Thursday dusk, February 2nd
It's been three long years since I last set foot in New York City.
(Gazing north on Lexington Avenue toward the Chrysler Building.
All photographs by Lisa Borgnes Giramonti.)
My friend Michael Silber has generously offered to let me crash in his apartment overlooking Gramercy Park. Actually, "crash" is a poor word choice.
"Walk around in a langorous, dreamlike state" would be more accurate. The apartment, designed by Tracey Garet in collaboration with Michael, is heartbreakingly beautiful.
(Detail, living room)
(The guest bedroom. Walls are padded with fabric.)
(The ultra-chic guest bed, cozily tucked into a nook in the wall.)
I meet bloggers Nick Olsen, Bart Boehlert, Reggie Darling and his spouse, Boy Fenwick, for a drink at the Gramercy Park Hotel. We try repeatedly to go to the rooftop bar but the elevator absolutely refuses to cooperate with us so we squash ourselves into a little corner of the ground floor lounge. (We actually may be lucky. The next day, I recall reading about this in London's Daily Mail.)
Oh, it's fun to finally meet some of the people who have been inspiring me for years. All of them are trés handsome with their own inimitable style: Bart is chic, soft-voiced and gentle, Reggie and Boy are debonair, kind and huge-hearted, and Nick is endearingly -- and wickedly -- funny.(Gramercy Park Hotel lounge. That's my empty glass of Prosecco.)
Back at Michael's apartment, I reconnect with the sampler he purchased from my art show last year. (Note: No sheep or Ambien needed to sleep tonight.)
I meet my old friend Stephanie for breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien (we shared a loft on Horatio Street in the West Village years ago) and catch up on each other's lives as rapidly as we can in the hour allotted to us. Then it's a dash uptown to meet with a literary agent. I just might have written a book proposal. (And yes, I know how hard it is to get a book deal these days. But a girl can dream, can't she?)
I race crosstown to the D&D Building to have lunch with designer/magazine publisher Christopher Hyland. His new lifestyle/interiors magazine called Hyland (available as an iPad app HERE) is part World of Interiors, part (new) Architectural Digest, and wholly fabulous. (Very exciting: look for me to be a contributor in future issues.)
Christopher and Kyle Marshall, his editor-in-chief, are kindred souls. Within minutes, we're chatting as if we've known each other for years. (Can't you almost feel their buoyant spirits emanating from this photo?)
Lunch is one fascinating story after another. We talk about, among other things, Christopher's recent pilgrimage to Mount Athos, a medieval monastery in Greece overlooking the Aegean Sea. The monks were badly in need of new vestments, so Christopher donated hundreds of yards of silk fabric to them (see below). I think we can safely assume they must be the chic-est monks on earth, don't you?
I say "assume" because very few of us will ever witness their shining sartorial splendor. (Visiting Mount Athos is beyond difficult. You need a letter of recommendation from the Athens embassy as well as a special permit of entry from the Greek Foreign Ministry, and it's forbidden to all women, children and non-Orthodox Christians. Ah, well. Envisioning them chanting vespers in their finery is pleasure enough.)
Back at Christopher's showroom, I am overcome by all the beautiful fabrics and carpet samples.
See the fabric below? It was created for Napoleon's one night stay at the Villa Pisano in Veneto. Yes, I said one night, people.
Christopher casually points to these and says, "These were a few of Jackie O's favorites." I stop myself from stumbling.
And this one I'm forgetting the story behind, but it's so gorgeous it can certainly stand without one.
Friday afternoon tea
I meet with Jenny Comita, the deputy editor of Martha Stewart magazine. She is smart and funny and fetching in her red scarf and husband's striped bateau pullover. We discuss possible future projects and talk about the new redesign of the magazine since Pilar Guzman (former editor of Cookie and author of great family cookbook Time For Dinner) has taken over.
On the way to meet another literary agent, this earnest basket of daffodils catches my eye.
There's a violet haze descending on Gramercy Park and it looks like something out of another century. I half-expect Lily Bart to come clopping around the street corner in a canary-colored coach with a fringed hammer-cloth.
Michael and I make a quick stop at John Derian to drool over their wares. I find myself wondering if I can move in.
Oh, you "Fantastic Mr. Fox." Stop with the sly gaze. You know I'm yours.
Then it's across the street to Billy Reid, the haberdashery of choice for downtown New York gentlemen. The vibe is very city meets country. Michael picks up the perfect gray cardigan sweater -- one Cary Grant could wear to either a Main Line cocktail party or golfing with Bob Hope.A quick trek across cobblestone streets......and we arrive at ACME, the reinvented New Nordic restaurant that has taken the city by storm. (NY Times review HERE.)
My cocktail arrives in an old-fashioned champagne glass -- very "Rules of Civility" swell.
There's a big trend going on among men in Manhattan and it's called Buns and Beards (executed to greatest effect when they both appear on the same head). Our bartender is no exception. It's a striking look and makes them look like übercool artisanal cheesemongers, butchers, or mixology journeymen.
We are instructed that sharing plates is recommended, so we order a slew of items. Pearl barley and clams in a roasted sunflower broth and black cod with pickled green tomatoes, cardamom, vanilla and dandelion are standouts, as is our dessert, "Fallen Fruit with a Wheatgrass Granité."
I fall asleep dreaming of bunned and bearded Norwegian farmers harvesting apricots and plums off the dark loamy ground.
Years ago, I left my heart in this city. And every time I return, I look for it. And every time I find it, it's always time to leave.
As my car zooms toward JFK airport and the city slides away, it already feels like a dream.