Greg Girard

Three top fashion designers open their secret address books to provide the ultimate guides to Shanghai, London & New York

Horacio Silva, Martha Huang, Alex Gorton
December 10, 2009

In Shanghai, Vivienne Tam finds not only antiques shops but plenty of inspiration too

Canton-born designer Vivienne Tam has been making twice-yearly pilgrimages to Shanghai for more than two decades to find inspiration. "In the early 80's, the country was opening up and people were experimenting with new looks. They wanted to be different," Tam remembers. It was just such experimentation that propelled Tam to create some of her most iconic pieces, like her groundbreaking Mao collection, which featured silk screens by artist Zhang Hongtu. On a recent visit, Tam took T+L on a tour of her hidden Shanghai.

Chic Boutiques

"There's so much talent here," says Tam, referring to the designers on Taikang Road, an up-and-coming gallery and boutique area. At Lao Shanghai (No. 5, Lane 210 Taikang Rd.; 86-21/5465-1580), run by three young artists who trained at Qinghua University's Art Academy, Tam—the daughter of Chinese opera fans—spots a dress adorned with painted opera masks. Across town, Duolun Road, the former home to Shanghai intelligentsia, is now an emerging shopping zone, lined with antiques shops and used bookstores. At Guo Chunxiang Family Collection (179-181 Duolun Rd.; 86-21/5696-3948), the memorabilia includes retro vinyl Chairman Mao and Lin Biao buttons; Laiyin Art Garden (158 Duolun Rd.; 86-21/5671-5506) has a collection of Shanghai Deco lampshades. Another favorite: Chinese Classics Bookstore (424-440 Fuzhou Rd.; 86-21/6322-0825), where Tam snaps up reproductions of communist-era comic books and an artist's backpack that fits a sketch pad and a portable easel.

Market Watch

At the sprawling Old City God's Temple market, Tam leads the way past stands selling paper lanterns, tea, and painted fans to the Nan Fang Curio Market (69 Jiuxiaochang Rd.), where vintage clothing abounds. Stalls No. 32 and 33 carry cheongsams in Art Deco prints and a Qing dynasty skirt with embroidered medallions that Tam just has to have. It is here that Tam imparts the first rule of bargaining: "Walk away," she whispers. "If you're lucky, the sellers run after you, but if they don't, you can't go back because then they double the price. But like anything worthwhile, sometimes you have to risk losing it."

Going to the Source

Tam often incorporates elements from traditional crafts into her clothing. The dusty, one-room Chinese Hand-Printed Blue Nankeen Exhibition Hall (No. 24, Lane 637 Changle Rd.; 86-21/ 5403-7947) displays samples of batik dating back to the 1890's. All the tools of dyeing are on display, from wooden printing blocks to wax-paper cutouts. Tam, who has translated the designs into black-and-white embroidery, is this time drawn to the wax overlay on the fabric before it's dyed. "I love the white-on-white texture and patterns—so subtle."

Picture-Perfect

"One of my favorite souvenirs is the hand- tinted wedding photographs from the Cultural Revolution. I love the red cheeks! I had my own picture done in the early 1980's just to see what it would look like," says Tam, as she strikes a pose at Wangkai Photography Shop (378 Nanjing East Rd.; 86-21/6322-1098), which still produces the hand-painted pictures. The studio is filled with evening gowns, bridal dresses, even a Korean costume for women who want to dress up like Korean soap star Lee Young-ae. But Tam doesn't need to borrow an outfit: she's brought her own black metallic organza cocktail dress.

Food Scene

In 1918, Wing On was one of four Nanjing Road department stores that helped define Shanghai as the Paris of the Far East. Now it houses Xian Qiang Fang (600 Jiujiang Rd.; 86-21/ 6351-5757; dinner for two $50), which is a perfect balance of old and new, with its green-marble vestibule and Art Deco dining room. In Shanghai tradition, patrons are treated to a show of Chinese opera and Suzhou folk songs while shrimp is cooked at the table over a bowl of hot rocks. Tam gently mimics the performers' hand movements. "It feels like an old Chinese movie." She can't get over the design of Dongbeiren (1 Shaanxi South Rd.; 86-21/ 5228-9898; dinner for two $38), which celebrates the Chinese Northeast, with shucks of dried corn at the entrance. "They carried the idea through every single detail," she says. The food is equally dramatic: stewed lamb shanks still on the bone are stacked like firewood.

Magical History Tour

In the Old City, there's the Old Shanghai Teahouse (385 Fangbangzhong Rd; 86-21/5382-1202; tea for two $6), which is part museum, part teahouse, and part salon. "I came here first because of the owner's huge cheongsam collection, but now I love the whole ambience he has created." For a taste of Shanghai fox-trot glamour, Tam visits the circa 1933 Paramount (218 Yuyuan Rd.; 86-21/6249-8866; admission for two $10). Tonight the lead singer is crooning Chinese torch songs. Tam sings along, sounding just like Doris Day.

Shanghai Art

Fifty Moganshan Road is a series of warehouses along Suzhou Creek that have been converted into artists' studios and antiques shops. Tam wanders from the Western-owned Art Scene Warehouse in Building 4 (86-21/6277-4940) to Buildings 16 and 18, where ShanghART (86-21/6359-3923) represents some of China's best-known contemporary artists. On the way out, she heads up a rusty fire escape, which overlooks a field of red and yellow calla lilies and empty buildings waiting to be renovated. "Can you imagine how great it would be to have a workshop here?" she asks. "Now that's my fantasy."

Tip Sheet

• Always carry the Chinese address of your destination—the hotel concierge can write it out for you. "Even I do this in Shanghai, because the dialect is so different," says Tam.

• After a long day of shopping, look for a foot massage stand, often located across from hotels. The cost is about $15 an hour. "It's the best thing for jet lag."

• Pick up the monthly English-language magazine That's Shanghai, available at hotels. Great for the latest hot spots.

From funky markets to lush parks, Alice Temperley offers a peek at her boho-chic London

Alice Temperley is a country girl at heart, brought up on a cider farm in bucolic Somerset, 130 miles outside London. "When I moved to the city, I thought it was grim," says the designer, who came here 12 years ago. But as she built her bohemian fashion line—silk dresses, tailored velvet pantsuits, black lace blouses, and, coming this fall, luggage—the urban life grew on her. Temperley's London is an outdoor place, a city of rooftop restaurants and parks, quaint neighborhoods and open-air markets that she explores by bike ("I have a basket on the front for my little dog, Monkey") and in her classic Citroën 2CV.

Favorite Street

On Golborne Road, Portuguese patisseries and Moroccan restaurants sit next to electrical repair stores and antiques shops, while wealthy bankers in stucco houses live side by side with working-class traders in council blocks. "Being so close to such a diverse street culture feeds the mind with constant sources of inspiration," says Temperley. After a stop at Les Couilles du Chien (65 Golborne Rd., North Kensington; 44-20/8968-0099), a trove of quirky treasures ("You never know what you're going to see—I've bought beautiful lights made from a ship's figurehead with antlers coming out of the back"), Temperley wanders a few doors down to Ollie's (69 Golborne Rd., North Kensington; no phone), another antiques-packed magnet for her magpie eye.

To Shops

Many of Temperley's designs have a vintage feel, so it's hardly surprising that she has a taste for London's flea markets. She searches for hidden gems in unexpected places, such as Church Street Market, held on Fridays just off downtrodden Edgware Road. "It's completely rough and awful," she says. "But there are some amazing French-vintage-furniture shops." Temperley also frequents nearby Alfies Antique Market (13-25 Church St., Marylebone; 44-20/7723-6066), where "there's just so much to look at." Her insider shopping source for vintage clothes is the London Vintage Fashion, Textiles & Accessories Fair (Hammersmith Town Hall, King St.; 44-20/8543-5075), which takes place once every five or six weeks. Also on her retail trail: the Façade (99 Lisson Grove, Marylebone; 44-20/7258-2017), filled with lamps and chandeliers from around the globe, and Coco Ribbon (21 Kensington Park Rd., Notting Hill; 44-20/7229-4904), where she goes for lacy underthings. Temperley's favorite gem shop, for "gold jewelry by a range of current designers," EC One (184 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill; 44-20/7243- 8811), is right near her own store, Temperley London (6-10 Colville Mews, Notting Hill; 44-20/7229-7957).

Food Scene

Temperley loves the capital's vibrant—and growing—restaurant culture, from the eclectic French restaurant Les Trois Garçons (1 Club Row; 44-20/7613-1924; dinner for two $170), near Shoreditch, to Notting Grill (123A Clarendon Rd., Holland Park; 44-20/7229-1500; dinner for two $115), which has "the best steaks in town." In a place known for its tea, Temperley gets her caffeine fix at Tom's (226 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill; 44-20/7221-8818)— "It's the best coffee in London." The Cow (89 Westbourne Park Rd., Notting Hill; 44-20/7221-5400) is a guaranteed fun evening, especially for quintessentially Irish oysters and Guinness. For sorbet and ice cream, Temperley makes a trip up to North London's Marine Ices (8 Haverstock Hill; 44-20/7482-9000).

Country Pursuits

When she's in need of an escape but can't leave London, Temperley takes long walks along Regent's Canal—a peaceful eight-and-a-half-mile stretch of water that cuts through the heart of the city. She's also a fan of Carshalton Lavender Fields (Carshalton Beeches; 44-20/8404-4880). "They are vast fields of color and scent—and in London, no less," she says.

Art in the City

Having studied at London's most prestigious art schools, Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art, Temperley loves to scope out the city's art scene, "although there's never enough time to see everything." When Temperley has a free afternoon, here's where you'll find her:

• Gagosian Gallery (6-24 Britannia St.; 44-20/7841-9960). "It shows amazing British artists like Damien Hirst and Francis Bacon."

• Tate Modern (Bankside; 44-20/7887-8008), which recently had its first rehang since it opened in 2000.

• Hayward Gallery (South Bank Centre, Belvedere Rd.; 44-20/7921-0813), on the south bank of the River Thames.

• Serpentine Gallery (Kensington Gardens; 44-20/7402-6075). "I always wander across Hyde Park and end up here."

For fashion iconoclast Isaac Mizrahi, there's no place like home—New York, that is

I'm as much a part of New York as the rats," says Isaac Mizrahi, the fashion designer, host of the cable TV show Isaac, and unofficial poster boy for Big Apple-induced ADD. "I never wanted to live anywhere else. But I'm in my forties now and starting to think, Are you really going to stay in the same place your entire life?" Probably. Mizrahi has been known to arrive at the airport only to tell his driver to turn around. Besides, he's too much a creature of habit to ever decamp. "I have my dog, my Yankees, my friends. I love the continuity I have in New York. In my dreams, I go to the farmer's market in Union Square and buy micro greens for dinner. But in truth, I eat out at the same places—Benny's Burritos is an important part of my life." Just as he plays limbo with high and low, designing for both Bergdorf's and Target, Mizrahi lives in the West Village and splits his time seamlessly between Uptown and Downtown.

What's In Store

When he's looking for inspiration, Mizrahi heads to Estella (493 Ave. of the Americas; 212/255-3553), a children's clothing store in the West Village. "It sounds totally random, I know, but I adore the incredible color sense. They never get too twee the way they do in other kids' stores—it's very eclectic and sophisticated in an exclusively New York way." Another favorite stop is Penine Hart Antiques & Art (100 Kenmare St.; 212/226-2602). "I love the idea that a shop like this still exists in New York City—the owner doesn't take any of it too seriously. If you were young and just decorating your first apartment, you could go and afford things." When it comes to Mizrahi's shoes, only the best will do, so he heads uptown for custom creations at John Lobb (680 Madison Ave.; 212/888-9797). "Philippe flies in from Paris four times a year to do the fittings."

Brooklyn Bound

Even though he grew up in Brooklyn, Mizrahi rarely ventures outside of Manhattan—except to Klaus von Nichtssagend (438 Union Ave., Brooklyn; 718/383-7309), to see the work of emerging artists. "The gallery feels like the real deal, like there's someone with an actual point of view behind it—even though Klaus von Nichtssagend is a made-up name."

Restaurant Scene

"It's cozy to have a neighborhood place you love, like Sant Ambroeus (259 W. 4th St.; 212/604-9254; dinner for two $110) and return a few times a week," says Mizrahi. "It has a kind of Village glamour, like it's been there for years." The other place he can't live without is Il Cantinori (32 E. 10th St.; 212/673-6044; dinner for two $110), where he has been going since he was a kid. "I had a million first dates there. I've had birthdays there. And I've dined there after funerals. It's full of memories, and the food's good. I eat the same thing almost every time: grilled whole striped bass and cauliflower."

Club Rules

Mizrahi recently taped a segment for his TV show in the wine-cellar room at 21 (21 W. 52nd St.; 212/582-7200; dinner for two $150), a former speakeasy, and was taken by the special bottles that line the walls. "There's a bottle for Elizabeth Taylor, a bottle for Richard Nixon—I don't know what they think they are going to do with that—and a bottle for Jocelyn Wildenstein. Maybe it's her secret elixir—you know, like the one in Death Becomes Her. I should have asked for a shot."

Nightlife

The former Studio 54 habitué says he is too old to go out these days and would rather go somewhere grown-up like Knickerbocker (33 University Place; 212/228-8490) for a late-night soufflé than to some trendy club for girlie pink drinks. "What am I going to do?Hang out with a Brazilian model in a clingy dress or a big tall guy with muscles?They're the last people I want to talk to!"

People Who See People

A fussy patron of the paranormal, Mizrahi chooses his psychics as carefully as his fabrics. "There's my astrologer, Maria Napoli, who I've been seeing since I was eighteen. I go to her every six months for a checkup, like you would a doctor." But since getting an appointment with Napoli is as difficult as getting into the Oscars, Mizrahi also recommends Tony LeRoy (877/818-2700). "I see him for tarot readings two or three times a year. He's a real optimist."

A Dog's Life

A subscriber to writer E. B. White's theory of selective privacy in New York, Mizrahi and his dog, Harry ("part border collie, part golden retriever, part Yeshiva graduate"), like nothing more than to be alone by the Hudson at the dog run by the West Side Highway. "I love it there in the winter because it feels obscure, like no one knows about it."

Street Smarts

The designer frequently finds himself strolling down 43rd between 9th and 10th Avenues. "It's so Sesame Street, so happy tenement! I keep expecting a puppet to jump out of a garbage can." His pit stops:

• Mario Batali's seafood restaurant Esca (402 W. 43rd St.; 212/564-7272; lunch for two $70). "I love the crudo, but I can't have it for lunch because it upsets my stomach—God, I sound like my mother."

• The pool at the Manhattan Plaza Health Club (482 W. 43rd St.; 212/563-7001; day pass, $35 per adult), where he has been swimming for more than 20 years.

Good and Plenty to Go (410 W. 43rd St.; 212/268-4385; dinner for two $24). "I eat at a sidewalk table even in the freezing winter."

Good and Plenty to Go

Thirty-five years ago, Eileen Weinberg opened a take-out eatery under an arcade on the western edge of the Broadway Theatre District, where she offered home-style comfort food at a gourmet level and used only the freshest ingredients. As ubiquitous as the concept is nowadays, Good and Plenty to Go maintains its lunch-time niche owing to theatrically inspired sandwiches like Standing Ovation Ham & Cheese, Tour de Force Turkey Delight, and the top seller, Smash Hit Tuna Salad. With its tight space, inside is standing room only, but a few seats are available outdoors (be on the lookout for famous regulars, such as Ralph Lauren and Anderson Cooper).

John Lobb

Enter with reverence, for this is a place of art and master craftsmanship. “Shoes” seems too common a word to describe the expertly handmade collection at the John Lobb boutique on New York City’s Madison Avenue. Here you will find fine-leather Oxfords, Derbys, and Monk shoes with buckles to complement your suits, as well as sandals and shoes for home and driving. Choose from the Classic and Prestige lines of the ready-to-wear collection, or customize your own by selecting a style, specific sole, and the materials and color for the "upper."

Penine Hart Antiques & Art

Estella

If you love truly unique children’s threads that haven't been mass-produced and shipped to just about every major retailer, check out Estella between West 13th and 12th Streets. You won’t be able to resist gently brushing your hand over the soft layette clothing made from sustainable bamboo cotton. Estella carries artisan-made items from the U.S. and around the world, as well as a large variety of designer brands such as Album di Familglia, Appaman, Bon Bon, Clover, Finger in the Nose, Imps & Elfs, Kit & Lili, and Simple Kids.

Serpentine Gallery

Come here to catch everything from video projections to experimental works combining sculpture, sound, and light. Locals highly anticipate its summer pavilion in Hyde Park, with daring temporary architectural creations commissioned from the likes of Rem Koolhaas, Oscar Niemeyer, and Zaha Hadid.

 

Insider Tip: Pause at the entrance to visit the eight benches, tree plaque, and carved stone circle that memorialize former Serpentine patron Princess Diana.

Hayward Gallery

A severe gray building on the south bank of the Thames, the Hayward Gallery hides within its austere walls a stimulating smorgasbord of modern and contemporary art displayed in ever-changing exhibits. Surrounded by Southbank Centre concert halls, the gallery was founded by Queen Elizabeth II in 1968 and has since become renowned for its commitment to showing old masterpieces in new light as well as new masterpieces by celebrated contemporaries like Tracy Emin and Pipilotti Rist. The Hayward is also home to an art-adorned café that transforms into a nightclub and a spectacular shop offering unique gifts and inspiring publications.

Tate Modern

Housed in a hulking converted power station, this vast modern art showplace opened in 2000 but still breaks new ground with installations. Each year Tate Modern hosts the unique Unilever Series, where different artists are asked to create an installation for Turbine Hall. Previous works in this series have included Rachel Whiteread’s casts of 14,000 boxes stacked to form a maze of white towers, and The Weather Project by Olafur Eliasson—in which an eerie mist surrounds an immense blazing sun. (For 2008, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster will be featured in Turbine Hall.)

Six floors of masterpieces by Picasso, Dalí, Warhol, Rothko, and Hirst (among many others) on level 3 and level 5 contrast with the soaring, industrial rooms holding permanent and rotating exhibitions on level 4. Take tea in the 7th floor café and restaurant; its Thames views are as captivating as the artwork.

Insider Tip: Board the Tate boat (a ferry that Damien Hirst decorated with his signature multicolored dots; it sets sail every 40 minutes) from here to Tate Britain—just down the river at Millbank and home to works by Brits including Joseph Turner, William Blake, and John Constable along with modern British artists including Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, and Sarah Lucas.

Admission: Free for the permanent collection; tickets required for the rotating exhibitions.

Gagosian Gallery

Francis Bacon, Damien Hirst, Richard Serra, Howard Hodgkin: while the gallery’s star-studded roster speaks for itself, there’s also plenty more to be said for this London branch of art magnate Larry Gagosian’s expansive gallery empire. Tucked away on a side street in King’s Cross, Gagosian is considered one of the greatest contemporary galleries in London but is also far enough from the usual art circuits to be one of the quietest, thus enabling patrons to become fully immersed in the exhibits. The gallery design is also impressive, with three pristine, well lit rooms and enough space to accommodate larger-than-life installations.

Temperley London, Notting Hill

Founded by designer Alice Temperley in 2001, Temperley London has become one of the most celebrated fashion labels in the United Kingdom. The company now owns three standalone stores, including this flagship boutique in Notting Hill (the others are in Los Angeles and Dubai). Located on a quiet side street in a row of converted mews (stables), the shop showcases the label’s ready-to-wear, accessory, and bridal collections. Behind a façade painted as a British flag, customers find pieces that embody Temperley’s signature femininity and eclecticism, such as short silk dresses printed with fan designs and Victorian-style tops with lace detailing.

EC One

Exquisite jewelry combining traditional craftsmanship with contemporary design has customers oohing and aahing at this award-winning shop in Notting Hill. Founded in 1997, EC One now has two locations in London and has become renowned for showcasing both gorgeous in-house designs and magnificent pieces by more than 50 designers, many of them local. At the Notting Hill branch, sunbeams filter through the glass storefront, lighting up the shop’s elegant all-white interior as patrons browse enticing display cabinets lined with vibrant cocktail rings, dainty bird pendants, jewel-toned cuffs, glittering diamond studs, elaborate chandelier earrings, delicate feminine necklaces and breathtaking engagement rings.

Coco Ribbon

Façade

Light up even the dreariest day in London with a visit to this breathtaking antique shop, where ethereal glass chandeliers float and shimmer overhead like otherworldly creatures. Specializing in antique lighting, the Facade first opened in 1977 and has become renowned for its unique, reasonably priced antiques dating from 1890 to 1950. The shop is marked by a gorgeous ivy-entwined sign and a classic glass storefront, through which patrons are enticed by glimpses of glowing candlesticks, glimmering gilded armchairs, dramatic wall sconces, ornate mirrors and lamps that range from classic to quirky, such as a bronze rosebush with lighted blooms.

London Vintage Fashion, Textiles & Accessories Fair

Every four to five weeks, an enthusiastic crowd of designers, celebrities, boutique owners and dedicated fashionistas flock to Hammersmith Town Hall to browse the best in vintage fashion at this legendary one-day fair. Established in 1999, the event is affectionately known as the “Rolls Royce of vintage fashion fairs” and features one-of-a-kind finds from over 100 talented, passionate dealers. Dating from 1800 to 1980 and ranging in price from £1 to £250, the showcased treasures include glittering couture gowns, jewel-toned chandelier earrings, funky floral handbags, chic cat-eye glasses, dainty gold tiaras, unique vintage fabrics and elegant monogrammed luggage.

Alfies Antique Market

Specializing in treasures dating from the 1920s onward, this Church Street market is home to more than 100 experienced and enthusiastic dealers, making it the largest permanent indoor antique market in the country. Both seasoned collectors and casual adorers of all things vintage are delighted by the irresistible gems showcased throughout Alfies' spacious four-floor interior, previously a 19th-century department store. After browsing displays of gorgeous leather luggage, Japanese tea sets, luxurious Italian armchairs, sumptuous silk clutches, vintage board games and arresting Swarovsky necklaces, patrons can relax with a scrumptious lunch at the lovely rooftop cafe.

Ollie & Bow

The antiques store is packed with glitzy finds.

Les Couilles du Chien

Transform yawn-inducing spaces into stylish conversation pieces with quirky finds from this well-loved antiques shop-meets-curiosity cabinet. Located on West London's appropriately eclectic Golborne Road and boasting an appropriately cheeky name, Les Couilles du Chien is a strange yet enchanting wonderland of beautiful antiques and outlandish oddities. The ever-changing hodgepodge may feature everything from taxidermied birds and framed spiders to gorgeous Venetian mirrors, cattail-shaped wall sconces, intriguing mineral samples, rustic French cabinets, cheerful metallic clown heads and an exquisite Italian chandelier dripping with delicate glass fruit.

ShanghART

The shop represents some of China's best-known contemporary artists and was the first gallery in the country to participate in major fairs such as Art Basel.

Paramount Party Room

Throughout its history, the Paramount building has played multiple roles, including traditional ballroom and dance club. Built in 1933, it once hosted crowds of socialites seeking a night of live jazz and dancing. Two floors of the building were converted into a nightclub that opened in 2007. The aesthetic mixes elements of 1970’s discos and modern nightclubs with disco balls and laser lights. Events include Hip Hop parties on Saturdays and a ladies’ nights on Tuesdays.

Old Shanghai Teahouse

China is a popular place for tea so it’s no surprise that teahouses abound across the country. After a flight of stairs to the second floor, this Old Shanghai establishment opens up and surrounds tea-lovers with an array of antiques, such as maps and posters from the 1930’s and 1940’s. Tourists and locals alike flock to this house to watch their tea made before them in a traditional tea ceremony and sip varieties like oolong, green, and jasmine. And for those hungry for more than a tea, a food menu is available.

Wangkai Photography Shop

This shop still produces hand-painted pictures that resemble the hand-tinted photographs from the Cultural Revolution.

Chinese Hand-Printed Blue Nankeen Exhibition Hall

The exhibition hall displays samples of batik prints dating back to the 1890's.

Nan Fang Curio Market

Part of the sprawling Old City God’s Temple district—also home to the Yuyuan Bazaar—Nan Fang Curio Market is a collection of stalls selling vintage clothing and costumes. New York—based Chinese designer Vivienne Tam visits the market at least twice a year and recommends stalls 32 and 33, where printed cheongsams are displayed alongside embroidered Qing dynasty skirts. In addition to clothing, the vendors also sell a variety of fabrics and antique accessories. The prices are merely guidelines, so bargaining is essential (and expected).

Chinese Classics Bookstore

The store carries a surprising breadth of products: from reproductions of communist-era comic books to artist's backpacks.

Laiyin Art Garden

The shop stocks a wonderful collection of Shanghai Deco lampshades and accents.

Guo Chunxiang Family Collection

The shop's memorabilia merchandise includes retro vinyl Chairman Mao and Lin Biao buttons.

Lao Shanghai

An up-and-coming gallery and boutique run by three young artists who trained at Qinghua University's Art Academy.

The Cow

A neon sign reading “Guiness and Oysters” hangs over the door at this lively pub-meets elegant restaurant, informing newcomers that despite its name, the Cow is all about fresh seafood and expertly-poured pints. The downstairs pub is decked out with vintage Guinness signs and, against the sonic backdrop of an eclectic soundtrack, patrons soak up the spirited ambiance and ice-cold brews while chowing down on fresh Irish rock oysters, tasty prawns with mayo, and some of the best fish stew in London. Upstairs in the quieter dining room, a more refined menu offers specialties like the smoked eel with creamy mash, bacon and horseradish.

Dongbeiren

Damien Hirst Retrospective

Housed in a hulking converted power station, this vast modern art showplace opened in 2000, but still breaks new ground with installations. Each year Tate Modern hosts the unique Unilever Series, where different artists are asked to create an installation for Turbine Hall. Previous works in this series have included Rachel Whiteread’s casts of 14,000 boxes stacked to form a maze of white towers, and The Weather Project by Olafur Eliasson—in which an eerie mist surrounds an immense blazing sun. (For 2008, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster will be featured in Turbine Hall.)
Six floors of masterpieces by Picasso, Dalí, Warhol, Rothko, and Hirst (among many others) on level 3 and level 5 contrast with the soaring, industrial rooms holding permanent and rotating exhibitions on level 4. Take tea in the 7th floor café and restaurant; its Thames views are as captivating as the artwork.

 

Insider Tip: Board the Tate boat (a ferry that Damien Hirst decorated with his signature multicolored dots; it sets sail every 40 minutes) from here to Tate Britain—just down the river at Millbank and home to works by Brits including Joseph Turner, William Blake, and John Constable along with modern British artists including Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, and Sarah Lucas.

 

Admission: Free for the permanent collection; tickets required for the rotating exhibitions.

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