"Madame de Pompadour excelled at an art which the majority of human beings thoroughly despise because it is unprofitable and ephemeral: the art of living." -- Nancy Mitford, Madame de Pompadour (1954)
The ghosts of New York City haunt its residents day and night. Every building, square and street corner bears daily reminders of the city’s short but dense history, inextricably linked to great personages and events across the globe. It’s impossible to walk a block without passing multiple commemorative plaques marking homes or past inhabitants of note whose stories began abroad. Maria Altmann, protagonist of the new film Woman in Gold, is one such figure.
I couldn't entirely tell if famed stylist and blogger Natalie Joos was giving me a death glare or simply preparing to pose as she tossed her hair back for the cameras facing her. I was part of a crowd of people wielding DSLRs outside Spring Studio at 50 Varick Street yesterday, and she was one of the fashion industry's high-wattage faces assembled to witness Diane von Furstenberg's Spring 2015 runway inside.
New York's real estate bacchanalia is literally reaching new heights, facelifting Manhattan's iconic skyline until the end of time. Vanity Fair has already introduced us to the leviathan luxury skyscrapers rising below Central Park South (one of which I see through my window, not-so-gradually dwarfing the Bloomberg Building by the hour). . . Downtown, developers are targeting that top stratum's fraction of aesthetes through a disorienting orgy of design along the High Line.
Yesterday saw the close of Charles James: Beyond Fashion at the Met. Christian Dior idolized James as "the greatest talent of [his] generation," and Balenciaga gushed that he was the first designer to elevate dressmaking to true art. Still, it has taken posthumous decades for his work to be recognized by the world accordingly, and within three months his first major exhibition is over. Not to get too dramatic, but I sensed a pall over the place.
I'm young, passionate, and live for a thrill. But I have a filthy secret: I still love living on the Upper East Side. Exiting the subway at 59th Street and Lexington -- ejected from the steamy, fetid bowels of New York in what are poetically called the dog days of summer anywhere else in the nation -- I exhale in gratitude. The absence of tourists, cooling breeze and bodegas perfuming the air with Asian lilies are like floss for my nerves. But my residential bliss in the Silk Stocking District is rarely shared by people under 50 . . .