One Grand Books Presents: Exalted Book Illustrator Chip Kidd, in Conversation With Richard Haines

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With holiday obligations pulling us to and fro, and harrowing political battles vying for our attention, NYC’s Neuehouse felt like exactly the right place to be last night, in celebration of creativity above all.

Indeed, to fete the release of illustrious book cover illustrator Chip Kidd’s new Rizzoli book, Chip Kidd: Book Two: Works 2007-2017, Aaron Hicklin’s One Grand Books teamed him up with venerable fashion illustrator Richard Haines, for an exhilarating discussion on everything from deadlines to technology to…The Partridge Family.

Mr Hicklin introduced the two by relating how, “As someone who owns a bookshop, I am always fetishizing book covers.”

Kidd, always the dandy in a boldly striped jacket and houndstooth wool loafers, humbly insisted that even after thirty years at Knopf, “I’m always starting anew with each book cover. Working with someone like Haruki [Murakami, the author with whom he has a more than 20-year creative relationship], you always have to reinvent the visual language. When should you be clear, and when should you be more mysterious?”

 

 

He then cited Sting’s solo career as a good example of having too much confidence. No one seemed to disagree. And noting how he was “obsessed with comics from the very beginning,” he made a clear point about the need to separate type from image on a book cover…or “separation of type and state,” as he facetiously refers to it.

The attention then steered to Haines, who imparted from his time at Calvin Klein, the sort of magical process of a fashion designer making a drawing, and the garment somehow actually ending up in a boutique sometime later. Both brilliant conversationalists, Haines and Kidd somehow covered Obamacare, Gypsy Rose Lee and how the Partridge Family bus was influenced by Mondrian – all without missing a beat.

But they wrapped it up on a bit more serious note, when someone posed a question to Kidd about technology: “It’s merely a tool,” he enlightened. “It’s never going to think conceptually for you.”

An incisive reminder of something all too easily forgotten these days.

 

A Most Uncommon BlackBook Holiday Gift Guide

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We know how you, just like us, really wanted to have your holiday shopping all, um, wrapped up by November 30. But, as usual, our frantic lives get in the way – and here it is the middle of December, and, admit it, you haven’t even started.

Fear not! BlackBook has assembled a list of gifts that are as singular as they are universally appealing. After all, who doesn’t love Champagne and The Beatles?

Happy shopping!

 

Candle Subscription

There are subscription boxes for almost everything; but a candle subscription feels like something totally new – and special. Each month, Vellabox (pictured above) will deliver a surprise candle, custom made and hand-poured. There are three sizes, staring from the $10 monthly Lucerna Box, with a four-ounce candle and surprise gift, and graduating to the $30 Vivere Box, complete with an eight ounce and four ounce candle, plus surprise.

Personalized Stationery

Rock Scissor Paper (Oprah loves them) have been creating impossibly groovy, retro-modernist greeting cards in their LA design lab for some two decades now. But their stylish personalized stationery makes a particularly thoughtful gift – as it encourages creativity and, more importantly, gives that special someone a wonderful reason to disengage from the digital world…if only for long enough to write out a gracious handwritten note. And, of course, look good doing it.

 

 

Narco-Chic T’s

Between Netflix’ Narcos, Tom Cruise’s American Made and an upcoming HBO film now in production starring J. Lo as Griselda Blanco, “Narco Chic” is certainly all the rage. So get in step with LA’s Plata O Plomo, who do remarkably stylish t-shirts ($19.95) and hoodies ($49.95) – men’s and women’s – emblazoned with the cheeky, infamous Pablo Escobar expression.

 

 

Digital Art

Loupe is the game changing art app, offering streaming access to the works of some of world’s most notable contemporary artists. And their special holiday gifting program allows that you can purchase a beautiful/provocative art print (surely for that someone on your list who has everything – and now at 20% off) while also supporting two very worthy causes: Free Arts and Breast Treatment Task Force; the charity of your choice will receive a portion of the sale. And the recipient will have a gift that lasts a lifetime.

 

 

Vintage Champagne

You can never go wrong with putting a bit of the bubbly in a special someone’s stocking. But skip the quotidian Prosecco and the same old familiar champers labels for something a bit more exclusive and, frankly, exquisitely realized. To wit, Artéis & Co, who release only vintage “Wines of Champagne” – meant to be very much enjoyed with an excellent meal. Choose the Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs 2004 or the Brut Rosé 2007.

 

 

Restaurant Gift Certificates

Show your excellent taste by sending someone out for an excellent brunch or dinner. We vigorously recommend some of our fave new spots: Danny Meyer’s moved-around-the-corner edition of Union Square Cafe has proven as popular as the legendary original, serving up Berkshire pork chops, Chatham cod, decadent desserts and killer martinis in a soaring, two-story space; exalted Masa sushi chef Masa Takayama just opened the much more affordable, cooly minimalist Japanese grill Tetsu in Tribeca; in LA, Dominique Ansel Bakery / 189 Restaurant at The Grove is the Cronut chef’s first foray into real sit-down dining, with full bar; and in Chicago, remind your favorite hipster that you’re just as hip with a staycation gift certificate to the Robey Hotel (from Mexico’s Habita), with its cool Wicker Park location, buzzy Cafe Robey and rooftop bar. But should you be shopping for your favorite amateur chef, it’s all about Gourmet Garage, with six NYC locations offering the finest seafoods, produce, cheeses, even a top notch butcher shop. Yum.

 

Union Square Cafe

 

Beatles Christmas Records

LIMITED EDITION SEVEN-INCH VINYL BOX SET  Back in the 1960s fan clubs were a thing that bands cared about, and looked after – none more so than The Beatles, who created an annual holiday tradition of recording Christmas messages for the club’s members. Spanning 1963 to 1969, The Beatles’ holiday recordings were originally pressed on flexi discs and mailed out each December. Now you can hear them all thanks to this set of seven-inch colored vinyl singles (avail. from December 15), including a 16-page booklet with reproductions of the fan club’s newsletters.

 

Swim Shorts

The Nick Swim Short by Katama Camouflage feature mid-length trunks, with a square cut and double D-ring waist adjusters in place of an elasticated waistband. Two back pockets provide a place to keep your phone when striding athletically across the beach. A perfect gift for someone who’s already counting the days until summer.

 

 

 

 

First Images: Landmark Thierry Mugler Exhibition is Coming to Montreal

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In 2011, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts presented the landmark exhibition The Fashion World of Jean-Paul Gaultier – effectively illustrating how a new generation of designers had extended the influence of fashion far beyond its traditional perimeters. The show went on to tour eleven more cities, including New York, London, Paris, Melbourne and Seoul.

Another such radically brilliant designer is Strasbourg’s own Thierry Mugler, who also rocketed to stardom amidst the wild experimentation of the 80s; and like JPG, his talents were, and are, legion. So it’s hardly a surprise the MMFA would make him the focus of yet another monumental survey, Thierry Mugler: Creatures of Haute Couture, which will debut in February of 2019.

On display will be more than 130 outfits (many never seen before), including costumes he created for Shakespeare’s Macbeth at the Festival D’Avignon in 1985, and the spectacular Zumanity for Cirque du Soleil in 2003. Perhaps most revealing will be the exploration of his staggering history of famous (and infamous) collaborations, including the likes of Bowie, Lady Gaga, Isabelle Huppert, Juliette Binoche, Helmut Newton and David LaChappelle.

The exhibition was conceived in collaboration with the Clarins Group and Mugler, and is being curated by Thierry-Maxime Loriot, under the direction of Nathalie Bondil, Director General and Chief Curator of the MMFA.

 

alexa BlackBook: Menswear Mavericks: Five Daring Designers We’re Watching — From Mexico City to Moscow

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IT’s 2017, and the industry is readily tossing aside the old rules of fashion – for proof, see the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, which awarded unisex brand Telfar its top honor this year. Where women once used to have all the fun, the menswear market is now a playground of imagination and change. Here are the five designers redefining menswear for the runway and for real life.

 

BARRAGÁN

Victor Barragán, 25, 
Mexico City and New York City

 

 

In the past year, Mexican-born, New York City-based Victor Barragán has gone from an underground fashion designer quietly making t-shirts and hoodies to an industry-anointed up-and-coming talent. Combining delicate shapes with an understated strength, his gender-neutral designs push the barriers of men’s fashion. “Gender is just not part of my creative process,” the 25-year-old explains. “I design for whoever appreciates the rebellion in my clothes.”

 

 

 

Gosha Rubchinskiy

Gosha Rubchinskiy, 33, 
Moscow

 

 

One of the fashion world’s most elusive (and consequently, sought-after) designers, 33-year-old Gosha Rubchinskiy incorporates photography, film and fashion into a brand celebrating post-Soviet youth. Born in Moscow, the designer uses Russian subcultures as inspiration for his eponymous streetwear label. Juxtaposing the spirit of ’90s raves and urban skate culture with a minimalist aesthetic, he reinterprets streetwear as political high fashion. And even though his work has drawn comparisons to other fashion darlings, such as Calvin Klein’s Raf Simons and Vetements’ Demna Gvasalia, Rubchinskiy’s mashup of earnestness and irony gives his designs their own distinct look. “I never want to be Supreme, I never want to be Palace, I want to be Gosha,” he told the Financial Times. “People say Gosha is the next Raf, Gosha is the next Supreme. No, Gosha is Gosha.”

 

 

 

Phlemuns

James Flemons, 28, 
Los Angeles

 

 

By repurposing existing ’70s-style denim, Los Angeles brand PHLEMUNS brings a sustainable edge to our favorite lived-in jeans. Founder James Flemons aims to celebrate the diversity of the black male experience with his pieces – although it’s no surprise they’re favored by his female fans, who include Rihanna (RiRi and her dancers and orchestra rocked the brand at last year’s VMAs). Still, “there are so many misguided conceptions about black masculinity,” he says. “But just like any other person of any race or gender, we’re complex and layered people with different ideas of what it means to be a man.” He continues: “With my clothes, I always look for a way to embrace that identity, and let people know that it’s OK to be whatever you want.”

 

 

 

Sanchez-Kane

Barbara Sanchez-Kane, 29, 
Mexico City

 

 

Mexico City native Barbara Sanchez-Kane handcrafts clothes for the “sentimental macho man.” With her eponymous line, the designer tailors looks with a radical edge, fusing traditional Mexican iconography with boundary-bending silhouettes. At her New York Fashion Week debut this fall – one of the season’s most lauded presentations – she sent male models in deconstructed suits and sheer bell-bottoms down the runway, thrilling her fearless customers. “They wear what they want, no matter who they are,” says the designer.

 

 

 

Palomo Spain

Alejandro Gómez Palomo, 25, Córdoba, Spain

 

 

Although Palomo Spain is a menswear line, it was none other than Beyoncé who first drew mainstream attention to the brand. Bey wore the label’s delicate lilac silk organza robe for her twins’ iconic birth reveal on Instagram in July, which has garnered more than 10 million likes to date. The man behind the frills, 25-year-old Alejandro Gómez Palomo, is shaking up the industry with his unconventional approach to menswear: He cuts layered gowns and structured suits in romantic fabrics. “I crave for the idea of men being able to wear the same beautiful embroideries, volumes and materials women wear all the time,” he told Metal Magazine. “Just like a woman can wear ‘manly’ suits, pants or garments that are traditionally applied to men, men should also be able to make their fantasies come true through fashion.”

 

 

Photos by Corey Olsen, Tyler Adams, Amanda Mertens, Elena de Santiago, 
Jakob Landvik, Adrián Catalán, Getty Images. Courtesy of Gosha Rubchinskiy.

 

Lead photo: Palomo Spain by Adrián Catalán

Missoni’s Pre-Fall 2018 Collection Is A Colorful Exploration of Textures

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For their pre-fall 2018 collection, Missoni have put a folksy, bohemian vibe on some of their classic pieces, full of vibrant reds and candy-colored prints, draped in loose, flowing silhouettes and created using rich knits and wools.

The collection is a whimsical approach to traditional Missoni jackets and silhouettes, appearing at once youthful and ageless. Said Creative Director Angela Missoni to Vogue“I wanted to highlight the sensuality of textures and silhouettes, a touch of poetry. I’m proud of being able to dress different generations of women and proud of being inclusive. Style and passion, they have no age.”

Take a look at the collection below.

alexa BlackBook: Style Icon: Edgar Ramirez Fashions a Vivid Portrayal of Legendary Designer Gianni Versace for ‘American Crime Story’

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On the cover: Versace blazer, similar styles $2,650 at Farfetch.com; Turtleneck, $650 at Versace.com

 

A FEW months before fashion designer Gianni Versace was murdered on the steps of his Miami Beach villa by serial killer Andrew Cunanan, then-20-year-old Edgar Ramirez visited his parents in the sun-kissed party city. “If you walked on Ocean Drive, you could feel the vitality and the energy,” the Venezuelan actor tells Alexa of those freewheeling days in 1997. “It was exhilarating, it was exuberant.”

Ramirez, now 40, is revisiting that glamorous — and tragic — time. The actor plays the legendary Italian couturier on FX’s 10-episode The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, premiering on Jan. 17.

 

Shirt, $195 at ThomasPink.com

 

It’s a departure for the square-jawed screen star, who has become a Hollywood go-to for variations on masculine archetypes: a deadbeat ex-husband opposite Jennifer Lawrence in Joy; a CIA operative in Zero Dark Thirty and Panamanian boxing legend Roberto Durán at the center of Hands of Stone, a biopic also starring Robert De Niro and Usher.

While Ramirez transformed himself into fighting shape for Hands of Stone, dieting and training for hours a day in Panama City gyms, he went in the opposite direction for his fashion-designer role. The normally fit leading man packed on 20 pounds, the Italian way — by indulging in endless plates of pasta — and used prosthetics for the first time. Sporting a receding hairline, graying coiffure, three-day stubble and a generous physique, he bears an uncanny resemblance to the late designer.

Cutting the weight is proving less enjoyable. “Now is when the fun part is over,” he says with a slightly gloomy tone in his voice. “Because I gotta lose it.”

 

 

Jacket, $2,895 and pants, $750, 
both at Valentino, 693 Fifth Ave.; 
James Perse T-shirt, $60 at MrPorter.com

 

His preparation for the part also included speaking to close friends of Versace, whose private life stood in stark contrast to the glorious excess of his brand’s image. “[People] remember the lush exuberance of the clothes and the sex appeal and the sexuality and the models and the parties,” Ramirez says. “But on the real, personal side, he was not a party animal. He used to go to bed very early and get up very early as well. It was very interesting to discover that side of him.”

Ramirez gained a newfound respect for the refined artist during his preparation. “He was a very cultivated man. He used to say that in order to be a fashion designer, in order to be an artist in general, you have to be very cultivated, you have to be very well-informed,” he says. “He wanted to be a musician before he became a fashion designer, so he took inspiration from a lot of different sources. It was great for me to try to act for a mind like that.”

It’s not a stretch for Ramirez to embody worldly charm. His mother was an attorney and his father was a military officer, which means he spent much of his childhood traveling the world and speaks five languages fluently. If he takes a journalistic approach to researching his characters, there’s good reason: He studied to be a political reporter at university in Caracas before pursuing his love of the performing arts. In 2003, his matinee-idol good looks helped land him a role in Cosita Rica, a Venezuelan telenovela. His Hollywood breakthrough came with a role in the 2005 action flick, Domino, and since then he has forged a reputation for portraying swaggering macho characters with both intensity and intelligent nuance.

 

Canali blazer, $1,429 at Farfetch.com; 
Sandro turtleneck, $345 at 
Bloomingdale’s, 1000 Third Ave.

 

The opportunity to share an unseen side of Versace is part of what drew him to this new project, in addition to working with American Crime Story executive producer Ryan Murphy.
While there is plenty of romantic passion in American Crime Story, it’s also a familial drama. The central relationship is between Gianni and his sister Donatella, played by a cigarette-smoking Penélope Cruz in tight dresses and a platinum wig. In the 20 years since her brother’s heartbreaking death, Donatella has taken over the brand’s creative direction and built it into a global luxury powerhouse, but here we get a glimpse at their early behind-the-scenes partnership, which could be — shall we say — lively.

Ramirez says that both he and Cruz, who is Spanish, understand the fiery temperament. “We can relate to volatile but strong and beautiful family relationships,” he continues with a laugh. “That’s a world I understand. Like when someone from another culture asks about you and your family, ‘Are you fighting?’ And you’re like, ‘No, this is how we talk!’”

Ramirez treasures the strong bonds he formed on set with his fellow actors. “Penélope and Ricky [Martin, who plays Gianni’s partner Antonio D’Amico] and I became good friends and it was great, there was a lot of compassion for each other,” he says. “It was really beautiful. Penélope is very family-oriented, there was a very great connection between us.”

 

Tallia Orange jacket, $375 at Macys.com; 
Shirt & Cufflinks, $195 & $225 at ThomasPink.com; Pants, $895 at DSquared2, 166 Spring St.; “Papal” derbies, 
$1,395 at ChristianLouboutin.com

 

While Ramirez loved the flashy Versace wardrobe, off-camera he favors low-key, timeless pieces that look stylish, never trendy; so much so that GQ magazine dubbed him “the king of good taste” earlier this year. “I love design in general,” says the star, who cuts a slick figure on the red carpet in narrow suits and classic tuxes. “I love architecture and, of course, fashion. There’s nothing random about how we dress or how we project [ourselves].”

When asked what he does during his time off, Ramirez falters because, well, he can’t remember the last time he had any. But, for an actor, that’s a good thing. “There are no off days,” he says with a laugh. “It’s great to be working and doing what you’re passionate about. I don’t take that for granted at all.” He had just touched down in Los Angeles from Miami, where he presented at the Latin Grammy Awards. The following day, he’ll head to Argentina to film the thriller La Quietud, all while promoting American Crime Story.

On Dec. 22, Netflix fantasy crime drama Bright opens, with Ramirez playing a blue-haired elf, alongside Will Smith’s human LAPD officer and Joel Edgerton’s orc cop. He’s also slated to appear again with Robert De Niro in an as-of-yet untitled flick directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz of Hands of Stone fame.

 

 

Tallia Orange blazer, $375 at Macys; Todd Snyder turtleneck, $278 at Bloomingdale’s, 1000 3rd Ave.; Balmain jeans, $1,290 at Neiman Marcus

 

Suddenly, Ramirez remembers what he likes to do with his free time — although with a schedule so jam-packed, maybe it should be obvious. “When I have a day off, I sleep,” he says. “I love to hibernate.”

Still, he insists that his off-duty time isn’t that different from anyone else’s. “I try to relax. It depends where I am and what activities are available. Exercise, work out, try to catch an art exhibition, whatever is available. Nothing out of the ordinary, honestly,” he says. “What we do is extraordinary, but that doesn’t make you an extraordinary person.”

 

Photos by Williams & Hirakawa, Fashion Editor: Serena French, Stylist: Anahita Moussavian, Grooming: Barbara Guillaume at 
Forward Artists using Oribe, Tailor: Erik Gavrilov for Sew Ponies

Check Out Gucci’s Stunning Gift Giving Campaign, Comprised Solely of Paintings

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Gucci’s 2017 Gift Giving campaign is a (literal) work of art. The fashion house commissioned Spanish artist Ignasi Monreal to paint all their winter wares, and the results are magnificent: classically romantic images with modern Gucci clothing and Icarus-inspired creatures and compositions.

“Icarus fascinates me because of his story, which could be read a bit like a mantra, I guess,” says Monreal. “If you fly too close to the sun, you’re going to get burned. If you fly too low, you’re going to drown in the sea. It feels quite bluntly obvious, but I find it quite timeless, and reassuring. You have to find the middle point to land on the other side. It’s not a cosmic science, just a tricky human condition. Icarus himself is a very romantic character and of course symbolic of everything young and pretty. Very East London!”

The campaign includes a gorgeous book showcasing everything up for sale this year – including tees, outerwear, shoes, jewelry, and porcelain.

 

Images: Ignasi Monreal for Gucci

alexa BlackBook: Alison Mosshart, Don Lemon, Matthew Modine, Nia Vardalos, Leslie Odom Jr. & More Tell Us Their Christmas Wish Lists

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WISH LIST: ALISON MOSSHART

The musician, artist and sometime-model serves as lead vocalist for indie-rock band the Kills, as well as for Jack White’s supergroup, the Dead Weather.

 

Maria Tash 18-k rose-gold diamond earring, $975 at Net-A-Porter.com

 

“Maria Tash earrings are 
all beautiful, tiny 
and shiny.”

 

 

 

WISH LIST: DON LEMON
New York-based journalist Lemon — who’s won both an Emmy and an Edward R. Murrow Award for his reporting — currently anchors the primetime cable news show CNN Tonight.

 

Ali: A Life by Jonathan Eig, $30 at Amazon.com

 

“As a kid, I saw Ali as this iconic figure — this black man who would have people hanging on his every word. 
But I didn’t get just how huge a figure he was until 
I was an adult. Everyone thinks taking a knee is a 
big deal, but think about being Muslim and saying 
you’re not going to fight in a war — jeopardizing 
your career. That took real courage.”

 

 

 

WISH LIST: MATTHEW MODINE
“Scientists estimate that by 2050 there will be more tons of plastic in the ocean than fish,” says Modine, who appears on Stranger Things, streaming now on Netflix. “We have to be responsible consumers. Gifts like this will make your friends eco-warriors and demonstrate how you are hip, cool and a part of the solution.”

 

Bee’s Wrap (three pack), $20 at PatagoniaProvisions.com

 

“These food wraps are the perfect solution for eliminating plastic wrap. The anti-bacterial properties of the beeswax and jojoba oil help to keep food fresh and allow you to use the wrap again and again.”

 

 

 

WISH LIST: NIA VARDALOS
Vardalos is now working on a play called Tiny Beautiful Things in New York. “As holiday shopping season approaches, I’ve eyeballed many corneapopping tiny beautiful things,” she says. “While many of us can’t exactly splurge on fanciful items, we can always drop loud and obvious hints!”

 

“Royal Strass” Swarovski-crystal adorned pumps, $3,995 at ChristianLouboutin.com

 

“If you’re like me and never want disco to die, then we can wear these redbottomed glittery shoes to every office meeting, to every rave and then to church the next day.”

 

 

 

WISH LIST: LESLIE ODOM JR.

Odom Jr., who won the Best Actor Tony for his scene-stealing performance as Aaron Burr in Broadway’s Hamilton, now appears on the big screen in Murder on the Orient Express.

 

Get Out movie poster, $20 at 
Amazon.com

 

“I want a limited-edition Get Out poster framed — and signed by Jordan Peele, please — for my office. I haven’t gone to the theater to see a movie three times in 
… ever. I was entertained and inspired more than I can say. “

 

 

 

WISH LIST: AERIN LAUDER
Lauder is the image director for her family’s Estée Lauder brand, while also running her own popular beauty and home lifestyle company, AERIN.

 

Aspen Style, 
$85 at Assouline.com

 

“This book is high on my wish list. Not only because Aspen is such a special place to me, but also because the cover is so beautiful and will look amazing on any coffee table.”

 

 

 

WISH LIST: ELIZA COUPE
Actress Eliza Coupe, best known for her roles on Happy Endings, Scrubs and The Mindy Project, just returned to screens on the new Hulu series Future Man, directed by Seth Rogen.

 

Luxe gym bag, 
$165 at SweatyBetty.com

 

“I work out like a maniac and go through gym clothes and gym bags like crazy — Sweaty Betty makes the best workout gear!”

 

Illustrations by John Kenzie

This is Karl Lagerfeld’s Christmas Tree For Claridge’s

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We reported earlier that none other than Karl Lagerfeld would be designing the annual Christmas tree at London’s unceasingly glamorous Claridge’s hotel (where you might rub shoulders with the likes of Cara Delevigne, Bella Hadid, Kate Moss, Kate Winslet, Kate Middleton or Metallica on a given day). His selection followed a prestigious line of fashion titans, that included John Galliano for Dior, Christopher Bailey for Burberry, Albar Elbaz for Lanvin and Dolce & Gabbana.

The tree has now been unveiled, and it’s an absolute stunner. No surprise, Herr Lagerfeld chose to turn the most beloved symbol of the season upside down, with the result resembling an opulent, flamboyant stalactite. It features leather feathers, German-handcrafted snowflakes, an Icelandic sheepskin rug at the bottom, and a dazzling, mirrored-star at the top.

Do take a moment to pop in and see it if you’re in Mayfair during the holiday season – and perhaps stay for a Festive Afternoon Tea in the Thierry Despont designed Foyer.