WWD Blogtag:blog.wwd.com,2008-06-26:/wwd//12014-07-01T20:07:15ZMovable Type Enterprise 4.32-enNew Yves Saint Laurent Biopic to be Released This Falltag:blog.wwd.com,2014:/wwd//1.77621052014-06-26T14:48:00Z2014-07-01T20:07:15ZThis year, it's all about Yves.The second Yves Saint Laurent biopic in less than 12 months, this one titled simply "Saint Laurent," made its debut in competition at the Cannes Film Festival last month and will hit French cinema screens...Joelle Diderich
This year, it's all about Yves.
The second Yves Saint Laurent
biopic in less than 12 months, this one titled simply "Saint Laurent,"
made its debut in competition at the Cannes Film Festival last month and
will hit French cinema screens on Oct. 1. But those expecting "Saint
Laurent" to be a repeat of Jalil Lespert's "Yves Saint Laurent,"
released in January, are in for a surprise.
Director Bertrand Bonello says he is not interested in an exhaustive retelling of the designer's life story. ]]>
"We weren't interested in showing how Yves Saint
Laurent became a genius. We wanted to show what it cost him every day to
be who he was, and that's why at the beginning of the film, he is
already a star," the director explains. (Lespert's film has a premiere
Wednesday in New York at the French Institute Alliance Fran��aise.)
Lespert benefited from the full cooperation of Saint Laurent's partner
Pierre Berg��, who gave him access to his archives, Bonello directed the
unauthorized version, giving him the freedom to put his own spin on
events -- including some scenes that straddle the real and the imaginary.
is no scene that comes out of nowhere. It can stem from historical
fact, an event, a phrase, an image -- and then, based on each of those
things, I try to suggest something that is both true and made up," he
Much of the story centers on the affair between Saint
Laurent, played by Gaspard Ulliel, and decadent dandy Jacques de Bascher
(Louis Garrel), who leads him down the path of drugs and sexual
debauchery. While some of the material is shocking, Bonello largely
eschews explicit sex scenes, though his previous films, "The
Pornographer" and "House of Tolerance," featured copious nudity.
"I thought that was beside the point," he says.
lavishes as much attention on the scenes set in Saint Laurent's studio,
where seamstresses labor to make his designs come to life, as on the
hedonistic nightclubs where the era's sexual revolution unfolded.
always defended the fact that it would be a film full of contrasts,"
Bonello says. "It's almost when he is at his lowest point that he
produces what is said to be his most beautiful collection."
access to the archives of the Fondation Pierre Berg�� - Yves Saint
Laurent, the film's costume designer, Ana��s Romand, set up a workshop to
re-create looks ranging from Le Smoking to the Saharienne. Staffed with
real seamstresses, it doubled as Saint Laurent's workplace in the film.
shrugs off Berg��'s threats to sue the producers of the film for
featuring unauthorized reproductions of Saint Laurent dresses and
"Despite what he says, we absolutely have the right to
reproduce the dresses. Regarding the drawings, opinions differ on what
you can and can't show. But I don't think that Mr. Berg�� has malicious
intentions against the film," he says.
The legal skirmishes that marred the production phase of the film proved more of a headache for Ulliel.
a way, it gave me more time to prepare. What bothered me more was the
idea of two films, and knowing there was another Saint Laurent played by
Pierre Niney, who is a great actor. That put extra pressure on me, but I
quickly decided I needed to forget about that and concentrate on our
film, otherwise I would be paralyzed," the young French actor recalls.
remembered for his role as a young Hannibal Lecter in "Hannibal
Rising," Ulliel has a lot riding on this movie. By his own admission, he
has not worked much since becoming the face of Chanel's men's scent
Blue in 2010.
"Because I had the financial comfort of the Chanel
campaign, I told myself -- and in hindsight, it was not the wisest thing --
that I could take the time to pick the right projects," he explains. "I
put myself in a holding pattern and today, I realize this no longer
suits me. I need to work in order to exist."
Playing Saint Laurent was the role of a lifetime, and Ulliel devoured every available source material.
have rarely been offered such an emblematic, complex and demanding
role," he says. "I think I really managed to do my job once I realized
that I should not imitate him, because it cancels out all emotion, and
that it was by making him my own and somehow reinventing him that I
would manage to convey emotion."
Ulliel is surrounded by a
talented cast that includes Belgian actor J��r��mie Renier as Berg��, L��a
Seydoux as Loulou de la Falaise, Amira Casar as Anne-Marie Mu��oz and
model Aymeline Valade in her debut movie role as Betty Catroux. Austrian
actor Helmut Berger makes a striking appearance as the elderly Saint
"What is beautiful in the way Bertrand tackles the
biopic genre is that at no point is there any attempt to demystify Saint
Laurent or to try to explain or justify or take apart his enigma. In
the end, the mystery remains completely intact," says Ulliel. ]]>
Rounding Up the Latest Must-Read Bookstag:blog.wwd.com,2014:/wwd//1.77591172014-06-24T15:52:51Z2014-07-14T15:09:04Z"Dior: The Legendary Images/Great Photographers and Dior" (Rizzoli). The book showcases the work of the legendary couturier and his successors at the fashion house in classic images by major photographers which capture the models and clothes of their time. There's...Lorna Koski"Dior: The Legendary Images/Great Photographers and Dior" (Rizzoli). The book showcases the work of the legendary couturier and his successors at the fashion house in classic images by major photographers which capture the models and clothes of their time. There's Henri Cartier-Bresson's 1951 photo of Christian Dior and the model
Lucy laughing in the models' cabine; Richard Avedon's 1955 "Dovima With
Elephants," and Loomis Dean's 1957 shot of models in Dior couture clothes for spring 1956, which include a smart, sharply tailored suit and a voluptuous emerald green evening dress. "100 Ideas That Changed Street Style" (Laurence King) by Josh Sims.
Sims writes about everything from burlesque to acid jazz and how it
influenced street style. There are also essays on Goth, biker culture,
militant style, gang culture, Rasta, rave, graffiti, BCBG (the style of
the Parisian bourgeoisie) and even the cell phone. He describes
psychobilly as "Take rockabilly -- an exaggerated style inspired by 1950s
Americana -- and cross it with 1960s garage, 1970s punk, extreme
hairstyles, excess tattoos and a love of the lurid, and the likely
result is psychobilly." Click Here For the Full List of Books >> ]]>
Eichner's Eye: The CFDA Awardstag:blog.wwd.com,2014:/wwd//1.77137292014-06-05T16:08:14Z2014-06-05T16:53:08ZBy Steve Eichner WWD photographer Steve Eichner sees it all and shares his unique perspective from the frontlines of the CFDA Awards, from Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center to Raf Simons' after party to the after-after party at the...WWD GUESTBy Steve Eichner
WWD photographer Steve Eichner sees it all and shares his unique perspective from the frontlines of the CFDA Awards, from Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center to Raf Simons' after party to the after-after party at the Top of the Standard.
Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center: The CFDA Awards
5:28 p.m.: Barricades and fake bushes line 65th street. It's time to join the other photographers to take our place.
"You are being photographed," a sign says as we enter the building.
Apparently, for a production tentatively titled "DVF." Is Diane doing a
reality show? Huh. 6:17 p.m.: "It's not such a
good list," says photographer Evan Agostini. Then he starts reading it:
Lupita Nyong'o, Marion Cotillard, Blake Lively, Naomi Campbell, Rihanna.
He scratches his chin, "Hmmm, I guess it is kinda good."
Run into Bill Cunningham: "Thanks for trying to help me with my camera
on last Thursday. It was not the settings. It's just broken. I got a new
one for tonight!" Cunningham says with cheer. "Well did you test it
out?" I ask. "I never test!" then he snaps away. Perfect.
6:46 p.m.: DVF standing outside puts the final touches on her outfit, her earrings. Snap, snap!
6:47 p.m.: From a pair of bright lips: "Hi Steve Eichner." "Hi Jen Brill."
6:59 p.m.: Elie Tahari grabs his date and waltzes for the photogs.
I make the strategic decision to abandon the pole position at the start
of the carpet and move freely in the cocktail. It's a risk that I may
miss someone but I'll get more exciting photos from here.
"Girls, ladies, lets get a great shot of you two looking here."
Mary-Kate and Ashley stare into my lens. Out of the corner of my eye I
see Steven Kolb longing to be in the shot. I wave him over. Click!
7:29 p.m.: "Lupita, Lupita!" Electric smile. That's real shine.
Marching orders from the boss. "Did you get a solo shot of Meghan
Collison with Creatures of the Wind?" "I'm not sure but I will." "But
don't miss anyone!" Stress sets in. They are nowhere to be found. Review
my photos and I have her alone. Phew.
7:34 p.m.: Nice finger horns, Betsey.
Solange Knowles arrives and shortly after, so does Rachel Roy. "Hey,
Rachel, I'd like to get a pic of you and Solange together." "No!" she
says. "That's very inappropriate." OK then. Someone tells me she was
named in all the gossip that followed Solange's fight with Jay-Z at the
Standard. I start to feel terrible. Rachel is one of the nicest people
in the industry. I did not mean to offend her. Guess I should read the
tabloids more often. Hashtag, faux pas.
7:54 p.m.: Maxwell Osborne hugs Vera Wang. Cute.
Aaaaand Rihanna's here. I run outside: "Rihanna, Rihanna, eyes here!
Eyes here." She sparkles in my direction. I see London, I see France....I
run back inside. I get down low and pow! She gives me THE picture.
8:12 p.m.: Aaaaand, it's time to hand out some awards. Switching to long lens and monopod.
8:56 p.m.: Anna and RiRi texting video. Hilarious.
9:48 p.m.: I heart you, Bethann Hardison.
Joseph Altuzarra wins! Took me by surprise but well deserved. The night
before I asked him if he was going to the CFDA awards. LOL.
Time for the postshow cocktails. Lisa Salzer: "This is my first one! I
finally made it!" she exclaims. "Welcome to the sanctum sanctorum,
10:17 p.m.: Wes Gordon and Maxwell Osborne high five. Now it's on to the first after party.
Laduree Soho: Raf Simons' after party
10:25 p.m.: Nice Roman statues. This place is macaron heaven. Too bad they are all locked up.
Two ladies smoking e-cigs are handed two cocktails. "Would you be a
doll and get us two more?" they ask. I reluctantly agree and return a
split-second later with the wine. "How did you get it so fast?" "I went
to the next room and a waiter appeared with a tray. Very Zen."
"How about over here?" Karlie Kloss suggests from behind a macaron case
like a kid in a candy store. I am, too, with the supermodel posing for
me. Something sweet for everyone. 11:57 p.m.: Finally a macaron! "It's an aphrodisiac," Nadia Swarovski says, pointing to the pink macaron, a rose one with Champagne.
"I have a strange question," I say to the Brant boys. "My cousin from
Beverly Hills is going to be in the International Debutante ball this
January at the Waldorf. She was dreaming about one of you guys escorting
her..." Harry answers: "Well, Peter is a veteran at that but I've never
done it. It sounds fun! Here's my e-mail."
The Top of the Standard: The unofficial CFDA after party
Back to the scene of the crime and up the infamous elevator. Sorry,
Rachel. I think. "I'm still using that photo," says Rosie Assoulin,
referring to a portrait I shot of her for WWD. Aw, shucks.
12:51 a.m.: The Standard's Joey Jalleo gives me a big wet kiss, tries to slip me tongue. He does have soft supple lips, just sayin'.
12:55 a.m.: "Here! I bought you a glass of wine," says a p.r. girl. She must have read my last column.
1:05 a.m.: Crown lights for the king, Joseph Altuzarra 1:07 a.m.: "Swing the dress, swing it!" I say to Joan Smalls and get exotic multiple exposures. I think the wine is kicking in.
1:12 a.m.: Drunk girl with Mickey Mouse doll and sexy outfit.
1:40 a.m.: When you're taking pictures of random couples wearing gold lam�� and bleached blonde hair, the party's over. For me, at least.]]>
The Countess Says: Just One Word -- Kneestag:blog.wwd.com,2014:/wwd//1.77056112014-06-02T16:23:03Z2014-06-03T18:23:02ZBy LOUISE J. ESTERHAZYAh, spring at last! As I sit in my Manhattan pied-a-terre staring out at the glistening East River, I feel my blood begin to quicken after my long, long winter's hibernation. Daffodils the color of sunshine blaze...WWD GUESTBy LOUISE J. ESTERHAZY
Ah, spring at last! As I sit in my Manhattan pied-a-terre staring out at the glistening East River, I feel my blood begin to quicken after my long, long winter's hibernation. Daffodils the color of sunshine blaze against the emerald green grass, while the Delft blue sky is dotted with fluffy clouds so purely white it is clear there isn't a storm anywhere near. Birdsong trills through my open window, and the gentle scent of fresh blossoms drifts in on the soft breeze.
I have loved this time of year ever since I was an engelchen frolicking in the wildflower-filled meadows of the Austrian alps, listening to the rhythmic clank-clank of the cowbells as the herds were at last released from the barns and allowed to roam the hillsides after the snows melted. ]]>
A gingko tree when it first blooms. After all, China is the new global power.
Sitting by a roaring fire on a night when a heavy snow silently falls outside.
Summer humidity peppered with New York's odeur.
The arrogance of the mighty General Motors -- profit at any price.
Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee, even though it's now controlled by the Japanese.
Dogs and cats in baby carriages. Let them walk.
Bordeaux versus overpowering non-French wines.
E.B. White's "Charlotte's Web." Who isn't charmed by it?
Fashion designers and their exploding egos. After all, they're only making garments (and that's another hate: the word garments, which at best deglamorizes fashion).
Fashion editors and their entourages, as if they need Secret Service protection.
A juicy hamburger for lunch.
Undercooked fish, especially the smell. It makes me feel like a dockworker.
Big business, which used to be inspirational but has now institutionalized itself, just like the government.
Yoga pants. I'm all for meditation, but isn't it about inner peace and not parading around in what looks like your underwear?
The convenience of the cell phone. Do any of us even remember the pay phone?
The cell phone trip -- and I don't mean happiness; I mean falling on your face because you're too busy typing or talking to watch where you're walking.
Pocket squares, especially ones like Herm��s'.
The Alps in springtime.
A Belvedere vodka martini, even though the English only prefer Gordon's gin.
Pick-me-up peanut butter.
Walking in the garden during a gentle summer's rain.
Pushy p.r.'s. A pox on the land.
Vermeer. Serenely seductive.
Damien Hirst. The joke's on us.
Cary Grant, John Wayne, Paul Newman, George Clooney, Matt Damon: leading men with class. It's a very small group.
Vivien Leigh, Grace Kelly, Cate Blanchett, Marion Cotillard, Emma Stone: the female equivalents. An even smaller group.
London taxi cab drivers.
New York cab drivers. Do they know where anything is?
Apple pie with cinnamon.
American ice cream -- it's creamed to sogginess.
French salted butter on Poil��ne bread or croissants.
The American suburban mentality. Parochial and narrow-minded.
Supershiny cars, especially stretch limousines. I once was met by a white one in Los Angeles and was so embarrassed I sat on the floor.
The Financial Times.
SUVs -- gas-guzzling monstrosities.
Milk chocolate (only in a pinch).
Heavy eye makeup. The women look like raccoons.
Calves (the lower leg, not the baby cow).
Weekend naps -- or anytime, really. Glorious.
Michelle Obama. She's something.
Self-important windbag columnists. Just give me someone as funny as Art Buchwald or Russell Baker were.
Angela Merkel. You can always believe in her.
Supershort skirts. Is nothing hidden anymore?
Jacqueline de Ribes: waving the fashion flag for the old school.
New York society women who try too hard.
Sneezing into a napkin at a restaurant. Yuck.
Tiny Filipino peanuts right off the vine.
Roast turkey: once a year, no more.
Baby oysters and scallops from Nantucket, especially from the Wauwinet, where the beds are right there. They have other beds too -- it's a hotel.
Cheese, especially Stilton, cheddar and Tomme de Savoie.
Plush white bath sheets in Egyptian cotton.
Fashion awards and events. Awards for what?
The Duchess of Cambridge. A disappointment on the fashion front.
Plaid. Forget trumpeting your clan.
Big handbags and belts on women. You get the impression designers don't know what else to do so they throw a huge belt on it.
Knapsacks as work bags. What does everyone carry in them?
Huge watches on men. Why not strap an alarm clock to your wrist?
Women stumbling along in superhigh heels as they brush back their hair.
Kitten heels from Manolo Blahnik.
No socks on men wearing suits. Who wants to see their ankles?
Eyeglasses shoved into a woman's hair. Why even wear them then?
Tipping before you sit down at the table in a fancy restaurant. Pretentious.
Politics, especially these days. Let's vote them all out.
I'll stop there -- at least for now. There's one caveat to this list, though: Naturally, what I hate today, I could very well love tomorrow -- and vice versa.]]>
WWD Postcard: Cornelia Guesttag:blog.wwd.com,2014:/wwd//1.77056242014-06-02T16:18:36Z2014-06-02T16:20:47ZBy Cornelia Guest When Countess Marina Cicogna calls you to Rome, all her pals from around the world go. The reason? Three days of museums, lunches and dinners to celebrate her 80th birthday. When I got to Rome, it was...WWD GUESTBy Cornelia Guest
When Countess Marina Cicogna calls you to Rome, all her pals from around the world go. The reason? Three days of museums, lunches and dinners to celebrate her 80th birthday.
When I got to Rome, it was a picture-perfect day. I always love the drive in from the airport -- all the ruins and monuments are awe-inspiring. Rome is one of my favorite cities. I walk all over -- making a wish at the Fontana di Trevi, the Pantheon, all the churches. I enjoy exploring and find new things every time.
Next, the big event on Thursday night: a black-tie ball up on the Via Appia, where I had never been before. The Via Appia is how all the chariots came into Rome, and now it has some of the city's most impressive villas. I wore the most beautiful lavender Oscar de la Renta gown (Oscar has known me since I was born, and his clothes always make me feel so special) and a gorgeous pair of Kimberly McDonald earrings, so I was ready to have some fun. My date, Giorgio Guidotti, and great friend Wendy Stark and Amanda Eliasch all piled into a car and off we went. The night was perfect, the setting superb. Ladies pulled out all the stops! The dinner was outside under the stars, and Andrea Griminelli played his gold flute before dessert. Then came the cake and Valentino sang "Happy Birthday." Everyone danced till the wee hours -- the Fendis, Herreras, Christian Louboutin, Mario D'Urso, Calvin Klein, Jacques Grange and many, many more.
A sleepy bunch arrived the next morning to the Scuderie del Quirinale to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit. Her self-portraits are incredible; what a life story she had. Lunch was at the Palazzo Ruspoli, a stunning house just full of masterpieces.
I'm pooped and packing to come home. The week was just enchanting, as is Marina, one of the world's most beautiful women inside and out.
Arrivederci, Roma....Can't wait to come back!]]>
Oscar de la Renta's Big Nighttag:blog.wwd.com,2014:/wwd//1.76616582014-04-30T17:00:08Z2014-04-30T17:03:12ZSartorially speaking, Hillary Rodham Clinton seems to have ironed out the kinks in recent years. Though bumpy at times (her fondness for hair scrunchies, etc.), overall, she's come to a place where she knows what works for her. According to...Taylor Harris
Sartorially speaking, Hillary Rodham Clinton seems to have ironed out the kinks in recent years. Though bumpy at times (her fondness for hair scrunchies, etc.), overall, she's come to a place where she knows what works for her. According to Clinton, it's thanks to designer friend Oscar de la Renta.
"This man has been working for more than 20 years to turn me into a fashion icon...despite his best efforts," she cracked on Thursday night. Clinton, wearing a chartreuse silk faille top and a pair of subdued navy trousers, was speaking to a rapt audience: friends of de la Renta who had gathered at the Plaza Hotel's Grand Ballroom to toast the designer as he received the Medal of Excellence from Carnegie Hall. ]]>
De la Renta is equally tenacious when it comes to Carnegie Hall. "It's a treasure of this city," he said earlier in the evening as he settled into his dinner seat. "Without Carnegie Hall, there is no New York." A dizzying concentration of dignitaries, clients and friends (many qualifying as all three) clustered around him, each hoping to get face time with the designer. "Oscar!" "Hello my darling," and many, many variations thereof were exchanged.
"Oscar is just a wonderful human being," said Michael Bloomberg, attempting to sidestep the air kisses to get to his dinner seat next to de la Renta. "He has such a connection and compassion for others. I've watched my secretary, who is also Dominican, and the two of them babble all the time. Faster Spanish than I can keep up with," said Bloomberg, who suffered his fair share of ribbing during his mayoral days for his tortured Spanish.
"[Oscar's] very, very funny. Wickedly funny," Barbara Walters, edging her way out of the swarm, said. "Most people don't realize that."
Secretary Clinton and President Bill Clinton were whisked into the dining room moments after the dinner bells chimed and the jumble of well wishers had dispersed (no doubt a Secret Service precaution). The room -- brimming with the likes of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky, Henry Kissinger, Diana Taylor, Ricky and Ralph Lauren, Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg, Anna Wintour, Mercedes Bass, and Alec and Hilaria Baldwin -- rubbernecked as the Clintons traversed the room.
President Clinton, who spoke just before his wife, ticked off de la Renta's many hats: designer, philanthropist, treasured friend, etc. "You're even a pretty good singer," he smiled. "You would be an easy person to resent, because you are good at everything you do."
Before guests filed out and trucked it over to Carnegie Hall for the Julio Iglesias concert, de la Renta used his acceptance speech to let the other Clinton know he had a new project to get tenacious about. "My beloved Hillary, do not disappoint me," he said, wagging his finger. "You have to be President, OK?" She responded coyly with a noncommittal gesture: something between a shrug and a head shake. And, a smile.
Read the Full Article Here >> ]]>
Fanny Ardant Talks 'Bright Days Ahead'tag:blog.wwd.com,2014:/wwd//1.76616732014-04-30T16:55:59Z2014-04-30T17:26:55ZFrench actress Fanny Ardant has appeared in more than 50 films. At 65, she is probably best known to American audiences for playing the seductive title role, Mathilde Bauchard, in 1981's "The Woman Next Door," directed by Fran��ois Truffaut, which...Lorna Koski
ress Fanny Ardant has appeared in more than 50 films. At 65,
she is probably best known to American audiences for playing the
seductive title role, Mathilde Bauchard, in 1981's "The Woman Next
Door," directed by Fran��ois Truffaut, which made her a major star. Her
other movies include 1983's "Confidentially Yours," also directed by
Truffaut; 1996's "Pedale douce," directed by Gabriel Aghion, for which
she won a Cesar award, and 2002's "Callas Forever," directed by Franco
In "Bright Days Ahead," which also stars
Patrick Chesnais and Laurent Lafitte, she's Caroline, a dentist who has
recently retired, and who is married to another dentist (Chesnais), with
two daughters and grandchildren. Retirement has left her at a loose
end, and one of her daughters gives her a membership to a senior center,
Bright Days Ahead. When she learns it offers computer classes, she
begins attending them, since she has been having trouble with her home
computer. Before long, she's involved in an extramarital affair with the
40-ish computer consultant (Lafitte), and taking all sorts of risks.
love the character," says Ardant. "We are not completely conventional,
conformist. She has a good husband and good daughters; she is not poor
or desperate. But she still decides to have a life of her own. And then
she realizes that the old life was good."
6:46 p.m.: Snap some shots of the press photographers. World Trade Center in the background. Pretty. 7:14 p.m.: Something you rarely see at an event anymore: ashtrays and matches. 7:17 p.m.:
Windy and cold. Party relocating inside to the lobby so the catering
staff is rushing to move the tables and bottles of liquor inside.
"Windswept," Sandra Bernhard says when I shoot her. 7:27 p.m.:
Only the three diehard smokers are left outside: Graydon Carter, Fran
Lebowitz and Jonathan Becker. Graydon's got his collar up against the
cold. Jonathan puts a flower in Fran's Lapel. Cute. Puff, puff. 7:28 p.m.: "Hey Christy, 'Where's Ed? Let's get you two...." 7:30 p.m.:
"I was out of town for that last event you invited me to," I apologize
to Marjorie Gubelmann. "How was it?" She replies: "Kinda crazy, kinda
dirty actually. I was stuck in my booth but there were lots of shirts
off. Not sure what was going on out there." OK! 7:31 p.m.:
America Ferrera ascending the staircase and showing alotta cleavage.
She's wearing a low-cut, little black dress. And the cold added a little
extra to the situation, if you know what I mean. 7:42 p.m.:
"What's the coldest temperature you've gone surfing in?" SunHee
Grinnell inquires. "Probably 20 degrees with snow and sleet. I've even
been pelted by hail," I tell her. "That's so macho" she says. When I
spot Mike Myers across the room, I tell her in my best British accent:
"Does that make you hoooorny." 7:57 p.m.: Lake
Bell, pregnant, poses holding her stomach. "I guess congratulations are
in order," I say before retracting myself. "I think you're not
supposed to say anything unless you know for sure." She laughs. "I was
helping you by holding my stomach." 7:59 p.m.:
"Hey Anna can I get a shot?" She turns, poses, smiles and even takes a
step over to a better background at my request. Seemed flattered that
for once I actually asked her to pose. 8:27 p.m.:
Returning from quick bathroom break, I see Gov. Andrew Cuomo chatting
with Harvey Weinstein. Push my way through the crowd to catch the
moment. 8:36 p.m.: Mayor Bill de Blasio and Robert De Niro are beaming posing with their beautiful wives. I can relate. 8:43 p.m.: First rule of party reporting: never pass up caviar.
Spring Street is closed down with barricades, as if the president is
coming. Hundreds of spectators. This must have cost a few bucks. 6:41 p.m.: The archway is strewn with purple lilacs for arrivals. 6:49 p.m.: I spy shrimp as big as my fist! 7:04 p.m.: "I like to F#@K it up it a little bit," says p.r. dynamo Nadine Johnson rearranging the candles. "It's too neat." 7:31 p.m.:
First arrival Sophia Loren. Still looks as good as my childhood
fantasies. She sees the flashes and puts her hand up gesturing, "No
photos, no photos!" She's kidding. 7:38 p.m.: Still rocking that bull nose ring, Rachel Chandler. 7:42 p.m.: Anya and Joan Smalls pose for a photo op. Snap, snap. They're pros at this. 7:56 p.m.: Pink
Floyd's Roger Waters gets here. Best concert of my life: The Wall,
Nassau Coliseum, 1980; 15 years old, 12th row, two hits of mescaline.
Need I say more? 8:01 p.m.: Tory over here by the lilacs. She gives me a kiss and shines that gorgeous smile for my cam. 8:06 p.m.:
"Sorry man, but I just could not wait," I admit to Stuart Parr. He was
supposed to come and surf with me a few days earlier, but I was
jonesing to get in the water and he was taking too long to drive out
from the city. So, I bailed on him. 8:22 p.m.: Dennis Leary...Nice rug? 8:29 p.m.:
Giggles, giggles, giggles. "Steve!...Can you?" Can I what Jen Brill?
"He's SO hot!" She's asking me for a picture with some guy when another
girl in the group blurts out, "Who?? The guy from "Homeland," Rupert
Friend?" "Yeah." She's blushing. OK, I'll ask him. "Nooooo. I'm too
embarrassed." More blushing. 8:47 p.m.: A
gloating Jamie McCarthy, a Getty photographer, tells me he got the shot
of Sophia Loren and Robert De Niro together, THE shot. S--T. I go over
and they are seated across the table from one another so I pop a shot
of her with... Ron Howard. 10:03 p.m.: Time for a
Facebook post. Pic of the giant steak I was just served: "One of the
best parts of my job is getting to eat at places I'd never treat myself
10:27 p.m.: After biding my time and
waiting for the right moment, I see De Niro and Sophia getting up. This
is it. I lift my camera as they embrace, kiss and say good night. I
Read the Full Article Here >> ]]>
The M&A Dealwatchertag:blog.wwd.com,2014:/wwd//1.76422992014-04-14T17:53:17Z2014-04-14T18:10:00ZBuyouts, mergers, public offerings, the sale of a big stake to an outsider--these are all existential focal points in the life of any company. Emotionally and financially charged moments, they are highly anticipated and often transformative. Later they will be...Evan Clark- Deputy Editor, Business Emotionally and financially charged moments, they are
highly anticipated and often transformative. Later they will be recalled
by former executives and dissected by dealwatchers--ourselves
included--with comments like "Everything went downhill when they sold
out" or "They were nothing until so and so came in and whipped them into
It's also an area of human endeavor where cliches rule.
a real win-win," said Robert Wildrick, chairman of Jos. A. Bank
Clothiers Inc., of the deal he'd struck to sell the men's wear retailer
to The Men's Wearhouse Inc. for $1.8 billion, or $65 a share.
everyone liked the deal, which will create a men's wear giant with more
than 1,700 stores with 23,000 employees. It was negotiated in the press
and in private, and both boards signed off on it. And no insider who
doesn't want to spend their life's savings on lawyers fees would say it
was a bad deal if it were.
Even so, "win-win" is pretty stale.
refreshing is the seat-of-his-pants Steve Madden, whose firm, Steven
Madden Ltd., took over the high-end Brian Atwood business from The Jones
Group Inc. (itself being sold to Sycamore Partners and broken into
"Brian Atwood is a premier designer and he's also
American, which I love, although everybody gets upset when I say that,"
Madden said. "When you go to the floors at Barneys, there aren't many
American designers. Brian is a Midwestern boy and he's brilliant. We
The company also owns the intellectual property for
the Betsey Johnson brand, and Madden relishes the opportunity to branch
"I love adventure," said Madden, whose IPO is
recounted in Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street and led the
footwear personality to a stint in prison.
If the market carries
on the way it has been, there's always a chance there'll be some more
colorful and heartfelt thoughts on the nature of bringing two businesses
together. (Although it's the private equity companies that have much of
the money--$1.07 trillion, estimates research firm Preqin--and the PE
bigwigs tend to be big spenders, not big talkers.)
There was a
chance that Tadashi Yanai, chairman and chief executive officer of Fast
Retailing Co. Ltd., might have had something insightful to say if he
would have bought J. Crew, bringing on board one of his retail heroes,
Millard "Mickey" Drexler. But sources said Fast balked at the company's
$5 billion price tag and J. Crew seems more likely to go for a Wall
Street IPO with Goldman Sachs.
The best hope for a colorful flourish might well be Roberto Cavalli, who is said to be near a deal to sell his brand.
February, while the designer's entourage did its best to keep him from
making any comment about a possible sale, Cavalli spoke freely about
celebrities getting paid to wear designer labels and showed his
rhetorical chops: "I don't care to spend millions to dress Lady Gaga so
that she can say she is wearing my clothes."
That's the kind of candor and forthrightness that's rare in the deal world.]]>
The Countess Talks Trends -- or Lack of Themtag:blog.wwd.com,2014:/wwd//1.76116212014-03-24T14:53:20Z2014-04-14T18:14:43ZBy Louise J. Esterhazy Now that the fashion dust has settled in New York, London, Milan and Paris and one at last begins to recover from the exhausting blur of thousands of garments, one can take stock. What is it...WWD GUESTByLouise J. Esterhazy
Now that the fashion dust has settled in New York, London, Milan and Paris and one at last
begins to recover from the exhausting blur of thousands of garments, one
can take stock. What is it all about? What does it all mean?
Looking at all the collections from far-flung corners of the world (not just the four above, but also everywhere from Los Angeles to Tokyo), I noticed several things right away: The colors are weird, and the presentations are over the top, like a Ringling Bros. circus. Then there are the fashion magazines, which confuse one even more. It's all manufactured dust. No one talks about workmanship, length or where the clothes on the runways can be worn.
(Ah, how it made me even more nostalgic for those days when I was a young liebchen at our schloss high in the Alps and I would lie on my bed eating chocolates and leafing through the pages of Carmel Snow's Harper's Bazaar or Diana Vreeland's Vogue that my mother brought back from her visits to the ateliers of Paris.)
Click Here for the Previous Column by the Countess Louise J. Esterhazy >>
Why is the fashion world always trying to show off its intellectual power when fashion really has nothing to do with intellect? Why are designers still searching desperately for trends when there are no trends?
Truth be told, women today make their own trends -- and thanks to the Internet, anything they want is available to them no matter where they live. Long, short, fitted, loose, patterned, plain -- name it, they can find it and buy it. What that means, my dear designer friends (and I still have a few), is that women are no longer loyal to you -- or to stores.
What designers -- full of fashion pretense and ego -- don't understand is that shoppers are smarter than any of them. Snobbishness in fashion has gone away and Americans in particular, and many Europeans, don't want to be told what to wear.
Don't misunderstand me: Fashion still retains its inexplicable magic. Just look through the coffee-table book "Dior Glamour: 1952-1962"; the photos gave me tingles because the clothes by Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Marc Bohan are as right for today as they were then. And there are designers who have piqued my interest just as those three did long ago: Christopher Kane in London, Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough of Proenza Schouler in New York, Bouchra Jarrar in Paris and the new team at Valentino, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, who are carrying on that house's traditions in a 21st century way.
Face it, women still love a sense of discovery. The newly independent woman will, when she sees something she loves, buy it immediately -- even climbing over racks of merch to find that one isolated dress. They buy what they like and what makes them feel comfortable in their own skin.
And why shouldn't women (and the increasingly fashionable man) be picky? Who wants to be just like the rest of the fashion herd? How do consumers react today to the opinions of fashion directors of stores like Bergdorf Goodman or Harrods or editors like Anna Wintour or Glenda Bailey? In the old days, it used to be the big designers in Paris, Milan or New York showed their collections on the runways and then Seventh Avenue manufacturers would copy that for the masses, who would flock to snap them up. Well, at least sometimes they would. A very close friend of this old countess once urged retailers to push a midcalf length he dubbed the Longuette. So they did -- and women ran for the hills.
Perhaps that was the first sign that times were changing. Now the whole fashion engine as we knew it needs to be rebuilt. And it will be because, in truth, the customer is always right (well, almost always).
The really stylish -- and I'm not talking about the costumed women today's street photographers follow like sheep -- aren't really influenced by the fashion elite, and never have been. The ladies of the past -- Babe Paley, Gloria Guinness, C.Z. Guest -- were personalities in their day because they created their own style. And clothes were only part of it.
These women weren't fashionistas -- a word I hate. I prefer the word "passionista." Freedom is the heart and soul of fashion and style. First, to dare and, second, because clothes are part of what makes us all feel better about ourselves.
So go for it ladies. Challenge the Establishment. The Fashion Machine needs your help.]]>
M: Billionaires Don't Do Guilt, A Post-Davos Conversationtag:blog.wwd.com,2014:/wwd//1.75622052014-03-05T22:34:24Z2014-03-06T00:08:05ZBy Pola DebevoiseSometime after the World Economic Forum scrum, Billionaire Husband and I got to talking about the lousy amenities at the Steigenberger Grandhotel Belvedyre in Davos (the hard, European-size mattresses, for instance) and the silly village rule that allows...WWD GUESTBy Pola Debevoise
Sometime after the World Economic Forum scrum, Billionaire Husband and I
got to talking about the lousy amenities at the Steigenberger
Grandhotel Belvedyre in Davos (the hard, European-size mattresses, for
instance) and the silly village rule that allows no salt on the wintry
roads. (Thus, we got to see the president of Liberia slipping along the
Guggerbachstrasse before dinner. I mean, the woman has hardly ever seen
snow. You'd think for this one week they'd relax their uptight
Swiss-ish-ness and treat the sidewalk, so that Mme Sirleaf wouldn't
break her neck.) But mostly we talked about the idea of inequality.
Looking back over the hand-wringing at Davos, Hubby and some of his friends sat over dinner, talking about the posturing of the whole convention--a bunch of billionaires and multimillionaires pretending to care about the billions of people they don't know and will never meet, and to whom they will never even have a cozy, award-winning-play kind of six degrees of separation.
And they decided that an unequal distribution of wealth has always been a feature of civilization. And billionaires welcome merit-based competition. In fact, they love it. They just don't see inequality in the acquisition of assets as a problem. One of the guys at the table, an American, said: "The answer to the question of fixing inequality is to not fix it. It's like thinking you can fix gravity or aging. In the animal kingdom, every species has a pecking order, but it's all for the good. Unfortunately, humans have a rather vicious way of attacking one another."
The American billionaires from Wall Street, by the way, are held in low regard by their European, Russian, and Latin American counterparts. "They act like parasites, taking wealth from Main Street and conveying it to Wall Street," a European richie told me. And there is no question that the money-printing by the Federal Reserve has created a Sisyphean cycle of greed and excess. It won't end well for America, and the whole Occupy Wall Street thing was a tiny taste of what's to come. The highs and lows keep intensifying, and each reflation of wealth and income winds up going to a smaller group at the top. Read David Stockman's The Great Deformation for more on this. It's a big fave among billionaires; also, he understands.
After serving Reagan as an economic adviser, Stockman ended up a big swinging dick at Blackstone. When the bubble burst in 2007, he was charged with fraud after one of his companies failed. Now his stone-and-shingle mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut, is on the market. But as a local Realtor told The New York Times, "For $9 million, it's a nice little house. But these types of houses don't age well. There's too much horse crap out there on the polo fields."
The Davos conference ended with a speech by Jim Wallis, the theologian and editor of Sojourners, which bills itself as a journal "of faith and social justice." (Now there's a magazine Davos attendees keep at their bedside.) Wallis talked about how CEOs and presidents and prime ministers had approached him at Davos to discuss whether or not they had lost their way. "Davos confessionals," he called them. He talked about "that moral compass we have, or would like to have, or maybe feel like we once had but no longer are so sure."
Losing that moral compass? Please. It's a tricky thing for a billionaire to keep a compass in his pocket when his wallet keeps edging it out.
In the great cosmic swirl, there is an unequal distribution of chance, talent, and drive. And by "chance," I don't mean the guy who starts out with a fortune. I mean the one who takes advantage of being in the right place at the right time--for instance, Mikhail Prokhorov. During the period when former USSR-controlled industries were being privatized, he realized he could buy the Russian nickel industry for a fraction of its value, making him a billionaire before age 30. He had grown up poor, but his family was educated, and so was he. And he was driven. And he became wealthy.
Chance came into play once again when, after allegedly flying a planeload of Russian party girls to the C��te d'Azur, Prokhorov was forced (by the resultant scandal) to sell out to his nickel partner--just before the market tanked. And now he owns the Brooklyn Nets! And is BFFs with Jay Z! And, fun fact, is so much taller than Vladimir Putin, he makes Putin look like Pep�� Le Pew. For which he will no doubt be imprisoned at some point. I kid.
It turns out that education--at least, according to these guys at dinner--is the world's biggest factor contributing to inequality. And, of course, luck. Not to mention Russian party girls.]]>
Judith Mackrell Talks New 'Flappers' Booktag:blog.wwd.com,2014:/wwd//1.75622662014-03-05T22:27:46Z2014-03-05T22:34:05ZWhat qualities do Josephine Baker, Zelda Fitzgerald, Tallulah Bankhead, Lady Diana Cooper, Nancy Cunard and Tamara de Lempicka all share? They were all prominent in the Twenties and are the subjects of an intriguing new group biography, "Flappers: Six Women...Lorna Koski
What qualities do Josephine Baker, Zelda Fitzgerald, Tallulah Bankhead,
Lady Diana Cooper, Nancy Cunard and Tamara de Lempicka all share? They
were all prominent in the Twenties and are the subjects of an intriguing
new group biography, "Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation"
(Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux) by Judith Mackrell, who
is the dance critic of The Guardian. Mackrell's previous book, her
first, was 2008's "Bloomsbury Ballerina," the story of Lydia Lopokova,
the former Ballets Russes dancer who married the celebrated economist
John Maynard Keynes. ]]>
"I had a list of women in the middle of 1925 who were on the move," she adds. "These six were in particular."
Mackrell says she found Cunard -- a shipping heiress whose reed-thin body and piles of ivory bracelets made her a style icon, and who is best known for launching The Hours Press in 1928 and putting together the groundbreaking 1934 "Negro: An Anthology" -- "perhaps the easiest to write about because there was so much written about her. She left a diary I could quote from extensively. She mixed with a lot of writers who have written very eloquently about her life, which had the most dramatic series of events." Among the writers she inspired were Aldous Huxley and Michael Arlen, a writer who is little-known today, but who had an immense success with his racy books in the Twenties, particularly the 1924 "The Green Hat."
The most difficult of her subjects, Mackrell continues, were painter Tamara de Lempicka and dancer/singer Josephine Baker, "who told so many stories you couldn't keep them straight." One hazard of writing about them, she notes, was constantly having to come up with new terms to describe the act of lying.
The six women had many things in common, Mackrell observes, whether it was a question of being innovative artists or the practice of presiding over cocktail parties from the bathtub. A surprising number of them suffered from botched abortions. Cunard and Fitzgerald both had serious bouts of mental illness. Nancy Milford's fascinating biography of Zelda, published in 1970, was the first to examine her life, but seemed to suggest that Zelda was a great artist -- as a dancer or a writer -- who was prevented from fulfilling her true potential by her husband, writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. On this subject, Mackrell says, "I think it's really important not to hijack these women for your own agenda. What, in another lifetime, might she have achieved? It's such a big question. She might have just stayed a dull matron in Montgomery, or she might have met a Leonard Woolf, who devoted himself to making sure that Virginia's talents were realized. There are too many what-ifs, I think."
Mackrell observes of de Lempicka, whose 1925 "Autoportrait (Tamara in the Green Bugatti)" is on the cover of the book, that she "found her interesting; she was wonderful, with extraordinary willpower that she exerted in just making that decision [to be a successful artist], but she was a hard woman to like. I think she was a humorless woman. I was trying to tell her story in as sympathetic a way as possible." As the mother of two children, Mackrell found it particularly difficult to write about the artist -- an exiled Russian who began painting in Paris -- because she neglected her daughter. "Some of her political views were quite sort of ugly," she adds. "She didn't like Jews, and she was very against anything that smacked of socialism. She was a conservative aristocrat to her core and had absolutely no sympathy with any kind of cause that wasn't her own or that of her class. She was selfish to a kind of very steely degree....There was nothing sisterly about her."
Mackrell says that, unlike many stars of earlier eras, Baker's performances, which can be viewed today on YouTube, "show her clearly as a performer of immense charisma."
The writer adds, "She just pops off the screen; the natural style of her dancing makes me think that all those contemporary accounts of her extraordinarily sexy, vivid presence on stage are true. There was a real confluence of jazz, African art and Art Deco, all in that one amazing, bouncy, vivid body...I think the world was ready for her."
When writing about Bankhead, Mackrell says that, as an actress, she didn't register well on film. "She was mannered and somehow inert, so I was delighted by the fact that there was this whole period that she read incredibly vividly and excitingly on the stage and attracted such a dedicated following," Mackrell says. "That young Tallulah, I felt quite maternal toward." As a young performer, in fact, Tallulah spent eight years in London, where she had a large, vociferous claque of young working girls who were rabid fans. When she bobbed her hair, her fans bobbed theirs, too, even going so far as to throw their own shorn tresses onto the stage when she was performing.
Mackrell thought that, when the book came out in Britain, which it did last spring, readers would find Lady Diana Cooper the least sympathetic of her subjects, but many young women seem to have identified with the fact that Cooper went on stage on both sides of the Atlantic for long periods of time, playing in the highly stylized play "The Miracle," in order to fund the political career of her husband, Duff Cooper. She saved money partly by living remarkably frugally for extended periods. "I don't know what it is about the English character," says Mackrell. "It's that kind of peculiar belief in reticence, not showing off, lack of vulgar display. At the same time, it's kind of locked into a class system. There's a peculiar balance, and it still runs through so much of the English character today. The English have very self-deprecating ways even while promoting themselves. Someone said that it's a very marked feature of our native character, the aristocratic idea that lack of ostentation is to do with some kind of moral fiber."]]>
Dan Stevens Talks 'Summer in February'tag:blog.wwd.com,2014:/wwd//1.73989702014-01-28T20:30:58Z2014-01-28T20:48:26ZActor Dan Stevens, who made his name by playing Matthew Crawley -- a pivotal character who combined stalwart decency and a great deal of romantic appeal -- on the phenomenally successful British TV series "Downton Abbey," has a number of...Lorna Koski
Actor Dan Stevens, who made his name by playing Matthew Crawley -- a pivotal character who combined stalwart decency and a great deal of romantic appeal -- on the phenomenally successful British TV series "Downton Abbey," has a number of new projects in the works. (The fourth season, the first without Matthew, is currently on PBS in the U.S.)
After she died, it appears that he never spoke of Florence, whom he met during an early bohemian phase when both were artists at the Newlyn School in Cornwall and their mutual friend Evans managed the Boskenna estate in West Cornwall.
The film, directed by Christopher Menaul, currently in U.S. theaters, is also available via video on demand and will be in iTunes on Tuesday.
"It's based on a novel written by an old mentor of mine," Stevens --who is now living in Brooklyn Heights with his wife, South African singer Susie Hariet, and their two children, Willow and Aubrey -- says. "I read it when I was 16." The friend he refers to is Jonathan Smith, a longtime teacher at Tonbridge School, which Stevens attended. "I've lived with this story half my life," he adds, recalling that "it was a lighthearted joke" at the time that he would make an ideal Evans. In the end, Smith wrote the screenplay for the film.
Stevens points out that Munnings "wrote a three-volume autobiography, but doesn't refer to this tragedy so early on in any of their lives. He didn't marry again until he was in his 50s, he was so heartbroken." When he did, he chose a woman who was a gifted equestrian herself, Violet McBride, the daughter of a London riding teacher. They lived at Castle House, a dwelling on the borders of Essex and Suffolk, which was later turned into a house museum devoted to Munnings' work.
"The book deals with depressive characters who are pursued by darkness," Stevens says, referring to "Summer in February." Carter-Wood wanted to become an artist partly to escape her upper-middle-class background and her domineering father -- but she found that the rebellious, working-class Munnings, who seemed to represent the polar opposite of her background, wasn't really who she loved. The picturesque landscape of Cornwall, what Stevens calls "a very, very special, magical part of Britain," becomes a character in the film.
As for Stevens' departure from "Downton," which created an enormous controversy on both sides of the Atlantic, he says mildly that now he is just "exploring other avenues, I think."
The actor, for instance, appeared in "The Heiress" on Broadway in 2012, opposite Jessica Chastain. "That was really just magical, a dream come true," he says of the experience. "A warm and likeable community, such a stunning cast, a lucky introduction to New York, and I have stayed on..."
Asked about his favorite actors and actresses, he says, "It changes every time I see something. I admire a lot of actors." He does, however, single out Hattie Morahan, who plays artist Laura Knight in "Summer in February." The historical Knight went on to become a noted British painter and a Dame Commander of the British Empire.
Stevens studied at Cambridge, rather than attending, say, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. "I liked the fact of being surrounded by a lot of brilliant minds, not all of whom wanted to become actors, writers or directors," he says. "There were doctors, scientists -- there's really everything student-generated. You just get stuck in. It's not institutionalized in that sense. It nurtures a passion for it [acting], instead of perhaps killing it. I came out even more enthusiastic."
Other recent projects include "A Walk Among the Tombstones," set in Brooklyn in 1991. He's currently recording an audio book of the Robert Fitzgerald translation of "The Iliad." Stevens will also appear in "Night at the Museum 3," which, he says, "is going to be a lot of fun."]]>
Karl Lagerfeld to Design Suites at Hotel de Crillontag:blog.wwd.com,2014:/wwd//1.73432942014-01-08T23:28:51Z2014-01-09T05:46:54ZTHE INN CROWD: A self-professed fan of hotel living, Karl Lagerfeld has been tapped to design two luxurious suites at the Hotel de Crillon in Paris, currently undergoing a major renovation and slated to reopen in 2015....Miles Socha - European Editorhttp://www.wwd.com
THE INN CROWD: A self-professed fan of hotel living, Karl Lagerfeld has been tapped to design two luxurious suites at the Hotel de Crillon in Paris, currently undergoing a major renovation and slated to reopen in 2015.
Chanel's couturier is to design two of its most prestigious suites, which he views as "grand apartments."
Architect Richard Martinet is overseeing the ambitious restoration with interiors by decorators Chahan Minassian, Cyril Vergniol and Tristan Auer under the artistic direction of Aline d'Amman.
In recent years, Lagerfeld has dabbled increasingly in home objects and interior design. He conceived the decor for poolside and a restaurant at the H��tel M��tropole in Monte-Carlo, created the emblem for new Sofitel So Singapore and oversaw interiors of the Alma Schlosshotel in Berlin.]]>
Sant Ambroeus: SoHo Cool, Italian Styletag:blog.wwd.com,2014:/wwd//1.73430972014-01-08T22:10:49Z2014-01-08T22:14:18Z On the second day of the new year, the latest outpost of Sant Ambroeus opened its doors in New York's SoHo neighborhood. The sun was setting on a crucial day, but holding court in one of the restaurant's red...Kristi Garced
On the second day of the new year, the latest outpost of Sant Ambroeus opened its doors in New York's SoHo neighborhood. The sun was setting on a crucial day, but holding court in one of the restaurant's red leather banquettes was chef Marco Barbisotti, sipping from a cup of espresso, the very image of Italian sprezzatura. He has been through many of these openings before.
"My family owned a restaurant in Italy. We come from 50 years of this kind of thing," he said, his thick accent betraying his roots. The Milan native moved to New York five years ago to work at Sant Ambroeus' West Village location, and now he's the chef de cuisine of the new downtown kitchen on Lafayette Street.
"To me, it's normal. I grew up in the kitchen of the restaurant, in the bar, in the caf��," he said.
The original Sant Ambroeus opened in Milan in 1936, followed nearly five decades later by a New York City branch in the Upper East Side. West Village and Southampton, N.Y., locations soon came online, and the name quickly became synonymous with the power lunch and dinner crowd -- Sarah Jessica Parker, Bono, Larry Gagosian, Alexander Wang and Michael Kors are all fans.
Co-owners Dimitri Pauli and Gherardo Guarducci have cut the ribbon on a new Sant Ambroeus outpost per decade for what is now formally the Sant Ambroeus Group. At the SoHo location, the restaurant's signature salmon-colored signage opens to reveal a rustic but elegant room, Italian fine dining by way of Keith McNally. A David Guinn painting and distressed mirror set the mood to a soundtrack of, incongruously, English rock -- The Cure, The Kinks and The Stone Roses.
The dinner menu features some of those Sant Ambroeus signatures, like cotoletta alla Milanese and tagliatelle alla Bolognese. But Barbisotti tends to favor the menu's more unusual items -- for instance, the steak tartare with quail egg.
"I know it sounds more French, but it's different than what you think. It's made with truffles, something you may not find at other restaurants," he said.
Barbisotti, 30, was still in his chef's uniform as he went down the menu in the restaurant's foyer. "The lamb ragu with fresh mint and pistachio has a very interesting description, a different taste," he continued. "And the short ribs..." Here he paused, savoring the words. "I love short ribs. I'm from Italy."
Then there is the truffled egg sandwich and the salads -- all six of them, in kale, quinoa and lentil iterations -- that are sure to please the SoHo shoppers and off-duty models seeking lighter fare. "The salads are more American," said Barbisotti, and were created specifically with the calorie-obsessed palates of New Yorkers in mind. "In Italy, they are a different concept."
Downtown, Sant Ambroeus joins a host of other red sauce joints like Torrisi Italian Specialties, Osteria Morini and the critically acclaimed Carbone, but Barbisotti is unfazed by his neighbors. "We're all Italian. We do our Italian tradition. They do theirs. We're revisiting, upgrading classics," he said. He's not reinventing the wheel, he acknowledged.
"I'm not inventing nothing," he laughed. "The best thing for us is when a customer comes in and tells us, 'Yesterday I ate this same meal in Milan, and today [at Sant Ambroeus] it was better.' That's what we expect." With that, he went back to the kitchen. He had another steak tartare to prepare.
Sant Ambroeus SoHo 265 Lafayette Street 212-966-2770 santambroeus.com Mon. to Fri., 7:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Sat. to Sun., 8:30 a.m.-11 p.m.]]>