Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Sulvam: The Japanese Iconoclast and Pitti Uomo 91

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Yes, I was impressed by meeting Sulvam‘s creative power at play Teppei Fujita in Florence, for Pitti Uomo. So much so that I took a bunch of photos of him interacting with journalist and fashion enthusiasts, and even asked his publicist to take a few photos of us together. The man is iconic, his fashions grandiose and unafraid and I love menswear that I can appropriate, right here right now.

So, if your fancy is tickled, here is a link to a mini-interview that I did with Fujita himself. A bit could be lost in translation but that’s somehow cool too when it comes to this man.

And here is a special treat, a bit of the show on video. N-joy!

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What’s in a nose? Luca Maffei explains

Saturday, November 26th, 2016

While I’m an absolute beginner to the world of scent writing, I’ve loved perfume my entire life. I remember going with my Mom to her favorite beauty shop in Florence, when I was as young as four probably, and while she bought what she needed for primping, I was entertained by the shop ladies who bestowed upon me dozens of “campioncini” — little sample-sized bottles of perfumes by Dior, Saint Laurent and Estee Lauder. I’d take those little treasures home and add them to my collection, which at the time was cooler than I thought because the fragrance houses made miniature bottles, not the glass vials they give as samples today.

Those days in the perfume shop, going home to discover all the samples, smelling them, running over to show them to my Mom and maybe run down to Granpa Hans’s house to show him, those are memories that are as ingrained in me as that of my first cat, my first kiss and even the day I left Florence for good, for Los Angeles.

So it’s no wonder that all memories for me carry a scent-equivalent, probably as a result of those trips to that shop. The wonderful feeling I felt looking at the loot, the glass noise those tiny vials of wonder made clicking together, the joy of unwrapping the samples from their boxes and playing with them! What is that Coco Chanel quote? “A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.” Yeah, I live that quote. Every day. In fact, not a day goes by that I don’t plan on what scent I’ll wear with what, where and with whom. And what/where to buy my next one.

Recently, thanks to Pitti Fragrance, which is like my perfume shop experience as a child but magnified by a thousand and one I can live as an adult, I discovered a nose. Luca Maffei is a handsome, quiet, sure of himself and quite well-known perfumer who comes from a long tradition of perfumers and is based in Milan. An excerpt of his interview follows but you’ll have to read the whole thing onThe Huffington Post.

Of course, I couldn’t resist a photo with the lovely Maffei. Here is a bit of the interview, to tease you on.

What inspires a person to create a new perfume?

Luca Maffei: This is a beautiful question. Everything is inspiration. The passion that people have who work in this art, is the passion to communicate through the olfactory sense. The nose is like a translator, an interpreter, so we rarely create for ourselves, rather we make our capacity available to those who wish to create perfume and communicate something. It can be the wish to communicate an image, a feeling, a film, a memory or a landscape.

How is a new perfume created? What starts the process?

Maffei: It starts from an idea. And that idea can be associated to a memory, a moment, a trip, a recollection that lights up this desire to transform it.

At which point does the name of a fragrance come into play?

Maffei: I believe that often the name comes beforehand. It is the starting point, because there must be a continuity between the perfume and its name, the message it wishes to send out.

Read more by clicking here.

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Why You Should Watch Maria Schrader’s Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Well, we live in uncertain times. Uncertain not because we won’t know where our next meal is coming from or even what President will come next after Obama — not uncertain in those terms. But uncertain as to how our peace and general stability will maintain over the next few years.

In these times, I always look to cinema to find within its stories, some answers. And this year’s Austrian entry to the Foreign Language Academy Awards race is exactly what I needed. Maria Schrader’s Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe is beautiful to behold, poetic, and holds up a mirror as to how we all feel at this very moment. A bit like exiles in our country.

So, here is the trailer for the film, and a teaser to the interview I conducted with Ms. Schrader over the internet. She is now definitely my new girl crush!

Stefan Zweig, Farewell to Europe – Trailer from Films Distribution on Vimeo.

It’s a leitmotif I notice throughout history, the moderate and peace-seeking are those most often attacked. Stefan Zweig was no exception. Why do you think this is?

Maria Schrader: The monstrosity of German fascism, maybe any kind of radicalism seem to demand opponents and critical voices who are no less radical. But how to put a humanistic and peace-seeking stand in equally loud words? You need a fine brush to paint a nuanced picture.

For a long time Stefan Zweig refused to condemn Hitler’s Germany. He was accused of cowardice, but that accusation falls short. Behind Zweig’s position there is a greater, more fundamental point of view. He describes a pacifist’s concept when he declares: “I cannot attack. I will not write out of hatred. When my silence is a sign of weakness, I fear I must live with that stigma.”

You’ve explained within the press kit your intellectual reasons for choosing to portray Zweig in your film, instead of other writers in a similar predicament before WWII. But I’m more interested in the emotional spark, what made you think, “I’ve got to make this film!” about him?

Schrader: There is something mysterious and unpredictable about those moments of decision, as if a door opens. We’d been researching for weeks before the first bits of the movie evoked in my phantasy. I was fascinated by the image of Stefan Zweig, this intellectual, European, urban and world famous figure standing in the midst of endless tropical vegetation, as beautiful as fierce. The difficulty of being torn between two worlds, the contradiction of having a paradise in front of his eyes and — at the same time — being permanently haunted by the ferocious pictures of what was going on in Europe, was a crucial part of his life in exile and is probably something every exile has to cope with. At the same time I was intrigued by the cinematic challenge of combining visible and invisible images. We all are able to share his brutal phantasies. I was intrigued by the idea of making a movie about the war, about Europe without being there, without actually filming it…

Read the entire interview and my thoughts on the film on the Huffington Post.

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Interviewing Kirsten Dunst…

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

When I say “I must fall in love with every man, woman or film” I write about, I mean it.

As I walked into the luxury hotel suite at Berlinale, stripped bare for the occasion, to interview Kirsten Dunst, I felt a surge of happiness. Here I was, standing across from one of the loveliest, prettiest, most watchable stars I’ve ever known, ready to find out what makes her laugh, cry, hope and dream. It’s an experience that feels otherworldly, to interview someone whose work you’ve long admired. Much like finding a fudge, frosted, chocolate chip cake that doesn’t have any calories.

Dunst is every bit the style icon I expected her to be. With her simple blouse paired with black pants and high heels, she was the off-duty movie star from beautifully shiny head of perfectly blond hair to toes. And giggling with her and her publicist on some other journo’s time about her appearance on Star Trek when she was a child, was priceless.

Read the entire interview with Kirsten Dunst on the Huffington Post, but here’s a quote from one fabulous woman, to get you in the mood.

“What do you look for in the movies you watch?

Kirsten Dunst: I think some movies I’ve loved and they changed the way I think about acting and some movies I never think about again. I mean if I go to the movies sometimes I wanna see something really silly… I remember I went to go see this movie, I think it was called The Best of Me, a Nicholas Sparks one, you know how they make all those. My best friend was pregnant and I think she gave birth the next day. So she was super pregnant and I was like “lets go see this movie,” she wanted to go see it, she loves sappy things. So we went. And we got into it and I started to cry, but I’ve never laughed so hard at myself for crying at a movie. But that’s what I mean, I’ve never done that but I’ll never forget that movie because of that. I was laughing hysterically at myself crying, which is so cheesy.”

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Interviewing Michael Shannon…

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

I always say that in order to do a good job, I need to write from the heart. My favorite way to put it is that I must fall in love with every man, woman and film I meet. No other ways around it. If I don’t like something, I’d rather sit it out, wait for someone else to rip it to shreds, because life is too short to spend it criticizing someone else’s work. My favorite criticism is silence. If you don’t hear from me about your film, food, fashion or culture, then chances are I didn’t like it. It’s my humble and personal opinion. And I’ll reserve the work it takes me to put together a readable blog for something else, a movie, a dinner, or a show I can say something nice about…

That point out of the way, and speaking of falling in love, meeting Michael Shannon at Berlinale this year was a dream come true. Talk about an actor that could probably read the phone book (do they even still make those?) and make it sound sultry and interesting. And in person, you ask? He’s just as wild as you would expect him to be. Quirky, weirdly handsome and mysterious. I cherish the moments I got to sit across from the actor and must admit that it’s times like these when I’m proud to do what I do. Which is… Wait! Meeting movie stars at luxury hotels while drinking gourmet water? OK. So not a difficult job yet one not everyone could do.

Read the entire profile of Shannon on the Huffington Post but here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite. Cheers!

“Sitting across from Shannon, who came dressed in a Berlinale grey sweatshirt and jeans, made me think of a lotus flower. Closed, low-key at first and not revealing its intense beauty to those who don’t deserve it, but once the layers start opening, a world of wonder is there rewarding those with the patience to discover it. I mean, just think back to Shannon’s multi-dimensional portrayal of Rick Carver, in Ramin Bahrani’s 99 Homes, a ruthless, unlikable character who becomes so humanly comprehensible right before our eyes, and in just under two hours. I believe great acting should always make the audience question their definition of good and bad.”

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Food, Fashion and Fun in Dubai: At the Marina Yacht Club

Saturday, December 5th, 2015

There is no two without three, and the third blog for The Huffington Post I wrote about chefs and design in Dubai, is a magical one. I really enjoyed meeting all three of the talented chefs, but Chef James impressed me with his kindness and humanity.

Finding the Meaning of Life, and Cooking in Dubai

The Dubai Marina Yacht Club, seen from the bay
When I recently asked three world-class chefs in Dubai to create culinary creations inspired by fashions discovered at the Vogue Fashion Dubai Experience, I did expect I’d get to peak into their kitchens. But I never imagined that I’d also get a wondrous insider’s look into their humanity.

Chef Steve at The Palace Downtown Dubai, was inspired by the colors and cultural heritage of the African Java-print fashions by Dent de Man, while chef Abel at The Address Downtown found his inspiration within the structural look of a Max.Tan red mesh dress, thus recreating a modern take on the classic red velvet cake.

The reason I love doing what I do so much is because I often get to the heart and soul behind film, food and fashion. Think of it as a direct, private line to the men or women behind glitz and glamour. Even with celebrity chefs, artists, fashion designers and movie stars, their humanity is what interests me most.

And what wonderful warmth and candid intelligence I found in the figure of Executive Chef James Knight-Pacheco at the Dubai Marina Yacht Club! His interpretation, of the black and white structural looks created by Korean designer Byungmun Seo, went straight to the form of both fashion, and food. He overstepped the obvious, color (or the lack thereof) to discover the essence of the composition. What a beautiful experience this all turned out to be.

When I say “only in Dubai” I mean it. I love the grandness of this place, and those who understand it best are those who possess a spirit of discovery. One only has to sit perched on the second floor terrace of the Aquara, chef James’ first class restaurant inside the Dubai Marina Yacht Club — overlooking the water dotted with multi-million dollar boats and framed by the impossibly high buildings of the area — to understand why. Perhaps, if there is one thing these three great men I got to interview last week have in common, and whose culinary generosity I thank for the extra notch I’ve had to begin using on my belt these days, it is their pioneering spirit. Dubai is a city that can boast over 6,000 restaurant, nearly 14 million visitors a year, and still doesn’t have its own Michelin guide. It was chef James who brought this important fact to my attention.

In terms of world-standing, Dubai is still a baby on the global foodie map. Sort of like NYC pre-2005, the year when the first US Michelin guide, focusing on the City, came out. I often draw parallels between Dubai and the Big Apple because I truly believe there is something about this city borne out of the desert, with a thirst for the future and a hunger for glamour that truly feels like NYC in the good ol’ days.

Chef James’ background is, in his own words, “half Venezuelan and half British; I was born in Venezuela and came over to the UK when I was 8.” He attributes his love of food and cooking to his Venezuelan culture, which is family oriented. “My family is all female led, four sisters, my mother, my grandmother, lots of aunties and I was always in the kitchen,” a place he calls “magic.”

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Food, Fashion and Fun in Dubai: At The Address Downtown

Saturday, December 5th, 2015

In the second of this trio of blogs for The Huffington Post, I got to catch up with another magical chef, and admire (but also taste of course) his creation.

The Red Velvet Side of Life in Dubai

The Dubai Fountain and neighboring hotel, The Address Downtown
Don’t know about you but hearing the words “red velvet” always makes me think of those wondrous events where mere mortals are kept away from the celebrities by velvet ropes. In the United Arab Emirates, there is no lack of premieres or celebrities, as highlighted by recent sightings that ranged from Jackie Chan to Brad Pitt (plus Angelina), Dennis Quaid, Malala and the entire Star Trek Beyond cast. Things are only bound to get steamier once the Dubai International Film Festival kicks off in early December.

Yet when I asked three Dubai-based master chefs to draw inspiration from the fashion exhibited as part of the Vogue Fashion Dubai Experience and create their own gourmet creations, I never expected that this style and taste experiment would turn into a kind of metaphor for life. And I definitely did not anticipate that a red mesh dress by Singaporean designer Max.Tan would be turned into an edible study in deconstructing, and then re-assembling, the perfect red velvet cake.

I started out knowing full well that I would be awed by the wonderful ambiance of Downtown Dubai, now a must-visit tourist destination but also a gourmet and fashion mecca for any self-respecting jet-setting world traveler, and that the chefs’ creations would remind me why I love food — and those who prepare it with passion — so much. But what I didn’t expect was to find such distinct interpretations by three men who each represent the best the world has to offer. As chefs of course but also, most importantly, as human beings.

While seafood was conquered by chef Steve in part one of this series, dessert undeniably belonged to chef Abel Vieilleville, the Executive Pastry Chef for The Address Downtown. The wonderfully soft-spoken, Cannes native explained that when he went through the collections by the various designers, the red-mesh dress creation by Max.Tan, a design house based in Singapore, “inspired freedom in me.” And what a beautiful word that is, freedom. Chef Abel continued, “the design is really wide, the dress is made out of mesh, it is beautiful, and although like a structure that looks really fabricated, it’s really light.”

Chef Abel has worked in the food industry for the past 24 years, after studying in the South of France. His parents owned a restaurant for 26 years and so, chef Abel explained, “I was brought into the business at an early age, always focused on dessert.” His first move away from French kitchens was to England, where he worked with Michelin-star chefs, and after working with Chinese-French fusion cuisine in the UK, decided to move to China, which he called, “a fantastic experience.”


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Food, Fashion and Fun in Dubai: At The Palace Downtown

Saturday, December 5th, 2015

Thanks to a friend and some Arabian desert magic, I got to work on a trio of pieces that combined three of my loves: Fashion, food and going out in Dubai.

We asked three chefs to look at designers participating in the recent Vogue Fashion Dubai Experience and each choose a look that they could be inspired by in their cooking. The resulting gourmet creations were incredible, truly mouth watering and the pieces I got to write, after meeting the chefs and visiting their venues, a delight to work on.

All around, what I like to call a win/win. Check out all three blogs, starting with this one. Of course, the full piece you can always find on The Huffington Post, my home for all things great.

Thai-ing Up at The Palace Downtown Dubai

When American movie star Chris Pine called Dubai the “Future-land” during a press conference earlier this year, I finally found within his observation the perfect way of describing a feeling I’ve had for some time now. Whenever I’m in Dubai, this marvelous city of possibilities, I feel like I used to feel in N.Y.C., in my early days there. Because Dubai — like the Manhattan of Julian Schnabel and Jean-Michel Basquiat — is a land of visionaries and pioneers, but also a megalopolis that is achieving its stellar place on the jet setting world map at dizzying speeds. No other place does is better, bigger and faster.

And nowhere is this more apparent than in its Downtown district. If you want a five-star plus luxury hotel, that is where to book. If you want the latest designers clothing, you step into The Dubai Mall. If you want to eat at world class restaurants, savoring dishes created by Michelin star chefs, this is where you book your table. The choices are endless and the possibilities, limitless. Even when you think you’ve done it all in Dubai, there will be a new restaurant opening up, a trendy designer will install their flagship store here, or you’ll discover that a world-class celebrity chef has moved to the city from Paris, London or New York City.

Recently, everything I love in life — fashion, food, glamour and fun — came together in one place, under one roof I already adore, The Dubai Mall, in this hotbed of activity and excitement. The end of October saw the second edition of the Vogue Fashion Dubai Experience taking place in the fashion capital of the Middle East and I kick myself for having missed it. But with the help of a few friends in the right places and the willingness of three master chefs to step outside their comfort zone, I managed to find a way to celebrate glamour and gourmet, in my own very special way.

Chef Steve Deconinck, Executive Chef of The Palace Downtown Dubai
At The Palace Downtown Dubai, I found in the figure of their Executive Chef Steve Deconinck a magnificently inventive soul. Of course, the hotel itself had me at “hello”, from the moment I stepped into their Arabian-inspired lobby, complete with central water fountain and the fragrance of exotic flowers in the air. And I can’t wait to go back for some spa treatments and another Palace cappuccino, which came complete with 24-carat gold leaf and four scrumptious, perfectly chilled macarons. But I digress, which is easy to do when surrounded by the understated grandeur of the place.


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Pitti Fragranze: Scent and Sensibility

Saturday, October 10th, 2015

There are two people in Florence who contribute to my life in so many ways! They are Roberto Ruta and Lisa Chiari, two exceptional human beings who have enlightened me, from film to fashion to fragrances. I’ve never met anyone like them, and I vouch for it right now, will never again. From Pitti Uomo and Pitti Fragranze, which they’ve introduced me to thus rekindling within me a passion for menswear and perfumes to the Middle East Now festival, a yearly event truly helping the dialogue between the Middle East and the West, these two would be my nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize. But enough gushing, here is the intro to a piece for the latest wonder I’ve discovered, thanks to them: Pitti Fragranze.

Read up on “Scent of a Man”– two companies and one scent connoisseur, Chandler Burr, that are changing the way we “look” at perfume today — and a fascinatingly scent-astic profile of actor Luca Calvani, which I titled “The Perfume Affair” both on the Huffington Post. And in case you need a visual prompt to entice you to the latter, well, here it is. Yes, I like my job. A LOT.

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The True Cost of Fast Fashion

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

I had the privilege to meet Livia Firth in Cannes. She’s everything a real woman should be and more. And she believes in a different business model for consumers. She’s changed the way I shop and you should read this interview on the Huffington Post with her about the film she’s produced, titled The True Cost (directed by Andrew Morgan) to find out why.

Meanwhile, enjoy the trailer of the film and a schedule of where it’s currently playing or how to stream/download it.

Check out this link to find out how to download or stream the movie.

It’s also currently playing in NYC at the IFC Film Center on and in Los Angeles at the Laemme Music Hall 3. It will also be in Shanghai, China on June 11th, and June 4th in Winnipeg, Canada. Check out their website for more upcoming screenings.

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