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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hot Time: Summer in the City

When temperatures start to rise, there is a mass exodus out of New York City. Whether to Montauk or St. Tropez, we do whatever we can to bring the party to the beach.

But, there are always a few weekends when you just can't get away.

My advice on how to beat the heat? Gather some friends and host a summertime dinner of chilled crab claws and lobster rolls.

For starters, order Red King Crab Lollipops from Seabear, an online retailer famous for their smoked wild salmon. These big meaty claws served on ice in a glass bowl will make a grand statement as an appetizer. Two pounds of fully cooked claws ($85.99) will be shipped to you via Fed Ex Day Air Express.

Mary's Fish Camp (64 Charles Street, 646-486-2185) has arguably the best lobster roll in town and they allow take-out for parties greater than 6 if you order 24 hours in advance. If you don't live in the West Village or in Park Slope (their sister restaurant is Brooklyn Fish Camp, 162 Fifth Avenue, 718-783-3264), Dean and Deluca online is the next best option. They will ship two 12 oz tubs of lobster salad with 8 split-top rolls ($135.00) direct from their supplier for next day delivery.

For something a little sweet and decadent, serve coconut cupcakes from Crumbs Bakeshop ($2.95 each) with a glass of champagne for dessert. There are locations all over the city so if you don't have time, have one of your guests pick them up on the way.

To get the party started but to keep things cool, I like to offer guests a chilled shooter of ice cold Absolut Citron rimmed with Stirrings Lemon Drop sugar. Crate and Barrel has a great set of vodka shooters that comes with a bowl for easy presentation. During dinner, serve something light and refreshing like a spritzer made with dry white wine with a splash of club soda and a twist of lemon.

Keep tabletop décor at a minimum. All white china on crisp white linens, a few tapered white candles and bowls filled with fragrant lemons gives a fresh look. For lazy summer nights, I still love the Garden State soundtrack. It's a great mix of chill yet sultry tunes from Coldplay, Zero 7, Frou Frou and Thievery Corporation that will help transport you out of the hot, sticky city.

Friday, June 22, 2007

A Night with Duran Duran

If you were a girl growing up in the 80's, you were most definitely a fan of Duran Duran. In my group of friends, you were either madly in love with lead singer Simon Le Bon or bassist John Taylor.

Given my longtime "appreciation" for the band, I could hardly pass up an invitation to meet them at a private party (organized by Epic Records, Magus Entertainment and my friend Karrie Goldberg of Kage Konsulting) at The Xchange (640 West 28th Street) on Monday night. Not only is the 5000 square foot space one of the coolest new industrial lofts in the city but it's outfitted with an incredible custom Funktion One sound system. It was a real shame Duran Duran did not perform.

Actually, they had played but on the night before at an intimate concert at Hammerstein Ballroom for members of their fan club. Their set included favorites including Hungry Like The Wolf, Come Undone, Girls on Film and Lonely in Your Nightmare. For an encore, a new song called , "Nite Runner," was introduced.

At least all four members of Duran Duran (Simon Le Bon, John Taylor, Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor) were at the party to celebrate their upcoming album, Red Carpet Massacre, which will be released in October by Epic Records. Special guest producers and guest stars on the album include Justin Timberlake, Timbaland and Nat "Danja Handz" Hills.

DJ Eve Salvail kept the party hopping with upbeat tunes mixed in with the occasional new Duran Duran song such as "Skin Diver" and "Box Full of Honey." Chopin Vodka and 10 Cane Rum created specialty cocktails for each new track on the album. The crowd was a diverse group of fans, press, industry types and an eclectic list of VIPs including Moby, chef Rocco DiSpirito, artists John Currin and Rachel Feinstein as well as Mickey Dolenz from the Monkees.

Although I got to hang out with various members of Duran Duran who mingled with the crowd throughout the night, I was drawn to the far corner of the room. A staff photographer was stationed in front of life-size paper cut-outs of Simon, John, Nick and Roger for an ongoing photo shoot with the guests. It was a hilarious and entertaining element to the party.

I just had to get my photo taken. It's not every night a girl can say she's with the band.......

If you are reading this post in an email or reader, click here to view complete the slide show.

To book an event at The Xchange, contact Karrie Goldberg of Kage Konsulting at 646-873-4999.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

GuS - Soda for Grown-Ups

Your vodka of choice is an ultra-luxury brand. It's made from glacier water and winter wheat that is freeze filtered for its clean, pure taste. Are you really going to mix it with Ocean Spray cranberry? I think not.

Remember, all mixers are not created equal. For discerning palettes, try stocking your bar with premium fruit juices like GuS Soda which comes in all sorts of grown-up flavors like Dry Crimson Grape, Star Ruby Grapefruit and Dry Valencia Orange. Foodies love this brand - it's even served at Thomas Keller's Per Se restaurant by a sommelier who will pair a complementary flavor to your order for those seeking a non-alcoholic alternative. Seriously.

All of GuS Sodas are 100% natural, pasteurized, kosher and made with real fruit juice and soda for a light taste. For a great summertime cocktail, mix chilled vodka (super premium, of course) with Dry Meyer Lemon soda and serve over crushed ice and mint in a tall, thin glass. At 90-98 calories per 12oz bottle and only lightly sweetened with natural cane sugar, you can imbibe with less guilt (and perhaps a smaller chance of a hangover in the morning).

GuS is available at Whole Foods, Citarella, Gourmet Garage and other upscale, specialty food shops such as Dean & Deluca and Murray's Cheese. If you want to order a few cases for a party, try Mitchell's New York (800-662-2275) who will deliver in Manhattan to your home or office.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Drive Me Home, Lily

Heading to the Hamptons this weekend? Make sure you pack a bikini as well as a cocktail dress. A typical weekend at the beach on this strip of Long Island is filled with all sorts of parties from casual BBQ's to black tie benefits. But, while the parties may be plentiful, the taxis are not. What's a responsible social butterfly to do?

Call Lilybug Scooters (866-678-Lily (5459)) a new service that launched in May 2007 that offers a safe and alternate way to get home after a few too many mojitos. They supply the driver, you supply the car. Here's how it works:

The chauffeur arrives at the party on a scooter. The scooter folds up into a 2 foot square and goes into the trunk of your car. The experienced (and sober) driver gets behind the wheel of your vehicle and drives you and your guests to the next party or home.

Having a personal chauffeur for a night of party-hopping? Luxurious.

Not having to pick up your Range Rover in the parking lot of Pink Elephant the next morning? Priceless.

Chauffeurs are booked by the hour at $50 per hour (2 hour minimum) and are available in Southampton, Hampton Bays, Shinnecock, North Sea, Watermill, Bridgehampton and East Hampton. There is a one time membership fee of $10 for the first 6 months.

Lilybug Scooters can be hired for special events, airport runs and even to pick up deliveries around town. Perfect for event planners who need an extra hand. Also, a percentage of the company's proceeds goes to support anti-drinking and driving programs such as MADD.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Mad Tea Party

If I had to choose one season in the Fashion Calendar, I would live in resort. It's essentially a collection designed for a lifestyle of leisure. Assuming, of course, that you have somewhere fabulous to go on vacation.

Last Thursday I was given a little taste of the good life at an afternoon tea party hosted by my friends at Ports 1961. Inspired by the painting (top right), "A Mad Tea Party," by Zelda Fitzgerald (artist and wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald), Creative Director Tia Cibani, Ann Caruso, Lucy Sykes Rellie, Mary Alice Stephenson and Eva Lorenzotti gathered up some of New York most fashionable ladies to preview the new resort collection that pays tribute to the Jazz Age.

Williamson Calvert, an events and cuisine company, was commissioned to create a luxe yet relaxed setting that would transport guests to the 1920's - a time of elegant garden parties, preppy college boys and high flying flappers.

The terrace was lined with towering birch and maple trees along with conical boxwoods, wisteria, ligustrums, rose topiaries and bougainvillea. Table tops were dressed with maize Damask linens, an eclectic mix of vintage fleur and garden china and antique goblets with gold rims. Lush arrangements of fragrant lilacs and Barrington Belle peonies added bursts of color while vintage Lenox pedestals and Wedgwood teapots accented each setting.

A long buffet was filled with savory and sweet treats including petit courgette quiche, cucumber and smoked sturgeon sandwiches, stuffed figs with Stilton and almonds and currant scones with clotted cream. The chocolate truffles infused wtih Earl Grey and Bergamot Tea were especially decadent.

Guests including actress Gabrielle Union, Vanessa von Bismarck, Olivia Palermo, Celerie Kemble, Adelina Wong Ettelson and Zelda's granddaughter Bobbie Lanahan, enjoyed a private viewing of the new collection while sipping on chilled Elderflower Cocktails, Lychee Ice Tea and the signature drink of the party - The Zelda, a delicious mix of green tea, ginger infused vodka and organic gingerale with a splash of simple syrup and squeeze of lime.

As with all events produced by Tony Alcindor of Ports 1961, the close attention to detail provided a full sensory experience. The Loose Marbles, a band of street musicians from New Orleans (that Tia discovered while walking through Chelsea market), performed as a charming couple danced a little swing and jitterbug - a wonderful and original touch. If you are lucky, you'll catch The Loose Marbles playing in Washington Square Park this summer.

For more information on Williamson Calvert (whose clients include Vanity Fair and Chanel), contact Deborah at 718-956-5633.

For those reading this post in an email or reader, click on the title to visit the blog for a complete slide show of photos from the event.

Decor photos by Deborah Williamson. Event photos by Patrick McMullan.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Daddy Dearest

Trust me...your Dad has enough ties. On Sunday, June 17th, celebrate the things he really loves by giving a gift that reminds him of life outside the office.

This portable grilling set from Crate and Barrel ($42.95) will make Dad the King of the BBQ this summer. Pair it with chef Bobby Flay's classic grilling cookbook, "Boy Meets Grill," which features 125 simple recipes for meat, poultry and fish. Let Dad show off his grilling skills by sending USDA Prime Beef Steaks (the highest grade of beef) which are expertly cut and trimmed and beautifully marbled. Williams Sonoma can deliver New York strip steaks ($139), rib eyes ($145) or filets ($149) in time for Father's Day if you order by noon on Monday, June 11th.

Doesn't Dad deserve some TLC? This gift is pampering yet masculine at the same time. The Art of Shaving's Barber Spa (373 Madison Avenue, 212-317-8436) is known for their hot shaves. The Royal Shave ($55) starts with a hot towel wrap followed by a facial massage with pre-shave oil to protect the skin and soften the beard, a straight blade shave in two directions with warm shaving cream, an after-shave mask and concludes with a chilled towel soaked in refreshing lavender. Pair it with a shaving kit ($200) that comes with starter sizes of the products as well as a pure badger brush and razor so Dad can replicate the experience at home.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

In Bed With Kiki

Being a bridesmaid ain't easy.

Especially when the bride-to-be is your uber-stylish friend with impeccable taste. You know the type. Dress by Monique Lhuillier. Registry at Moss and Bergdorf Goodman. Flowers by Antony Todd. The task of planning her "last night of freedom" with all of her best friends from across the globe is a daunting one. Somehow the idea of dancing on a banquette at Bungalow doesn't seem very original.

For a truly memorable experience, call my friends at Kiki De Montparnasse (79 Greene Street, 212-965-8150). Named after a French artist, muse and icon of female independence, Kiki De Montparnasse is a beautifully curated retail environment in Soho that celebrates sensual living.

With the belief that pleasure is paramount to a fulfilling life, Kiki is filled with the most exquisite collections of lingerie and boudoir inspired ready-to-wear designed by Creative Director and Co-Founder Jennifer Zuccarini. The store has endless gift ideas from jewelry to erotic accessories to products for the home, bath and body in beautiful packaging by Base Design (responsible for the brand identity and campaign, shown above). Some bestsellers for brides are the bow back panty (shown above) - a combination of the satin chiffon bow ($50) with the crochet lace g-string ($135), massage candle ($45) and the 24K gold handcuffs with key and chain ($175) - a cheeky yet apropos gift for someone entering the "confines" of marriage.

The 2000 square foot store is split into two defined areas - an open retail space in the front and a more intimate boudoir with a brass bed (shown above) in the back. Depending on your preference and size of your group, both spaces can be used for parties. Kiki's signature is to serve champagne with chocolate covered strawberries or caviar during a private shopping event. A dedicated sales person will give a preview of the collection and tutorial on the toys.

On the second floor, Kiki has an incredible 1200 square foot private event space called the Salon. Complete with a kitchen, private dressing room and audio-visual equipment, this room can be transformed for many types of events. For a shower or bachelorette, Kiki can plan a cocktail party with hors d'oeuvres or a seated dinner through one of their preferred caterers such as Serena Bass.

For the ultimate luxury experience, Kiki will have one of their stylists hand-select lingerie and merchandise for the bride-to-be as well as arrange for one of their "sexperts," such as a dominatrix trained in the art of bondage, to speak to the group.

A night at Kiki is such a sexy affair....don't be surprised if the boys want to crash.

For more information about special events at Kiki, contact 212-965-8070 or email