Editor’s note: When we heard Shinola was teaming up with The Greenwich Hotel to offer his and hers Bixby bicycles to guests, we couldn’t resist sending two about-town New Yorkers out to explore the neighborhood on bike. The Greenwich packed a picnic for Felicity and Mark, and the duo got down to business.
What: Hungarian Meatballs with shaved cabbage, roasted potato, Guinness paprika reduction, and Creme fraiche. Where: Smith & Mills, Tribeca’s low-lit and unmarked converted carriage house with the most rustic-yet-awesome bathroom in all of Manhattan (complete with a railroad car door). Also celeb haven. Ideal meal: After work drinks (take advantage of the complex concoctions) and dinner with a friend or two at most. It’s tiny, so make sure you and your guests are comfortable in close quarters. Because: The paprika reduction and Creme fraiche turn fresh meatballs into a rich mouthful of velvety succulence. Tastes like: Perfectly marinated and seasoned beef with a slight zing. Cabbage is unnecessary, in my opinion. Bottom line: $11 for a starter, and plenty of tender little morsels to share.
I love it when beauty editors offer up their prowess on the perfecting the elusive five minute face. I love it because it’s humorous. I’ve tried every single short-cut tip, and I can tell you from experience: just because they are using MAC‘s Cream Colour Base because of its “versatility,” doesn’t mean you are going to be able to apply it any quicker with bar music is still ringing in your ear. Take last night: gin and tonics at Smith & Mills. This morning: Tired, unwashed skin, and bags — not of the Bottega Veneta variety. On mornings like this, the last thing on my still-drunk mind is rushing through a regimen that is only under five minutes when done by a makeup pro backstage during Fashion Week. Thankfully, there really is a five minute face to fake awake — curated not by a seasoned beauty editor, but by a seasoned bar hopper.
Morning Affliction: You’re wearing last night’s makeup with serious case of eye droop and a serious morning meeting. Oh, and that last lemon drop shot helped you in sleeping through your alarm. Morning Action: On mornings like these I try to focus on the two things that are the easiest to do in a pinch, need the most help, and have the biggest effect. Your skin has the most surface area, and while that seems like the last thing you want to be struggling with, it’s going to your ally in faking it. And the eyes, the window to your soul. Well friend, you cant go driving around the city with a mucked-up windshield.
Face: On clean skin I simultaneously dab a trio of combat experts in an array of blobs that resemble chicken pox all over my face. First I use a light but penetrating lotion that does double time in being a wrinkle fighter and has a little SPF. I am religious about using Olay’s Age Defying Protective Renewal Lotion, which is really blend-able and seems to automatically reduce the tired lines around my eyes. Though most people shy away from shimmer, the most important product in my beauty arsenal is Clinique’s Up-lighting Liquid Illuminator. It comes in four colors and goes on ultra sheer, smooths imperfections, and brightens tired skin, rather than adding kitschy shimmer. I usually mix in the “Natural” shade, focusing just a few dabs on the outer perimeter of my face, but if I am looking a little more wan than normal, I use the color “Bronze.” A bit of foundation around the nose and under the eyes joins the lotion and the liquid highlighter, and all are blended well. I tissue off excess and allow the concoction to sink in as I move over to your eyes.
Eyes: The key here is mascara and pearl shadow. First, using a medium-fat eyeshadow brush (I like Clinique’s line again, specifically the Eye Shader Brush) I dip into a loose shadow with a pearly finish. Bare Escentuals Eye Shadow in “Snow” or “Soul” are really easy to blend and have a nice finish. After tapping off excess shadow, I apply starting in the inner corner of the eye and blend up and out toward the brow bone. Since it is a mineral base shadow, the finish looks really natural. My final activity is my least favorite, but necessary. I curl my lashes and apply one coat of mascara. I’m a mascara whore, but I am currently in love with Buxom Lash by Bare Escentuals. The applicator makes it really easy to apply, and it plumps while you grab your keys and fly out the door. I like to finish with some Dior Addict Gloss in a neutral color like Reflect, which I keep in my bag for subway application.
After a few years, when you don’t hear about a notable artist you’ve come to know and love, you often wonder where they’ve gone. Typically, they’re up to something. Case in point with Diego Garica — lead singer of New York City-based band Elefant and man about town. Rest assured, Diego’s been hard at work at a new pursuit: crafting music solo. Diego first came onto the music scene around the same time I started to write about music. Back in 2003, he was one of the first artists I ever interviewed. We’ve remained friends through the years, and he’d give me updates along the way about new work. One night in particular, back in January of this year, I bumped into him at the Bowery Ballroom after seeing The Sword perform. Within seconds, right in the middle of Bowery’s beer-drenched floor, I found a set of headphones on my ears. “Jessica, you have to hear this new song I just recorded tonight,” said Diego.
One month later, a similar encounter occurred and he played me more songs. Impressed by the change and new direction of sound versus what I’ve always known with Elefant, I asked, “What’s this?” He responded, “My solo recordings.” Instantaneously, I knew this new body of work was something special: Diego’s best music to date.
Jorje Elbret — formally of Lansing Dreiden and now lead singer of the band Violins — is producing Diego’s solo work in a studio that Diego doesn’t call a studio, but what he describes as a “laboratory” of sorts on 16th Street. The new music and its recordings are string-based — acoustic guitar and cello to be exact. One of Diego’s friends, Danny Bensi (known from the band Priestbird) has been his partner in crime, playing cello alongside Diego over the past five months. Diego is recording all of his new material without a label. “I don’t want to compromise. I want to follow my gut, and a label — and all of that support and distribution and marketing — I know, will come eventually.”
Over tea, coffee, and calamari at Pastis, Diego sat down with me to formally talk, for the first time, about his solo work, setting the record straight and sharing what’s to come. (Specifically, a private performance for Karl Lagerfeld. Not so bad, eh?) Again, right after hello, Diego put a set of headphones on my ears and played me a track that only he and Jorje had heard: “In My Heart,” a tango-flamenco based melody filled with warmth. When the headphones finally came off, we talked about his new direction.
When I first heard your new music, I instantly felt I was hearing you again, like you went back to being “Diego” … This solo record is from a malady of love, specifically and inspired by Laura, my ex-girlfriend. I think it’s a running script, and I think I know how it ends, and that’s that. That is what this album is … it’s about closure.
Have you played any of the new music for Laura, since she’s the muse? No. Nothing. I’m accepting the fact that my story with her doesn’t have a Hollywood ending. I think that’s just the way it is. I’m accepting the fact that she was someone very special to me who defined what love is, yet it’s over. There’s closure with her finally, with this album I’m writing.
It’s more revealing as well versus Elefant’s music. There’s maturity and wisdom in the lyrics. It’s not light. Especially in the song “In My Heart” — that tango vibe, which as everyone knows is a very mature dance. Yes, I think so. When I made the first Elefant record, I was singing for my sisters and my mother. They were my audience in my head, and I think there’s a reason the results came out the way they did. On this solo album, I’m singing more for my grandmother. I’m singing for an older soul, and I’m channeling something older. I am going into the studio with Elefant though in August — going back to that reckless innocence of just picking up a girl at a train stop and driving to the ocean. It’s a light vibe. I feel a bit balanced in a sense making this heavy and longing album with my solo work, knowing that in a month or two, I’ll be singing about “candy” and “girls” with a smile on my face. I wouldn’t say this solo album is full of smiles and happy … it’s soulful as fuck.
What artists have inspired you from that tango era? There’s one that no one will know, and your life will be changed like mine was if you listen to him. His name is Pierro. He was an Italian immigrant to Argentina, who was just amazing. Just insane. I had to order the record through Mexico City.
Where have you performed your new music? We’ve played a few pop-up shows here in New York — this bar called Smith & Mills in Tribeca, and I just went out to Los Angeles for three weeks and performed out there as well. I’m also performing at Galerie Gmurzynsk in Switzerland during Art Basel. There’s a dinner in honor of Karl Lagerfeld due to his previous work with the gallery. It’s great because with the new music is the same vibe of the gallery — old school Europe. Danny and I will be wearing tuxes and performing the cello and acoustic guitar. It’ll be very elegant and appropriate for the music.
Who approached you to perform? When we got back to New York after Los Angeles, we ended up playing at the Four Seasons in the Grill Room, and this woman who came decided to have us perform at the gallery opening for Karl. It was us or Kanye West.
So, essentially, you beat out Kanye West to personally perform for Karl Lagerfeld? Yeah, I guess you could say that. After performing in Elefant for so long, I am very lucky to have a great network of friends and people I know from that experience. So, this gallery opportunity is just one example of that privilege. I’m looking forward to sharing this new music, not just with Karl, but with everyone.
Having made a name for himself as a developer, Avi Brosh found a hole to fill in hospitality, responding with his hyper-cool West Hollywood hotel Palihouse and succeeding where none had before in making LAX-adjacent Westchester hop with his Custom Hotel. This creative spirit expands on his years of hard work, present trials and travels, and dreams for the future.
Where do you hang out? I go to The Hall Courtyard Brasserie at Palihouse Holloway. It has the absolute best vibe and crowd in LA. I also love the street Abbot Kinney in Venice Beach, where there are several great neighborhood restaurants and bars I go to frequently. I’m in New York at least five to ten days a month, and every time I’m there I always seem to manage my way, at some point, to this gorgeous little bar in Tribeca called Smith & Mills. I love that place, but they only take cash — which I pretty much never have on me — so I’m always bumming drinks from whomever I’m there with.
Who in your business do you admire? I vividly remember walking into the lobby of the Paramount Hotel in New York City in 1990 and my jaw literally dropping. I’d never seen a place — not to mention a hotel — like that before. The early Philippe Starck-Ian Schrager collaborations completely changed the hotel landscape, so I have a very high regard for them for doing that. In addition, I would add that I have a tremendous amount of respect for just about anyone who has the courage, audacity, and wherewithal to actually develop unique buildings and/or open independent hotels, because I know firsthand how unbelievably difficult that is to do.
What do you like in the hospitality industry these days? Authenticity is the positive trend for just about everything relating to travel and lodging. When people travel these days, they want to see people just as much as they want to see places. At the core of this attitude is a desire to stylishly — and cost-effectively — experience destinations all that much more authentically through the eyes of a local.
Anything you dislike? I think the whole notion of gigantic, corporate hotel companies and chains trying to manufacture cool, boutique, sub-brands is kind of bogus. It’s the complete opposite of the notion of authentic.
What don’t we know about you? People who don’t know me seem to have this perception that, as a fairly well-known developer and now hotelier, I might be loud or flashy, but I’m actually rather reserved and private.
Your hotels always have good music in the air. What is your all-time favorite album? I’m into bands like Hot Chip, Cut Copy, Yelle, and LCD Soundsystem. If I had to single out one all-time favorite album, I’d have to pick My Aim is True by Elvis Costello. In terms of sense of style in music, I think Pharell Williams is by far the coolest.
What do your future plans involve? To make it through this nasty recession as unscathed as possible. We currently have projects in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, and New York City. My number-one focus is to continue to carefully and stylishly grow the “by Palisades” residential brands and the Palihouse and Palihouse spin-off hospitality brands in the best locations in the best cities in the United States and Canada, and then around the world.
Kelly Cutrone, the founder of People’s Revolution, embarked on her first public relations venture when she realized that fashion was the new rock ‘n’ roll. With the help of now-partners Robyn Berkley and Emily Bungert, People’s Revolution is a leading bi-coastal marketing and branding firm and a frontrunner in the fashion industry. The one-time affiliates of The Hills have their hands full for the fall ’09 collections — handing names such as: Yigal Azrouel, David Delfin, Buckler, Mara Hoffman, Nicholas K, Sergio Da Vila, Alexandre Herchcovitch, and Chado Ralph Rucci. The lightning-speed lifestyle required for the job has earned the firm a tough-as-nails reputation, but it occasionally takes a toll on the team. Upon arriving at the People’s SoHo office to sit down with BlackBook, Emily Bungert announced that her bi-annual Fashion Week ailment was already creeping in. “I’m losing my voice,” she said, “I lose my voice every Fashion Week. It’s just usually not two weeks before … it’s usually right in the middle or towards the end.” Read on for more from the power trio on the days leading up to the mayhem, nostalgia for Fashion Weeks past, and, without doubt, The Hills.
What’s this soon-to-be-legendary event that I’m hearing about? Kelly Cutrone: This year at Fashion Week, we’re doing three designers in one show. It’s the first time ever in the tents at Bryant Park that they’ve allowed one time slot for three different designers.
What’s the setup? KC: The setup is that there will be three of them, and they’re all going to have separate shows. So as one finale goes, and the lights will go down; there will be a sign change, and then the lights will come up, and the next designer with a music change will come out. It’s really fast. Robyn Berkley: All of the editors have to sit through all three shows. KC: The backstage will be crazy because there will be 80 models and three sets of hair and makeup.
Was it one invite? RB: No, three different invites.
How would you describe yourself in work mode? RB: Perfectionist, conscientious, innovative, and ambitious. KC: I’m brutally honest. In my role, I’m the leader.
Tell me some memorable Fashion Week stories. RB: One of our designers decided to change the number for the RSVP line that we had set up for him to his cell phone number. At the last minute. Emily Bungert: At the Sass and Bide show, when we were filming The Hills, the designer wouldn’t start the show until her friend — who was flying in from Australia — arrived. RB: Emily’s out front. I’m on the headset, and everyone is screaming at us to start the show. EB: The friend was flying in just to see the show from Australia, and the models are literally lined up, ready to start. The designer is just refusing to start, and we had to argue over the headset and decided that we had to start at that very second, and couldn’t hold the show anymore. Her friend didn’t end up getting to see it. RB: Another one for me is when we did the Heatherette show. They had to close the front of house, and there were still close to 1,000 people outside. Everyone was screaming. And then, we had never done production, and we had to call the show for Heatherette. I wasn’t there for the runthrough, so I get on the headset, and I’m like, “Okay, what’s the whole idea for the show?” All of a sudden, there are all these little fairy girls who are maybe ten, who are walking out with Amanda Lepore and there are dancers — and it was a full-on choreographed routine, and I had no idea. That was pretty dramatic. EB: One year at LA Fashion Week, we did three shows back to back in three hours, and it was all being filmed for The Hills. Andre Leon Talley was there floating around. He’d never been to LA Fashion Week before, and he sat backstage while we were calling the show. He stayed for our shows and sat in the fourth row — he never sits in the first row, he sits in the back. We weren’t completely sure why he was there.
Who’re your favorite clients? RB: I love Jeremy Scott’s shows. The energy there, the crowd, the music … Michel Gaubert does all of the music. It’s always really powerful. EB: Andrew Buckler has really good shows. He has really great models, so there are always a lot of cute boys floating around. That’s the fun thing about doing menswear every once in awhile. He loves to pull some little tricks, and he’s been known to have interesting things happening on the runway. One season, the theme was spaceships and aliens. It was in Bryant Park, and there, everything has to be done by the book, and you have to have insurance for everything. We get to the show that day, and backstage, there are these huge stilts. He didn’t tell us about it, but he hired a guy to be an alien, and the alien had to walk on six-foot stilts, and the stilts were taking up the entire backstage. The people at Bryant Park came up to us and were like, “You need insurance for these stilts.” And there was also a unicycle, and a man in drag was going to be riding it in a corset and a hat and a full face of makeup. But that’s like a typical thing that would happen to us. RB: We did a really good job for Yigal Azrouel when he did his first menswear presentation. He got an amazing response, and this season, he’s nominated for the GQ designer of the year award.
What are your fashion staples? RB: My new favorite jeans are the KSUBI Spray-On jeans, and anything Yigal Azrouel. I wear Chloe dresses. Lots of chain jewelry and big bangles. And the Alex and Ani Halo Necklace. They’re launching on ShopBop. I love Jo de Mer swimwear, and Camilla & Marc — who just launched their new swimwear collection. It’s the best thing I’ve seen in years. I only shop at one store in New York, called No.6. EB: I wear the Alternative Apparel Burnout Tee. We’re all obsessed with the Rag & Bone riding pants. RB: We wear black and white all the time, or else I wear Jeremy Scott.
Where are your places? KC: I go nowhere cool, first of all. Except for my clients’ places. I love Southside, Webster Hall. I love the Sunset Marquis hotel. I’m their publicist, and they’re my oldest client. We’ve been working together for 13 years. I love this hotel in Hermosa Beach called the Beach House, which nobody knows about. It’s the un-Malibu. It’s really beautiful and you can sleep on the second or third floor and have your door open and have the ocean rock you to sleep. I love this little, tiny restaurant on MacDougal street called Monte’s for Italian food. I am also known to pop into Little Italy and go to Angelos. I like it because the maitre’d treats fashion people like shit and is only nice to the mafia. He’s always like, “What you want?” He screams at me. And that, for some reason, I love. I love Savore, which is another unknown restaurant in SoHo, across the street from Mezzogiorno. And they have homemade foccacia. I go to Barolo once in awhile on West Broadway. I only go to places in a five-block radius. I love the Carlyle Hotel for the lobster sandwich, when I want to feel grown up. I love Sullivan Street Bakery. I like Omen, the Japanese restaurant. We love Lucky Strike. They’re like our living room. We love Sanctuary Tea. It stayed in business in a haunted space. Before they took it over, no one could stay in business there for more than six months. They give us free lattes during Fashion Week. RB: My best friend just opened up Charles. I love Nobu. I likeBar Pitti. I like Supper. I like Southside and Beatrice. I like Smith & Mills and Café Habana. I love the Vinegar Factory. We also like the backroom at Raoul’s. EB: La Esquina is my favorite restaurant. We like GoldBar. I love Café Gitane and Freemans. There’s a great restaurant in Williamsburg called Aurora. They opened one in Manhattan, but I like the one in Williamsburg better.
What is one thing that people may not know about you? EB: Well, I’m from Minneapolis, Minnesota. I don’t think that people would expect me to be from Minnesota. RB: I always wanted to be in the circus. I wanted to be a trapeze artist. EB: Something that people don’t know about Kelly Cutrone is that she’s a really talented ice skater. She used to compete when she was younger. We were ice skating with her in Syracuse, and we’re on this local ice rink all wearing all black. Kelly was showing off her moves in the middle of the ice rink, and all the younger girls were getting really jealous.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure? KC: My guiltiest pleasure is re-dating my ex-boyfriends. Recycling. Eco-dating. And just so you know, I’m down to my last ex-boyfriend to re-date. So it’s a very interesting time as to what’s going to become of me now that I’ve re-dated everyone that I’ve previously dated. RB: I cut all of them out. Three months ago, I started this intensive cleanse program, and I stopped smoking, drinking, eating, and now, I go to bed really early. I also cut out sugar. But if I wasn’t doing that, they would be smoking, drinking and eating. EB: I love red wine and Arturo’s pizza. RB: I sometimes get really obsessive watching CSI, like 10 episodes at a time.
Next is People’s Revolution — the reality show? RB: We can’t really talk about it yet. It’ll be announced right around Fashion Week. Most likely it will start pretty soon … everyone wants to delve right into it. EB: It’s definitely happening though.
Was your decision to get involved in reality TV based on The Hills and The City? EB: Kelly’s had a big presence on both shows and has gained a huge fanbase. That started everything. It will be very different from those shows though. It’s going to show what goes on during Fashion Week and with our clients and within the company. It’s more about People’s Revolution itself. It’s funny … Kelly goes to Target and has people going, “Oh my god, that’s the lady from The Hills.” It’s really funny. We went to Syracuse, Kelly’s hometown, and we stopped at a restaurant, and these young girls were staring at her and she’s like, “Oh no, Hills fans.” Her strategy is that she goes up to them and says hello because otherwise they’ll just sit and stare.
Will this be a huge lifestyle change for you? EB: I just hate having to think about my hair and makeup and what I’m going to wear.
What are you doing tonight? RB: I am getting on a plane and going to Miami. I am going to dinner with the team from Longchamp. Maybe seeing ex-boyfriends. I don’t really recycle them, but I have my ongoing conquests that don’t go away. EB: I am working on my sore throat so I don’t get too sick before Fashion Week. Taking some Emergen-C. I try not to make plans until March.
Photo: Patrik Andersson
How would you describe yourself? I like to believe that I am a fully developed, grown-up professional bartender, keeper of the trade.
Where do you go out? I like Blue Ribbon on Sullivan Street in SoHo for cooking and serving with the heart for all these years. I visit Ali’s Kebab Cafe in Astoria, because Ali is a genius and a true culinary giant. I eat anything he puts in front of me. Smith & Mills in TriBeCa for a humble reminder about what authentic New York places should be about.
Who do you admire in your industry? Dale DeGroff, for passing on the trade to me and inspiring me to think outside of the box. And Keith McNally, for teaching me how a successful restaurant operation should be run.
Name one positive trend that you see in the hospitality industry. Great chefs recognizing the importance of a serious bar and beverage program that can stand up to their cuisine and fulfill the experience of their guests.
Negative trend? Molecular mixology.
What is something that people might not know about you? I dream of being the first bartender in space. I just need to solve the physics of mixing and serving cocktails in zero G.
What’s your favorite thing to do outside of the office? Watch a live soccer match with 100,000 other screaming lunatics.
What are you doing tonight? Working behind the bar at Employees Only.