One packed it up for Paris. One left for London. One is taking Manhattan. Three former Dallas dwellers — now living large elsewhere — send back postcards and pictures from the edge.
I moved to Paris — in France, not that little town in our beloved state — for an education in international affairs. Double- entendre? Interpret as you will. I thought I had cheated the brunt of Texas summer heat by decamping in early August. The joke was on me, since a 104- degree heat wave welcomed me, Parisian-style. Only one thing to do when temps are up and you live in a country that doesn’t believe in air conditioning: Picnic in the park with icy rosé. Now in the throes of winter, the picnics of distant summer days drift indoors to a covey of club chairs at the Hôtel Meurice, Armagnac in hand.
First things first in a new city: finding go-to eateries. Luckily there’s no shortage of watering holes and other wonders in my Right Bank neighborhood full of record stores, wine bars, markets and boulangeries, where the locals line up for their daily bread. Le Cyrano on rue Biot is full of morning light for a quick coffee and dims down for drinks after work. A quiet Sunday dinner at the tiny, candlelit Brittany resto Atao includes generous portions of langoustine wrapped in delicately shaved radish and peppermint, followed by a fluffy filet of dorade served with crisp finger- ling potatoes. Giant roasted figs with a side of Chantilly make the perfect ending. The rue Lemercier locale is in the gentrified Batignolles neighborhood, home to one of only three organic markets in the city — which reminds us that where there is organic fare, bohemian bourgeois yuppies are not far.
Autumn brought some familiar Big D faces — from V.O.D. Boutique, Grange Hall, Neiman Marcus, et al — to Paris Fashion Week for the business of bringing the good people of Dallas their daily bread: labels. In fashion and in life in general, Parisians tend to exhibit a particular brand of restrained luxury and indulgence. Even dressed down, the long-undisputed must-have accessories for the “I’m trying but I’m not trying” look are still the perfectly wrapped, neverending scarf — Her- mès or otherwise — and glammo sunnies of the latest, upsized, face-swallowing proportions. Much like the menagerie of exotic taxidermy at Maison Deyrolle on rue de Bac (I’ll take the $34,000 giraffe, please), Paris never really seems to change. Yet there is an underlying element of unpredictability that complements the steadfast certainties — food, fashion and art — that keep us coming back time and again. To end this brief epistolary tour de Paris, I say good day to you, or as they say in French, bonne journée — which sounds quite a lot like “good journey” in my Anglophone-programmed brain. Not exactly a direct transla- tion, but go with it, because no matter where you find yourself, each day should be a journey.
P.S. Just back from a weekend in the countryside. Main events: cooking, sparkle time by the fire, horses, long walks in the misty forest. I felt like Belle in Beauty and the Beast. The reality is, I was her goofy, bumbling father getting lost. House was incredible. My friend’s mother is an artist and her father used to work for the U.N., so it was basically a curation of their life abroad and the mother’s art. Excerpt from week- end conversation: “Is that a harpsichord?” “Yes. My mother and I built it when we lived in Mali. We were under semi-house arrest, so we ordered a kit from France.” — Jacob Cigainero
Dear FD Luxe,
I am writing from my apartment with the windows open, listening to a mix of police cars and Bach violin concertos played by Hilary Hahn, who performed in Dallas recently. Things are finally back to normal here after the craziness of the unprecedented storm. I was lucky and feel blessed I did not suffer so much as unfortunate others. Have you heard of the galler- ies and institutions that have suffered greatly in the aftermath of Sandy? For instance, Printed Matter, a nonprofit art-publishing group in Chelsea, lost thousands of pieces in its inventory! So sad… But bigger institutions such as MoMA are helping out. It was an interesting few days where neigh- bors bonded and had each other over for dinner. I spent my Sandy days with a group of friends that could not get back to Europe and were evacuated out of their building and caught up with them, and on my reading.
That is one of the things I love about New York, of course: the amazing art scene. But with the intense master’s program at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, unfortunately, I cannot spend all my time in museums and galleries, but that leaves some things yet to be discovered. I had to go visit the talk of the town, The Scream by Edvard Munch, now at MoMA, only to fall in love with other works again such as the portrait of fellow Dutchman Vincent van Gogh — and the complete Contemporary department. I also pop in at the auction houses to see what is going up for auction. As Phillips de Pury & Company is around the corner — and since that is what I’m studying — I have the perfect excuse to spend time there. The New York Academy of Art was hosting an art auction and party at Sotheby’s called “Take Home a Nude” where my friends and I got outbid, but we did rub shoulders with the very fashionable crowd such as Naomi Watts, Thakoon, Eddie Borgo and my personal favorite, the stylish Giovanna Battaglia, who wore a Cleopatra- looking gown, headpiece included. That is another thing I love about being here: The whole world is represented. If I look at my group of friends, they are from all over. Food-wise that works out great. If you want Chinese food, you get Chinese food. If you want Italian, you get real Italian food — cooked by a real Italian chef and served by a real Italian waiter. I like to have dinner at the Darby, which is an old jazz-funk club with the best live performers and great food. Downtown, there are also many, many great restaurants such as Beauty and Essex, which looks like a pawn shop, but when you walk farther you discover a beautiful restaurant with great food and complementary pink champagne in the ladies room.
I also went to Bushwick on a trip to visit some galleries that are located there, and I had interesting studio visits. A lot of starting galleries and artists can’t afford Uptown, so Bushwick is one of the places developing quickly. I love the classics here such as The Carlyle hotel, where I went for a drink the other day and just saw Bono finishing up an unexpected performance! Those little miracles are very New York to me. Every day is an adventure. The great thing about living here is that it is intense, but I feel very much at home. It feels like there is a place for you if you work hard, but sometimes I need to let my hair down and I go running in Central Park and might stop by at Barneys — just to get a cappuccino. 😉 Love from New York, Anna-Sophia
Things are going well in London! I returned to my usual stomping ground in Shoreditch, in London’s vibrant East End. As ever, it’s full of posh people, artists, tramps and herds of indefatigable fashionistas of every tribe imaginable. Though I’ve only been away from London a mere two and a half years, my return has felt like emerging from a coma where everything has changed ever so slightly so as to appear both familiar and peculiar in the same instant, and everyone’s happy to see you back. I have returned to my post at Mr. Start, where I both manage the flagship store and co-design the label, which is also stocked in Har- rods and Selfridges. We are currently preparing our collection for Autumn/Winter 2013 that will show in central London on the 7th of January! When I get the weekend off from my labors at Mr. Start, I often wander just south of the Thames to Borough Market. A stone’s throw away from London Bridge, Borough Market is a foodie’s heaven of artisanal bakers, cheese-makers, butchers, fishmongers, greengrocers and vendors purveying every kind of delicacy, both indigenous to Britain and to the rest of the continent. It is an open-air market hidden in what can only be described as a rabbit’s warren beneath a series of railway arches. This week I stopped for grilled Gruyère served over new potatoes with a side of dill pickles, grilled scallops with bacon, a side of the best Parma ham* and a flat white** from Monmouth Coffee Company that can only be described as a religious experience.
For me, London has some of the best walking to be had, its founda- tions built by the Roman empire and everything on top a mishmash of every century since. So, to burn off some of the calories from my mini-feast, I walked along the South Bank past Shakespeare’s Globe to Tate Modern, London’s best collection of modern art, housed in what used to be a pow- er station. The Rothko Room is an especial favourite of mine, and it’s a quick trip to the member’s room on the top floor, which boasts the most beautiful view of St. Paul’s Cathedral and The Millennium Bridge.
I also felt the need for a bit of retail therapy and treated myself to a trip down Jermyn Street just south of Piccadilly, the best street in the world for men’s furnishings. My favourites: New & Lingwood, Bates hats, Budd Shirt Makers, and of course Turnbull & Asser. I also had to stop by Santa Maria Novella’s little shop in Piccadilly Arcade for a top-up of my signature fragrance (and secret weapon).
Well, dear friends, I must sign off as I’ve got a pub crawl to attend in Notting Hill! A tough life, I know….. Wish you were all here to join. All the best, Jonathan