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Jaguar’s New Jamboree of Luxury

The 2012 Jaguar XFR, XKR and XJ are brilliant combinations of power and design.

October 27, 2011


The 2012 Jaguar XJ, XKR and XFR

When one puts the pedal to the metal in any of the 2012 Jaguars, a heightened state of being is reached. Driving the super-powered R versions, however, is an even more sensual experience. The vehicles purr, pounce, and slice through traffic with confident precision.

Beneath the bonnet of the Jaguar XFR hums a 5.0-liter direct-injection supercharged V8 engine that delivers 510 hp and 461 lb.-ft. of torque and can accelerate the car from zero to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds. The XKR accomplishes the same in 4.6 seconds with the same horsepower and torque.

The unique JaguarDrive Selector—a knob that rises up when the engine starts—the driver can choose the drive function by rotating the control with the fingertips. (This design drew its inspiration from the grip on a Leica camera lens.) For manual gearing, there are paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel—a common feature on today’s luxury autos.

A High-Design Ride
What truly separates the Jaguar XF from the herd are details that Ian Callum, Jaguar’s director of design, calls “those small, intuitive touches that many people may not notice, but make a Jaguar a Jaguar.”

In describing the design of the XF sedan, Callum points out the two artfully shaped blades of chrome in the area where the fog lamps would normally reside. They were fashioned after a Philippe Starck knife.

He says that the Jaguar’s skins were “stretched to maximum efficiency” for a simple, seamless profile and feature special effects like ingots on the front haunches, the Jaguar growler on the front, and the leaper on the rear. “We did things to make people smile,” Callum notes. “It’s important to put stuff in that’s a bit of fun… the Brits have a sense of irony and wit.”  

Touches like a start/stop button that lights up like a heartbeat and beats red when the car powers up is a prime example. “We wanted to imply that the car is coming alive,” the designer says. The visual ballet continues with the air vents, which open (like eyes) when the car starts and close when it turns off. Mobile phones inspired the phosphorescent blue lighting that pools in soft halos around the switches. The dash, which combines clean lines with high-tech controls, is similar to a Bang & Olufsen stereo.

Every detail receives attention. To finish off the edges of the real wood surfaces, technicians used a finely tuned saw to avoid gaps. Even if one doesn’t notice these touches, Callum says that the overall effect is intuitive. “The driver comes away with a feeling of quality,” he says.

In the Driver's Seat
Buyers of the Jaguar XKR or XFR coupe receive a complimentary course at the Jaguar R Performance Academy located in cities including LA, New York, Las Vegas and Miami. The program, taught by world-class driving instructors, was developed to offer drivers the opportunity to explore the performance of the Jaguar line on some of the most technically challenging road courses in America. For those who have not purchased a car, a test drive ($1,850) includes a Jaguar for your use, a track facility and all-star instructors from Formula 1, Endurance Racing, IndyCars and more. Enjoy the ride.

—Holly Reich, with additional reporting by Erik Netcher


Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook

A favorite restaurant debuts a cookbook worthy of a look.

October 27, 2011

Those who have had the opportunity to dine at Eleven Madison Park know what a special restaurant it is. Chef Daniel Humm’s plates of fine-tuned fine food have received much acclaim—four stars from The New York Times, this year’s James Beard Award winner for Outstanding Restaurant, and three Michelin stars. Humm and general manager Will Guidara just keep raking in the accolades and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. This is an establishment that is constantly invigorating the fine dining experience and staying relevant since its opening in 1998 by Danny Meyer. Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook ($50) is the next best thing to being there. The 372 pages of recipes and stunningly vivid, plate-size photographs by Francesco Tonelli will spark the senses. 

—perry santanachote


Trick-or-Treat with FEED

Lauren Bush talks Halloween, UNICEF and her trick-or-treat FEED bag.

October 27, 2011

Lauren Bush

It seems as though the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF campaign has been around as long as the Halloween tradition itself. For more than 60 years, youngsters dressed as ghouls and goblins have gone door-to-door collecting coins along with their candy. Lauren Bush, CEO and co-founder of FEED Projects, remembers those days fondly. “It was always a rewarding and proud feeling to bring the change you collected into school the next day to be gathered and sent off to help other kids in need,” she says. “It is a very nostalgic campaign for so many people.”

The model and designer has accomplished a lot since her trick-or-treating days—a successful charitable foundation and fashion line to name a few—but some things haven’t changed: her love of Snickers and candy corn, and her unfailing support of UNICEF.

In addition to co-hosting the second annual UNICEF Masquerade Ball with UNICEF’s Next Generation this evening,Bush has brought back her FEED trick-or-treat bag ($18). Each bag purchased helps provide children in the developing world with an entire year’s worth of life-saving micronutrient powder. Sophia Bush, Alexis Bledel and Heidi Klum already got theirs. You can buy yours at Crew Cuts, Lord & Taylor and the Little Cupcake Bakeshop in Soho.

In a mere four-and-a-half years, Bush and her FEED project has provided more than 60 million meals to school kids around the world with the United Nations World Food Programme. Last year’s benefit raised more than $77,000 and this year’s total has already surpassed that. We caught up with Bush as she prepared for the Halloween-themed ball.

What costumes will you and your husband David [Lauren] be wearing to the ball?
LAUREN BUSH: We are still figuring that out! But we’ll probably go as superheroes. 

What are you looking forward to the most?
LB: A special cancan dance routine, DJ Mia Moretti and a live performance by Hey Champ. It is going to be a fabulous event—so much fun—and all to raise money for UNICEF’s lifesaving work.

Where did you last visit on behalf of UNICEF? What was the experience like?
LB: My last trip into the field was in March to Guatemala with my FEED teammates Kristina Fell and Katy Wanserski. We visited local artisans who are making our FEED Guatemala bags and sites where mothers are giving micronutrient powder to their children and being trained about child nutrition. As hard as it is to witness childhood malnutrition, it was very inspiring to see children who are happy and getting help through the programs we’re supporting.  

You travel so much for your work and philanthropy, where do you go to escape?
LB: I enjoy going to Montauk or Maine when I want to just relax. 

You were just in Montauk, but even then you were still working for the cause. For World Hunger Day you asked followers to tweet photos of their meals and FEED donated a meal for each picture. How much did you raise?
Our amazing supporters tweeted and donated the total cost of their meals to the FEED Foundation. We were able to provide 2,800 meals through that day’s campaign.

What did you have to eat that day?
LB: We are so lucky to be able to afford good, healthy food. I was lucky enough to enjoy a tofu wrap, a coffee, and a yogurt with granola from Joni’s [in Montauk]. 

Between FEED and Lauren Pierce, you have collaborated with so many designers and organizations. What new collaborations do you have on your plate?
LB: We are just launching a partnership with Links of London for holiday, which is a collection of FEED friendship bracelets, each giving to a different FEED cause.   

—perry santanachote


Johnny Depp Speaks

The premiere of The Rum Diary saw all eyes on Johnny Depp.

October 26, 2011

Amber Heard, Johnny Depp and Bruce Robinson
F Johnny Depp. The minute I arrived at MoMA for the debut of The Rum Diary (sponsored by Playboy), I heard from the army of just-out-of-college reporters on the red carpet that Depp wouldn’t be talking. “You can’t hear him anyway,” I said. Of all the soft-spoken stars, Depp is the softest. So many times I’ve put the question out there, put the tape recorder out there, and then not been sure that he was actually saying anything despite his moving lips. And not talking to print media at all was such an odd move considering he plays a reporter in the damned film.

The first big-name guest was Keith Richards and his oversize rats nest of hair. He barreled by wrapped up in his beautiful wife Pamela Hanson. He didn't stop, which ratcheted up the feeling that none of us reporters would be getting anything. On her way inside, model Behati Prinsloo (big hat, impish grin) explained the cavalcade of gorgeous women bum-rushing the screening room. “I am a Johnny Depp fan,” she told Dispatches. “I don’t think there is any girl that is not a Johnny Depp fan. Is there?"

Depp, who apparently once met Hunter Thompson in a bar out west, where Thompson was carrying a cattle prod, had a smudge of white schmutz on his window-pane jacket. Depp’s matching vest had a pocket watch dangling from a gold chain and he had another swinging from the upper right pocket of the coat. He wore chunky rings on two fingers, and some fingernails were painted with dark blue polish. There was a cap and a mustache and chin scruff. He wore neat banker's glasses in light blue and said that Thompson was “the Brando of journalists.” Every media outlet was shoving in booms to hear.

Director Bruce Robinson donned a translucent version of Depp's glasses, so I asked about them. “He bought me these at a place that sells antique glass frames, and they polish them up,” he said. Depp's good friend Patty Smith told Dispatches that she joined Depp and Robinson in Puerto Rico and that film making was hard work. “We were in the middle of the jungle with a lot of mosquitos,” she said. Was Robinson bitten? Not so much. “They don’t like booze, mosquitoes. Puerto Rico is the epicenter of rum production on earth,” he said.

Amber Heard was flawless in the film and as perfect in person with bright pink lips. “It was a dream,” she said of working with Depp. "That beautiful car... fun.” Glamorous crowd at the theater. The film? Aaron Eckhart as the PR sleaze is sensational. Heard lights up the screen with sex appeal and some vertical pants-off dancing with Depp and Eckhart (one at a time and not in that order). Depp looks good. But the episodic nature of the piece makes the film a desperately long two hours, although Puerto Rico, the car, the LSD scene, and Eckhart's house on the beach are must-sees.

—jeffrey slonim
photographs by gettyimages.com


Cozy Cocktails

Curl up with a hot toddy at the Forty Four bar.

October 26, 2011

The Spiced Cider at Forty Four bar

Baby, it’s getting cold outside. So warm up inside at the Forty Four bar at Royalton Hotel with a warm mug of Seven Spiced Cider, a concoction infused with pineapple, lemon, honey and spices topped off with spiced rum. The drink is one of the stars of the new fall cocktail menu. If ginger is more your speed, order the Ginger Julep, a zesty twist on the Kentucky classic with ginger and lemon. The inventive Thanksgiving Eve blends butternut squash, honey, ginger syrup and lemon juice—perhaps an ideal aperitif for Turkey Day. 44 W. 44th St., 212-944-8844

—perry santanachote


Mas Please

Chef Galen Zamarra takes food back to the fire at Mas (la grillade).

October 26, 2011

Chef Galen Zamarra

Chef Galen Zamarra of the popular Mas (farmhouse) just opened a new restaurant called Mas (la grillade) in the Village. The spotlight is still on fresh, seasonal ingredients, but this time Zamarra puts an emphasis on wood grilling. The entire menu is prepared over an open fire of locally sourced hardwoods using different cooking techniques such as smoking (hot and cold), steaming, charring and grilling. “What we’re doing at Mas (la grillade) is the antithesis of molecular gastronomy,” says Zamarra. “Cooking over live wood coals has nothing to do with transforming food into theater, but rather celebrates the natural properties of foods and flavor. This cooking technique delivers simple yet sophisticated cuisine.”

Zamarra is a well-known leader in the sustainable and slow food movement and the personal relationships he has built with local farmers and producers over the last 15 years put him in a unique position to source premium ingredients. “I can’t emphasize enough how critical the quality of the raw ingredients must be to make this concept work,” he says. Standout dishes include the smoked wild king salmon with grilled fennel and pears, grilled baby squid stuffed with bay leaves, baby arugula and grilled lemon vinaigrette, and the fig tart with smoked ice cream (yes, even desserts get the wood-fired treatment). 28 Seventh Ave. S., 212-255-1795

—perry santanachote


Making A House A Home

Catching up with Rachel Ashwell of Shabby Chic, who knows how to make a home decidedly beautiful.

October 25, 2011

Rachel Ashwell

Dionne Warwick crooned to the top of the Billboard charts in 1964 with a song called “A House Is Not a Home”—and no one knows the difference between a house and a well-appointed home better than Rachel Ashwell, founder of Shabby Chic. From her latest book, Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Inspirations and Beautiful Spaces, to her work with QVC, Ashwell is a pro. I chatted with her about the keys to her success, her new ventures and how all pinks are not created equal.

How important is a person’s home environment?
RACHEL ASHWELL: I feel a home grounds us both literally and figuratively. The world is growing and moving at such a fast and furious pace that we need our homes to help us to reconnect. It’s about balance, it’s about luxury, it’s about color and comfort and how all those pieces and parts help us to feel human and alive.

What is it about revitalizing beauty that attracts you?
RA: My dear mother passed away three years ago, and I think that the time I spent with her going to the flea markets had a huge impact on me. Watching her go through the tattered ribbons and lace and being privy to how much she loved the restoration process instilled a sense of awe [in me], a respect for the beauty of imperfection and a desire to find my own way along a similar path.

You were once quoted as having an “affinity for ruffles and pleats…” Is this true?
RA: That’s interesting because I believe strongly in a less is more approach. I do have a weakness for pink, but not all pinks are created equal.

What new projects are you focusing on now?
RA: My line with QVC has allowed me to find my way back to television and I love it! My hope is that the product line, Treasures by Shabby Chic, will connect viewers with my passion for flea marketing while keeping it affordable and accessible. The pieces I have chosen are some of my very favorite and they act as the core aesthetic to ground a design. You can expect things like side tables, occasional tables and the kind of things you will simply fall in love with and come to treasure as I do.

I am known for this next question so please indulge me. What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about you?
RA: For some reason I think people are under the impression I have “it” all worked out. I am not exactly sure what “it” is, but I assure you my life is a journey and I too have bumps in the road.

Read more from Joshua Estrin at popmuncher.com.

—joshua estrin


Scent Bombs

Cire Trudon uses a childhood tactic to fragrance a room.

October 25, 2011

High-end candle maker Cire Trudon used to make candles for the court at Versailles, so having a product called “Stink Bombs” associated with the label seems a bit oxymoronic. But it’s just the regal heritage brand’s way of having some fun with its fragrances. Modeled after the stink bombs of our youth, these vials release an exotic burst of perfume when broken. Each tin comes with 10 vials in a choice of six signature scents including the popular Nazareth, Odalisque and Roi Soleil. Grab a handful for your next guerilla air-freshening mission. Bergdorf Goodman, 754 Fifth Ave., 212-753-7300

—perry santanachote


Le Petit Lanvin

Find even smaller versions of Lanvin’s Petite collection.

October 25, 2011

not only created an adorable children’s collection with its Lanvin Petite line, it styled four limited-edition fabric dolls ($400) as part of the November launch as well. HIV-positive women in Swaziland stitched the handmade figurines, and a percentage of sales will go back to them via Dessine L’espoir, a local charity helping these women support themselves. The dolls are dressed in mini versions of the Lanvin Petite collection, so even if you aren't shopping for a child you can still get your hands on the designs. 815 Madison Ave., 646-439-0380

—perry santanachote


Test Drive: The 2012 Bentley Continental GTC

The new Bentley Continental GTC is open-top luxury redefined.

October 24, 2011

It was an exciting flight to Pula, Croatia, to drive Bentley’s 2012 Continental GTC. Not long ago Croatia was engaged in a fierce war. An undiscovered landmark on the European map, it is now full of energetic tourism and is geographically one of the most extraordinary locations I have ever seen. Our stay in Rovinj at the Hotel Monte Mulini off the Adriatic Sea was a picture-perfect rendering of what one would see on Travel Channel. Croatia is also one of a few parts of the world where truffles are plentiful, and the world record for the largest truffle ever was recorded here.

On the eve of our driving tour through the country, the Bentley staff opened the floor to its chairman and CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer, who introduced the second generation Continental GTC and briefed us on the company’s positive outlook and growth with great passion and vigor. Since driving the $212,800 super convertible, I can truly relate to his enthusiasm. It is open-top luxury redefined.

Under the Hood
It has been five years since the first GTC launched, so you can imagine the amount of new technology and sophistication instilled into the new vehicle. The formula begins with a 6-liter, twin-turbocharged W12 engine with 567 horsepower and 516 lb.-ft. of torque available up to 2,000 rpm. W.O. Bentley, founder of the British motoring company, came from a railroad engineering background and preferred powerful, unstressed, high-capacity engines. The company is still keen on that philosophy, though an 8-cylinder will soon be on the way and will afford Bentley a better marketing position to attract new customers.

The GTC’s rapid acceleration capability was evident when we needed to pass several slower moving vehicles on open roads. Like tennis phenomenon Serena Williams, the engine to vehicle size combination is powerful, quick and a bit intimidating (as well as charming and tranquil). When it comes to fuel efficiency, it is possible to achieve 11 city mpg and 19 highway mpg in the GTC, which can also operate on ethanol (though mileage will decline somewhat). Full-time all-wheel drive is standard, as is the new QuickShift transmission (borrowed from Bentley’s Supersports models) that allows for double downshifts. Track width has been increased and available 21-inch wheels provide a dominant stance. A programmable air suspension and adjustable springs (comfort or sport) allows the driver to manipulate the vehicle’s ride quality to his or her liking. Additionally, 0 to 60 mph clicks off in 4.5 seconds—similar to some of your favorite two-door sports cars.

Form Follows Function
Overall the 5,501-pound GTC is 150 pounds lighter, three-tenths of a second faster and structurally stiffer than its predecessor. Its lines are more distinctive and flowing, inlcuding a new front fascia. My favorite color combination is the granite gray exterior and merlot soft-top (seven-bow construction, three fabric layers) with a matching leather cabin. It is wondrous. The interior offers the availability of 17 various hides and seven unique veneers. And as Bentley would say, “Everything that looks like metal is metal.” (For example, the dandy organ stops that control the vents.) The four-seater luxury convertible is quite comfortable up front thanks to new seat designs with a massage function and an integrated neck warmer. They are also narrower, allowing for additional rear legroom. The back-seat spacing is the only qualm I have, since an adult would be cramped over long periods of time.

I plugged in my iPhone and let the bass vibrate through the high-end Naim audio system. A convertible must have powerful sounds and this one does, employing defense technology utilized for helicopter sound deadening. Google Earth enhances the eight-inch navigation touch screen, so there was no chance of getting lost in a foreign country. (I was amazed by the detailed graphics.) The second set of “turn by turn” instructions that appear in a micro window over the steering wheel is a definite plus, and all of the vehicle’s key operations can be set by touch on the new screen. It is good to see Bentley advancing into the world of connectivity, which it has previously seemed to ignore. The Mulsanne Executive Interior Concept with its video conferencing, multiple iPads and Mac Mini could be the ultimate technology link.

Back on the road, time moved slowly as I took in the beauty of the region and the exquisiteness of the car. If I were to deliver a discourse on the new Continental GTC, it would go something like this:

The Winged B: Its immense merits are sure to leave an inspirational imprint on the entire luxury market. Simply put, it is fluent in excellence.

Read more about luxury cars at Automotiverhythms.com.

Kimatni D. Rawlins, automotiverhythms.com

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