The ad for the new Jo Malone, English Oak fragrances made me buy it.
I'm a sucker for an image that looks like it came out the 1980s film, "Legend," albeit without Tom Cruise and Tim Curry.
The ad made me think of English forests, like Sherwood (a real place, BTW). Where I actually met the real Sheriff of Nottingham (there is one BTW). I also learned to shoot arrows in Sherwood Forest and climbed inside an ancient oak much like the one in the ad.
Fragrances and journeys seem to have a natural affinity for each other. I remember a cruise whenever I open a bottle of Samsara. I was wearing the original (not the reformulated) version but the scent brings me back to ports of call like Pompeii and Mykonos.
My trick is this: I buy a bottle of perfume or cologne that is new to me--not something I would, perhaps, choose as a signature scent or want to wear forever. Then I wear it on the journey and afterwards, keep it sealed as a living scent memory of that journey. If I want my deep, reptilian scent-memory to bring me back to Morocco, let's say, I open up a bottle of Etro's Palais Jamais and I'm back in Fez. Or I bring back the feel of the blue waters of Croatia with a sniff of Dior's Dune.
There's a phrase in perfumery: silage. Silage is the length of time a perfume has to linger and exude from the body. Pairing perfume to a journey extends that's journey's silage--even if just for a finite and fragile moment in time.
I have to admit it, I am a "September issue" addict.
Every time the end of August rolls around, I stalk the magazine aisles of Duane Reade and CVS looking for those satisfyingly hefty fashion tomes: Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, Marie Claire, Allure, and even New York (this year's has Ashley Graham in leopard print).
Those luxuriously thick magazines make me dream.
Page after page is filled with images of aloof allure and dreamy vistas in which to insert your fantasy self.
This is me alone on a pier in a Ralph Lauren trench. This is me smelling like "English Oak" (Jo Malone's fall fragrance) in the midst of a copse of ancient trees, flanked by hovering fairies whilst my intriguing, sexually ambiguous partner leans in to caress me in my tulle gown.
Of course, only a rare few of us live lives that encompass the idea of buying a $6,000 Dior bag or a $7,000 Stella McCartney frock.
But we can dream, can't we?
Travel, on the other hand, is the luxury that has become as accessible as a good matte lipstick (we're looking at you L'Oreal and Maybelline).
Airlines like Norwegian Air have lowered costs on transatlantic flights so low that a jaunt to Portugal to listen to Fado in Lisbon or a hop across the pond to see what's new at the Tate Modern sounds more and more like a trip to the mall.
This September, the trends in travel will be popping up on Instagrams and among influencers everywhere.
Here are some of the hottest new designs:
1. Experiential travel.
Yes folks, you will have to break out of your bubble of isolation for this one. Engagement with all kinds of local "experiences" is the trend that doesn't stop trending. GoBe.com launched this year, and many other "experiential" tour companies that promise unique access and "deep dives" into local culture, are mushrooming all over the world. Our advice? If noodle-making at home isn't something you'd ever do, it's not particularly going to be any better when you do it in Beijing. Stick to "experiences" you love, that you actually want to do. And don't be ashamed if you don't want to "engage in depth" and would rather drift and take pictures and have your own adventures.
Hybrid boutique hotels
Boutique hotels are changing. The once mighty W chain is suffering with low bookings while smaller brands are booking gangbusters. Look at Hilton's Curio Collection for an interesting marketing skew on "boutique." Expect more and more properties to push the fact that they don't have a traditional front desk and that they are totally in-synch with iphone culture. Expect more bathrooms without bathtubs (a vanishing breed, unfortunately) and definitely expect more emphasis on hotel bars and, at higher end properties, destination restaurants.
Cheap, cheap, cheap flights overseas that you have to grab in a heartbeat.
Keep your phone open to those booking sites ,and grab those fares while you can. Just like Barnes & Noble used to put out chairs and tables for readers and then mysteriously took them away once all the independent booksellers were out of business, don't expect rock bottom fares to last on Norwegian or other carriers. Grab them while you can.
4. Hot destinations include:
Portugal (Lisbon, Porto, Sintra).
Portugal is having her closeup moment. Great wines, gorgeous cities redolent of history and time and an emphasis on authenticity make Portugal the must-see country of the moment.
New airline connections to this culture-rich island make it easier than ever to spend time in one of the Creole capitals of the Caribbean.
Other fashionable trends:
Everyone getting TSA Pre-Check (it's the little black dress of travel).
Airport restaurants that take your order by ipad.
No more cash accepted...anywhere. Card up, travelers. Meantime, get a pretty Coach wallet to keep that plastic clean.
Image by Andrew Dunn
One of my first solo trips abroad as an adult was to London in the 1990s.
I'd been alone as a teenager on a school-sponsored trip to Switzerland and Spain, but this was different. I stayed in a small B & B in Pimlico, and got over "the pond" on a low-cost British Airways fare that didn't break my budget.
Wandering the streets, comparing the London of my imagination to the real place and finding very little difference to my delight, I came upon the Burlington Arcade.
This historic shopping arcade, built in 1819 in the heart of posh Mayfair, was one of the world's first shopping malls--but the phrase doesn't do it justice. You feel as if you're in a Dickensian time tunnel as you stroll through the glass domed thru-way that runs from Piccadilly to the Burlington Gardens.
Loving perfume, I was lured into a shop called "The Crown Perfumery," a historic perfume label that had been bought and restored by a major perfume house. Inside, were scents that had been popular back in Queen Victoria's day, when the original house had ruled the roost as the perfumers to the royals.
I opened one of the crown-shaped bottles to inhale the fragrance of "Alpine Lily," a scent from the 1890s. It was innocent, almost virginal, but so meltingly soft and sweet there was a sensual air of corruption about it--like a hot house flower that spent all its ardor on its intoxicating aroma.
"That one is a favorite of Princess Di," said the shopwoman with a conspiratorial smile, shifting her eyes to the left and then to the right.
I inhaled again.
Was it worth the $200.00 US I could barely afford?
I proudly declared the purchase on my customs form, and once home, I made the fragrance my own "signature scent."
"It's like you," said my worldly Aunt Eve, my own version of Auntie Mame who had taken me on my first trip to Europe. "It's innocent, but has a dark center to it."
I wore the scent on my first press trip (to Bali), and ever since, its heady sweetness reminded me, not of Princess Di, but of the humid, incense-laden air of that Indonesian island.
The shop and the perfume brand are now long gone. I bought a few more bottles on subsequent trips which I stored lovingly in a dark, cool drawer so that I could open them and relive a time when smelling like Princess Di seemed the right thing on which to indulge.
-- Gretchen Kelly
One would expect a world renowned chef and restaurateur like Todd English to define luxury based upon the outermost reach of his famous culinary accomplishments. As the saying goes, the world is his oyster, however, the chef's recipe for luxury includes more than just top shelf ingredients.
Gretchen Kelly and I spoke with Chef English at the signing ceremony of the newest of the Dream Hotel's establishments, set to open in 2019 in New Delhi, India, where the chef will extend his partnership with the hotel group. Joined by Mr. Sant Singh Chatwal (Dream Hotel Chairman), Jay Stein, (Dream Hotel Group CEO), Sachiin J. Joshi (Chairman of Viiking Ventures), Rabinder Pal Singh (CFO), and hostess and Bollywood actress, Rashmi Nigam, Mr. English added to his impressive resume of culinary stardom.
After the contract signing, we enjoyed a private moment with the chef, and asked for his definition of luxury. "Luxury is about a feeling rather than a specific value. It's all about experiences." I then concurred, recalling my recent trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Coincidentally, Chef English had studied there, and recalled indulging on "ten cent shrimp and ten cent beers...that was luxury."
In a sea of the finest suits and jewels that could feed many villages, we found it satisfying that Chef Todd English's definition of luxury so encapsulates our own.
- Michael Alpiner