Category Archives: Destinations

Brazilian Breezes

Today I’d like to “I Dream of Jeannie” myself outta this rainy, cold city and re-materialize on a warm beach with a cocktail in my hand and a massage appointment in 15 mins. Clearly this girl needs a vacation! And topping my list of ohm-sweet-ohm locations is the UXUA Casa Hotel in the Brazilian village of Trancoso. Just browsing through their resort photos brought a little dash of needed serenity.

The resort, designed by Wilbert Das in collaboration with local artisans, fuses organic and natural elements with astoundingly luxurious touches that have caught the eye of everyone from Vogue to Travel & Leisure.  Accommodations include opulent casas crafted from old fisherman’s huts and a four-star tree house hovering above the garden. Dear god, is there anything more fabulous than sipping a cocktail while lounging in a tree house? Perhaps only if there is a massage involved.


Dream Weekend Retreat

The good news: we’ve made it to the end of a busy week . The bad news: we don’t have First Class tickets to Jackson Hole, WY being handed to us on a silver platter. (Trust me, I checked.) So, it seems we’ll just have to improvise via Madeline Stuart and lose ourselves in this glamorously rustic mountain retreat.

Images and product information available via Madeline Stuart

Van Cleef & Arpels: A Fairytale

I feel as though I should begin with “once upon a time,” because no other phrase better sums up the fairytale that is Van Cleef & Arpels. In 1906, the legendary Parisian jeweler opened the doors to its 18th-century mansion-turned-boutique at 22 Place Vendôme – the same address where it can still be found today. Since then, Van Cleef & Arpels has become one of the premier jewelers of all time, lending their creations to icons like Marlene Dietrich, Grace Kelly, and Julia Roberts.

To mark it’s 100th anniversary, the renowned flagship store underwent a total re-design – a task entrusted to French designer Patrick Jouin. Jouin, who seems to have conjured his own magic, produced a breathtaking wonderland for the grand reopening in Autumn of 2006. The 2,500-square-foot space was opened up to create a main salon, accentuated by a majestic chandelier of hand blown Marino glass flowing through its center. Gentle architectural slopes and curves give the room a heavenly effect while signature fairies keep watch from their fanciful perches. Staying true to the spirit of romance and luxury, a neutral color palette allows the jewels to take center stage.

Stepping through the doors of 22 Place Vendôme is magical, whether you’re entering the VIP room to view exquisite precious jewels or popping in, like I plan to do, for a peek at the elegant boutique. Welcome to your own, personal, fairytale.

Eye Candy

The double-height library, with exquisite details from floor to ceiling

Recently flipping through the Nov. 2009 issue of Architectural Digest, I rediscovered photos of the lavish penthouse apartment of brothers Christian and Nick Candy, co-founders of the British interior design firm Candy &  Candy. The breathtaking 17,500 square-foot residence, in Monaco’s famously prosperous area of Monte Carlo, made headlines in the early 2000’s when the Candy brothers purchased it for a mere £10m following the gruesome murder of previous owner Edmond Safra.

Wasting no time and sparing no expense, Candy & Candy head designer Martin Kemp was on the scene, intent on breathing new life into the space and creating a spectacular celebration of art and opulence. The transformation didn’t come cheap, costing a reported £26m, but the results were stunning. Every inch of the apartment was carefully infused with luxurious details: rare Italian marble, floors adorned with exotic wood marquetry, Baccarat chandeliers and decorative fixtures by Lalique. Balconies extended from the interiors into the Mediterranean seaside, all with views of the port of Monte Carlo or the mountainous Riviera, which I imagine is as close to Heaven as earth can get.

It’s hard to imagine anyone leaving such a place, but after a little digging, I discovered the Candy brothers have moved on. It’s been a little over a year since they made more headlines with the jaw-dropping £199m ($300 million) sale of their lavish penthouse apartment. Mystery surrounds the identity of the new owners, but one can only hope they have retained the elegance and opulence of the Candy & Candy touch.

One of two Master Suites, decorated with French antiques and opening to a balcony overlooking Monte Carlo

The Port Side Master Suite is done in a modernized Art Deco style. Photographs by Helmut Newton hang on the lavish cashmere-upholstered walls.

Possibly the most lovely workspace I've ever seen, tucked into a mirrored alcove overlooking the Monte Carlo marina.

The sophisticated dressing area, punctuated by a Richard Hudson sculpture.

Spectacular details in the dining room include hand-painted silk draperies and a platinum-leafed ceiling.

A front-facing balcony overlooks the port

Exterior terrace

Photos courtesy of Architectural Digest. Interior design by Candy & Candy. Photographed by Andrew Twort.

The Fabulous Kate Hume

Beautiful marble hallway

Venturing to Russia several times over the years, I’ve come to adore the gilt and glamor of the country’s aesthetic. So when I recently came across this pied-a-terre in Moscow designed by Kate Hume, I was instantly captivated. Based in The Netherlands but commissioned all over Europe, Kate’s elegantly eclectic interiors are evidence of a well-traveled, richly influenced, fearless designer who clearly knows what’s gorgeous.

Kate’s clients in Moscow called on her to design a space to accommodate their busy lives, three children and collection of 20th Century Russian art. Quite a daunting request, I’d imagine, yet she makes it seem easy! Inspired by the metallic glow of Moscow’s architecture, Kate created an elegant yet functional space, done mostly in a neutral palette, that is simply stunning.

Entrance into the living room

Living Room

Whimsical, unique glass pieces are found all over the apartment

A Midcentury-style Egg Chair in leather

Kate Hume effortlessly combines past with present

Golden highlights were inspired by the architecture of Moscow

The dining room is enlivened by a glamorous chandelier and graphic wallpaper

The Study

Boyish yet stylish kids room

Luscious, warm kitchen

The Master Bedroom

A desk in the master bedroom

Attending a glamorous dinner party, perhaps?

“Arch”tober Kick-Off Party with Elle Decor

Despite it being a rainy Monday evening, last night’s Elle Decor/Scavolini party was a smashing success! Alongside Amanda Burden, Chair of the City Planning Commission, we all raised our champagne glasses to kick-off  “Arch”tober  in New York,  a month-long celebration of all things architecture/design related.

Doing my small part to contribute to the Arch-tober festivities, here are four of my absolute favorite pieces of Manhattan architecture:

I don’t care if it’s touristy, I’m fully in love with the Chrysler Building. Partially because I can see it from my apartment window, so it’s sort of my pseudo-roommate, and partially because I have a special place in my heart for anything Art Deco.

The Seagram Building, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson, is a monument to modern architecture. We could talk about the innovative use of steal framing, concrete fireproofing and window casings, but what I love most is the elegant simplicity of the building’s glow, like fireflies caught in a jar.

When I feel the need for a little swank, I head to Grand Central Terminal and cozy up with a martini at The Campbell Apartment. Originally leased in 1923 by high-rolling investor John Williams Campbell, the lavish 25’x60′  piece of property was the largest ground floor space in Manhattan. Campbell commissioned a wall-to-wall Persian rug, a pipe organ and an ornate balcony to emphasis the soaring 25 foot-high ceiling. Combine a 13th Century cathedral with a Roaring Twenties jazz house and voila! The Campbell Apartment!

Some people go to Soho for the shopping. I go to Soho for the cast-iron facades. This is a place where my inner-nerd prevails over my inner-fashionista like a bad 1980’s movie . But I can’t help it. They are eye candy. Many of these buildings date back to 1840-1880 and virtually every facade is unique. They were created as decorative elements and are mostly changeable, like cell phone covers, commissioned by the building owner “snapped” onto the storefront. Strolling around Soho, I’m always hypnotized by the tiny details and daydream about who lived there over the years. With entertainment like that, JCrew can wait.