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Muriel Brandolini's Design Inspiration

Muriel Brandolini

With a new book out this month and a pop-up store at Barneys New York through November, Vietnam native Muriel Brandolini has truly landed on the style map. Here, the designer tells T+L about the country that informs her textured, vibrant interior designs.

Q: What are some memorable moments from your last trip to Vietnam?

A: I stayed at the Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa (doubles from $175) and trekked with a guide to the isolated Hoang Lien Son mountain range, near the Chinese border. Wandering through the Bac Ha Sunday Market in Sapa in search of crafts and textiles is extraordinary.

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Paso Robles Celebrates Harvest Weekend

The grapes of Napa often grab the headlines coming out of California wine country but the discerning vino cognoscenti knows that the Golden State harbors some of the best wineries in the world along its central coast. In the thick of it is Paso Robles, a vast countryside of rolling vineyards where vintners sport rustic spurs on their cowboy boots and the pace of life is calm. The annual Harvest Wine Weekend kicks off today, Friday, and promises to be the most robust yet. Over 150 wineries will host grape stomps, tours, tastings, dinners, and pairings (wine and bacon anyone?). One oenophile who will be traipsing around Harvest is Paso Wine Man (above)—the unabashed, vivacious Paso wine country cheerleader whose verve for the region’s splendors knows no bounds.

T+L caught up with the wine man before the big weekend to uncover his wines of choice; find out what makes “Tuscany with cowboys” so special; and why Paso Robles's brand of reds can’t be made anywhere else.

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Q&A: Celebrity Fitness Instructor Kristin McGee

Kristin McGee

The first time I took globetrotting fitness guru Kristin McGee’s Pilates class at the SoHo Equinox, I was instantly a fan. Then I found out she was the instructor in Bethenny Frankel’s first yoga DVD, Body by Bethenny. She is highly sought after in New York City, with clients like Steve Martin, Tina Fey, Ben Stiller, and his wife Christine Taylor. Kristin has made numerous TV and magazine appearances, blogs daily on her own site, and has led fitness retreats in Sicily, Cartagena, Marrakesh and St. Petersburg. No wonder she wakes up at 5 a.m. to fit it all in!

We met for a glass of wine, talked great hotels and healthy food choices on the road, and planned a double date with our significant others.

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Q&A: Bollywood Star Abhay Deol

The Bollywood blockbuster of the summer, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (You Only Live Once) is a cinematic love letter to Spain, following three buddies on an epic bachelor trip that takes them from Barcelona to Seville and beyond. But lest you jump to the inevitable comparisons, the Indian Hangover it is not—ZNMD (as it's now called) has a lot less raunch, a lot more soul, and plenty of beautifully shot musical sequences.

For megastars Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar, and Abhay Deol, filming was an epic adventure all its own—they spent three months on the road and even re-created Buñol’s famed Tomatina festival (with 16 tons of tomatoes!) and the running of the bulls, in Pamplona. Granted, these events don’t appear in the film in chronological order, but this is Bollywood after all, so defying logic goes with the territory—especially if it creates scenarios "ripe" for spectacular song-and-dance productions.

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Q&A: Director Kevin Macdonald

For his new documentary, Life in a Day, director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) teamed up with YouTube users to create a crowd-sourced 90-minute snapshot of 24 hours around the world. T+L checks in.

Q: Why did you make the film?
A:
To look at the nuanced details of people’s existences in different places. Instead of the Pyramids, you see a graveyard in Cairo, where people actually live.

Q: Did any of the videos make you want to travel?
A:
There’s footage from Angola of women singing as they grind corn. I would go just to hear that music.

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We Want Your Job, Diego Felix, Nomad Chef

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Is ordering delivery to the office your idea of going locavore? Do your culinary travels consist of drive-thru windows after a long day of work?  If yes, then we invite you to put down the plastic fork and check out this different kind of job: meet Diego Felix, nomad chef.

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Q&A: Writer Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux

In The Tao of Travel (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; $25), out this month, the peripatetic writer compiles wisdom from an array of literature and life on the road. Here, he shares a few tidbits with T+L.

Q: Other than writing, how do you document your adventures?

A: I collect knick-knacks people have used, like snuff boxes and voodoo figures. There’s a Polynesian word, mana, meaning the spiritual power of an object—those things appeal to me.

Q: What have you learned from other writers?

A: As Flaubert said, when you’re traveling, you realize how small you are. Dollars are helpful, but a smile is more valuable.

Q: Is there a 21st-century Grand Tour?

A: In the 19th century, it was London, Paris, Rome, and Greece. Today it’s a global buffet: a safari in Africa, the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu, and the Carnival, in Brazil.

Photo by Steve McCurry

Kate Betts on First Lady Fashion—and (Yes) the Royal Wedding Dress

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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.

201104-b-first-lady-michelle-obamajpgQ: 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.

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The World's Most Dedicated Bike Commuter

With Lance Armstrong and the rest of the world's best cyclists lining up in Rotterdam this Saturday for the Tour de France's grand depart, we here at T+L have biking on the brain. But with the realities of the ol' nine-to-five standing in the way of most everyman cyclist's yellow jersey dreams, it's hard to squeeze in midweek rides. Timbuk2 CEO Mike Wallenfels found a solution to that dilemma, deciding to trade in the morning commute behind the wheel for one on top of two.

We recently caught up with Mike to talk early morning rides, city cycling culture, and the pleasures of finding those perfect European cafés when business (and the bike) takes you on the road.

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Behind the Scenes: Crystal Cruises

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As top luxe line Crystal Cruises fêtes its 20th anniversary, I decided to check in with cruise director Scott Peterson, a 23-year industry veteran. Below, he reflects on what’s in store for the upcoming season.

Q: What is Crystal doing to celebrate its 20th anniversary?

201003-b-cruise-5jpgA: Crystal’s 20th year anniversary is going to be a yearlong celebration. There are going to be special Captain’s parties and champagne breakfasts for guests, plus on the two cruises sailing on July 20, the actual day of Crystal’s anniversary, the first ever Crystal menu will be served at a gala dinner, along with wine selections sold at the original prices. Each ship will also host a games night featuring a Crystal trivia contest. The winning team will be treated to an evening at the Vintage Room for a multi-course meal with wine pairings. All the wine will be from 1990—which happened to be a very good year.

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