New York Openings: Shigure, SakaMai

Sake is not exactly an overplayed commodity in NYC. Only a few bars focus on it, and the drink is diverse enough to keep casual tipplers from building expertise. Two new downtown players, Shigure and SakaMai (pictured), are looking to make sake more accessible. To help you hold more liquor, they’re serving some tasty bar bites too.

Shigure derives its name from a cold rain, but its Tribeca home above B Flat is warm and cozy. Industrial seats and light fixtures play off exposed brick. The sake focus is regional, with a big numbered map on the wall to help you navigate the geography. (Fukushima is #17, if you’re wary). Shochu is on hand as well, available for creative cocktailing. On the bar bites side, the approach is "Japanese tapas." Shrimp, peppers, and edamame are all available fresh off the grill. Fried chicken comes marinated in shio koji, the newest umami-priming Japanese food trend. Yes, it’s a blend of fungus and salt, but it tastes a thousand times better than that.

SakaMai’s sake focus starts with its logo, which borrows the crest of rice harvesters. The name comes from the grains that are dedicated to sake. Just inside the front door you’ll find a pour bar, where you can sample sake flights. The rest of the space is understated, with a duplex rear reached past sheer white curtains and expanses of ancient tenement brick. Sake sampling is augmented by an artful cocktail program from an Angel’s Share hand. Bites swing equally thoughtful (and exotic). Beef doubles down with steak tartare and roasted bone marrow. Egg on Egg on Egg is as pretty as a jewel box, settling caviar, uni, and a scrambled egg into a sea urchin shell. If this is the city’s first sake lounge, keep ‘em coming.

Do you enjoy drinking in New York bars? Then check out BlackBook’s New York Guide for all the best spots. Raise your nightlife game by downloading the BlackBook City Guides app for iPhone and Android if you like. And to keep up on the hottest openings and events in New York, Miami, Chicago, and LA, sign up for BlackBook Happenings, a fun, informative, non-spammy email newsletter with the latest and greatest goings-on, delivered to your inbox every Monday.

New York’s Sexiest Third Date Bars

The third date. You’ve made it. Now it’s totally acceptable for you to take your date back to your place and [fill in the blanks]. 

And in order to ensure that you’re both in the mood, we’ve compliled our list of the sexiest bars for that third date. Think of it as foreplay. Enjoy.

New York Opening: JBird

Should you have imagined the hysteria for “secret” imbibing experiences to have hit its plateau, let yourself be disabused of that perfectly reasonable assumption. The latest, New York’s exceedingly debonair JBird, has now introduced such exclusivity to the city’s greatest expanse of populism, the area around Times Square.

But this is no preening faux-speakeasy. Rather, it’s a supremely dignified experience tucked (and we mean tucked) far below the buzzy rooftop party that is the XVI Lounge. Chocolate banquettes and Churchill-worthy high-backed leather chairs give it a gentlemanly hauteur, while a spectacular atrium ceiling and floor-to-ceiling windows looking west all the way to the Hudson provide unmatchable aesthetic drama. Drinks wizards Marshall Altier and Jason Littrell (Crosby Bar, Randolph) have conjured a cocktail menu that is as dizzying and dazzling as the views (from “Bold and Boozy” all the way to “Effervescent and Bubbly”), with elegant updates of the classics like the Prescription Julep, and more contemporary tipples like the elderflower-and-gin-based Thornybush.

A reservations-only affair, it recalls our old fave Angel’s Share, in that when the seats are all taken, the doors are locked. A class act.

Midnight Mixologists: John Byrd’s Toplist

John Byrd, veteran barman of The Bedford in Williamsburg, brings the originality and quality of a swanky mixologist-concocted cocktails to Brooklyn’s finest. Byrd started bartending in Boston over fifteen years ago and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. The “ladies and the gays” help him name his creations, and older people are his inspiration. Take, for instance, the Mrs. Dillin (carrot juice, lime, Stoli Ohranj), a cocktail inspired by his 86-year-old grandma, who drinks a Stoli version every day. Bryd’s also the creator of the Brooklyn Barman, providing supplies and tools—custom bar knives, jiggers, bar bags—for the average bartender. He’s the kind of guy you want to sit down and have a drink with, especially if he’s the one pouring them. Check out John Byrd’s favorite spots to grab a cocktail in New York City.

The BedfordB FlatThe LionBar CentraleDramMacao Trading Co.Angel’s ShareThe Counting Room

See more Midnight Mixologists toplists here.

A Few Choice Words on Martinis

I love martinis for reasons high-minded, superficial, and craven. They’re crisp, astringent, nuanced, and refreshing. I like how the glass looks in my hand. And, man, they get you lifted. Since there’s not much to a martini, ingredients-wise, it should be simple to get a great one in a bar, but that’s rarely the case, because few bartenders can afford the time and effort I’m willing to spend when I make them at home. Here’s how I like mine: Stoli, up, with olives. Cast a sidelong glance at the bottle of vermouth across the room if you like. And it has to be as cold as Antarctica in the winter. The last part is the most crucial. If it’s not just barely on this side of frozen, please don’t bother. You’re obviously not a martini drinker.

Before the complaints come in that a vodka martini isn’t a real martini, remember this: gin is nothing more than juniper-flavored vodka. I’ll order a Beefeater martini at the steakhouse, because that’s what men do. But I like what I like, and I’m calling it by the right name. And here’s why I’m rarely thrilled with my martinis at most New York bars: because bartenders are normal people with multiple priorities and people to please, and I need an obsessive freak willing the shake the living hell out of the shaker for like three minutes before straining it into my frozen glass up to the meniscus, little chips of ice floating on the top like a boozy Scylla and Charybdis.

So I get kind of mad when bartenders in supposedly swanky lounges act all proud of themselves as they make a production out of their limp, weak, three-pump shakes before pouring the drink into a glass in front of me. And then they look at me funny when I request a glass of ice on the side, since they couldn’t be bothered to finish the job. So close to the finish line, yet they give up. It’s disappointing.

Naturally, there are some bars that do it right. Ever been to Angel’s Share? They’ll put in the time and shake the living daylights out of that thing. Of course, the Japanese can be even more obsessive than I am, using special ice and shaking techniques like the hard shake. The only problem is, bars that charge in the single-digits for drinks just ain’t gonna do it.

But I recently found a solution. By no means is Johnny Mack’s in Brooklyn a fancy bar, but they’ve solved the martini problem by delivering every martini in its own mini shaker. Last Saturday I was delighted to be presented with my own icy-cold stainless steel hand grenade, which I was able to shake and shake and shake (and embarrass my better half) until I was satisfied that it was perfectly cold before pouring it in my olive-laden glass, a half-drink at a time.

Sure, it outsources the labor a bit, but it’s a perfect way to shut up finicky drinkers like myself. You don’t like how I shake martinis? Shake it yourself.

Thank you, I will. Here’s to Johnny Mack’s and their shiny booze grenades. Tee more martoonis, please.

The Stag-at Guide: Angel’s Share

A place that has a “4-person party maximum” and “a hidden entry off the main dining room of a typical college campus style Japanese restaurant” turns out to be pretty hit-or-miss. On the one hand, at Angel’s Share, you “run no risk of being outnumbered by a giggly gaggle of gorgeous PR girls tying one on after work.” On the other hand you’ll meet “dudes from Jersey proving to their even-more-out-of-towner pals that they know the real New York,” while strongly sensing a “1st time student/TA romantic encounter vibe” oozing from the little booths tucked in the corners. If you can distract yourself with the “heavily feminine cocktail list (which describes the less fruity drinks as ‘masculine’)” long enough for that guy you’ve been “trying not to stare at but jeez this place is so goddamn small” to offer you “Some chicken on a stick? No? How about a drink?” you might find yourself back here, “nose to nose in a corner booth” reliving those late school nights sneaking booze into Denny’s. Now if only they had a bottomless cup…

Comfort level for a single lady(1-30): 20 Drinks purchased for a single lady: 1 Male to female ratio: 1:1 Single to couple ratio: 1:3 Overheard: “You guys got Japanese whiskey? Where do they make that, Jersey?” Chances of returning (1-30): 30, but it’ll be with man in tow.

Where Celebs Go Out: Matt Damon, Snooki and Vinny

1. Matt Damon, after Green Zone press day: Oh, boy! There are so many great restaurants here. I like Bob De Niro’s place, Nobu. That’s a good one. 2. Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi @ “Masks and Mayhem” Purim party @ Solo restaurant: Definitely, L.A., Voyeur, that club, I like it. ‘Cause I just like low-key stuff because, since I’ve been in the limelight, when I go to clubs, it’s just crazy. It’s hard to, actually, party and have a good time, because I usually go out with Pauly and Mike in L.A., and it’s just hard to party because everyone’s, like, ‘Oh!’ They go crazy. And we love that, but, yet again, we like to have our low times. So, Voyeur, definitely, a good place to go because there’s a lot of celebrities there, so we can actually relate with people.

3. Vinny Guadagnino : I don’t know. I’m not really a huge club person, so I do a lot of appearances. So lately, if I’m not at appearances, I’m really chillin’ home. But, definitely, nice places in Manhattan — Greenhouse, Mansion, Tenjune. I just eat at my mother’s house. I don’t really eat in restaurants. That’s all I can do. I’m sorry.

4. Skeery Jones: I’m a big fan of Tenjune and the new SL, downstairs from Abe & Arthur’s. That’s a really hot place. The party never dies at Greenhouse and Kiss & Fly. Those are my spots, right now. Restaurants, Locanda Verde. I’m a fan of the new Corsino, but I’m a fan of Del Posto. I like Morimoto; Morimoto’s fun. Stanton Social, always great with friends and a group of people. That party’s never gonna die. At Corsino, they do some wonderful flat breads–they do these, like, crostinis. They have a whole crostini menu. Any restaurant that has a menu just for crostinis has won my heart.

5. Sasha Antonova: Oh, my god! I live in the West Village and there are so many really good restaurants over there. It reminds me a little bit of Europe. If I would mention something, it would be French Roast. They have a special bread made with jam and eggs. I don’t know the exact recipe, but it’s delicious.

6. Eli Kirshtein: I’m not a really a club person. This is so alien to me. I like to chill and eat some decent foods. I’ve been hangin’ out at PDT alot, recently. I like Angel’s Share. I think David Chang’s concepts are fantastic, for just a casual place to hang out.

7. Radioman, a.k.a. Craig Schwarz, a.k.a. Craig Castaldo: Mostly, I wait around hotels or movie sets. I get people that way, get autographs. Sometimes, I might go to a bar, here and there, if someone’s around. What is that one on 18th Street? Avenue. I was there for an after after-party with Leonardo DiCaprio for Shutter Island, which, by the way, I have a small part in, playing a prisoner of war, psycho guy from the ’50s. You don’t recognize me because I have no beard. My hair’s cut short. I was the guy with the garden shears, at the very beginning. And I had the shackles on my feet and the handcuffs, and I’m lookin’ at Leo with a weird look. George Clooney’s flying me out to L.A.—a stopover in Vegas—and then from there, I’m going right to Burbank for the Oscars. I’ll be out there for several days. It’s one of those planes that stops and refuels. I go the cheapest way. And I stay at the Vagabond Inn—believe it or not, that’s the name of the place. And it’s out at Santa Monica and Vine. People should check it out. It’s really cool. They pay for the hotel, too. But I have to bring my own spending money. The hotel is near where the site is, for the Oscar’s, on Hollywood and Vine. And it’s homey. I like it because I can bring a bike inside. I don’t have any problems. And it’s only two floors, like, double level hotel, like a motel.

New York City Itinerary: Hard Times with Paul Iacono

“Who would have thought that a show about a guy with a big dick would become such a hot commodity?” says Paul Iacono, as he passes a giant billboard for HBO’s Hung, the word “Ho” plastered across Thomas Jane’s face. Never mind the overlap, this season, the 21- year-old writer-actor will play RJ in MTV’s Hard Times, a series about a young loner with, according to Iacono, “a massive, massive penis — but the show’s main organ is its heart.” He also stars in this month’s “reinvention” of Fame, a role for which he’s visibly grateful. But while strolling through his favorite East Village haunts (see our behind-the-scenes video), he’s just been informed that the film’s rating has gone from PG-13 to PG. “My character now says, ‘It was everything I hoped for and more, except for the part where I’m still a virgin — technically,’ instead of, ‘I was supposed to get laid.’ But,” he adds, grinning, “At least I get to drop my pants on TV.”

image Cafe Gitane 242 Mott Street This is one of my favorite places to get lost in my writing and grab some amazing French grub. I used to live around the corner on Elizabeth Street with my roommate at the time. He is kind of infamous in the area for being this very good-looking guy who paints on the corner of Elizabeth and Prince Street. It’s not even his art as much as his look that sells. Anyway, I found the apartment on Craigslist, and lived there for four months until our smack-user landlord, the guy I gave my rent check to, tried to evict us. I’ve written a play called Prince/Elizabeth, which was inspired by living down here.

Yaffa Cafe 97 Street. Mark’s Place I had insomnia for a full year, right after I dropped out of college to pursue acting. I’d come here at 3 in the morning for a cup of coffee and free wireless. It was a really hard decision to drop out of college—I spent a year in limbo, during which time I went out into the world and lived every fucking experience to a T.

image St. Mark’s Comics 11 St. Mark’s Place I’m a DC Comics fan all the way. One of the first films I recall seeing was Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman. I watched Jack Nicholson play the Joker and fell absolutely in love—I became a 3-year-old child who watched Terms of Endearment and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I was a weird little kid.

Angel’s Share 8 Stuyvesant Street, 2nd Floor You stumble through a door at this sushi-and-sake restaurant thinking it leads to the restroom, but little do people know, it opens into this old, 1950s-inspired speakeasy with mahogany wood and leather. I get off on that. Apparently, there used to be swarms of these places during Prohibition, but they still exist, and Angel’s Share was the first one that I found. There’s PDT (113 St. Mark’s Place) below Crif Dogs. There’s also The Back Room (102 Norfolk Street), the entrance to which looks like a gate that leads into an alleyway that says “East Village Toy Company.” They serve drinks in coffee cups and beer in brown paper bags. I’ve been going out in New York since I was 15 years old. As long as you’re not a hot mess, most places in New York respect the youth. Plus, I’ve had many fake IDs over the years. My favorite was one on which Pennsylvania was spelled like “Peen-sylvania.”

image Sushi Samba 245 Park Avenue South It’s a Brazilian-and-Japanese fusion restaurant, so don’t expect the stereotypical spicy tuna roll. It’s got the best sushi in the city, original and authentic at the same time. They have a gorgeous rooftop patio at the one on Seventh Avenue. There’s such a lack of really nice outdoor seating in the city. Speaking of, I had a weird experience at Above Allen (190 Allen Street) a week ago. I was standing in line at the bar when someone jacked my BlackBerry right out from my back pocket.

image Topshop 478 Broadway All of their stuff has that classic men’s look—very straightforward, clean lines. I grew up idolizing the Rat Pack, which heavily influenced my identity and the way that I like to present myself. I’m not at the point yet where I get sent free stuff so, typically, most of my shopping is very practical. One thing I definitely learned from Fame is the power of mixing and matching, and the glory of accessories and layers.

Photography by Pieter Henket

Claire Danes: Danger, High Voltage!

She came of age as the quietly brooding Angela Chase in TV’s cult series My So-Called Life. Now, after years spent turning Juliet on her head, romancing Steve Martin, dodging tabloid scandals and finding true love in the fine form of fiancé Hugh Dancy, Claire Danes has finally come into her own. (Check out a pair of exclusive bonus photos for this photo shoot.) On the eve of her bachelorette blow-out, the stage beauty, acting powerhouse and diehard New Yorker gets down to business—and her skivvies—while inviting Ray Rogers into the private world of America’s most grounded leading lady.

“Wow, I’ve never flashed an entire city before,” says Claire Danes, amused to find herself towering 21 floors above New York’s Bowery in eight-inch heels, a curve-hugging black bodysuit, a glimmering Gucci jacket and fishnets that show off her taut dancer’s thighs and formidable backside.

Cast today in the role of Power Bitch, modeling the current ’80s revival in high fashion, Danes pulls it off with ease, the transition from natural beauty to slick, badass ball-buster complete in no time. “It’s great, as a woman, to feel entitled to express strength and power, to not be in some kind of flowery frock running through fields—though that has its place,” says Danes over a cup of mint tea at the Cooper Square Hotel, reflecting on the day’s looks. As we speak, she’s clad in her own comfy-chic wardrobe (black cashmere Juicy Couture sweater—“a freebie”—Mayle print top, Club Monaco jeans, Sigerson Morrison flats), but still emboldened by the dynamic outfits she’s just modeled. “Each individual piece was really striking and then layered in a style that was outrageous but beautiful in a curious way,” she says. “It was really fun to play full-on dress-up and not qualify it in any way, to be indulgent and imaginative like that.”

That she would step so comfortably into these clothes came as no surprise, given the number, and wide range, of command performances she’s packed into her 30 years. From the very first moment, she captured the nation’s attention as world-weary teen Angela Chase on My So-Called Life in 1994. In the ensuing years, she’s sexed up Shakespeare against Leonardo DiCaprio in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, held her own with Meryl Streep in Michael Cunningham’s The Hours, unearthed injustice in the Philippines in Brokedown Palace, channeled her inner Salinger alongside Kieran Culkin in Igby Goes Down and escaped the wrath of TX in Terminator Salvation: Rise of the Machines.

While she’s been the subject of cultural fascination for years—not every former teen heroine gets four songs written for her—Danes came of age just before the dawn of the blogosphere and the advent of gossip weeklies. But it caught up to her in adulthood. Anyone versed in tabloid culture knows the strength of will she had to summon to endure the scrutiny she came under when Billy Crudup left a seven-months pregnant Mary-Louise Parker for Danes. The pair began dating after they met on the set of 2004’s Stage Beauty. “That was a choice I made to fall in love. It’s unpleasant to be cast in such an unflattering role, but I just had to remain steadfast,” she recalls, her body language going into self-protection mode with an arm cradling her hunched-over frame and crossed legs. “I was living with the same kind of integrity that I had always lived with. As a public person you’re serving a certain function, and you’re a canvas for people to project their own hopes and fears onto, so you do have to perform a kind of mental trick and distance yourself from it. But there are times of weakness in which you wonder if what they wrote is relevant to you or representative of you.”

How much of that has stayed with her? “Not very much. I never really took too much of it on. It’s nice not to be ridiculed—nobody wants that—but it’s also unavoidable. Everyone gets the stick.” But all the rumors now seem a distant memory for Danes, who is set to wed British actor Hugh Dancy, whom she met on the set of Evening in 2006. The pair will exchange their vows in mid-September in a ceremony to be held in France.

image Bodysuit by American Apparel. Leather Corset Belt by H & M. Jacket and Shoes by Gucci. Stockings by Wolford Gloves by Topshop.

While she’s had several serious relationships in the past—she dated Australian indie-pop star Ben Lee for six years and was with Crudup for two, just prior to Dancy—marriage, she says, was never something for which she yearned. “I’ve always wanted to be in a partnership, I’ve always wanted to have that kind of intimacy and collaborate with someone in such a deep way. But I think that can be achieved in a lot of ways. I was talking to my friend recently about monogamy—is it feasible, is it realistic? I resolved that there isn’t really a better model. We just can’t shake monogamy. It definitely demands a kind of rigor and discipline and selflessness. But it’s also fun.”

Particularly when you’ve got a former Burberry model in your bed. “He’s such a cutie patootie,” she says about her fiancé, a twinkle in her bright green eyes. “Sometimes I forget just how good-looking he is.” Given her brush with the tabloids, her reluctance to divulge much about their relationship—or the details of their impending nuptials—is expected. When asked how she knew Dancy was the one, Danes hesitates. “I’m going into dangerous territory,” she says, and then relents, proceeding with caution. “While relationships are work, this just didn’t feel like it. It’s the kind of work that feels energizing rather than enervating.

“There’s that pledge, and people talk about it being claustrophobic but I find it the opposite. I find it very freeing to know that, okay, it takes constant nurturing and attention, but I can also stop looking for the one—that’s established. I can apply myself in other ways now. I have more time and energy to get shit done.”

Next on her agenda after this month’s nuptials, Danes will launch two movies, Richard Linklater’s Me and Orson Welles, in which she costars with Zac Efron, and HBO’s biopic of the autistic author Temple Grandin. In Linklater’s theater period piece, set in the 1930s, Danes play Sonja Jones, the older woman to Efron’s young thespian.

“It’s really appropriate that we were doing the power ’80s theme today, because she was the equivalent in another era. She’s unapologetically hungry and ambitious, and I love that about her,” says Danes of her ladder-climbing character. “She broke his heart, but she was very honest with him throughout. I also thought it was tender that she had such strong ideals and ambitions but was basically just a PA—she was escaping into a kind of fiction.”

High School Musical star Efron had to steel himself for the role. “I was intimidated,” he says, about the prospect of working with Danes. “Even just the name Claire Danes carries such weight with it. I needed to be a worthy love interest in the film and I didn’t know that I had any of the qualities necessary to woo a girl like her.” He had plenty of time to try his luck, since the bulk of filming took place on the remote Isle of Man in the U.K. “Claire and I were trapped on an island together with nowhere to go for four weeks, like a reality show.” It turns out, however, that Vanessa Hudgens—or Hugh Dancy for that matter—had nothing to worry about. “My character was supposed to fall in love, but she was also supposed to be out of his league. After meeting Claire, that was definitely the way it was supposed to be.”

image Dress by Emilio Pucci. Stockings by Calvin Klein. Necklaces by Lanvin and Alexis Bittar. Ring by Cartier.

Danes first auditioned for Linklater when she was 13 years old. “She was too young for the part,” says the director, who was casting his indie classic Dazed and Confused at the time. “But I told her, You’re one of the best actresses I met in this whole audition process. You’re so natural and real. Claire Danes, I’ll never forget that name. And—boom—a year later, she’s on My So-Called Life. I love the way her talent rises to the top.”

Directing her as an adult, Linklater was struck by how intently she worked. “She was so mature to begin with. She was like that at 13, very serious about what she’s doing. She doesn’t take it lightly. She has a very interesting process. She’s not easily satisfied, let’s put it like that. She pushes herself in an internal way—some people beat walls down, but it’s an internal thing with her, something pushing her forward, which is pretty fascinating.”

Hey! Look at that naked guy in the window. Is he showering?” asks Danes, nodding to the building directly ahead of us. “No, wait, that’s a woman. She’s putting on deodorant or something. Ah, New York.” A local through and through, she laughs a knowing laugh. And like many denizens of the city overrun with over-achievers, particularly those who grew up here, she’s always been focused—announcing, at the age of 5, her intention to be an actor. She’d been dancing since she was 4, and began taking acting lessons at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute by age 10. The only child of Rhode Island School of Design graduates, Danes grew up in a fertile, artist-friendly home in an era of child-rearing when parents were encouraged to take their kids more seriously—“as if they were on the same plane as you,” she says, laughing at how self-serious she was as a kid. She took a two-year acting hiatus in 1998 to study psychology at Yale, an experience that allowed her to catch up with her peers. “It was strange to realize that the things I was doing weren’t so terribly consequential; the studio didn’t care if I wrote a good essay or not. It was nice to be able to exhale in that way and experiment,” she says, twirling her mini-pocketknife-and crystal charm necklace, a gift from Michael Cunningham that she often sneaks through airport security.

This past April, Danes entered a new chapter in her life. “It was a shock when I got on the treadmill and had to punch in my information,” she says. “I had to write 30 when the machine asked me my age. I’m quite relieved, because I started acting when I was very young. And I think, growing up in New York, that my maturity was disproportionate to my actual age. So it’s nice to kind of catch up with myself. I don’t feel so freaky now.”

image Dress by Herve Leger by Max Azria. Stocking by Calvin Klein. Earrings by Alexis Bittar.

A child of the ’80s, Danes came of age in SoHo while the punk movement was in full-throttle, infusing her personal aesthetic with a wild streak back then. “We lived quite close to Canal Jeans, which was amazing. I remember the graffiti on the walls of neon tigers, and they had those amazing checkered buttons that you could get for free.” A precocious Danes worked hot pink and electric blue tights, paired with short denim skirts and a dog collar she convinced her parents to buy for her, which she used to belt her sleeveless Garfield T-shirts. Rubber bracelets, a mainstay for Suddenly Seeking Susan-era Madonna and her followers, went from her wrists up to her shoulders. (“There must still be stray rubber bracelets in between my sofa cushions,” she says, laughing.) Velcro Kangaroo sneakers topped off the look. “I remember spending hours and hours and hours getting it just right and then going into Tower Records, praying that the shop girls would notice me and validate my ensemble.”

One look at her classic sophistication on red carpets today and it’s clear that Danes is all grown up. She has become a regular on best-dressed lists, whether decked out in pearls and a corset dress by Lanvin (as she was at the Independent Spirit Awards earlier this year) or elegant creations by friends such as Zac Posen and Narciso Rodriguez. She was a natural to be the face of Gucci fine jewelry, according to the fashion house’s creative director Frida Giannini, who referred to Danes as “a modern icon” when announcing the campaign, noting that, “Claire’s sensual, confident beauty and her passionate, independent and strong character embodies today’s Gucci woman.”

For her wedding day, she turned to Rodriguez. She describes the process as “surprisingly emotional. I’ve known Narciso since I was 16, and he’s made a lot of dresses with—and for—me. So it’s really special that this time it’s the dress.”

As the sun sets over the Manhattan skyline, Danes steps out onto the bustling streets of her beloved hometown, gearing up for a July 4th weekend that will see her celebrate the end of her own independence with her bachelorette party, an irony that she enjoys. She’s heading straight home to blow up the inflatable air mattress that Dancy’s sister will sleep on. (“She’s family, so she can get tortured.”) Later tonight, girlfriends from around the globe, including bridesmaid Devon Odessa, who played Sharon on My So-Called Life, are flying in to Manhattan for one last hurrah with Danes. But no, she doesn’t have a wad of singles on hand. Even the thought of it makes her laugh. “Women just aren’t wired that way,” she says. “We don’t get turned on by strippers in the same way that men do. Men are beasts like that—though we love you and your beastly ways.” A proper reunion with her girlfriends over cocktails is enough for her. “What a privilege to have your favorite women all together drinking. I’ll have to come up with some other ideas to get everyone together—I can’t just keep getting married.”

image Dress by Herve Leger by Max Azria. Earrings by Alexis Bittar.

Top Image: Blazer by D & G. Jeans by Ksubi. Shoes by Christian Louboutin. Necklace and cuffs by Alexis Bittar. Watch and bracelet by Gucci.

CLAIRE’S FAVORITE COCKTAIL LOUNGE: ANGEL’S SHARE, NEW YORK CITY.

Photography by Sante D’Orazio. Styling by Elizabeth Sulcer. Hair by Peter Butler for Redken. Makeup by Matin, Neutrogena Cosmetics Science Expert. Manicurist Rica Romain @ See Management. Photographer’s assistants: Noel Federizo, Sam Crawford, and Kat Soutar. Stylist’s assistants: Megan Frelich and Lindsay Ray Abrams. Production Assistant: Rachel A. St. Lifer. Retouching Kat Soutar of Sante D’Orazio. Location: Cooper Square Hotel. Catering by D’Orazio Food Events. Special thanks to CSI Rentals. Glass Desk and Silver Balls by Props for Today.
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