I love to travel, and there is no time like summer to go off on new adventures. Between the end of presenting my Resort collection and starting work on my new Spring collection is usually a perfect time for me to travel with friends and family. Last month, I set off on a whirlwind trip through Los Angeles, Paris, Abu Dhabi, Beirut, and then Paris again before returning home.
Day 1-3: First stop was the Beverly Hills Hotel. The Pink Palace as they call it. I love it there! There's really nothing more to say. It appeals to me on every level. I love the old Hollywood glamour of it - it has so much charm and history. I feel sensational just walking across the lobby and lounging in my little bungalow. You have to stay in a bungalow and have to have breakfast at the Fountain Coffee Room (they serve a delicious granola with fresh fruit) and lunch in The Polo Lounge. I also love the lush greenery of the manicured grounds. Stay cool; you will see a lot of celebrities in the Polo Lounge - that's just a part of life in Los Angeles.
At night with friends, I hit the town for a few great meals. I love good food and great service. We went to Animal for the first time. The restaurant's famous chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo met each other when they were in culinary school in Florida. Since then they have worked together cooking at various places across the country until landing in LA in 2008 to open their own restaurant. They just opened a new restaurant called Son of a Gun - I'll have to come back through Los Angeles so I can eat there on my way home. On our second night we went to the new Cipriani hotel and restaurant - Mr. C. It's a good place to stay in L.A. The menu features all of the classics we love from Cipriani and includes some new items like grilled pizza. The
Day 4-5: From LAX, I flew to Charles de Gaulle to see some fashion in Paris. It's so cool to be able to do that for the day. I was determined to have the opportunity to see the Madame Gres exhibit at the Musee Bourdelle. As the Madame Gres award winner at the Fashion Institute of Technology when I was a student there she is very special to me. The exhibition is on display until August 28th. The cool thing is that visitors are allowed to take photographs of the exhibition at the museum. Isn't that a new thing? Picture taking in a museum! I guess they realize that everyone is always taking photos of everything with their cell phones so you might as well allow it. Picture taking has become very democratic now and it's just a part of our life style today. I wonder when we will all have time to look at all the pictures we have taken. We will need another life time just to sort through all of our digital folders. The exhibit is truly extraordinary. Well worth the trip.
I could not miss going to the Yves Saint Laurent retrospective of his very first boutique at the foundation located at 5 Avenue Marceau so I stopped there for a quick look on my way to the airport. He was so modern and ahead of his time. The look of the store and all of the clothing and accessories is as if he had just designed them today.
Day 6: From Paris, I fly to Dubai and stayed in one of my favorite hotels where I can really relax: the One and Only Hotel in Dubai. I always stay in the residence section with a room facing the ocean. It is sublime.
Day 7: I move on to Abu Dhabi -- to the Emirates Palace. Talk about grandiose! The Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi is an amazing hotel. It's a landmark, with over 300 rooms, on a private beach, with its own water park, tennis courts, a spa, and over 10 restaurants. There's really no need to ever leave the palace. If you happen to stay there when it's your birthday, get ready for a surprise because the hotel will make a big deal of your special day.
Right now, I am in the lobby of the Palace waiting for my car and driver to pick me up to go to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. Unlike New York, there's no need to stand outside in the heat to wait. The doorman guides me to the couch to sit comfortably while I watch the large screen monitor to check when my car arrives.
Let us talk about The Sheikh Zayed Mosque. Wow ! I have no words to describe this beautiful mosque. It is simply spectacular; every room, every corner, every door and every column is a distinct piece of art, and collectively, this creates a visually ethereal place of worship, welcoming to people from all religions. Basically, if you ever visit Abu Dhabi you must put this on your list to see.
Yesterday, there was a bit of a time delay in taking some luggage out of my room. I travel with quite a few T. Anthony canvas trunks in my signature red. The hotel's Concierge came running after me to apologize. Today she greeted me in the lobby and apologized again. The Emirates Palace Hotel staff has been so wonderful and gracious. This is truly royal service after all.
I love having my nails done and knowing that my friends here recommended that I go to Sisters Beauty Lounge for a Japanese manicure. I was like a kid in a candy store. I get to design my own nail decoration. I tried to calm myself and find something that wouldn't be too shocking. What I had done is a big statement with glitter and jewels set into the polish. All of us should have this opportunity to custom design their own nail decoration. Its Japanese technology with an Emirati flavor - so that's what you call cross culture.
Even nails can make an international statement. Mine certainly did. Everyone who saw them commented that they wanted the look for themselves. Lets think about this together; either a manicurist should fly to every country to do this or everyone should fly to Abu Dhabi to get an international manicure. It's definitely the answer to world harmony. I'm already thinking about what I'm going to have done for my next manicure there. You need to check it out. They have 3 locations in Dubai and 1 in Abu Dhabi.
Everything here is so over the top; I'm in the car on my way to the airport and looking out the window I see another car heading in the opposite direction that is blinking its eye lashes! The headlights have eyelashes. I thought I had long eye lashes but these were especially beautiful and well groomed.
Day 9-10: From here I went on to my second home in Beirut, Lebanon. I had set aside two days there to consult with the charities I'm involved with and to work on the Miss Lebanon competition as a designer, stylist and event judge. I never had to deal with 16 young women all at once before (outside of my fashions shows, that is). Can you imagine all of them competing for every dress in my collection to wear during the competition all at the same time? My job was to make them look their best on stage - you should have seen the transformation. Not all of them had the ideal measurements .They were all different shapes and sizes but all had to fit into the same size. Hiding hips and minimizing bust lines was a challenge that had to be done well and fast. The event itself was great and paid homage to the surroundings in which it was conducted: the heart of downtown Beirut, beautifully resurgent after decades in the doldrums of war.
Time flew by with too many promises - too many humanitarian obligations to fulfill. Then off to the airport to head back home but one more stop along the way; to Paris to meet a couture client there. Why not? There's nothing wrong with one more night at the Plaza Athenee. They greet me like I belong there, like I've just returned home. From Paris it's back to New York and to my beloved dog Lou Lou for a very happy welcome home. I'm sure she thought I was never coming back.