A Retreat in Vietnam, Cult-Inspired Dressing and More


Soon after the flip of the 20th century, Sapa — a verdant Vietnamese mountain city identified for its terraced rice fields — turned a classy retreat for French colonials who would take the practice from Hanoi for visits to their nation villas and to a now-defunct sanitarium. Today, vacationers come to hike the misty trails linking Sapa to surrounding stopped-in-time villages equivalent to Ta Phin and Cat Cat, whose residents promote handmade brocades and silver jewellery. For the brand new 249-key Hôtel de la Coupole, set in a mustard-yellow constructing in Sapa’s Muong Hoa Valley, the Bangkok-based architect and designer Bill Bensley was in how, 100 years in the past, these kind of artisanal items made their strategy to Paris and ended up influencing Western fashions. “I found a 1920s haute couture hat in Paris, which was basically a Vietnamese rattan hat covered in white and red polka dots, and decided to do the entire hotel like that,” he says. To that finish, there are cane and velvet barrel chairs in the high-ceilinged cafe, Cacao Patisserie, and, in among the bedrooms, French lounge chairs lined in graphic hill-tribe materials and linen-colored pendant lights draped in tribal silver beads. Bensley, who believes a resort needs to be a layered, even mental journey in itself, has additionally hung some 500 classic vogue illustrations and adverts all through the property and erected a foyer set up lined with industrial-size bobbins spooled in jewel-toned threads that recall not simply vibrant silks but additionally the luxurious orchid gardens of close by Ham Rong Mountain. — LUCIE ALIG


The need to belong and the necessity to stand aside are the 2 contradicting impulses driving vogue. Recent sartorial trends — ruffled dresses made with modest cuts that cover arms, chest and legs in patterned, decidedly unglamorous-looking fabrics — have been said to evoke a life on the homestead from a more bucolic era. But these clothes also allude to another kind of life: They recall the outfits worn by the women in the opening sequence of the Netflix show “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” in which the protagonist and her “sisters” are rescued from an underground bunker, where they were held captive by a maniacal religious figure. In other words, these clothes make you look like you belong to a cult.

Is it ironic to dress this way? At best, cults are now seen as roguishly edgy, cast in a nostalgic glow as lawlessly free from convention. Audiences last year were captivated by “Wild Wild Country,” a six-part documentary about the Rajneeshees, a 1970s and ’80s commune built around an Indian mystic who promoted free love and the importance of meditation. Two of his lieutenants were eventually convicted of various illegal activities, including orchestrating a salmonella attack on an Oregon town in order to influence a local election. Part of the fascination with cults is how well they manage to convince people to do what is so clearly the wrong thing. Who would be so simple-minded as to blindly follow a leader into lying, cheating or even, as was the case with the Manson family, murder?

But it’s harder to dismiss cults when you begin examining why people join them in the first place. Just look around: From celebrity-owned lifestyle companies that promote “radical wellness” as a way of life to millennial-pink co-working spaces for women that serve grain bowls telling you to “fork the patriarchy” to electric-car entrepreneurs who promise to take us to Mars, what is being peddled today as empowering or innovative or revolutionary is not a far leap from what some guru or Scientologist offered a few decades ago. We all want to feel like we belong to something greater, something bigger and more meaningful than everyday life. And we are willing to pay for it — especially now, when contemporary American politics has arguably become a story of two opposing cults battling for the nation’s collective psyche. But before you buy in, try to take a moment to consider why doing so makes you feel as if you stand out. — THESSALY LA FORCE

Dean Valentine, a Beverly Hills-based art collector and former television network executive, has been to countless art fairs in the past few decades. In recent years, he feels, they’ve devolved into lifeless affairs — “timeless, windowless voids of buying and selling,” he says, that take place in convention centers that hardly vary from city to city. In a bid to infuse new energy into the scene, he and the West Hollywood gallery Morán Morán will launch Felix L.A. next week — on Valentine’s Day, as luck would have it. What they promise is a more relaxed, convivial version of an art fair, starting with the venue: Felix will debut at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel, famous for hosting the very first Oscars, in 1929, as well as countless nights of poolside debauchery since. (The pool even has a David Hockney mural at the bottom.)

The inaugural fair will showcase 38 galleries from L.A. and beyond, including the local Château Shatto and Vitamin Creative Space, based in Guangzhou, China. Rather than booths, they’ll set up shop in hotel rooms, cabanas and the 13th floor’s massive Johnny Grant penthouse. Valentine got the idea from the art fairs he attended in the ’90s at the Chateau Marmont, the West Coast outpost of New York’s Gramercy International (now known as the Armory Show and celebrating its 25th year). His fondest memories are of the depth of discussion made possible by a few cocktails beside the pool. “It’s about putting the pleasure of talking about art, of buying it and selling it, back into the conversation,” he says. He’s encouraging visitors to relax and enjoy the sunshine, within reason. “Please don’t jump in the pool,” he says. “I don’t want to have to save anybody.” Feb. 14 through 17 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, felixfair.com. — JANELLE ZARA


Twenty or so years ago, the designer John Derian chanced upon a small antiques store in Brussels that he describes as “a real cabinet of curiosities.” He’d visit each time he was in town. “It would move, and then I’d find it again,” he says, “and I’ve bought some really cool ephemera there.” His most prized discovery is a deck of early-19th-century English playing cards printed with colorful etchings of historical characters, both real and imagined: the king of clubs is a drunken ne’er-do-well in blue striped stockings, the queen of spades resembles Joan of Arc.

Derian, who grew up in a large family in which cards were a vacation mainstay, now hosts frequent game nights at his apartment in New York and he has long dreamed of reprinting his antique deck. He first sent ideas for updating the cards to his canasta friends eight years ago (should he create two decks? Did they need a joker?) but the project consistently got waylaid. Now, at long last, Derian will launch his first-ever playing cards — his dream deck, based on his 19th-century set but tailored to the needs of modern players — at his two namesake home décor stores in New York. He did add a pair of jokers, as well as numbers in the corners of each card (the original deck only had suit symbols) and he enlisted the classic American card manufacturer Bicycle to make them — Derian liked the way that Tiffany & Co. cards shuffle and tracked down their producer. But otherwise the cards are much the same. To celebrate the realization of his almost decade-long labor of love, Derian has also created trays that feature the cards’ designs — in his signature decoupage style, of course. johnderian.com — ALICE NEWELL-HANSON



Source link Nytimes.com

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