First Images: The Ethereal New Standard Maldives Villas



Despite a reliable stream of boldface name visitors – Gwyneth, Sophie Turner, Orlando Bloom, Liv Tyler, Victoria and David Becks – the Maldives is by no means a scenester destination. Rather, those seeking serenity and de-stressing visit for its quiet, ineffable beauty.

Into this comes The Standard, Maldives, debuting next month. And despite the hotel group’s reputation for galvanizing the party crowd, that is not quite the hook of this ethereal new property. Rather, the 115 colorful villas (located at the Raa Atoll on Huruvalhi island, a quick sea plane ride from Male) is selling relaxation, and a lot of it. Jutting out into the crystal clear Indian Ocean, rooms are done up in playful, breezy chic – with soothing, light woods and plush, platform beds. Each has a private lounge deck and plunge pool.

Acknowledging the destination’s spirit-feeding seclusiveness, the Standard will feature six restaurants, from BBQ to local cuisine; and there’s also a glass-bottom nightclub, BeruBar, which surely promises excellent dancing-celeb photo ops. While in between diving and snorkeling runs, the The Standard Spa offers yoga classes, an aroma steam area, and personal treatment rooms.

The official opening will be sometime in November. But advance bookings are being taken through December 20 at a special rate of just $481.


Listen: New Iggy Pop Single ‘James Bond’ Isn’t Really About James Bond


Tongues were set wagging from the very first minute Daniel Craig suggested he may not return to the role of 007 – and the speculation included everyone from Clive Owen to Idris Elba to….Emily Blunt.

It all fizzled when Craig decided he wasn’t quite ready to return to civilian life. But one of our other favorite badasses, one Iggy Pop, had another idea. Indeed, his new single “James Bond” isn’t actually an homage to MI6’s most famous operative – but rather it’s about an unnamed but particularly intriguing female, who powers through life with the same ruthless invincibility.

“I don’t know what she’s up to exactly,” admits Iggy, “but the tables seem to be turning, and she’s taking over. Well, why not? I’ll try anything once.”



Over a languid funk groove, he narrates her tale with an uncharacteristic aplomb – while Faith Vern of PINS breathily repeats the name “James Bond,” as if she were incessantly calling him to action. Leron Thomas adds some wicked trumpet blasts.

Iggy enthuses, “I’ve never had more fun singing a lyric. Faith’s reading is so loaded, and Leron’s production and trumpet along with the band swings like crazy.”

It’s taken from his upcoming new album Free, out September 6 via Loma Vista Recordings.

Couture Closeup: Fendi’s ‘The Dawn of Romanity’ Show is Now an Exhibit in Rome



Last Thursday at Rome’s Colle Pallatino, at the Temple of Venus and Roma, Fendi unveiled its 2019-2020 couture collection to much fashionista fanfare.

And now, to add a special measure of gravitas to the event, pieces from The Dawn of Romanity (as it was so dramatically titled) will be on show at the 1st floor exhibition space of Fendi’s headquarters, at the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana (near Rome’s Parco del Ninfeo). Open to the public, fashion fans will get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the couture creations up close, and watch the brand’s artisans from their ateliers in Florence and Porto San Giorgio carrying out the creative process right in front of them.

No appointment is required to view the exhibit. Alas, it will only be open 10am to 10pm daily, now through July 14.


NYFW Report: CHOCHENG Draws Inspiration From the Napoleonic Era to Queen Elizabeth


Cho Cho Cheng, the man behind CHOCHENG, has been successfully paving his path in the fashion world since launching the brand in 2007. After studying fashion and costume design at Parsons School of Design and working in London’s Savile Row, he opened his first store in 2010 on Madison Avenue, followed by one in Beijing, another in London.

Cheng was introduced to fashion at young age, as his Grandmother, Betty Charnuis, was a noted designer in Hong Kong. Some would run from such an obvious path, but he embraced it, and forged his own.

On the tail end of New York Fashion Week, CHOCHENG debuted its latest collection at Spring Studios yesterday. It was inspired by the Hitchcock film North by Northwest, and encompasses an abundance of strongly tailored pieces, primarily in black and white, with a dash of Prince of Wales checks. CHOCHENG’s strong emphasis on and appreciation for craftsmanship and top notch tailoring lends itself to a sophisticated stylistic manifesto. Not to mention that the runway shows are conceptually amazing – with smartly curated playlists and retro vibes – and always a personal NYFW fave.

BlackBook spoke with Cheng before his NYFW extravaganza, and he filled us in on his inspirations, his favorite part of putting a show together…and he also gave us a sneak peak at the new collection.



Quickly after graduating from Parsons, you opened your first store on Madison Avenue. 

Just before I graduated, the wonderful Mary McFadden was approaching retirement and generously offered to give me her team of sample makers. It was a great opportunity, so I took the offer. We began operating from the ground floor of my townhouse, I started making suits for Nancy Reagan and soon branched out to other private clients. Joan Rivers lived right next door, she passed by my shop all the time and would buy little gift items just to show support. I would have been quite happy working from my basement, operating on a small scale forever, but Ms. Rivers later told me that people on the block had been complaining about my shop not having a proper retail permit.

What made you decide to secure a permanent location?

With that bit of news, I decided to start looking for an official brick-and-mortar retail space. Steven and Stephanie Solomon – who, at the time, was the Fashion Director of Bloomingdale’s – have always been great supporters of my brand. They managed to convince Vornado Realty, who are quite supportive of young entrepreneurs, to let me have a Madison Avenue retail space right between Cartier and Gucci. Vornado recently decided to close up the whole block for upgrading, so we’re in the process of moving store locations.

To where?

Steven has come through again, convincing the Sherry Netherland [hotel] to lease me a prime retail space on 5th Avenue. I’ll be the first Asian designer label to launch on 5th Avenue, actually. The whole process has been incredible, miraculous.

Season after season, you have captured the art of retro dressing. You must have a favorite time period – if you had a time machine, what year would you go to?

I like the Napoleonic Era and Regency Era, but I wouldn’t want to go back there. I honestly can’t live without modern amenities. I am a pragmatic romantic.

Aside from designing the collection, what is your favorite part of putting together a fashion show? Model casting? Runway playlist? Styling the looks?

My favorite part would be the hair and makeup styling.

What is the philosophy behind CHOCHENG? What defines it as a fashion house?

CHOCHENG is classic, crafty, comfortable, cruelty-free. It’s about conservation of the environment and everything wonderful starting with a ‘C’. I am an egotist with OCD.

What and who are you main inspirations and muses?

Queen Elizabeth II, Margaret Thatcher and Former First Lady, Nancy Reagan.

What is unique about this season’s collection?

Hand-ruched silk tulle, which imitates fur, in order to achieve cruelty-free glamour.

It’s known that your grandmother is a huge inspiration for your career in fashion. What is the best piece of advice she has given you?

Being well-dressed is to charge through life with well-padded shoulders.





Watch: Eerily Lynchian Video For Goody Grace Single ‘Two Shots’ ft. Gnash


He may not be a household name, but a good bet that we’ll be hearing much more from Goody Grace over the course of 2018. Indeed, the 20-year-old Canadian songsmith’s music represents such a unique hybridization of styles (as much influenced by Morrissey as by Wiz Khalifa), that he’s veritably unmistakable.

To wit, his hauntingly introspective single “Two Shots” (featuring Gnash) which, since its release in 2016, has racked up more than 12 million streams. Now signed to Atlantic, he’s just given the track a whole new life with the release of this fantastical new video. Crossing an unveiled homage to the Man From Another Place scene in the original Twin Peaks, with bizarre masked characters straight out of an underground Venetian Carnivale party, it perfectly captures the pensive mood of the song.

No live dates are currently scheduled, but Goody Grace’s debut EP will be released sometime this spring.


Reese Witherspoon Producing Film About the Westboro Baptist Church


Reese Witherspoon is moving from the sunny shores of Monterey to the hateful halls of the Westboro Baptist Church. The actress is set to help produce This Above All, a new film based on the life of Megan Phelps-Roper, the former member who left the church in 2012. Alongside Witherspoon, Marc Webb is set to direct and Nick Hornby will write the script.

The story will follow Phelps-Roper as she grew up in the church that became famous for protesting the funerals of gay murder victims, soldiers, AIDS victims, and others. Officially labelled as a hate group, the Westboro Baptist Church has become synonymous with their “god hates fags” slogan. It was also the place that Phelps-Roper called hope—she attended her first protest with her mom at the age of five and had protested for more than 20 years and became one of the most vocal members of the group on social media.

It wasn’t until she met and began talking to a Jewish blogger named David on Twitter that things began to change and, eventually, she left the church. “We’d started to see each other as human beings, and it changed the way we spoke to one another,” she explained at a TED Talk in February. “It took time, but eventually these conversations planted seeds of doubt in me.”

The movie has not yet found a star, but there are rumors Witherspoon could play the lead. While we’re all for a Witherspoon-led film about the notorious anti-gay church, taking another season of Big Little Lies away from us because of scheduling conflicts is a sin we wouldn’t forgive.

St. Vincent Releases Technicolor ‘New York’ Music Video

St. Vincent (Annie Clark) has released the neon-bright video for her new single “New York,” off of her forthcoming studio album that’s “all about sex and drugs and sadness,” according to her interview in The New Yorker.

The new album, much like another of our fave records this year (Melodrama), was recorded at Electric Lady studios in the West Village with producer-prodigy Jack Antonoff. It’s set for release this fall.

“New York”‘s video is directed by Alex Da Corte, who said of the film:

“I think Annie’s New York is the New York of my dreams—one that is blurry and fractured, dreamy and flat. It is the Toontown to my Hollywood. It is beautiful but slightly out of reach.”

Clark also recently announced that she’ll be directing a female-led feature length adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray.


Jaden Smith Shares New, Rock-Heavy Track ‘Watch Me’ and Roc Nation Collab

Watch him. A month after dusting off the all-white Batman suit he usually reserves for casual events like prom or Kim and Kanye’s wedding for his “Batman” music video, Jaden Smith is back at it again with a new single called “Watch Me.” With a guitar-heavy production reminiscent of Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead,” the new track has a chanting hook and a sound fit for arena shows, which he might be headed toward.

To say that the gender-defying young rapper, artist, and water bottle entrepreneur is having a big moment lately is an understatement. Besides the two new singles for his upcoming Syre album, Smith has also been busy teasing the debut of a K-POP single and establishing a partnership between Roc Nation and his art collective MSFTSrep, the art collective he runs with his sister Willow.

As part of the new deal, the Smith siblings and their friend Harry Hudson (currently the only three artists in the collective) will produce music under the Roc Nation name. The news is surprising given that the collective has been intentionally vague since its inception in 2013.

In typical Jaden Smith fashion, the website describes the group as “a creative work force dedicated to supporting and waking up the population of planet earth, through attaining knowledge and personal growth. But even that puts it into a box. Anything that could be put into words puts it in a box, because MSFTSrep is more of an expression rather than an explanation.”