Even though I spent a lot of time in 2012 stranded on the island of Manhattan, I still managed to do some continent-hopping to a bunch of my favorite foreign locales--and one city that I'd never been to before.
In January, Diane Pernet sent me to Rio again (I had to pout and beg a little bit and she finally relented because it was during my birthday) at the invitation of Monica Mendes and ABIT (Brazilian Textile & Apparel Industry Associaton). We stayed in Copacabana which is really the more authentic, egalitarian Rio experience as opposed to trendy Ipanema.
I celebrated my birthday with Rosario, Suleman and lots of complimentary champagne at the chic Fasano Hotel. (We craftily piggy-backed on a party the hotel was throwing for Mario Testino.)
And I made some new friends at the beach!
I set my camera down on the windowsill next to my bed in my room at the Windsor Atlantica so that I could jump up and capture this gorgeous sunrise on the far end of Copacabana called Leme.
Me hanging out at the treehouse restaurant Aprazivel in Santa Teresa.
In September, I took my yearly trip to the magical music-box-like city of Vienna, where I am invited to cover MQ Vienna Fashion Week.
I usually stay close to the Opera House, but this year for the first 3 nights I stayed in the rarely visited district of Margareten. After World War I, Vienna was known as "Red Vienna" because of the left-wing government that put a lot of Socialist programs in action, including municipal housing projects for the poor. There are quite a few in Margareten (and the highway that borders the district is nicknamed the "Ringstrasse of the Proletariat") and I did my own self-guided tour of the area. This one was my favorite communal housing project: the elegant Reumann-Hof, built in 1924 (above).
Lovely late-day light in Margareten.
Backstage at the Tiberius show at Vienna Fashion Week.
Designer Mariella Morgana Meyer at the "White Mask" afterparty for the Tiberius show at the fabulous Le Meridien Hotel (where I stayed for 3 nights).
One of my rockstar hosts at Vienna Fashion Week, my friend Zigi Mueller paired stars & stripes with rainboots (it always seems to downpour for one day whenever I visit Vienna).
I really enjoyed the "Reflecting Fashion" exhibit at MUMOK in Vienna's Museum Quartier. (Maria Oberfrank of MQVFW kindly supplied me with passes to all the museums.) One of the highlights was the inclusion of Elsa Schiaparelli's collaboration with Salvador Dali, the iconic lobster dress, which was very conspicuously absent from the Met Costume Institute's disastrous Prada/Schiaparelli show. Even though I am a Freudian, I was very amused by this feminist provocation (above), "Flow My Tears 1" by Mai-Thu Perret. The mirrored face is meant to reflect back all Freudian theories projected onto women, making her impervious to them.
After Vienna, I passed through Berlin for 3 days to visit my nutty "cousins" Vaginal Davis and Isabel. (Isabel has since fled the cold shoulders of the Germans and is now somewhere in sunny northern Thailand.) Isabel and I went to the Humboldt Cube museum and I took these photos from the veranda of the museum's restaurant.
Mitte is packed cheek by jowl with trendy, soulless boutiques that all seem to sell the same bougie "design" pillows and lamps for 50 euros a pop. One moment of respite was an interesting bookstore (the entrance, above) that also hosts reading.
Vaginal Davis in her studio in Schoneberg.
After Berlin, I took a 5-day holiday in Amsterdam--my first time!--and I was instanly won over by this charming little city.
House of Cheese!
Amsterdam street style
My friend Marcelo took me out to a marvelous dinner at the Silver Mirror, a restaurant that has not changed much since the early 17th century! We quaffed champagne and supped on foie gras brulee while sitting inside the fireplace. Those tiles!
View from the window of my suite at the delightfully quirky Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy
My suite at the Conservatorium Luxury Spa Hotel
Happy art at the recently re-opened & re-vamped Stedelijk Museum
Me + Moet at the Amsterdam premiere of the amazing DIANA VREELAND: THE EYE HAS TO TRAVEL
Artist Scott Neary took me on a tour of "his Amsterdam."
We stopped by the Theater Tuschinski to check out the eye-popping interior.
Ilanga met me for green tea out on the terrace of the Amstel InterContinental Hotel where I stayed for one very royal night.
From pristine canal-lined streets to the gritty hutongs of dynasties past: non-stop flight from Amsterdam to Beijing!
Alice McInerney of Anywearstyle.com & I at Dada bar
Design writer Laura Houseley & Beijing Design Week Creative Director Aric Chen
Full moon over the Lama Temple
Partying with rich Communist Party brats at Baby Face
Madame Cat & Monsieur Fish at Wuhao Curated-Shop
Me & Jeffrey Ying aka Oscar Madison & Felix Unger at the Baccarat champagne toast in Sanlitun Village.
Rem Koolhaas's CCTV Tower which generates almost as much propaganda as Fox News.
Beijing's arbiter of elegance, Jeffrey Ying, gave a party for the Party on China's National Day in his glamorous penthouse.
NYC-Vienna-Berlin-Amsterdam-Beijing-NYC: This was literally a trip around the world as my return flight to NYC traveled over the Pacific. Thanks for taking this journey with me.
Melting disco balls at the grand Oude Kirke Cathedral
Dear gouda gourmands & red-light lollygogs,
I've always wanted to visit Amsterdam and finally after all these years, I was able to add it to my September jet-set schedule. Here is a collection of my art, design, film premiere, hotel and food reports that have been posted on A Shaded View on Fashion:
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.