A Liquid Lunch at the 21 Club

28/03/2015 § 1 Comment

21 Club. 21 Club. 21 Club. 21 Club. In honor of the upcoming final (!) season of AMC’s Mad Men, a select group of New York restaurants — the sort of joints that Madison Avenue ad men probably would have favored — featured special lunch menus last week.  Priced at $19.69 — the year of the final season — patrons could treat themselves to the hallowed “liquid lunch” or opt for a prix fixe menu.  It wasn’t something I was prepared to miss, so I corralled a compatriot and made my way directly to the 21 Club.

The 21 Club, formerly a prohibition-era speakeasy, has been in operation since the 1920s and has occupied its current, jockey-decorated location since 1929.  Since its inception 21 has been a favored spot of presidents, celebrities, socialites, politicians, and titans of industry.  A four-story townhouse with multiple private rooms, its famed secret wine cellar has housed the private collections of folks like Ernest Hemingway, John F. Kennedy, and Frank Sinatra.  Today, 21 retains a sense of old-fashioned formality that has become somewhat unique – gentlemen are required to wear jackets to gain entrance to the dining room, servers are dressed in tuxedos.  The Bar Room, where we lunched, sports a ceiling decorated with antique toys, suspended in air.

If you know me at all, you already know I went for the cocktails: Manhattans made with Canadian Club, while my dining partner opted for gin martinis.  Feeling very Roger Sterling and Don Draper, we also ordered for a dozen oysters, and a fabulous, mid-century time was had by all.

21 Club
21 W. 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019

Disappearing Acts

08/08/2014 § 1 Comment

Porto RicoEvery morning on my way to the train at the West 4th Street station, I pass the Porto Rico Importing Co. at 201 Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village.  More of a coffee and tea store than a true coffee bar, it’s where I buy the coffee I use at home (try it out: Monsoon Malabar is my favorite).  It’s usually full of bench sitters and the usual bunch of parked cars, but today I happened upon a rare moment of quiet and a break in the traffic so that I could take the shot above.

As I took the picture, an eccentric-looking older gentleman ambled by and gruffly offered his two cents: “You know, places like that are disappearing around here.”  He then proceeded to point out the growing vacancies around Porto Rico, both new and old. I readily agreed with him and he eventually set off on his way down Bleecker, satisfied.

Vaguely familiar that Porto Rico has been around for some time — it does mention something about 1907 on the awning, at least — I did a bit of research and discovered that the ground floor of 201 Bleecker has been operated by the Longo family since the early 1900s, initially as a bakery and then later as the coffee and tea store we know today.  The current owner-operator, Peter Longo, is the third generation to run the store, the building having been bought by his grandfather in 1905 for $5,000.  Peter was born in the building, as well as his father before him.

For someone who’s only lived in the neighborhood for just over a year, it’s always exciting to learn more about longtime residents and businesses, but also to hear how the streets have changed.  The next time you find yourself on Bleecker, I definitely recommend that you stop by for a pound of coffee or perhaps a new tea — because it’s true, places like this are rapidly disappearing these days.

For a fuller story on Porto Rico, Alex Witchel at the NY Times wrote a great article on Peter and the store that you should also read.

Have a lovely (caffeinated) weekend!
M. xx

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Field Notes || Myrtle

20/05/2013 § Leave a comment

Myrtle - 01 Myrtle - 02 Myrtle - 03 Myrtle - 19 Myrtle - 04 Myrtle - 05 Myrtle - 06 Myrtle - 07 Myrtle - 08 Myrtle - 09 Myrtle - 10 Myrtle - 11 Myrtle - 12 Myrtle - 13 Myrtle - 14 Myrtle - 15 Myrtle - 16 Myrtle - 17 Myrtle - 18 Myrtle - 20 Myrtle - 21 Myrtle - 32 Myrtle - 22 Myrtle - 24 Myrtle - 25 Myrtle - 27 Myrtle - 28 Myrtle - 29 Myrtle - 31 Myrtle - 23

During my recent trip to Los Angeles, I had the pleasure of visiting with Whitney Bickers, the proprietress of Myrtle, a delightful boutique snuggled on a corner of Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park.  Featuring independent female designers and an excellent selection of vintage clothing, as well as accessories, books and other assorted gifty items, this adorable little shop feels more like a clubhouse than mere retail experience, completely due to the amount of personal attention Whitney provides her customers.  Shopping at Myrtle is akin to spending a leisurely time with a trusted friend, trying out all sorts of interesting designers and original pieces you may have never heard of before — almost like your personal, inside track to style.

Whitney and Myrtle first appeared on my radar via mutual friends Samantha Pleet and Lizzie Garrett Mettler, and while it may have taken awhile for us to connect in the non-internet world, I’m so glad we did.  Aside from being one of the loveliest people ever (ever!), her path to opening Myrtle is certainly an inspiration.  While working in the entertainment industry on the production side, Whitney came to the realization that what she was really dreaming of was having a store of her own.  With no formal background in retail, but armed with some good advice, a tiny bit of luck and a whole lot of hard work, Whitney took a leap and opened in 2011.  In the years since, this one-woman show has continued to evolve, expanding to e-commerce and one of my very favorite Instagram feeds, where Whitney tries on new store arrivals in the massive mirror you can see above, giving internet fans of Myrtle an early head’s up at stock that hasn’t made it to the webstore just yet — but the best part is that you can tell how much fun she’s having.  And of course, when she wanted to turn the camera on me during our visit, I immediately insisted on a double mirror portrait of our own…

Myrtle

Myrtle
2213 Sunset Boulevard  || Los Angeles, CA 90026 || (213) 413-0004

McQueen Trumps All

09/01/2013 § 2 Comments

Harper's Bazaar Feb 1965.

Last weekend like a proper New Yorker, I attended a brunch of the “all you can drink” variety and the service was so efficient that it proved impossible to keep track of how many glasses of champagne we actually had.  And as half-full glasses were filled over and over, the conversation slowly and predictably degraded from such high-minded topics such as art, current events and important life decisions to…the most attractive people of all time.  I hear this is a common side effect of champagne.

While my initial choices were cast aside as a bit conventional and surprisingly boring (my deepest apologies to Jon Hamm and George Clooney), when I mentioned Steve McQueen there was a murmur of immediate approval — here was someone who everyone agreed upon.   The next time when I’m faced with this question, I’ll just go ahead and play my trump card early.

From the February 1965 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, a trifecta of icons:
Steve McQueen, Jean Shrimpton, and Richard Avedon.

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Via TFS.

QC Loves || Studio Nicholson F/W 2012

20/12/2012 § 2 Comments

Studio Nicholson FW 2012

I previously mentioned my love of Studio Nicholson, an elegantly tailored womenswear line by British designer Nick Wakeman, but upon viewing her F/W 2012, it confirmed again that Wakeman creates the sort of timelessly chic, menswear-inspired stuff my sartorial dreams are made of — and I had to share it with you.  F/W immediately called to my mind a modern Katharine Hepburn-like sensibility — probably helped a bit by the gorgeous turtlenecks — and whenever a designer manages to do that for me, I know I’m home.

High points in this collection include that gorgeous alpaca Bruno topcoat above, the aforementioned Rocco turtleneck sweater, and that perfectly pleated and cropped wool Aida pant.  And as I am a bit tardy in bringing you the news of F/W — forgive me! — you’ll be happy to discover that the collection is currently 30% off.  So get while the getting is good.

For further detail, be sure to visit Studio Nicholson.

Studio Nicholson FW 2012 Studio Nicholson FW 2012 Studio Nicholson FW 2012 Studio Nicholson FW 2012 Studio Nicholson FW 2012 Studio Nicholson FW 2012 Studio Nicholson FW 2012 Studio Nicholson FW 2012 Studio Nicholson 2012 Studio Nicholson FW 2012 Studio Nicholson FW 2012

Ralph Lauren at Downton Abbey

19/12/2012 § 1 Comment

Ralph Lauren FW 2012 Ralph Lauren FW 2012 Ralph Lauren FW 2012 Ralph Lauren FW 2012 Ralph Lauren FW 2012 Ralph Lauren FW 2012 Ralph Lauren FW 2012 Ralph Lauren FW 2012 Ralph Lauren FW 2012 Ralph Lauren FW 2012 Ralph Lauren FW 2012 Ralph Lauren FW 2012 Ralph Lauren FW 2012

A private showing of Ralph Lauren Collection Fall/Winter 2012 at Highclere Castle, the real-life stand in for Downton Abbey?  Evidently my invitation was lost in the mail, but at least we have these gorgeous photos taken by Chris Allerton to comfort ourselves with.

Images via Ralph Lauren.

QC Loves || Bridge & Burn F/W 2012

17/12/2012 § 1 Comment

A gorgeous little love note to New York, Bridge & Burn‘s Fall/Winter 2012 short by Monica Reyes makes me want to bundle up in Erik Prowell’s amazing collection and take an extra long walk around the city.  I’ve long been a fan of this Portland-based brand that effortlessly mixes just the right amounts of ruggedness, prep and menswear detailing, and Fall/Winter 2012 has definitely proven to be no exception to this rule.

Be sure to visit Bridge & Burn.

BBW2012 BBW2012 BBW2012 BBW2012 BBW2012

Girlcrush || Solange in South Africa

13/12/2012 § 1 Comment

solange.

When it comes to the Knowles sisters, it shouldn’t surprise you that I’ve been a fan of big sister Beyoncé from the very start.  You just knew that those other – and oft rotated – Destiny’s Children weren’t long for this world, that B was itching for her Diana Ross moment in the spotlight.  Now, I definitely love me some divas, but you have to admit that there’s something sort of conventional (and maybe even a bit boring) about the establishment: big hair, red carpet beauty, belted ballads, an affinity for sparkles, etc.

Which is why I think Solange, the younger Knowles, is so much more interesting.  A frequent experimenter with her own personal style and something of a slowly burning girlcrush, Solange has officially evolved into the Knowles sister I’d much rather hang with.  She pretty much sealed the deal with her video for “Losing You,” which was brought to my attention by a good friend who noted that Solange appeared to be channeling me.  Shot in Cape Town, featuring some very dandy Sapeurs (an interesting group of men I mentioned awhile back), as well as a wardrobe that you know I fell in love with immediately, the synth-y groove of the song is almost like an added bonus.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Video directed by Melina Matsoukas.
Photo taken by Daniele Tamagni, via Pitchfork.

Atelier || Lotuff Leather

30/11/2012 § 3 Comments

As I previously mentioned, a few weeks ago I was pleased to accept an invite from Lotuff Leather to visit their workshop in Norwalk, Connecticut.  I was very excited to seize the opportunity to meet the fine folks behind the brand and witness firsthand the craftsmanship that goes into every single piece of leather that bears the Lotuff name.  Fair warning: this is about to be a bit of a photo-palooza, but there was just so much to see and love – I hope you will indulge me!

Lotuff, a New England-based luxury leather goods brand founded by brothers Joe and Rick Lotuff nearly four years ago, is a brand you need to firmly place on your radar.  The Lotuffs, along with creative director Lindy McDonough and a whole host of highly skilled craftsmen and women, take great pride in producing some of the very finest leather items made in America, using techniques honed over decades – and in some cases, generations – of combined experience.  A men’s brand at heart, the all-leather bags, briefcases and accessories that Lotuff creates epitomize the elegant meeting of timeless style, functionality and quiet craftsmanship.

Not only was I inspired by the passion I heard from Joe and Lindy as they discussed their values and goals for Lotuff, but they also deeply affected my personal concept of “luxury” – calling into question some of my own assumptions about the true worth of some of the high-end bags I have lusted for in the past.  My day in Norwalk reinforced the notion that luxury is not achieved by the mere application of a name or a high price point to an item.  But rather, an item is properly considered luxurious in relation to the process, materials and skills that go into its creation — and seeing up close the massive amount of pride that each of the Lotuff craftsmen and women pour into their work brought this into sharp focus.

While this fuller concept of luxury appears to have taken hold in some #menswear circles, it is interesting to note that the majority of women continue to be fine with paying top dollar for cheaply manufactured status accessories.  Indeed, it is difficult to decouple this tendency for status from womenswear’s obsession with fast fashion.  For those of us who find ourselves frequently left wanting by the “it bag” of the moment, the premiere women’s collection by Lotuff is a godsend.  And my leather-scented day spent trying out all the gorgeous prototypes?  Heaven indeed.

For more information, visit Lotuff Leather.

Please say hello to my new best friend…  In. Love.

If you are in New York City this weekend (30 Nov – 2 Dec),
be sure to check out Lotuff in person at this year’s Pop Up Flea.

Pop Up Flea
Friday, Nov 30th 3pm – 9pm
Saturday, Dec. 1st 11am – 7pm
Sunday, Dec. 2nd 11am – 6pm

Drive-In Studios
443 W. 18th Street (nr. 10th Ave.)

Lotuff Leather for the Ladies

16/11/2012 § 2 Comments

Very excited to share with you Lotuff Leather’s premiere offering from their very first women’s collection, released this week!  Just in time for the holidays the Zipper Satchel #9 is a limited edition bag in sumptuous, hunter green vegetable-tanned leather, that comes with a hand-braided leather tassel, a removable leather pouch, and a detachable shoulder strap.  Befitting a truly unique piece of superior craftsmanship, each bag bears its own serial number, and can also be monogrammed.  I definitely hope that Santa is listening.

Lotuff, a New England-based luxury leather goods brand founded by brothers Joe and Rick Lotuff, is a remarkable collective of exceptionally skilled craftsmen and women dedicated to making quality things by hand with the best practices and finest materials available.  A men’s brand at heart, Lotuff has offered some of the very finest American-made all-leather bags, briefcases and accessories for nearly four years now, and the move into the women’s space is best viewed as a continuation of that tradition.

Guided by creative director Lindy McDonough, the Lotuff women’s collection is quietly elegant and timelessly stylish – the diametric opposite of the “it bag.”  Rather, your Lotuff bag is meant to be carried a lifetime and then passed on to younger generations, and this longevity is ensured by the American workmanship that went into its creation.  I especially love the collection’s nuanced menswear influence and the casual sophistication evident in the preview lookbook – these bags intend to seamlessly carry you from the office to the weekend and back.  Perfection.

I recently had the immense pleasure of spending a lovely day at Lotuff’s Norwalk, Connecticut workshop.  It’s not every day that I get to spend time talking to gifted craftspeople about heady topics such as commitment, precision and passion, so when the folks at Lotuff Leather invited me to do just that, of course I leapt at the chance.  Stay tuned — I’ll be sharing my visit with you next week.

For more information, visit Lotuff Leather.

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