – and spot on for the current prevailing mood). The Diller Scofidio + Renfro building is a breathtaking example of the firm’s architecture-as-art ethos.



The Cafes

Where creative sorts are massing, there must be coffee to brood over. And the Fort Point outpost of Caffe Nero (a Brit import) is an aesthetically charming mix of industrial chic and Euro bric a brac, with excellent cortados and breakfast pots. Nearby Barrington Coffee caters to the cool kids, with artful interiors and uncommon brews from Guatemala and Nicaragua. Flour Bakery does salads, grain bowls, brioche au chocolat and vegan cakes, with a spacious terrace on comely Farnsworth Street.


Barrington Coffee


The Restaurants

And then came the trendy restaurants. Barbara Lynch’s Menton is the area’s culinary showpiece, a very French, Relais & Chateaux dining experience – with an 8-course tasting menu, and a classy bar serving Euro-centric cocktails like the Cassis Spritz and Florence Sour. Anchoring the Congress Street “scene,” Pastoral is a rustic-chic, artisan pizza kitchen, with creative antipasti (octopus panzanella, escarle caesa) and fourteen craft beers on draught. Sportello does interesting pastas – braised rabbit strozzapreti, cavatelli cavolfiore – in “mod diner” digs. And perpetually packed Smoke Shop BBQ offers up award winning plates of its namesake meats, as well as local whiskey flights, in a buzzy atmosphere.




The Nightlife

Exalted chef Barbara Lynch’s low-lit, connoisseur’s cocktail spot Drink has no actual drinks menu – they’re all done to order (you know, like…bespoke), paired with excellent mushroom crostini and steak tartare. Dark woods, parquet floors and artful chandeliers set the tone in the lounge area of Bastille Kitchen – toast to the French Revolution on a smart leather coach with a bourbon-and-fig Marquis or a Parisian Mule. Lucky’s Lounge is the area’s longtime fixture, a gritty, retro rocker bar that serves a stiff drink, pulled pork sliders, a Sinatra brunch and rousing live music.

Bastille Kitchen 


The Envoy Hotel

Frankly, one of our favorite sleeps…period. The Envoy Hotel‘s glass and steel construction allowed for stylish, loft-like rooms with floor-to-ceilings windows framing honestly jaw-dropping waterfront views (the bathrooms also come with impossibly chic bathrobes.) The snazzy lobby area – complete with electronic billiards table – spills into the Outlook Kitchen & Bar, a sleek, all-day dining affair (the duck confit toast at brunch is ridiculously delicious) serving cognac mac & cheese, pear & pistachio salad and spicy tuna poke, all under the direction of charismatic Cuban chef Tatiana Pairot Rosana. But the real bragging rights come by way of the Lookout Rooftop & Bar, which does top notch cocktails against the glittering backdrop of all those spectacular downtown high-rises.




BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: Poignant New Rachael Sage Single ‘Olivia’

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Image by Erin Baiano 


Since debuting in 1995, Rachael Sage has remained one of music’s most inimitable iconoclasts (the New York Times rightly compared her to the late/legendary model-comedian Fanny Brice), always appearing relevant, but mostly floating along in her own self-created universe. And we’ve always particularly admired how that universe happens to be meticulously aesthetically and ideologically cultivated.

Naturally, we’re honored to be premiering her latest single, “Olivia” – a striking work of pop-noir, with distinctly profound lyrics inspired by an intriguing obsession with a very well known television character: Law & Order SVU‘s Olivia Benson…as played by the luminous Mariska Hargitay.

Over a slightly somber, almost gothic-folk undercurrent (the song actually reminds us a bit of the Peter Murphy classic “Cuts You Up”), Sage is nevertheless breathless, perhaps even devotional in her lyrical adulations. Indeed, she poignantly promises, “I’d give you everything I own / To free you from a life unknown.” Who could possibly say no to such an overture?



“I have been watching the brilliantly talented Mariska Hargitay bring this fiercely intelligent, empathetic and heroic character to life for many years,” she enthuses, “and various episodes have inspired me to write songs, poems and even paint pictures.”

She continues, “When you watch Law & Order SVU, there is always a certain amount of tension you experience, because on the one hand there are nefarious characters doing terrible things and the subject matter can be extremely violent and disturbing…but on the other, there is this very soulful, strong woman, bringing criminals to justice and comforting victims.”

Sage is currently on a North American tour with synth-pop legend Howard Jones through March 11, and will be appearing at SXSW the following week. Her new album, Myopia, will be released later this spring.



First Images: New Mama Shelter Hotel Belgrade

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As the line of “next destinations” in Europa pushes ever eastward, the further exploration of The Balkans seems only natural. And the Serbian city of Belgrade is very much that city just waiting for those Westerners who have long since done Prague, Budapest and Tallinn.

Of course, a cool new hotel is always a really good reason to drop your bags in a new place. And French hipster brand Mama Shelter – with Philippe Starck as aesthetic overlord – will soon be setting up shop in the capital, along the bustling Ulica Kneza Mihaila.

It’s the seventh outpost of the affordable chic hotel group (following Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Los Angeles, and Rio), and Jalil Amor’s design hews very much to the familiar stylistic philosophy. So, lots of uncluttered but slightly kitschy boho chic, with well chosen animal prints and charming bric-a-brac – but paying specific homage to the city’s Ottoman history.

There will be 125 guest rooms. But for playtime, there’s a 5000 square foot foosball-and-table-tennis-equipped terrace, employing zeitgeisty DJs and live music, to go along with the trend-aware cocktails and, of course, spectacular views.

The hotel officially opens March 8 – so the Belgrade Dance Festival, March 15 – April 4, is the perfect excuse for a springtime jaunt.


BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: Visceral New Jessica 6 Single ‘The Storm Inside’

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Image by Gabriel Magdaleno 


When we first saw Nuyorican singer-songwriter Nomi Ruiz on a New York stage with Hercules & Love Affair nearly a decade ago, it was clear who the star was. Since then, she’s carried on with a notable solo career, including working under the nom de guerre Jessica 6. A fashion fave, she’s performed for the likes of Thierry Mugler, Vogue, Tiffany and Tommy Hilfiger – as well as being a part of the Mixmag Smirnoff Sound Collective, which supports diversity in electronic music.

Alas, we hadn’t heard enough from her since the 2015 J6 EP The Capricorn (she has collaborated with Oli Chang’s Animal Feelings in the interim). So BlackBook was beyond excited for the opportunity to premiere the visceral new single, “The Storm Inside.” It’s from the album titled The ELIOT Sessions, in collaboration with producer-remixer ELIOT.

Once again as Jessica 6, over a sultry groove, and a wistful sweep of electronic strings (think: Madonna collabing with New Order), Nomi makes the impassioned plea, “Can you feel the weather inside me / Crashing to the shore / Can you see the storm inside of my eyes / Crying out for more?”

“The Storm Inside is about facing your fears,” she explains. “It’s about that moment in a man’s eyes when their desire wrestles with the conditions this worlds places on them. That fury within when at the precipice of love. The inner battle to be freed from false ideals of masculinity and to embrace love and be enlightened by the unknown.”

It’s the most poignantly powerful track we’ve heard so far in 2018 – and we’re obviously hoping it’s a harbinger of a full new Jessica 6 album.



Next Hip City: A BlackBook Guide to Denver

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Having ticked most of these United States off our travel list, it was a bit odd to realize we’d never actually set foot in Colorado. But a great new hotel is often the only excuse we need to set about correcting such a situation. And sure enough, this past November Le Méridien threw open the doors on a very stylish new downtown sleep.

Denver is also pretty happening these days, having tapped into the zeitgeisty formula of urban renewal (run down neighborhood becomes artists district becomes playground for trend chasers). The city’s rustic, mountain charms, historic architecture and spectacular scenery combine with a new sense of possibility, from a thriving street art scene to a winery that has made it hip to drink it from cans.

Here’s what we did.


RiNo Art District

Yep, you guessed it. A former industrial district in Five Points, it became an incubator for Denver’s exploding street art scene – and you can see the results everywhere you look. Naturally, creative businesses followed, and now the neighborhood hosts design and architecture offices, as well as trendy restaurants like Acorn, Bar Fausto and Mister Tuna. Check out the contemporary exhibitions at Helikon Gallery & Studios, as well as the RedLine Contemporary Art Center. Don’t miss the fangeek Stranger Things mural, by local collective Arty Deeds.



Union Station

Like New York’s Grand Central, Union Station is more than just a place to catch a train. It’s a striking architectural masterpiece dating to 1914, marrying neoclassical, Romanesque and Beaux Arts styles into a particular sort of grandiosity. It was given a splashy makeover by design coolsters AvroKO in 2014, and is once again a genuine social hub for the city. While puttering about the dramatic confines, pick up local crafts at 5 Green Boxes, as well as books and periodicals at Tattered Cover. There are also ten food and drink options, including the buzzy Terminal Bar and the strikingly designed Cooper Lounge, perched histrionically up on the mezzanine.



Clyfford Still Museum

He was one of the great American Abstract Expressionist painters, having passed away in 1980, aged 75. But the museum dedicated to his work has a fascinating story: his estate offered to bestow his entire oeuvre on whichever city came up with the best proposal for a namesake gallery. Denver won, and the Clyfford Still Museum was opened in 2011. His visceral, perception-altering work from the ’50s and ’60s (along with that of Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock) literally defined an era in American art. Featured exhibitions include Artists Select, for which the likes of Mark Mothersbaugh and Julian Schnabel have chosen works from the collection to a thematic end.



The Source

Of course, you can’t have urban renewal without the requisite trendy food markets. The Source is where the creative class come to fuel up for another round of artistic conceptualizing. The soaring, 19th Century brick foundry building houses modern taqueria Comida, and foodie-magnet Acorn, as well as a butcher shop, baker, Boxcar Coffee, and the Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project. Alternately, hit the Denver Central Market, for something a bit less achingly hip, a bit more fancy pants.



Colorado Cider Company

A must visit for immersion in something authentically local and welcoming. In a charmingly rustic tasting room, sample their lemony Grasshop-ah, the tart Cherry Gilder, the earthy Ol’ Stumpy, and their new botanical Pome Mel, with notes of lavender and rosemary. Book a tour for the full experience.



Infinite Monkey Theorum

You had to know it was coming: the hipster winery, run by British-born Ben Parsons. Fittingly, they have made a “thing” of wine in cans – and don’t be troubled, it’s actually really quite good. For proof of cred, it’s now available at the Brooklyn holy trinity of hip: Rough Trade, Brooklyn Steel and The Williamsburg Music Hall. They also sell bubbly in kegs – which means those bubbles stay fresh until the keg is dry (no more stale prosecco at brunch – phew). Their Cabernet Franc was a serious hit with us.



Larimer Square Restaurants

With its historic architecture and inviting shops (Element for home furnishings, Goorin Brothers for stylish chapeaus, Hailee Grace for chic women’s wear), you could while away an entire day on Larimer Square. But it’s also Denver’s buzziest restaurant destination. We loved Rioja for its creative take on Med cuisine – proprietors Beth Gruitch and Jennifer Jasinski also run Bistro Vendome down the street; Corridor 44 champagne lounge/restaurant brings the bubbly and charcuterie amidst the opulence of brick walls and baroque chandeliers; Napa-styled wine bar CRÚ has more than 40 selections by the glass; Russell’s Smokehouse does elevated barbecue in an artsy space with stained glass windows; and Tamayo is modern Mexican courtesy of Richard Sandoval. To name but a few.




Le Meridien Denver Downtown

Denver’s most happening new hotel, the moment one enters, a distinct sense of place takes over. Suave, urbane and buzzing from one end of the lobby to the other end of the lobby bar, it nevertheless unabashedly plays up a rustic/mountain ski-lodge vibe – with its cozy fireplace and warmly designed interiors. Rooms manage to be cozy and luxurious, cosseting and minimalist – and the bathrooms are to die for. The Corrine restaurant is all low-key cool, serving up lobster mac & cheese, maple glazed salmon and caramelized pork shank. But you’ll want to spend as much time as possible up on the 54thirty rooftop bar, with its clever cocktails and jaw-dropping views of the Rockies. The hotel has partnerships with the likes of Rocky Mountain Soda Company, The Real Dill, Leopold Bros Whiskey, allowing for a genuinely immersive Denver experience.