There's a desert to the west of Los Angeles, the dusty, scrubby kind riven by arroyos and snow-capped ranges. The city is protected from that barren terror by a kind of East Wall, a monumentally wide buffer of concrete that are actually cities and towns everyone knows about but few ever visit on purpose – places like Monrovia, Cerritos, Montebello, Pomona.
Occasionally, though, there comes a reason to cross that desert, and you want a good camel when such time comes. We found a proper mount in the Honda CR-Z, a two-seat hybrid to play miniature steel dromedary for our Bedouin sallies.
The destination was an oasis 380 miles due east tucked behind Scottsdale's Camelback Mountain, in Paradise Valley, and aptly named The Camelback Inn. Once there, having braved, well, nothing really, we would quench our thirst with some of the finest drinks ever sipped by any traveler, weary or otherwise...
In 1811, just a year after they were married, Pierre Nicolas Perrier and Rose Adélaїde Jouët released the first bottling of Perrier-Jouët champagne. Even at 200 it is among the youngest of the champagne brands that make Americans giddy: Moët-Chandon (makers of Dom Perignon), Veuve Clicquot and Roederer (makers of Cristal) are 18th century institutions.
When it comes to taste and quality, though, Perrier-Jouët can easily go bubble-for-bubble with its older compatriots. And when it came to celebrating its two-hundredth year, if you ask the house itself, it might have outdone them. Luxist attended the event in Paris, where we're told, "To celebrate its Bicentennary, Perrier-Jouët is initiating a conversation with time."
It is a conversation that begins with the Perrier-Jouët Bi-Centenaire sculpture and that will last nearly 100 years. And it involves lots and lots of champagne...
Gallery: Images from the Galerie Perrotin
Boots are special by dint of numerical minority: most people don't wear them, so we tend to notice them. As well, they present a larger palette for expression and are often expressive far beyond mere size. Yet the statements most boots make concern their wearers: the bella donna in an intoxicating pair of thigh-high Cavallis will probably have you wondering what other influences she might be able to exert on you.
But there is no archetypical wearer, no marble goddess eternally posing in an ur-Cavalli-thigh-high to which all subsequent thigh highs can pray for inspiration. (And yes, we do think that is a shame...)
Cowboy boots, on the other hand, speak to origins and a certain history in a way that few other boots do. Wellington wearers aren't trying to channel Napoleon's nemesis, nor are those in postilions likely to be anywhere near a coach – whereas the very point of a cowboy boot is to recall the men of the prairie. They are the Grecian urns of the American West, but instead of wine, their 10-inch, stitched and inlaid and tanned leather tops are portage for the overflowing, canteen-stained aura of "selfless, honest, independent, and self-reliant" loners.
And when you put them on, those are the waters in which you choose to dip your feet.
The problem, as with most cult relics, is that they are poorly understood. So Luxist spoke to custom boot maker Lisa Sorrell of Sorrell's Custom Boots – whose average boot runs $6,000 – to learn more about how the West was worn. One of the first things she told us: "I tell my customers that cowboy boots are a way for men to wear high heels and bright colors."
Poorly understood, indeed...
Gallery: Lisa Sorrell's Custom Boots
The all-suite Hansar Bangkok promotes itself as "a return to bespoke luxury," and if there's anything that might get us to believe them it's that the above is a picture of the bathroom in the Vertigo Suite. Also, the Hansar is not new to how luxury should be done in Thailand: it opened the Hansar Samui just last June, in Bophut Bay.
Gallery: Hansar Bangkok Opens
If you like Barker Black shoes but your accountant doesn't like the cost of donning them, then the brand's Spring/Summer 2011 collection might be the appropriate middle ground. There are eight slippes in washed linen and woven silk wool, four suede moccasins and three high-top sneakers.
The slippers can be had in black, natural, navy, charcoal or purple and all will be embroidered with "Death" on one foot and "Glory" on the other, in a contrasting color. The sued mocs range from cobalt to green to snuff brown, adorned with a silver crossbone. And the silk-striped high-top sneakers will come in deerskin or calf depending on your choice of orange, green, grey, black or white hue.
Dunhill launched its Day 8 platform for curated content just a couple of months ago, and now the British maker of fineries has undertaken another digital foray: this one is called Voice. Alfred Dunhill's Global Marketing Director, Jason Beckley describes Day 8 as "a communication device [that] exists to express our point of view. Day 8 is our creative research, the things that inspire us."
Voice, on the other hand, is the collected tales of inspiring men attired in Dunhill. Sir David Frost - yes, he of Frost/Nixon - artist Harland Miller, and violinist Charlie Siem take a solitary seat in front of the camera and explain some of the whats, whys, and wherefores of their lives and passions. And the stark lighting and desaturated colors help the viewer focus on what Dunhill hopes is revealed: "culture, intelligence, creativity, travel and elegance."
There are nine videos now, with more to follow, including the back stories of some of the "cast" of Voice. If nothing else, they are already intriguing snapshots of The Lives of Famous Men and great ads for Dunhill, but who knows - Voice could help you "see Dunhill as a vehicle for [your] own individuality and self expression." At the very least, it could give you some excellent wardrobe ideas.
The turn of the year is one of the grandest adventures on the calendar – or at least, it starts out that way, before the first day of the year becomes one of the grandest regrets on the calendar. Yet no matter what the stroke of 12 brings, it is no reason to let the exploits and excitements come to a halt; there are 364 strokes of 12 until you dust off the mistletoe again, and no reason not to spend as many of them as possible in mighty revelry.
With the help of our friends at Urban Daddy Jetset we've put together a list of ten of the top outrageous outings in which to glory throughout the year. Most, like the Songstam Circuit (pictured) come with a heap of luxury, some others with a bit of radiation, at least one with ropes and gags, but all of them with the kinds of good times you deserve no matter what day it is...
"Every day above ground is a good day" is the saying, and it depends entirely on how much latitude you give the definition of "good." There are other days, however – certain days, special days – that cannot be denied their inclusion in the ranks of The Best of the Good Ones. While we have no problem admitting that even the least among our days on the job are still pretty good, there are others that clearly and simply take their places at the front of a very competitive line. In no particular order, then, here are seven places and pleasures that have meant the most to us in 2010.
In 1880, cobbler Arthur Barker broke ground on a factory in Earl's Barton, Northamptonshire, England. He was trying to fulfill outrageous retail demand for the highly regarded shoes and waterproof peg-sole boots that bore his surname.
In 2004, Derrick Miller took a walk through the Barker factory, chose the best craftsmen as his own and created a luxurious line of shoes with lambent style. The next year, he set up a retail post in New York to fulfill retail demand for shoes that bore the name Barker Black.
In 2010 the march west made The Other Coast, with Miller bringing Barker Black to Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles. Luxist was there, and we had a chat with the founder to find out how timelessness, The English Way of Shoes, rock-n-roll, and the Duke of Cambridge's Own 17th Lancers are all supposed to fit on a gentleman's feet...
Gallery: Barker Black Arrives in Los Angeles
The tentacles of luxury have gripped capital cities so tightly that the phrase "The Big Smoke" more likely refers to wisps of black forest incense and lavender candles, not the white clouds of industry. Last year's list of top hotel openings was impressive for the mere fact that luxury boutique hotels were still fighting to open their doors, no matter where they were. This year, though, with the luxury tide returning to strength, there were a huge number of openings all over and the list took a bit more curating than even we expected. That means there were a very good hotels and resorts that aren't on this list, but - again with the help of our friends over at TabletHotels.com - these are the special establishments in special places that we think you should know about...