Arts + Culture
Wonder what Kate Middleton’s going to wear down the Westminster Abbey aisle this Friday? Or what Michelle Obama’s going to wear on just about any given day of the week? Recently, I chatted with T+L contributing editor and style guru Kate Betts—hot off the heels of publishing her new book, Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style (Clarkson Potter, $35)—about the fashion sensibilities of first ladies around the globe.
Q: People the world over have been enraptured by Michelle Obama’s sense of style. Considering her presence on the international stage, what sort of statement is she making about herself—and America—through what she wears?
A: She is making a statement about the power of confidence. The idea of wearing young, unknown American designers perfectly mirrors many of the ideas her husband campaigned on: new faces, new ideas, change. And at the recent state dinner for the President of China, she made a very bold statement by not wearing a dress designed by an American. A lot of people were upset about that—particularly the American fashion industry. But to my mind her self-possession and confidence define American style better than any label in her dress ever would.
When I was growing up in the white-bread hinterlands of Maine, a pu-pu platter at the Golden Fan (a Chinese restaurant) at our local Holiday Inn was as exotic as food got. But, it gave me taste for something more than bologna sandwiches.
Today, my world is a much bigger—and tastier—place, one filled with bánh mì, congee, unagi maki, and bibimbap. I now keep a bottle of Sriracha sauce in my desk drawer, and am pretty sure Momofuku’s Berkshire pork buns are the secret to happiness.
I know I am not alone in this ever-expanding obsession/love/appreciation of Asian cuisines. In the words of Danielle Chang, the savvy founder of the LUCKYRICE Festival: “Asian food is having a moment. But when isn’t it?!”
In its second year, the ultra-popular Asian food festival, LUCKYRICE, runs from May 2-8 in NYC, and includes another exciting tongue-tickling line-up of culinary events—from an Omakase Dinner with Iron Chef Morimoto to a buzzy Night Market in Brooklyn featuring over 50 restaurants serving Asia's best street food. Will I be there? Pho-getaboutit.
You can purchase tickets here. (They’re going fast, but there's still availability for the Grand Feast at the Mandarin Oriental; Opening Cocktails hosted by Opening Ceremony; and the Talk + Taste events with cooking demos.)
And check out my video Q&A with LUCKYRICE Festival visionary Danielle Chang:
Travel + Leisure editor Sarah Spagnolo discusses America's best (and most beautiful) landmarks, including the Washington Monument and New Orleans' Garden District. Read the complete article here, and let us know if you agree with our list.
Florence’s stately Grand Hotel closed for renovations last September and is slated to reopen quietly on May 1 as the St. Regis Florence. The already 5-star hotel’s re-branding from Luxury Collection to St. Regis signals the arrival of butler service, fewer but larger guest rooms, 19 luxury suites, a spa (individual spa suites are the thing here; no more stripping down in a locker room before your massage), and all sorts of sterling silver bells and whistles.
As any University of Virginia grad will breathlessly assert, Charlottesville, VA is America's greatest college town. Perhaps even the world's. (Oxford? Bah!) Even this state-school graduate must admit there's a case to be made. C'ville, as it's known, is a lovely and vibrant little town rich with history, thanks in no small part to UVA's spacious, rolling grounds that have been painstakingly preserved since the university's founding in 1819. But there's more to Charlottesville than just UVA (and its famous Corner, a stretch of shops and eateries where students gather to slop down cheap, serviceable sustenance).
On the outskirts of Sweden’s capital, the neighborhood of Birkastan has become a center for the city’s new creative class. Here are our favorite insider spots:
Ulrika Sandström Studio: Feminine frills and romantic ruffles get a dose of rock-and-roll in the homegrown designer’s latest collection, but don’t miss her line of neutral shifts at the pocket-size shop. 36 Norrbackagatan; 46-8/5456-4410; ulrikasandstrom.se.
Carin Wester: The current darling of the Stockholm fashion scene, Wester stands out with sharp silhouettes and playful prints for men and women, all on display in her white-walled boutique. 24 Rörstrandsgatan; 46-8/305-415; carinwester.com.
While big, lavish nuptials hold limited charm for me (I eloped, and recommend it for its romance and intimacy), plenty of people are mad for all things wedding, and especially all things William and Kate. Even Dunkin Donuts, friend of the common man, is offering a heart-shaped tribute to the royal couple.
If you’re looking to celebrate the Royal Wedding with something more decadent than a doughnut, we’ve gathered some hotel package options.
This spring, visitors to Las Vegas can run away and join the Cirque (but not for peanuts). For $260, a select few will get a small-group pre-show backstage tour to either O (at the Bellagio) or The Beatles’ Love (at the Mirage). You’ll also receive an Insider Access VIP lanyard, special reserved seats for the show, and front-of-line privileges in the concession line and at the hotels’ nightclubs after the show.
On the fence about taking the tour? Here’s a Life.com photo gallery of the backstage scene at a Cirque du Soleil show—acrobats rehearsing a tricky move, clowns at rest, outlandish-costume repair—that gives you an inkling of how thrilling it could be to witness in person. (Get this: during each performance of The Beatles’ Love, the 68 performers go through 331 multi-piece costumes and 110 wigs! Kind of puts getting two kids ready for school into perspective.)
When was the last time you used a real camera, loaded with real film? Sure you’ve got the Hipstamatic app on your iPhone to take super dreamy retro snapshots that look like they came straight from the '70s—but I’ve got a reason for you to put your phone down and go analogue. (Skeptical? Keep reading: It involves a free trip to Europe.)
Be in the know; here are the latest things to do and eat in Berlin.
The pork-filled spring roll with prawns and garden beans at Sage Restaurant (dinner for two $155), located on the River Spree.
A retrospective of 187 photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe at C/O Gallery (through March 27), from snapshots of Debbie Harry and Patti Smith to his controversial portraits of male nudes.
The light-filled Camper Suite at Casa Camper (doubles from $264), with views of the historic Mitte district and fiery Spanish-red walls softened by wood accents.
The retro-casual hat collection at Rike Feurstein ($155), made by hand in a range of materials (cotton; raffia; Panama straw).
Ralph Martin is a contributor to Travel + Leisure.
Photo by Robert Mapplethorpe/Courtesy of Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation