Monday, February 6, 2012

36 Hours of Living (Very) Glamorously

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.
(Living room.)

"Walk around in a langorous, dreamlike state" would be more accurate. The apartment, designed by Tracey Garet in collaboration with Michael, is heartbreakingly beautiful.
(Living room)

(Dining room)

(Detail, living room)

(The guest bedroom. Walls are padded with fabric.)

(The ultra-chic guest bed, cozily tucked into a nook in the wall.)

Thursday evening
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.)
Friday morning
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?)

Friday lunch
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.
Friday dusk
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.
Friday evening
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.

Saturday morning
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.


Notes From ABroad said...

Wonderful glimpses of home :)
I am looking forward to being there again, hopefully in the not too distant future.

I love the photos, the velvets and fabrics and his apartment. All lovely sources of inspiration for someone who is once again planning a move to a new home.

Anonymous said...

I'm new to this blog, inspired to hop over by Ciao Domenica. I moved back to LA from NYC about 3 years ago, and left at least a piece of my heart there too. Your wonderfully descriptive post, had me able to almost smell NY. Thanks.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Oh no, I wish I had known -I was in town too!

Cathi said...

A definite dream like week in one of my favorite cities! xxoo

Tree said...

Wowowow - what a dream indeed! Congrats on all the upcoming projects, and hope those that are in the works come true for you.

P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

dreams do come true-It can happen to you. No doubt that it will. the magazine with Christopher HYland sounds exciting-a venerable house to be sure.

Lily said...

What a beautifully illustrated chronicle of your adventures and exciting news!!

The Buzz Blog @ Diane James Home said...

A book deal indeed... oh how I wish this will come to fruition for you! And I hope it will be one that will include all of your travels, documented by your wonderful photography. So glad you were not in the Gramercy Hotel elevator! XO, Cynthia

Kelly said...

My goodness, so much good stuff and good news in this one post. I would very much like to walk (at least) one mile in your shoes.

penelope said...

I really miss living there. I gave my husband the a-okay to go anywhere for his 40th this summer (last summer we went to Blancaneaux for my 40th) and he only has eyes for New York. We haven't been back since moving away years ago.
And....why am I still thinking about that little square of golden carpet sample in your photo. ARG! I love it!

Unknown said...

oh, yes, lisa, please keep dreaming of a book deal. yours is a book i would buy -- even pre-order.
so glad you had a nice time in nyc.
& so glad you've written about it.

-elliot in minnesota

Olga Roth said...

Buns and beards! They've made their way here as well! You made it all so romantic! Except the buns & beards.
Not even you can do that! Hmmm...Buns & Beards. Let's open a bar!!

Nick said...

You are even more beautiful and charming in person! I'm too scared to open the elevator link ... one perk to living in this walkup, I guess . Mentally pre-ordering your book now! xoxox

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Min said...
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Emily said...

I have savored every single word written here. I wish you the best of luck with all future writing endeavors, and I will be the first in line to purchase your book!

Anonymous said...

You've made me want to visit New York. MORE. THAN. EVER.


Unknown said...

Some journeys are remembered for the longest time and one, connected with a book up your sleeves and some magazine contributions in the side lines must be one of them.
I hope your home will envelope you again with love!

helen tilston said...

Hello Lisa

Being with blogging friends must have been like a dream. There is such a familiarity from reading their posts. You accomplished so much in such a short visit. Put me down for your book too. It is all so wonderful and I will be praying for your success.


Reggie Darling said...

Dearest Lisa,
Thank you, thank you for being the master-mind (or is it mistress-mind?) behind our bloggers confab at the ever-so-stylish Grammercy Hotel during your whirlwind visit. Too much fun, and lots and lots to talk about (it is a wonder any of us got a word in edge-wise given that the table was surrounded by champion talkers, indeed! Boy and I had such a swell time, and I've been walking on air ever since!!

I am your most devoted and most humble servant, Reggie

Reggie Darling said...

Next time we must drag architect design in if he's in town again! And EEE who was crestfallen that her glamorous life took he unavoidably elsewhere that evening!

pve design said...

Dearest Lisa,
Next time - I would be happy to throw a soiree for you and invite all your fans and followers. All you would need do is show up and we would certainly provide fodder for you to artfully craft into words or stitches.
Glad your trip was a glamorous stay.
Safe journey home.

Tallat Satti said...

If i had a change to live 36hrs in such fabulous town i would love to spend it without sleeping.
~MyGIG Navigation

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Cannot wait to see what you're up to! Exciting!
I have a fat orange chair covered in Christopher Hyland velvet. Love, love it.

Helen James said...

what a fabulous homage to the great city
I have been back in Ireland 4 months and do miss it so!!
But i shall be there in 3 weeks and am so inspired by your post xxxx

Acanthus and Acorn said...

This post was such great fun, left me savoring every little snippet and fantastic images! Looks like 2012 is shaping up to be an exciting year for you and I wish you much success. I would have loved to have been enjoyed the company of these bloggers or at least been a fly on the wall, Reggie, in particular, is one of my favorites. Thank god, you all skipped the elevator!


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