Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Made in Italy: Italiana Exhibition

“There is a signature to Italian fashion that goes beyond a “Made in Italy” label. There is know-how and a level of understanding. That’s why so many fashion prototypes are still made in Italy.” –Stefano Tonchi, editor of W magazine and curator

Known as the fashion capital of the world, Milan plays an ever important role in the history of design in Italy, as well as internationally. This year, as Milan Fashion Week kicked off, so did a ground breaking exhibition chronicling three decades of Italian fashion and fashion photography. ITALIANA: Italy Through the Lens of Fashion, which is located in the Palazzo Reale, opened on February 22nd and runs until May 6th. The exhibition is curated by Stefano Tonchi, editor of W magazine, and Maria Luisa Frisa, an Italian fashion scholar. The space is full of incredible fashion gems and Italian art, with tickets priced specifically to allow students, fashion schools, and aspiring young designers a chance to appreciate the ingenuity of the past.

Exhibition by Francesco De Luca, Vogue
Italiana Exhibition by Francesco De Luca, Vogue
Poster for Exhibit, WWD
Italiana Exhibition by Francesco De Luca, Vogue

The curators have chosen to frame the exhibition between two important dates: 1971, which marks a time when clothing in Italy moved away from focusing on high fashion and the starting point of Italian ready-to-wear; and 2001, when the terrorist attacks in New York began a worldwide change. Despite this time frame, the exhibition moves through nine rooms, not by date, but by theme: Identity, Democracy, Logomania, Diorama, Project Room, Bazaar, Post-Production, Global, and the Italy of Objects. Additionally, the focus is not specifically on famous Italian designers, but on the artists, craftsman, and workers who make up the production pipeline in the industry.

Diorama Room, AE World
Identity Room, AE World
Post-Production Room, AE World

It was important to Tonchi and Frisa that the work emphasize the speed at which Italian fashion has responded to social changes through promoting democracy and tackling issues such as gender identity, feminism, and homosexuality. For them, showcasing the history of Italian fashion will shine a light on the future as well.

“It’s a starting point for a conversation on the history of Italian fashion. It’s also a way to weigh in on its qualities and its flaws. Sometimes, some of its qualities have been perceived as being flaws instead! For instance, its democratic spirit, its worldwide success, its marketing abilities, the idea of making luxury accessible to vast audiences—it has been perceived as too commercial. On the contrary, this was the real big challenge and strength of the made-in-Italy process: to provide a slice of luxury for everyone. It’s a very Italian mind-set. Here, everyone has to be well dressed with good quality fabrics and good style. It’s ingrained in our culture.” –Stefano Tonchi

Photo Oliviero Toscani for the editorial Unilook, in L’Uomo Vogue, December 1971-January 1972, WWD
Piece in Exhibit by Francesco De Luca, Vogue
Gianfranco Ferre 1989, New York Times
Look by Versace, Yahoo

With approximately 130 pieces, the exhibit brings visitors into every beautiful detail. Ultimately, Tronchi and Frisa hope viewers leave with an understanding of the intuitive creativity in Italian fashion. While manufacturers in other parts of the world may turn down ideas, in Italy there is never a no.

“Italian fashion is not only about dreams, it also has a deep impact on daily life.” –Maria Luisa Frisa

Romeo Gigli Ensemble, Vogue
Jewelry and Images from Exhibition by Francesco De Luca, Vogue
Gianfranco Ferré look included in the exhibition, Yahoo
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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Slim Aarons: The High Life

Slim Aarons focused on, “photographing attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places.” This eminent mid-century photographer and portraitist captured and defined quintessential moments of wealth, class, beauty, fashion, and design that have become timeless models of what it looks like to live “the high life”.

‘Hotel du Cap Eden-Roc’, Antibes, France, 1976 | 1stdibs | Getty Images
‘Tennis in the Bahamas’, 1957 | Jonathan Adler | Getty Images

While most of his subjects were celebrities, royalty, political figures, or prominent businessmen, Slim had a unique ability to encapsulate their most authentic and at-ease selves. His photos of these people in their natural element have inspired entire fashion lines, architectural trends, and interior design. Most notably, Slim’s “Polo Player” is a clear influence for Ralph Lauren’s Polo line— from the boots and attire to the dog and hatchback car, this image undoubtedly prompted a fashion empire.

Polo Player Laddie Sanford at the Gulfstream Polo Club, Delray, FL, 1955 | Flo Peters Gallery | Getty Images
‘Britt Ekland’, Porto Ercole, Italy, 1969 | 1stdibs | Getty Images

One of Slim’s most iconic photos, “Poolside Gossip”, is the epitome of mid-century style and architecture. Shot at the famous Kauffman House in Palm Springs, CA,  every detail is a symbol of glamor and modernism that continues to inspire interior, fashion, and furniture designers and architects alike. Even the umbrella in the background is exactly reproduced today by Santa Barbara Umbrellas. We were inspired by the clean lines and angles, and can’t help but envision these Giulio Moscatelli armchairs, Italian leather armchairs, and/or Modernist suede sofa in the living room.

‘Poolside Gossip’, Palm Springs, CA, 1970 | Paddle8 | Getty Images
Kauffman House open air living room | Pinterest
Giulio Moscatelli for Formanova armchairs | JMF
Italian Modernist armchairs | JMF
Vintage Modernist Chrome and Ultrasuede Sofa | JMF

Slim did not use makeup or hair stylists, a lighting crew, or any other assistance for his photos— just his eye and his camera. Many of the people he photographed have commented they didn’t even know when he was taking the picture, they just went about their business and he was able to capture the perfect moment of beauty, honesty, and life. An ideal example of this is a wide-eyed Jackie Kennedy finishing dinner at the April in Paris Ball in 1959. Fun fact: Slim had to crop out John Kennedy, whose arm can be seen in the bottom left corner, because he was blinking.

‘Jackie K’, Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York, 1959 | Daily Mail | Getty Image
‘Kings of Hollywood’, Beverly Hills, CA, 1957 | 1stdibs | Getty Images
‘Top Up?’, Cannes, France, 1958 | Jonathan Adler | Getty Images

Slim Aarons’ timeless work continues to breathe life into the picturesque (no pun intended) world of the mid-century elite— providing a limitless source of creative inspiration for all forms of art.



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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Egon Scheile: #To Art Its Freedom

Viennese Modernism 2018

Egon Scheile’s journey into the Art world was a dynamic one. After studying under the esteemed Gustav Klimt in the midst of the rise of Viennese Modernism, the ‘Wiener Moderne,’ he dove into a practice all his own. He honed it, explored the human form, and rivaled social convention of the time. From an 11-year-old boy who sketched trains incessantly to a budding expressionist under the early tutelage of artist Ludwig Karl Strauch, he was accepted to the Kunstgewerbeschule (presently the University of Applied Arts) in Vienna, where Gustav Klimt had preceded him. In 1906, only one year later at the age of 16, he moved on to attend the more traditional Akademie der Bildenden Künste (Academy of Fine Arts).

Self-Portrait at age 16.

Scheile was not only influenced by Klimt, but by the expressionist work of Oscar Kokoschka, Edvard Munch, and Vincent Van Gogh. Though elements of Art Nouveau can be discerned within his early works, his visual kaleidoscope coalesced with human sexuality and fed into a shocking depiction not only of the human body, but the palette as well. The positioning is somewhat exaggerated verging upon the grotesque. Yet there is movement, emotional intimacy, tension, eroticism, and solemnity doused in vivid color against a pale backdrop. This propels his figures into the foreground with unabashed vigor.


“Male Nude in Profile Facing Right” ca. 1910 by Egon Schiele/ Image by © Geoffrey Clements/CORBIS


“Wally in Red blouse with Raised Knees.” by Egon Schiele


“Lovers” Liebespaar by Egon Schiele (pencil and goache on paper)

One hundred years after his death at the tender age of 28, we must examine how far beyond the public comfort level he chose to push figurative art. For even now, society has repressed the artist’s expression, particularly regarding the depiction of nudity. He is revered and censored simultaneously. After the advertising campaign was designed by the Vienna Tourist Board several locations, mainly the London Tube and an airport in Germany, found the exposed genitalia too offensive a visual for public viewing. As The Leopold Museum, which houses the most numerous works by Schiele under one roof, and other museums across Austria host a retrospective to commemorate the centenary of his passing, they pose the question regarding his nude artwork: Is it “still too daring today?”

Nudes by Schiele at London tube station. c/o Christian Lendl/Vienna Tourist Board/AFP

One of his most notable works, a portrait of his mistress and muse, Walburga ‘Wally’ Neuzil, draws one deep into the hypnotic eyes of his subject.

“Portrait of Wally Neuzil” by Egon Scheile

There has been controversy surrounding this work of art as it originally belonged to Jewish art collector by the name of Lea Bondi. It was evidently confiscated from her when she fled Vienna during World War II. Explore the history of this enamored work in the 2012 documentary, “POW: Portrait of Wally.”

This Viennese cultural epoch was an intellectual frontier punctuated by the psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud, the urban planning of Otto Wagner, the founding of the Vienna Secession movement by Koloman Moser, the dramatic writings of Arthur Schnitzler, and the musical compositions of Gustav Mahler. During this time Egon Schiele, would become one of the most notable painters of Viennese Expressionism.

Architectural Rendering of Karlsplatz Tram Stop, Vienna by Otto Wagner, 1898

For a deeper exploration of Schiele’s controversial life and art, we recommend indulging in the sensuous German film, “Egon Schiele” by Dieter Berner.

German Film Poster for “Egon Scheile” 

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Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Unique Valentines Day Getaways

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and there’s nothing more romantic than a last minute getaway. Whether you’re ready to book a trip, or just ready to day-dream, these unique and stunning hotels are sure to elicit emotion.

Habitas in Tulum, Mexico seems to be on every “Top Hotels” list these days, and it’s easy to see why. This ocean-side, eco-friendly, boho sanctuary consists of thirty canvas huts, simply decorated with Kilim rugs and wood furniture, with other natural touches of hemp rope, linen, and bamboo. Their use of renewable resources to create such a luxurious setting is a perfect yin-yang dichotomy, leading guests to feel as though they are one-with-nature, but with all the comfort and amenities of a five-star hotel.

Ocean-front views | Habitas website
Habitas hut | Habitas website
Natural interior | Vogue France

It is meant to be a sociable stay, with rooftop yoga, shared fireside gatherings, live music, and the ever-bonding experience of delicious food, prepared by chef Federico Cappi. You could go with your Valentine and make new friends, or go with friends and meet your Valentine there!

Clubhouse | Vogue France
Beach bar & hammocks | Habitas website

Hotel de Luxe Nolinski in Paris earned the “luxe” in its name. Designer Jean-Louis Denoit created a warm, glamorous, and surreal experience for those who sojourn. Calling on an eclectic mix of finishes, materials, accessories, and furniture– from moody clouds painted on the walls and ceiling of the entire six-story stairway, to a white and gold cherry-blossom-esque tree that stands as a centerpiece in the brasserie– every room offers a quirky and delightful surprise.

Nolinski entrance | The Style Junkies
Clouds floating up the staircase | Nolinski website
Brasserie Rejane | Nolinski website

Comfort and style go hand-in-hand, everything has intention and not a single detail is skirted. The cool grays used in most of the bedrooms are easy-on-the-eyes and suited for a calm, relaxed stay. The dim candlelight in the Grand Salon, its jewel-toned shades of peacock blue and emerald green, and its noble materials and custom furniture, orchestrate a gentle lyrical harmony that seduces guests into a mood of conviviality and comfort.

Bedroom | Nolinski website
The Grand Salon | Nolinski website

If you prefer a dreamy winter wonderland, Treehotel in the Finnish Lapland offers an unusual and magical selection of “rooms” that float amongst the trees, ten meters above the ground. Choose between the UFO, the Birds Nest, the Dragonfly, or our personal favorite, the 7th Room, which is specially designed with panoramic windows to allow guests to view the Northern Lights.

UFO | Treehotel website
Bird’s Next | Treehotel website
Dragonfly | Treehotel website
The 7th Room | Treehotel website

According to, “The Sun is almost about to enter the Solar Minimum phase which will mean the Northern Lights will be dimmer and occur less frequently over the next decade. This year is the last year you’ll be able to see the Northern Lights before the Sun enters its dormant phase.” The best way to see the lights is under a dark cloudless sky between September and April. Time to go to Finland!

Northern Lights from The 7th Room | Luxsphere
Interior The 7th Room | Treehotel website

The Ned Hotel in London is a classic love-at-first-sight story. When Nick Jones, the founder of Soho House & Co, first saw the abandoned Midland Bank building in 2012, “there was something about it— the details and scale of it— that just floored me,” Jones explains. He and Andrew Zobler, the CEO of New York’s Sydell Group, collaborated to bring the building back to life. Full of warm woods, rich colors, English fabrics, and traditional accents and décor, the vibe is 1920’s gentleman-glam.

Exterior Architecture | EPR Architects
Cecconi’s Venetian Brasserie | EPR Architects
Accessible Room | The Ned website

The building’s original architect, Sir Edwin ‘Ned’ Lutyens, had a flawless eye for detail, which can be seen throughout every space. The African verdite-covered columns throughout the main banking hall are actually composed of hundreds of carefully assembled jigsaw-like fragments, as the stone was hard to come by in such massive quantities. Another fun fact: the bank vault door, which is now used as the entrance to a cozy club space, was used as inspiration for the vault in the 1964 James Bond film, Goldfinger.

Verdite column | The Ned website
Vault door | The Ned website

So whether you’re looking for a Valentine’s trip next week, or an international trip next year, these hotels offer original and delightful designs and experiences.

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