Number 6 is from Gore Vidal.
Read excerpts from The Gospel According to Coco Chanel: Life Lessons from the World’s Most Elegant Woman here, here, and here.
Read excerpts from The Gospel According to Coco Chanel: Life Lessons from the World’s Most Elegant Woman here, here, and here.
To cap off Hotel Week, we asked the team at Mr & Mrs Smith to compile a Top 10. (As an added touch of glamour, we even kept the British spellings.) Post a comment telling which of these you find most glamorous, or describing your own favorite glamorous hotel, and you could win a copy of The Global Shortlist, their lusciously illustrated guidebook. [VP]
We’ve posed by rooftop plunge pools, cavorted on Caribbean islands and dallied in designer dens (all in the name of research, of course) to bring you our run-down of the 10 most glamorous hotels from around the world. All that’s left for you to do is sit back, sip champagne and decide whether you want to play A-list celeb, Park Avenue princess or lord of a country manor…
The Mercer, New York
Style Louche luxe lofts
Setting So chic SoHo
Sister to Hollywood’s mansion of misbehaviour, Chateau Marmont, the Mercer is as much a classic as Manhattan the cocktail, Manhattan the movie, and Manhattan the city. Everything here is on a grand scale, from the huge windows bathing rooms in light, to the gargantuan marble bathrooms. The look is understated, edgy glamour, and the hotel’s a favorite of the fash pack. As a guest you have a golden ticket to the hotel’s achingly cool club, SubMercer, with its metallic mosaic floors and mirrored ceilings. It’s easy to see why some people unpack their Vuittons and just never leave…
Mykonos Grace, GreeceMykonos Grace, Greece
Sitting on a cliff top above the Aegean, the terraces and colonnades of this whitewashed hotel jut out imposingly from the rock-face. Attentive but unobtrusive staff seem to appear out of the stonework when needed, as though unwilling to disturb the perfect balance of clean lines, clean living, and absolute peace. The turquoise infinity pool – a major draw for the island-hopping playboys and girls that stay here – looks out onto the sea and is the perfect spot to sun-bask in an over-sized lounger, sipping on the frozen fruit shots distributed by staff and planning an evening’s misbehaviour in lively Mykonos Town, just down the road.
Style Refined rustic retreat
Setting Lenox hillside
Perched atop a grand, green knoll in the Berkshire Hills, Wheatleigh combines the grandeur of a Florentine palazzo with the intimacy of a country cottage. With antique furniture and modern oil paintings, and a 22-acre landscaped-garden setting, Wheatleigh is a luxurious country-house classic. And, with 19 rooms, massages on demand, and staff happy to bring out snacks as you float in the pool, you’ll feel like the lord of the manor.
Cotton House, Mustique
Cotton House, Mustique
Style Champagne colonial
Setting Private-island playground
Hotels don’t come any more exclusive than Cotton House. Only accessible by private plane, the tiny island of Mustique is a bubble of inviolable luxury, with perfect beaches shared only between the hotel’s guests and the island’s celebrity rich. The coral-white boutique hotel, once a plantation house, combines French West Indies architecture with Caribbean trimmings. It’s the social hub of the island, too – every Tuesday, the super-rich neighborhood villa owners flock to the Great Room bar for champagne and canapés. Rooms are decorated in muted, beachy shades with floor-to-ceiling windows to maximize the breathtaking sea views.
Chateau Marmont, Los Angeles
LA icon Chateau Marmont is the stuff of legend. Sitting high in the hills, this pseudo-Norman chateau is all turrets, towers, and vaulted colonnades – with a magnum-full of celebs thrown in for good measure. The hotel’s idiosyncratic pseudo-Norman architecture shines out across LA from high in the hills like a Disney castle gone bad; its turrets and towers a siren call to playboys and their perfectly coiffed muses. Chateau Marmont may have a reputation for hard-partying, non-stop glamour, but the reason those in the know return time after time is simple: classic good looks that haven’t dated a jot, moreish menus by one of New York’s most feted new chefs, an intimate ambiance, and staff who know how to pamper without imposing. Truly, one of the classiest hotel acts around.
La Purificadora, Puebla, Mexico
Style Industrial revolution
Setting Colonial old town
From the outside La Purificadora resembles its previous incarnation – a 19th-century water-bottling factory – but once you pass reception (with its artfully preserved peeling paintwork), the hotel opens out into a cathedral of space, with rough granite walls and monolithic pillars made from reclaimed wood. Water trickles down the staircase to a pool at the bottom, and two huge fire pits surrounded by purple cubist sofas dominate the lobby.
One thing’s for certain – La Purificadora is cool. The spectacular rooftop pool oozes sex appeal with glowing onyx pillars and glass walls, giving the suitably sultry margarita-suppers cheeky underwater views from the bar. La Purificadora is the architectural equivalent of a shot of tequila: momentarily overwhelming, but it sure makes your weekend go with a bang.
XV Beacon, Boston
XV Beacon, Boston
Style Classic city chic
Setting Beside beautiful Boston Common
With original cage elevators and art deco furnishings, this Beaux Arts hotel exudes demure elegance. Rooms are a mix of classic and contemporary, with Louis XV-inspired furniture sitting alongside 42” flatscreen TVs. The landscaped roof gardens have spectacular views of the city’s skyline, and the cherry on top is the hot tub to enjoy them from. With in-room massages, a Lexus chauffeur service, and personalized business cards for its guests, XV Beacon is a landmark of living it luxe.
St James’s Hotel & Club London, UK
Style Grown-up glamour
Setting Majestic Mayfair
London’s gentlemen’s clubs normally conjure associations of wood-paneled studies shrouded in a fog of cigar smoke and mystery, but the newly revamped St James’ hotel’s prize possession is its art collection – a massive stash of modern portraits than adorn the suites, the lobby walls, the sleek canary yellow bar area, and the hothouse of haute cuisine that is the hotel restaurant. A pristine marble staircase wends its way up from the black lacquered lobby, leading to rooms that promise hand-made Hypnos beds dressed into the most luxurious of linens and gleaming black and chrome bathrooms.
Shore Club, Miami
Shore Club, Miami
Style Miami meets Marrakech
Setting Sexy South Beach
At first glance, the Shore Club appears to be quite modest – its minimalist lobby features a reserved blend of grey terrazzo floors, white sheer fabrics, and art deco-style columns. But, as fashionistas well know, it’s all in the accessories, and the Moroccan-themed furnishings, sheer white drapery and quirky one-off pieces set the style stakes high. Around the pool lie lithe, tanned hipsters, cocktails in hand, luxuriating on oversized sun loungers. And as the sun goes down, the scene hots up with more poolside posing in the hotel’s two outdoor bars, Rumbar and Sandbar.
Amanpuri, Phuket, Thailand
Amanpuri, Phuket, Thailand
Style Chic teak Thai pavilions
Setting Pansea Beach coconut groves
Set blessedly apart from the Phuket tourist trail, Amanpuri may be the granddaddy of Aman Resorts’ group of insanely luxurious spa hotels, but even at 21, it still looks like it was built last week. By day, laze on a wooden sun-lounger beside the midnight-blue infinity pool (and don’t miss the incredible poolside tea and cakes at 4pm every day), or on the ice-white sands of the perfect private beach. At dusk, watch the sunset from a day-bed in the Beach Club, quaffing cocktails to a chilled-out soundtrack of lounge music, before choosing between the hotel’s three gourmet restaurants (Thai, Italian and Japanese) and settling into the chic bar for a post-prandial cigar worthy of a Bond villain.
For more glamour-draped hotel stays, visit Mr&MrsSmith.com.
10. Though in recent years it has come to symbolize the ubiquity of the middle-market status-seeking known as masstige, Tiffany blue has an undeniable place in the pantheon of the most glamorous colors. The color was introduced on the famous boxes not long after the company’s founding. (In fact, the custom robin’s-egg hue has the same Pantone number as that year: 1837.) Charles Lewis Tiffany shrewdly increased the prestige of both company and color with his famous rule: that no Tiffany box could bought, and that it could never leave the store without containing a purchase.
9. The inky, bloody red of Chanel’s Vamp nail color should be coming back into vogue right about now, with our culture currently in the thrall of a deep vampire fixation. Immortalized on the nails of Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction, and going on to sell $1 million in the first year alone, Vamp became an iconic color symbolizing a slightly dangerous, edgy form of Fin de Siècle glamour.
8. The color of deep seas, dark sapphires, and the city sky over a night on the town, midnight blue stands for an elegant, nocturnal glamour. It’s also more masculine than many others. Midnight blue is the only respectable alternative to black for a man’s evening suit, introduced in the 1920s by the Duke of Windsor because it was more photogenic than black. It proves to be equally camera-friendly on red carpet gowns; witness exhibits A (Heidi Klum), B (Marion Cotillard), and C (Anne Hathaway).
7. The color of precious metals and mirrors, platinum evokes old Hollywood glamour. It calls to mind the films of the silver screen and smoke trailed in lazy tendrils from endlessly burning cigarettes. It’s the color of the light that shimmers in chiaroscuro portraits of 40s starlets, the hue of a hit record, the tint of the boldest blond. Impervious to tarnish, platinum is always radiant, brightening up diamonds and bringing the gloss of luxury to whatever it touches.
6. Synonymous with old luxury, Hermès orange is an unlikely hue for glamour. Orange is normally associated with a sunny energy (and my other specialty, joy), but tempered with burnt caramel it becomes a sophisticated signature color. Originally, Hermès boxes were cream-colored with a gold lining. Pretty, but hardly as distinctive as the current hue. Legend says the color was chosen during World War II, when the printers ran out of stock for boxes. The only color left was an unpopular orange, and when Hermès decided to take the entire stock off their hands to prevent future shortages, the color stuck. In the 1960s, three Hermès cousins were leaving a luncheon when they noticed some ladies carrying their bright orange bags, standing out in a crowd of thousands. “We absolutely must keep that color!” they all agreed, and the rest is history. Of course, the distinction of luxury is not always welcome in a recession. Recently, the media has been reporting a trend towards "brown bag couture", where stores including Hermès have been offering plain bags to allow their customers to leave the store unmarked by their excesses of consumption.
5. The luminous, sparkling shade of the world’s most celebratory libation, the color champagne is a translucent wonder. Like liquified gold, it glitters and reflects, shimmers and glows. Champagne brings a certain opulence to horses, roses, satin, and diamonds. In fashion, it manages to suggest skin without being racy. In interiors, it brings a cool incandescence to garden variety beige. In any context, it’s a novel alternative to white that balances restrained elegance with joie de vivre.
4. “The pearl is the oyster’s autobiography,” said Fellini, and in its nacreous white surface we find a world of mystery. The iridescence of pearl white epitomizes many aesthetic features of glamour: elusive depth, richness, reflectivity and luster. Like the looks of many glamorous icons, it is widely coveted but difficult to replicate, though that hasn’t stopped paint manufacturers, cosmetics companies, and textile designers from trying, often with beautiful yet imperfect results.
3. Color of royals and the occult, deep purple has perhaps the longest history of any glamorous color. Purple dyes date back nearly four thousand years to the Minoan civilization in Crete, and were produced by extracting mucus from certain species of mollusks. The dye was extremely costly to produce; just to get 1.5 grams took over 12,000 shellfish, which explains why it became the definitive royal color throughout the ancient world, including Egypt, Persia, and Rome. Purple became democratized with the discovery of aniline synthetic dyes in the 1850s, but its glamour has never faded.
2. No color could be more intensely effective at focusing the attention than a pure, scarlet red. Most glamorous in small pops — a Dita von Teese pout, a trenchcoat lining, or the soles of a pair of Louboutin stilettos — red is dramatic, sensual, and intense. Red is also easier to get away with than you think. With enough confidence no one looks bad in a red dress, and there are dozens of websites designed to help you choose the right red lipstick for your coloring. Red was also all over the runways for fall, so there’s no time like the present to pluck up your courage and brave this boldest of hues.
1. Little need be said about black, the essential non-color of fashion, mystery, and rock and roll. Since the little black dress was invented by Coco Chanel in the 1920s, black has never wavered in its position as the sartorial equivalent of oxygen. Its purity allows us to focus on form with no distractions; cut, draping, and fit carry the concept. Black is slimming, timeless, and endlessly relevant. It transcends context. It is elegant everywhere, from boardroom to beach, from dawn until well past dusk. Unlike most attributes of value, its desirability is not compromised by ubiquity. Perhaps this is because black is so adaptable, reinforcing without contradiction the full range of glamorous identities. Black manages to be both understated and dramatic, traditional and contemporary, mainstream and edgy, runway and real world. It is not subject to diktats of seasonality or the whims of fashion. Though many a trend claims to supersede it, when it comes to glamour one thing is clear: black will always be the new black.
P.S.: This proved to be a hotly debated topic! A few runners up:
Rich, sophisticated chocolate brown
Gold, warm and radiant
The deep swirling green known as malachite
Any others? What's your most glamorous color?
[Images: Tiffany box courtesy of Tiffany & Co., Chanel Vamp nail color courtesy of Chanel, Hermes box courtesy of Hermes. All others via Flickr used under the Creative Commons license, in order: Pesterussa, puss_in_boots, chrischapman, amboo who?, VampzX_23, luca pedrotti, Danielo_Bolo.]
This week's Top 10 list is by our resident car nut Diego Rodriguez, who blogs about design at Metacool and cars at Unabashed Gearhead Gnarlyness, leaving only a little time for DG. He last wrote for DG about fashion in World of Warcraft.--VP
I can only imagine the hate mail this post will generate. Even if you dislike cars, my sense is that you'll have a list of cars you believe are more glamorous than others. And it is very likely that none of your cars are on my list of glamorous cars. For a person like me, who suffers from an abiding love of automobiles, as well as a deep fascination for all the people who've designed, built, and raced them, putting this list together was pure torture. In the span of fifteen minutes I created a list of 47 contenders, and only via much gnashing of teeth and multiple strokes of the delete key was I able to whittle it down to the final ten.
Here they are, the ten most glamorous cars made after 1945 (in order of date of manufacture--any other ranking is just too difficult):
Lancia Aurelia B20GT (1950): the archetypal two-door gran turismo, this Lancia is a most elegant expression of Italian design in the postwar period. This is the auto for two people deeply in love to tour the lakes of Lombardy. I fell in love with it after seeing it at speed in the pages of Tintin. Of all the cars on this list, this is my favorite.
Aston Martin DB5 (1963): Goldfinger. Silver. Ejector seat. Tire-slashing wheel spinners. Not so much about James Bond, more about Sean Connery. British glamour at its best, and arguably the high point of Aston Martin design.
Ferrari 400 Superamerica (1963): For those of you who equate the Ferrari brand with gold-chain reruns of Magnum PI, please consider this: in the early sixties, Ferrari made just 47 of these bespoke beauties, each fettled with a hairy V-12 motor up front and exceptionally pure bodywork from Pininfarina. These were fast, glamorous cars built for kings. This was the Ferrari of Rockefellers, the Aga Khan, and Gianni Agnelli.
Mercedes-Benz 600 (1964): When a movie director wants to tell us that a very evil, very powerful, very nasty dictator (albeit one with good taste) is about to arrive, he is likely to choose this car. All joking aside, some truly awful human beings occupied the back seat of this car. Ultra expensive in its day, the 600 is still the ne plus ultra of the Mercedes brand. It's rumored that you can still buy a new one today if you have enough cash...
Lamborghini Miura (1966): One of these came to a tragic end at the start of The Italian Job. I've stayed away from out-and-out sports cars on this list because the experience of driving them is often less than glamorous, but because the Miura captures all that was outrageous about pre-Vietnam '60s culture, it made the cut. If you could afford to buy and run one of these, you had money. And if you were attractive enough not to be shown up by its timeless styling, you certainly qualified as glamorous.
Cadillac Eldorado Brougham (1957): Harley Earl's unique view of the universe is best personifed by this car, with its tailfins, dagmars, brushed stainless steel roof, and intricate metal detailing throughout. It featured suicide rear doors, stainless steel drink tumblers, a cigarette case, and even a perfume dispenser. Open those doors, and you half expect Marilyn Monroe to tumble out in all her platinum glory.
Porsche 911S (1970): I had to put a Porsche on the list. So I chose the one that Steve McQueen drove around the countryside of Le Mans at the start of his movie of the same name. Before the 911 became a testosterone wagon, it was a compact, even lithe vehicle powered by a relatively small motor. An elegant Porsche. As such, I think it's the most glamorous car ever driven by McQueen, who was one glamorous dude.
Range Rover (1970): the first generation Range Rover was styled by engineers, but like the American Jeep which came thirty years earlier, its design process spawned something of great purity from an aesthetic point of view. As its basic, utilitarian design added layers of luxury and power over the years, it was transformed in to the ur-SUV, a temple of jet-setting glamour and power. If in 1957 the Eldorado would have been your vehicle of choice, in 1987 you wanted to be seen in a Range Rover. The most glamorous ride ever to sport external door hinges.
Toyota Prius (2004): not the dowdy first-generation model, nor the overly angular third gen edition. The second-generation Prius defined "hybrid" as a glamorous technological paradigm. Not only is this the only Japanese car on my list, but the Prius is the only one that Leonardo drove. Like all the other cars on this list, its glamour has its roots in power, but in this case it is about its relative lack thereof. What a difference 50 years makes... given a choice between this and the Sunbeam, I bet Grace Kelly would have driven one, too.
This week's Top 10 comes from our semi-mysterious blogger DMC, a.k.a. Groomzilla, who most recently wrote about Michael Jackson.—VP
America does not have royalty in the traditional sense, but what we lack in kings and queens we make up for in the glamorous pop divas that fill our tabloids with gowns, glitter, and goss. Pop divas not only define “the look” of any moment in time, but they also provide its rhythm—the pulsing backbeat that is in the background of our shopping trips, our car rides, our cocktail hours, and our nights on the town. We even derive some of our most-overused idiomatic expressions from pop songs, as evidenced by the gross misuse of “bootylicious” when Beyoncé unleased the word upon the unsuspecting masses which, clearly, were “not ready for her jelly.” But which pop divas have this author’s heart at this moment? The answer might surprise you.
10. Miley Cyrus. Yes, she’s annoying. Her dad was (and remains) even more annoying, and can never be forgiven for my six-week line dancing unit in co-ed Freshman year PE set to “Achy Breaky Heart.” Her horse teeth alone give me nightmares. You cannot deny, however, the power that “Hannah Montana” has over the tween set. She sells out concerts in seconds and sends parents scrambling for overpriced tickets. Her bare shoulder turned a single Annie Leibovitz portrait into a public referendum on pedophilia. And maybe, just maybe, I have belted out “See You Again” or “The Climb” while racing down the 101.
9. Kylie Minogue. She’s been around forever, but we really stood up and took notice when her ultrasexy “Fever” album had everyone singing “la la la / la la la la la” on a loop in 2002. Secretly, you wanted to wear the dress from the “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” video, because druid hood + no bra + mini-skirt = fashion, dahling! Ms. Minogue brings her concert spectacle to North America for the first time this Fall, just as she launches her new cologne for men in Europe and Australia. Will I smell like Kylie while watching Kylie and singing Kylie in the car afterwards? Of course!
8. Taylor Swift. Tall, willowy and fresh-faced, this new young country star makes the insipid lyrics of “Love Story” oddly charming and believable. It’s rare to see such Siren-like beauty on the red carpet at the age of 19, and rarer still to hear a heterosexual male co-worker openly admit to having attended a “really great” concert where the average attendee was still in driver’s ed.
7. Beyoncé Knowles. Just add water, and she makes her own parody. Her alter ego, Sasha Fierce, wears a mechanical hand and sunglasses with fringe. Her mother makes the world’s ugliest clothes for the House of Deréon. She rose to stardom writing songs about her bills, who paid for her shoes, and how she and her sisters in matching camo-print booty shorts were ”survivors” in a video of an undisclosed jungle near Beverly Hills. But her lyrical hooks burn into your skull, from “Crazy in Love” to “Single Ladies.” She seems to have worn every gown, every wig, and every Thierry Mugler shoulder pad concept ever conceived. At her best, she is a fashion icon. At her worst, you still want to talk about what she’s wearing. Yet for all of her unapologetic, over-the-top divadom, she comes across as that nice girl next to door who just happens to be rich, talented, and married to Jay-Z.
6. Carrie Underwood. In one song, she made it cool for you to vandalize your cheating boyfriend’s car while still keeping your teased blond hair looking fierce. The first “American Idol” winner to find success in country music, Underwood presents amazing outfit after amazing outfit in concert and on the red carpet. Her legs alone are enough to want to be her for a day.
5. Justin Timberlake. The only male “pop diva” on this list, there is something a little feminine about J.T. even when he’s at his man-candy best. Perhaps its his attention to the William Rast clothing line that he co-designs, or maybe its his carefully calculated (almost overly-perfect) image as a ladies’ man. Regardless, if you ask any subset of young males which celebrity they want to be, Timberlake’s name is likely to be at the top of the list.
4. Rihanna. I have more current information on Rihanna’s haircuts than I do the Obama health care plan. Rihanna simply oozes modern fashion, whether arriving at the Costume Institute Gala in a Dolce pantsuit or emerging from a restaurant in a sea of pearls and chains over a sassy mini-dress. Not only a style icon-in-training, Rihanna single-handedly caused the entire world population to develop a stuttering problem for any word ending in “ella” for over a year.
3. Cher. It’s Cher. Does this require explanation? Who else can put on a Bob Mackie headdress and a gown with a neckline plunging down to her naughty bits and not come across as completely ridiculous?
2. Madonna. The original MTV-era provocateur, Madonna is ground zero for almost any major concept in the modern day music video, arena concert, or pop diva marketing strategy. She has also built her empire on an ever-changing repetoire of glamorous looks. Now 50, the concept of “Madonna glamour” is less about sex and more about pure power: the life of a globe-trotting tastemaker who dabbles in film, philanthropy, and religious exploration to find meaning outside of the discotheque. Secretly everyone wants to be her, even if they don’t necessarily want to recreate her last “look” or tone their arms to a frightening degree.
1. Lady GaGa. Masks encrusted with disco balls? Check. Spacesuit-like leotards with stiletto heels? Check. Smokey eye make-up that resembles a zipper? Check. Cone bras that shoot out fire? Hell, even Madge didn’t think of that one. No one is pushing the iconographic envelope like Lady GaGa, who draws inspiration from everyone from Helmut Newton to Britney Spears to create the kind of pop spectacle that would make Warhol grin. Her song “Paparazzi” might best describe her modus operandi: “Baby, there’s no other superstar / You know that I’ll be / Your papa, paparazzi.”
Editor's Note: With this post, Kit Pollard, who doubles as a food blogger and columnist, kicks off a new DeepGlamour feature. Got ideas for other Top 10 lists you'd like to see? Want to guest blog one of your own? Email me at virginia-at-deepglamour.net.
Cheetos, grilled chicken breasts, the handfuls of nuts we grab to get through the workday - most food is forgettable at best.
But not all of it. Food, like clothing, can rise above its role as something that's simply necessary for survival. Fabulous food can elevate an event from run-of-the-mill to glamorous.
And what makes a food glamorous? According to a quick, and completely unscientific, poll of several glamour-loving food bloggers, it's all about decadence and degree of difficulty. If it's hard to find, has a short season, or is especially rich in flavor, it's probably glamorous.
Here, in declining order, are the top ten most glamorous foods:
9. Asparagus with hollandaise. When a seasonal vegetable is topped with a rich sauce, it’s always glamorous.
8. Chocolate-covered strawberries. The sweet version of asparagus in hollandaise.
7. A piping hot, chewy, crusty baguette. Preferably from Poilane in Paris.
6. A perfect tomato, just from the vine. Juicy and ephemeral.
5. Butter-poached lobster. So hard to cook perfectly, and so amazing when it’s just right.
4. Foie gras. Rich and controversial.
3. Oysters – dressed up (Rockefeller) or down (on the half shell with mignonette sauce). Not-so-pretty, and certainly an acquired taste, but special nonetheless.
2. Truffles. Heady, hard to find, and outrageously expensive and exclusive.
1. Caviar. With or without blinis (but preferably with champagne), these tiny bubbles are foodie shorthand for glamour.
What do you think? Anything missing? Misplaced? What's your idea of a perfectly glamorous meal?
["Russian Black Caviar" by Flickr user Cavin used under the Creative Commons license.]