Dear Mile-High Millies,
From the beaches of Brazil and Phuket to the delightful dystopia of Red China to remants of the German Democratic Republic, it was another year of exciting global adventures. (Unfortunately I didn't get to see Diane Pernet this year....but hopefully in 2012!) Here are some of my highlights from 2011.
In February, I was invited to Madrid to cover Cibeles Fashion Week for Diane Pernet....(my early morning view from my suite at the Puerta America Hotel.)
My suite at the Puerta America was designed by Jean Nouvel and featured Japanese-style sliding screens made of heavy glass that are printed with photos by Araki.
Madrid is better known for the energy and party-hard attitude of its people, but there's also some pretty Moorish architecture to look at.
In April I jetted down to Brazil's equatorial north coast, to Fortaleza, which boasts some of the country's most beautiful beaches with the cleanest water.
A typical beach dish, this northern Brazil specialty features creamy shrimp served in a pumpkin shell from a pumpkin grown at a nearby farm.
In May I was booked the long way to Singapore (through Frankurt--ugh!) but it was worth it just so we could try the (overpriced) famous Singapore Slings at the flagship of the legendary colonialist Raffles hotel empire. I made new friends, including Kristen Lum and Alice McInerney who both live in Beijing.
Singapore is glutted with luxury shopping malls but because I don't like to shop, I sought out the city's temples. This Burmese Buddhist temple had a psychedelic vibe.
Of course no trip to Singapore is complete without dinner at Jumbo Seafood so you can stuff yourself with chili crab.
After Singapore, I took a jaunt up to China to visit some friends in Beijing, including Beijing Design Week creative director, Aric Chen, who was my host in Dongcheng District. Here's a shot of the vast main courtyard of the Forbidden City.
I was thrilled to be able to climb and hike along the Great Wall of China in a remote area, completely free of tourists.
Beijing's drag shows are a curious affair: The queens put on earnest, satire-free vignettes that pay homage to classical Chinese motifs as closeted, and probably married, Communist Party cadres attempt to bed the queens and every other local gay boy in the joint.
Me with one of the performers outside the club. She and her pals tried to drag me up on stage but I was having none of it.
Later in the year, in September, I passed through Berlin (thanks to the lovely organizers of MQ Vienna Fashion Week) to visit my friends Isabel and Vaginal Davis, and to take a little history tour.
We had a late dinner with the inimitable Dr. Vaginal Davis at a 24-hour cafe in Charlottenberg.
I was mad for the monumental Stalinist ghost town that is Karl-Marx-Allee...
"Sensurround sound in a two-inch wall....I was waiting for the Communist call. I'm looking over the Wall--and they're looking at me!"
Full moon rising by the former-GDR's iconic TV tower.
Me and pop Poe somewhere in a deserted gallery on Karl-Marx-Allee...
After Berlin, I flew to Vienna for fashion week....and had some time to wander around the cobblestoned streets of Spittelberg...
I love Austrian food and this savory goulash made with chunks of beef, kielbasa, boiled potatoes, a fried egg, pickle and a rich sauce did not disappoint.
In Vienna, I also wandered around the lovely gardens of Belvedere Palace.
It warmed my heart to see traditional, un-ironic Austrian folk clothing in the shop windows of Vienna's trendy shopping area. Take that, globalization! (Don't tell me that they only sell it for the tourists--I don't wanna know.)
I stayed in the suite that Katy Perry lives in at Le Meridien when she's in Vienna. Lucky for me she was out of town, because the room had a large patio with a glamorous 19th-century view!
After jetting back to NYC from Vienna, I was back on another trans-continental flight three days later, Beijing-bound. After my trip to China's capital in May, I wanted more of this fascinating ancient-futuristic metropolis. Here's the view from the oh-so-chi-chi Capital M restaurant on the edge of Tiananmen Square. From left: The Arrow Tower, Qianmen Gate and Chairman Mao's Tomb. This was our view during a rather boozy Boys-in-the-Band gathering, fueled by "Glamour Cocktails", with Beijing's #1 dandy, Jeffrey Ying, and our friend Adam. The Russian hostess, who had the charming disposition of a Siberian prison guard (not that there's anything wrong with that), tried to give us the bum's rush in melody due to Capital M's ridiculously early (2am) last call. Nevertheless, we lingered past 3.
A few days later, our merry troupe made an ill-advised journey to the Summer Palace, which was overrun by Chinese tourists on holiday. We sought refuge in the luxe lobby of the Aman Summer Palace Resort for harmonious cocktails and zen gossip. Pictured here: Jeffrey Ying and Nancy Stout.
I'm a huge fan of the Olympics and for me, Beijing's opening ceremony and architecture made 2008 the Olympics to end all Olympics. So it was imperative that we visited the site of the much-ballyhooed stadiums in the north end of the city.
Detail of the "Water Cube", or National Aquatics Center. It brought back fond memories of all the sizzling-hot swimmers in skimpy Speedos.
I was over the moon for the futuristic design of the Bird's Nest interior.
View inside the Bird's Nest Stadium. The pattern of the white seats, sprinkled among the red ones, is meant to evoke flocks of birds taking flight.
Beautiful, clean design.
Nancy talked Jeffrey and I into taking the notorious Bullet Train out to the city of Tianjin which, as you can see, was smothered in a ghastly shroud of acrid smog that day. Take a deep breath and smell the empire that conspires to rule the world!
Somehow through the haze we found one of Tianjin's most (in)famous sites: an odd-ball "museum" made out of thousands of broken plates and vases, allegedly from the Tang and Qing Dynasties. (Emphasis on allegedly.)
In November, Diane Pernet sent me to Kuala Lumpur at the invitation of MIFA to attend Malaysia International Fashion Week.
Macaque monkeys run rampant at the Batu Caves.
View of the Prime Minister's office from Putra Mosque in Malaysia's federal district, Putrajaya.
After Malaysia, I enjoyed some downtime on the private white-sand beach at Amanpuri Resort in Phuket, Thailand.
"Night of the Iguana" is evoked at the hilltop CC Bloom's Hotel in Phuket.
Thanks for taking this trip with me.