French Duo The Two Invade London, Set Sights on New York

When Momo opened in the late ’90s, London was still shedding its reputation as a culinary wasteland, hurtling towards its new status as one of the stopovers on the 21st Century Foodie Grand Tour. Proprietor Mourad Mazouz followed with the absurdly trendy Sketch, which immediately became one of the pre-crash international yardsticks for measuring one’s ability to effectively see and be seen.

Still, with the incessant competition for the attention of fashionable Londoners (and those visitors seeking to bask in the glow of proximity to said fashionable Londoners), employing the occasional cultural trick now seems a perfectly reasonable strategy. And so Momo will present the exceedingly hip French act The Two this Thursday and Friday, the 15th and 16th.

The sexy Parisian duo of painter Ara Starck, daughter of–you guessed it–Philippe Starck, and nomadic magician David Jarre, son of actress Charlotte Rampling and legendary composer and music producer Jean-Michel Jarre, bring their sultry, languidly sexy neo-folk stylings to the appropriately lavish, Moroccan-influenced space. Starck’s sweet but visceral vocal performances draw from such fierce influences as Lou Reed and Marianne Faithfull, and the songs are awash in atmospherics of raw, haunting beauty. All famous associations aside, they are a musical force to be reckoned with.

Should you be unable to spontaneously hop a flight to Blighty’s capital this week, The Two will also be performing at New York’s Cooper Square Hotel on October 17, and are scheduled for an additional NYC show on October 19th as part of this year’s CMJ Music Marathon.

Tix for NYC Restaurant Week on Sale January 12

If there’s one disadvantage to working in the travel industry, it’s constantly having to leave New York City. I miss my friends, my neighborhood, and, most of all, the food. Seriously, I’ve been to places where the food has sucked (Philippines), lacked variety (Greenland), and was neither here nor there (Fort Lauderdale). New Yorkers are super-privileged to be in a city where the culinary scene is diverse and, more often than not, really damn good. Not only can you get a hearty, amazing meal at a cheap ethnic joint, you can splurge on high-end dinners knowing you won’t be disappointed. Best of all, with NYC Restaurant Week next month, you can get that “splurgy” experience at that “ethnic joint” price. Or something like that.

From January 24 to February 6, NYC & CO is partnering with more than 300 restaurants for two weeks of ridiculously priced meals at highly touted restaurants. Three-course, prix-fixe lunches will be $24.07; three-course prix-fixe dinners at a measly $35.

Participating restaurants include some of my favorites, like the soon-to-be-closed Faustina at the Cooper Square hotel, Le Cirque, SD26, and Tribeca Grill.

NYC Openings: Faustina, Tully’s Gluten-Free Bakery

Faustina (East Village) – Au courant from Scott Conant fills Table 8 vacancy at Cooper Square Hotel. Small plates Italian for fellow Roman empresses. ● Tully’s Gluten-Free Bakery (East Village) – NYC’s first non-vegan gluten-intolerant cupcakery trumps competition with rampant use of butter and eggs.

Where Celebs Go Out: Wes Anderson, Emmy Rossum, Charlotte Ronson, & More

At Lucky magazine’s Lucky Shops:

● KATRINA BOWDEN – “I love Café Mogador in the East Village. It’s Moroccan, and they have these great fish and chicken kebabs and really cool dishes and olives and bread. It’s really good. And they have this fish soup that’s amazing, on special sometimes.”

● ANA ORTIZ – “I’m a very local person right now because I don’t have a lot of time away. So there’s this really groovy little place across the street from me called the Speak Low bar and it’s in Dumbo in Brooklyn, and it’s just underneath Rice. It’s a really funky, hip little bar. And they have the most delicious cocktails. As soon as I was able to drink after giving birth, I went down there. They have the best martini I ever had!”

At The Fantastic Mr. Fox press day:

● WES ANDERSON – “There’s a place in Los Angeles called Nishimura that’s a sushi place. That’s a great place. I would recommend that one.”

At launch party for Yoga Wii by Dreamcatcher Interactive Inc.:

● ANJA RUBIK – “Right now — it changes, of course — right now, I’m addicted to Matsuri. It’s a Japanese restaurant in the Maritime Hotel. I just love the food there. It’s incredible and the atmosphere they create there is so beautiful. I love it there. I love the Cipriani’s uptown. I love it. The food is so great. And it also has an incredible atmosphere. Da Silvano is great. Bar Pitti is amazing. It has Italian food, which is fantastic. I love Gobo. It’s all this organic food, vegetarian. It’s on Sixth Avenue near Eighth Street or Seventh Street.”

At Fashion Group International’s Night of Stars:

● SIMON DOONAN – “I love Il Cantinori. It’s around the corner from my house. The risotto primavera is killer!”

● EMMY ROSSUM – “I really like David Burke Townhouse. I love that lollypop tree that comes out at the end. There’s like a cheesecake lollypop tree. It looks like a lollypop, but it’s a ball of cheesecake on the end of stick and it’s in this holder that makes it look like a tree. I really like eating sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, at like 4am.”

● TOMMY HILFIGER – “Rebecca’s in Greenwich, Connecticut. Incredibly delicious. It’s simple, but it’s really, really high-quality food and always well done — consistent. It’s prepared very well.”

● MARK RONSON – “My favorite restaurant in New York is, probably, Gino’s uptown on 60th and Lex. The angel hair with the secret sauce. They call it that. ‘Cause when you’re a kid, and anyone tells you something’s secret, of course, you like think it’s amazing. In the whole word, I don’t know. I wish — I’m really good at answering these questions, but not on the spot.”

● DITA VON TEESE – “I love going to London to eat. I love China Tang at the Dorchester because I love the Art Deco Chinese interior. I love the Wolseley in London. And I’m not familiar with New York restaurants. It seems like they’re ever changing, so …”

At Purgatorio pop-up club:

● JOSH LUCAS – “Oh, the old school — Raoul’s is one of my all-time favorites. And there’s a place right down in my neighborhood, called Broadway East, which is a really interesting new kind of organic, sexy restaurant I like a lot. Also, down by my place, Les Enfants Terribles, you know that place? A good, little fun one. Those are my three that come to mind immediately.”

● SIMON HAMMERSTEIN – “That’s a hard question. I kind of like the 18th floor of the Standard — the bar on the 18th floor. I think he’s done a really good job with that.”

● CHRISTIAN SIRIANO – “In New York, I love the Cooper Square Hotel. We have dinner there a lot, hang out there — really, really fun. But, like hang out, hang out spots — where do we go? Oh, Bagatelle, very fabulous. I’m pretty low key, so I feel like — my couch, that’s where we go to hang out and have a party.”

At Motorola’s party for Droid phone with Verizon service:

● PATRICK HEUSINGER – “I just went to Delicatessen for the first time. I really enjoyed that. We watch Sunday and Monday football at Brother Jimmy’s on the Upper West Side. Yeah, it’s great. We’ve been going there since I was in college because I went to college here in New York, too. And then, I go to the bar, Niagara, on the Lower East Side a lot. That’s one of my haunts. I probably go there once a week. One of my best friends works there, so — it’s on 7th and Avenue A.

● JUDAH FRIEDLANDER – “I don’t drink or anything. I’m a role model for children. But I do eat. The place I really crave is called Sarajevo. It’s in Astoria — Bosnian owners. It’s basically Yugoslavian food. Awesome. That’s the place I crave more than any place. Cevapcici is the main thing. It’s kind of like ground beef and lamb on skewers, and you serve it in this fresh, homemade bread. And there’s this spread called Kajmak. It’s kind of like a sour-cream spread, except a million times better. And then you put ajvar on it, also, which is a like a tomato, red pepper, eggplant spread. And then you put raw onions on it, and you’re in heaven, baby! And you got power! And you’re ready to kick ass! It’s good stuff. The other thing they have is stuffed cabbage with tomato sauce, which they call sarma. It’s in Astoria. It’s on 34th Avenue and 38th Street. It’s so good. That’s my favorite food. I like all the ethnic, little take-out type places. Those are my favorite places.”

At launch of fashion game Style Savvy for the Nintendo DS and DSi:

● CHARLOTTE RONSON – “I love Bar Pitti on 6th Avenue. It’s nice and easy. You can sit outside when the weather is nice. You always run into someone you know. For movies, the Anjelika is nice. It’s clean. I’m drawn to movies that play there. In London, I love Holland Park, Kensington High Street — great area with lots of good shops and walking distance from my parents’ home. La Famiglia is a great restaurant.”

At launch party for Scupltz shapewear and legwear:

● ROBERT VERDI –Le Singe Vert on 7th Avenue. It means the Green Monkey. I was born in ’68, the year of the monkey. I love it. Novita, on 22nd Street, off of Park Avenue. It feels very insider; the food is fabulous. There’s a scene, but it’s not sceney. Da Silvano, because I feel like a big schmaltz when I go there ’cause I’m treated better than I really am. He’s really sweet. I’m very good friends with his wife, Marisa, who treats me like family. Since I grew up in a restaurant family, it’s a feeling I like to have when I go out to eat.

We Like to Watch: Melonie Diaz of ‘Nip/Tuck’

In early 2008, Melonie Diaz flew to Park City, Utah, for her coronation. With a schedule-busting four films in competition, she was ready to accept her crown as the queen of Sundance. “It was incredibly flattering, but incredibly tiring. I was supposed to present at the closing awards, but being up at seven doing press every day and then going to bed at four, I got sick!” says the diminutive actress of her whirlwind experience at the festival. While there, she was promoting Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind (with Jack Black and Mos Def), Andrew Fleming’s Hamlet 2 (opposite Steve Coogan and fellow Sundance royal Catherine Keener), American Son (co-starring Nick Cannon) and Assassination of a High School President (featuring a pre-breakdown Mischa Barton).

Almost two years later, the versatile firebrand is about to embrace her softer side, playing a devoted fiancée this fall on the final season of FX’s outré plastic surgery soap Nip/Tuck. And after a successful detour to Los Angeles for a Hollywood test drive (she lived right under the Hollywood sign, an arrangement she describes as “surreal”), Diaz is back in her native New York, finding her way around an industry notoriously narrow-minded about minorities. “A lot of the parts I get offered are for hood girls—the Mexican chola. Anyone who’s met me knows I’m more complex than that,” she says. Anyone who’s seen her in the urban melodrama Raising Victor Vargas and the radical feminist romp The Itty Bitty Titty Committee knows it, too. The latter picture even gave her an unexpected demographic of devotees. “The lesbians love me,” she says with pride. They’re not the only ones.

image Dress by D&G. Dress on chair by Prada.

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Photography by Kate Orne. Styling by Christine De Lassus.

Top picture: Dress by Prada.

Hair by Nelson Vercher for redken @ Rita Hazan Salon NYC @ Judy Casey. Makeup by Christopher Ardoff @ Art Dept. Photographer’s assistant, Justin Tellian. Digital Tech, Chad Meyer @ Visionon. Stylist’s Assistant, Wilson Mathews III. Equipment Fotocare LTD. Location Cooper Square Hotel.

Editor’s Letter: Power Up

Sure, she was still a child in the ’80s. But given her string of command performances, we knew that Claire Danes was perfect for our fashion story on the revival of powerhouse dressing inspired by the greed decade. After all, her strength on-screen — and off — made Zac Efron quake in his boots at the mere thought of working with her in Richard Linklater’s upcoming film, Me and Orson Welles.

As it turns out, she was refreshingly down-to-earth on that set — and on ours, where, in the penthouse of Manhattan’s Cooper Square Hotel, she gamely stepped into this season’s outré fashions with ease (and the occasional half-roll of the eyes). At one point, Danes, who is set to wed actor Hugh Dancy this month, found herself flat on her back, legs in mid-air, with two stylists yanking boots down on each foot: “I’ve never felt so infantilized in my life.” Clad in unwieldy high-heel boots, she laughed about the irony of the situation. “I was playing a character that was seemingly undefeatable and powerful,” said Danes, “yet I couldn’t move. I was actually pretty feeble. But who cares? It’s the land of make-believe.”

Sometimes creating the illusion of strength is half the battle. Take it from Kylie Minogue. The diminutive disco queen has survived many things—cancer, the ’80s, soap stardom, the ’90s, not to mention the worldwide public’s fickle tastes. Through it all, she has remained a style icon. “It takes a total rethink when it involves a scarf and when you’re not at your best. But I wasn’t prepared to let it all go, no way,” said Minogue, who is finally set to conquer America with her first-ever U.S. tour. “Pain is fleeting, but fashion is forever,” she told writer Vivien Goldman.

For others, making a style statement on stage can be as simple as donning the right pair of shoes. “My black leather boots help me snap into it, for sure,” said Pete Yorn, whom Senior Editor Nick Haramis interviewed, along with Yorn’s unexpected collaborator, Scarlett Johansson. Their new album of duets is big on style and substance.

Fashion is a family affair for Mika, the pied piper of British pop, whose mother designs his polka-dot shirts and the silver-glitter dunce caps that sit atop his bandmates’ heads. As for his playful stage attire, Mika said, “It’s all about connecting with people, taking them to a different place and, in doing so, going there as well. I realized early on that if this was going to be my life, I wanted to have fun with it. It’s about creating, in our daily lives, a magic world for ourselves.”

Lauren Zalaznick echoed that very sentiment when we met up with the mighty force behind Bravo: “I always want to get people to look at everyday stuff in a slightly different way than they already have,” she said about the vast array of programming she’s ushered into the pop culture conversation over the past decade. “My fascination with the everyday is about getting people to react instead of moving through their media lives untouched — that would be the worst thing to me.” We couldn’t agree more.

Whether you’re just back from the beach or resigned to the reality of work a er a summer break, put on a brave face—and a bold outfit—and head full-throttle into fall. Check out the BlackBook application on your iPhone for all the new hotspots that have popped up in your town while you were off sunning yourself for the season.

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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Ilili’s Glory & Cameron Douglas Postscript

I’m not sure how to pronounce the name of the flat iron restaurant Ilili. I don’t know the origins of its name. Alls I know is that I had dinner there the other night with publicist Kelley Blevins and a special friend, and it was great. I’m not sure if my blog readers read BlackBook magazine as well; I have an article in there every month. I and all the other people associated with the magazine are asked each month to list their current favorite hangout. My entry from the August issue was “Nightlife Correspondent Steve Lewis Ajaxx (NYC).” Ajaxx was the rooftop restaurant/lounge my partner and I were designing for Greg Brier at the Stay hotel in Times Square. It’s Tokyo 2050 graffitti design has not seen the light of day due to tip-toeing by economy-influenced decision-makers and all sorts of bureaucratic bureaucracy.

These staff picks are done way in advance, and Ajaxx was due mid-June. Getting things open in this town is not easy, and Ajaxx’s reality will be next spring. I’m offering Ilili as my substitute pick. I spent an evening having the most wonderful meal amongst trendy adults — a group that more and more new establishments are catering too. Hotel Griffou was refreshingly age appropriate for a an old codger like me.

I worked with Kelley Blevins at Palladium and Tunnel and Spa and Life and all my good joints. He used to be a promoter-type person, but his PR-based approach brought great events and fabulously frocked people to the fray. He has consulted over the years with companies like Dolce & Gabbana, Emporio Aarmani, H. Stern, Bulgari, Diane von Furstenberg, Salvatore Ferragamo, John Varvatos, and architects Ricardo Bofill and Alison Spear. Back in the day he was working for that fabulous lolipop company, Chupa Chups, and we had them coming out of our ears. He promoted several hotels — 60 Thompson and Cooper Square in New York, the St. Augustine in Miami, and Gregory Peck’s Crescent Hotel group based in Los Angeles, among others. Kelly is one of those movers and shakers that the public rarely hears about, even though they’re aware of the brands he’s pushing. He invited me down with a fervor. He believes in Ilili and made a believer out of me.

The joint is beautiful. Architect /designer Nasser Nakib’s design stunned me. Rich woods, soft lighting, and an innovative pattern that repeats on the walls, floor, and ceiling has raised the bar for future Lewis & Dizon projects. Chef Philippe Massoud brings a modern Lebanese cuisine that made me full but not stuffed. There were so many things to choose from, such an assortment of flavor and texture, that I hardly got a word in over dinner — and that rarely happens. I even had a glass of wine, and I never do that. The large dining room with ceilings that must be 16 feet high will host parties like few rooms can. Phillipe had many a moment at joints I ran, and he has an eye and an ear for sound systems. Ilili has a great one, and I can’t wait to attend a special event. I don’t write many puff pieces; I have walked by Ilili about 2oo times without considering it. Now if you’re looking for me, you know where I’ll be.

The tragedy of the Cameron Douglas arrest is playing out as predicted. The story seems to be that the addicted spawn of stars turned to selling some to use some. He had been cut off from the family money, but the need for speed remained. A person close to the action told me “he hasn’t made a rational decision in years.” It’s the same old story — a fight for love and glory, then a hard crash to the pavement as three of his street associates ratted him out for a softer ride. The only question remaining is whether the feds want him to lead them to his sources — rumored to be California-based — or will they just let the media frenzy of a trial be a great deterrent for America’s youth. A long sentence in a bad place could be their plan. If he is lucky, they will ask him to give up his supplier in return for a lighter punishment. Supporters offer that he’s “not a violent guy” and that “his addiction is a disease best dealt with in a facility for people in need of treatment.” They say “he shouldn’t be held responsible” for the inevitable need to deal drugs as a result of his long-term addiction.

Yet despite the addling affects of drugs, there is no doubt that Cameron knew what he was doing was wrong and absolutely illegal. He also knew he had choices. Cameron was born with a silver spoon that could keep the Hotel Ganesvoort — where he was busted — in cutlery for a century. My source tells me that the family strategy was to “let him bottom out as everything else had failed,” and “no matter what we tried, he continued to hang out with those lowlife friends of his, and look what happened … they got busted and ratted him out.” I was asked why I didn’t recognize him right away as I surely knew him. I answered that he was heavy and ghost-white, and there wasn’t a great deal of life in his eyes. He used to have a light in those eyes. It used to sit just in front of his eternal sadness. Now I’m afraid sad is all that’s left.

Industry Insiders: Rachelle Hruska, Guest Star

After only a few years spent navigating the social waters if Manhattan, Rachelle Hruska left her cushy job at a mutual fund company to work on her hobby: social media. Her website, Guest of a Guest, not only deciphers New York’s social hierarchies, but, as Hruska puts it, provides “a guide for what is going on among the young and influential tastemakers shaping the collective culture.” Hruska’s pluck and insight keep her focused. “After identifying an open niche in social media that I thought I could fill, it was necessary for me to venture into the unknown”– a leap that propelled Hruska into hosting her own events, sussing out the newest hotspots and basically showing face on a nightly basis. “I see us taking Guest of a Guest to other cities around the world,” she says. “I have met a lifetime’s worth of interesting people in the past two years.”

You went through quite a transitional period when you moved to New York, you weren’t involved in the media industry- what were you doing, and how did you come to decide to run GuestofaGuest.com full time? I was working at a mutual fund, happy and content with my job. I was able to study and learn how companies worked and became interested in starting my own. Naturally, living in the city, it’s nearly impossible not to be exposed to New York media, and as I began to read and follow different blogs and media outlets, I marveled at the seemingly low barrier of entry to that world. For fun and as an experiment, I began to chronicle young Manhattan on a daily basis at nights, after work. After seeing consistent growth, I started to became more and more convinced that there was a market for this kind of website. In May of 2008, I left the security of a wonderful job to take on the risks and challenges of trying to make this a successful company.

How was Guest of a Guest conceived? Was it a passion, a hobby? At the beginning it was totally just a hobby that got my mind off finance. And we got to a place where we saw a niche; these young, twentysomething group of tastemakers, who liked going out and wanted to know everything about it, and we went with it. But it took us a while to get there. When we started, we had writers cover lots of things, from food to fashion, and everything else. It was like a Gothamist more than a Guest of a Guest. After becoming more and more interested in the online media world, and kind of seeing all these print publications crashing — we had to figure out how we were going to survive and expand. We had to figure out how to manage SEO, and basically everything that made a blog work. I started meeting with people like Lockhart Steele. We started talking to people like Nick Denton, and kind of just getting an idea of how they started.

And they just offered up their help? Well, Lockhart found me. At the time I kept my identity a secret. The New York Times picked up a story because we had talked about 1Oak opening and now one even knew 1Oak was in existence. I had just heard through the grapevine and put up a small little post. So, the Sunday Times did a piece referencing us, and once you have a mention in the Times like that, I think that was probably when we made it on the radar. Lockhart started talking to me through email, as I was very nervous about giving away who I was. Since I was working in finance, I didn’t know how my peers would feel about it. So I put some trust in a couple people that I felt could be helpful. Lockhart was one of them from the very beginning. I started this two summers ago. I didn’t quit my job until last April.

You’ve just passed your four year mark as a New Yorker; do you find you’ve lost some of that wide-eyed wonder that you initially had? I’ve tried to not let that happen. I think that being naive, in some aspects, is a blessing. You don’t know what’s not possible, you’re kind of just starry-eyed. I think I’m much smarter and much more aware of agendas, but I also think that it’s important to work at it. Just yesterday I went running with my friend Danielle, who is the Danni behind Dannijo Jewellery, over the Brooklyn Bridge, and we’re both like little kids on this bridge, taking pictures of ourselves with the Manhattan skyline in the background. It was silly how exciting it still is, and maybe those are the kind of things that don’t happen every day, but you gotta work for it. You have to try to not become jaded. New York does that to you, right? And it’s going to do that to you, especially when you’re going to all these events. Obviously, an event is not the same as the first time I went. But you have to learn to appreciate the little things in life. And especially when you’re removed from the city, it’s such a blessing to come back and experience those things all over again.

You cover a lot of charity events, and you’ve launched a charity initiative. Do you have a specific cause you are passionate about, or do you try to give them all a fair chance? VABC: Voices Against Brian Cancer. I lost my grandmother to brain cancer and my friend’s brother is running in the marathon for brain cancer support. Anything close to cancer is close to home. I also do a lot with The American Heart Association because I’ve had a lot of family that have had heart issues. I don’t have much free time or tons of money to give away but I do hope to bring exposure to great causes through GofG

When people get snarky on the internets, call you out on things, or try to pick fight, how do you deal with that? Do you think it’s important to fight back? Yeah, I do. Those dialogues, even though they are tedious and worthless right now, I think they’re fun. It’s always good to have people challenge you, always. It makes you work harder, try to do better, and be more fair. I welcome all of it. I have had people that have put me in a bad light, but if you know you are doing everything you can and are in the right then the open dialogue can only help the situation for other people. I don’t pick fights with people. I never do. It’s not interesting to me, and it’s not something I enjoy doing. But if there is something that I think, then I am going to spend some time trying to retaliate — I’ll do it on my personal Tumblr. It’s important to have respect for your peers. I don’t want to just be a fighter that people look at but don’t take seriously. Page Six and Gawker already do it … it’s fun to read … people like reading it. But there is also room for a nicer and more positive spin. That’s what we are going for.

Do you have a hit list? Maybe not in a personal way, but with the knowledge that your readers have a lot of interest certain names? Well, you have to be aware of everyone. Obviously there are people that you see over and over again at parties, and people might share rumors, and suddenly you have an understanding of who people are talking about. I think that you can also create people that I personally think are interesting — you can do that on your own. I don’t know about the hit list, but there are definitely characters that people are always on the lookout for. And you know, if we’re writing a post on an event and, let’s say, someone’s there and something happened with them the week before, we might add that name to the event.

Have you felt like you’ve been able to be supportive to people who are now big hitters in the industry? That’s the goal. And I think that was for me too, that was really the goal, to give interesting people who were trying to do something good or trying to build and create something in a time when, I mean, let’s face it, we are in a major recession, and people don’t need to be worked down, they need to be built up. I think you can do it without sounding too Pollyanna. I said this to the Times reporter because, one of the things he said was, “you shill for Surf Lodge.” Well, I actually really like going there! It’s not like we’re going to write about things that we just think are cool because we want them to be happy with us or on our good side. We generally only write about things that we like and that we want our readers to be aware of. There are designers and people in nightlife who are trying to bring something in an industry that is bringing our city so much revenue. Of course, I want to try and support that. I really feel it’s helping our city by doing that because it’s making people aware and raising interest for these businesses. Charities, especially in a time like this, are huge. These events are always giving back and built around philanthropic causes. They get young kids excited about giving back. Even if they can’t afford a ticket, maybe they can help out by being on the committee. Our interns, for example — whenever they go to an event, they really take it as their own. When I am invited to a charity, I try to see who from our team is best suited to cover it and really get personally involved and help give it space online that really has eyeballs coming to it. We can try to sell tickets, give free tickets to newsletter readers, and just generally raise awareness to it.

Where do you like to go out in New York? Do you have a favorite restaurant? My favorite restaurant is Blue Ribbon. I got introduced to it a year ago, and I have been going back a lot. I tend to stay by my neighborhood. I love Raul’s. I am starting to get into the Diablo Royale. Barrio Chino — I love Mexican food.

Any favorite bar? I like Rose Bar. I am not into clubs, but Rose Bar is my go-to. I like the Cooper Square Hotel. I like the rooftop of the Thompson Hotel, the Jane Hotel, and recently I’ve been going to The Standard Grill.

Favorite shops? I hate shopping. I hate it. I haven’t been shopping since last October. I don’t even know what to say about shops; I don’t know anything about them. If I need something I’ll go to Topshop or Bloomingdale’s in Soho. Being a blogger now, I don’t need to dress up during the day. I am running out of clothes. I should start online shopping.

Who do you admire in your industry? Do you have any mentors or anyone you’ve tried to emulate? It depends if you’re looking at media people, writers, or tech people. The thing about my industry is that there are not many females in the tech world so it’s really interesting to get to meet them. It’s cool. I met Caterina Fake, who did Flickr and is now doing Hunch.com. She really impresses me. And other women, like Arianna Huffington, who really changed the way we get our news. But Caterina’s story really impressed me. And I admire a lot of my peers who are working really hard to try to do their own companies. I look up to them. I always admire people who go to the beat of their own drum.

Do you love your job? I love it. I absolutely love it. There are definitely days where I have a lot of trials, and some days you’re pulled in so many directions. But it’s just like anyone who has a company. You’re wearing so many hats that they all come crashing down at the same time. You have to put things in perspective and realize it’s not the end of the world. I’ve never worked harder for anything, but sometimes it doesn’t even feel like I’m working all the time. Even though I am working day and night, I am passionate about it. It doesn’t feel like work. I get to meet such great people in the industry, really interesting people. And that wasn’t available to me in finance. I really enjoy it.