I never thought of watching the moon rise at night as anything special before I moved to the mountains. Life in the city moved at a tick-tock pace: morning, work, gym, walk home, eat, sleep. It never occurred to me to actually watch it rise. Sure, I've gazed at the moon many a-nights, whether on a bench at Washington Square Park or while sipping a cocktail on the rooftop of SoHo House or strolling home from somewhere–but I've never watched it rise. Most of the hoopla is made around the beauty of sunrises, and rightfully so, but it has to be said that a moonrise feels quite majestic in its own right. Even more so in a big open sky. We've created a ceremony out of this by sitting out on the terrace, under the covers with a glass of wine, blasting Sigur Rós on the speakers. "Here it comes! Here it comes!" we'll say to each other, excitedly. And we'll watch, wide-eyed with our jaws dropped, as the glowing-white moon floats into the sky. The atmospheric music only intensifies the drama of this glorious event. In fact, it elevates it to a religious experience. Sometimes the moon as bright as the sun. It's impossible to photograph because it'll just show up as a white dot in a black square. You won't be able to catch its elegant movement or the thousands of glittery stars that surround it. No, no... It's something that can only be experienced.
y friend Didit is in town from Paris.* As an haute couture designer (click: Didit Hediprasetyo) and an honorary Parisian, it's only natural that I look to Didit for insights on what makes a woman's style chic. Specifically Parisian women. What's their secret? I pondered this over brunch with him this past Saturday, as we sipped on our virigin Bloody Marys at Five Points.
"So, how are the chic women in Paris dressing these days?" asked, swirling around the ice with my straw.
"Like men," he deadpanned.
"Really? I've always imagined them looking like Emmanuelle Alt... Skinny gray jeans and a t-shirt with a sharp Balmain jacket and a pair of sexy heels!"
"Sexy heels? They wear shoes like this." He gestured down at his black leather brogues. "And boyfriend jeans," he added, "Everything is a bit boxy and baggy, but you have to have a nice body to be able to pull it off. Not everyone can."
"What about beauty?" I wondered, as I proudly showed off my glossy, seashell pink nails, ""Look, I just got Shellac on my nails!"
"They don't care about manicures so much," he remarked, "I think they do it themselves. Manicures are so nice, though. That's what I love about coming to New York. There are nail salons everywhere." He took a moment to gaze down at his hands. "And they don't wear much makeup, but they do love a smoky eye–although, not so much eyeliner."
After brunch, it was his turn to ask me a style question.
"Where can I find a good thick black sweater?"
I, of course, knew just the place. "We must go to the Acne store in SoHo. They have the best selections of sweaters!"
And so we went. I made a beeline for the women's section as he perused the men's. Just as I predicted, he found not one, but three ideal sweaters. One in particular caught my eye. It was a beautifully textured black cotton sweater that was thick but not too heavy. "I think I have to try this one on," I gasped.
When I emerged from the dressing room, he nodded in approval. "Oh, Jess... This is chic." I turned around in the mirror as he pushed the sleeves up my arm, which were ever-so-slightly too long. The look was nonchalantly oversized. "Really? You think so? You don't think it looks too masculine?" I asked, even though I knew it was a done deal.
"You can wear this casually with white jeans or to dinner with tailored pants and a pair of earrings. For spring, you should wear it with shorts!" he exclaimed, taking a step back while still nodding, "Yessssss... You'll wear it all the time!"
I wore my men's sweater to lunch at Soho House today, with skinny black pants and a pair of heels. For the record, I received compliments from four men, all of whom wanted one for themselves.
*Didit and I first met in Paris in 2008 when I was covering Paris Fashion Week for an online fashion industry trends resource. I was staying at a crap hotel at the time and, after a casual gathering at his beautiful apartment in the 8th arrondissement, which was outfitted with elegantly minimal Christian Liaigre-designed furniture, he graciously invited me to stay in the guest room for the remainder of the trip. How lucky I was! It was better than any hotel I've ever stayed at in Paris. When he visits New York, he stays down the street from me at the Mercer Hotel—which I must note is also designed by Christian Liaigre.
Last winter, I came across a 1961 edition of The New York Times Cookbook. It was so Mad Men. There was a whole section on canapés and recipes for retro things like "celery with red caviar stuffing." There was a blurb written on oysters on the half-shell with hot breakfast sausages. This intrigued me. I made a mental note, but hadn't actually tried it until recently at Soho House's $29 per person brunch feast. There's something about the cold brininess of the oysters and the salty, unctuous porkiness of the breakfast sausages that just works. You wouldn't think so, but it does.
One morning, after my boyfriend left for work, his cleaning lady arrived as I was putting on my makeup. "Just a second, please!" I hollered, giving my cheeks one last swirl of blush. She stepped inside as I was gathering my things to head to Soho House. We started chatting.
"Have you met him yet?" I asked, rolling up the cord of my laptop charger.
"No," she replied as she slipped on a pair of yellow rubber gloves and prepared to wash the dishes, "But I can tell what his personality is like just from being in his apartment."
My interest was piqued. "Really?" I asked, amused, "How would you describe it?"
She soaped up a sponge and said, "Mmm... Well, you can tell that he's happy-go-lucky—but disciplined."
I couldn't believe it. She pretty much hit the nail on the head. "Happy-go-lucky" and "disciplined." Two words. Not only was it precise, it was also concise. Usually, it took most people three words to capture a personality, but she got it in two. I told him this story later that day and he was impressed with her perceptiveness.
I mean, how can anyone tell if someone is happy-go-lucky just by cleaning their apartment? I didn't see any sign of that in his place. It's warm and inviting, but very straightforward. And very... Brown. There's lots of brown and wood going on.
A few weeks later, when we were riding on the subway together, I brought up that story again.
"Remember how your cleaning lady described you in two words?"
"Well... How would you describe me in two words—and only two!"
He thought for a moment and said, "Mmm... Let me think. What did my mom say about you? She said you were sweet and adorable."
"But that's not specific enough! That could be anybody!"
We both paused.
"Oh, I know," I said, feeling rather impish, "How about... Flawed yet endearing?"
For a split second, he pursed his lips in agreement before blurting out, "You're not flawed!"
"Too late! I saw it! I saw the look in your eyes!"
I squeezed his arm really hard and we started cracking up.
"You're ridiculous," he said, shaking his head.
27 Ninth Avenue between West 13th & West 14th Streets
I've been a member at Soho House since 2008. Membership fees come out to be approximately $127 per month. Every time I contemplate canceling my membership, I think about the fact that it's a place where I can go with my laptop and sit at a velvet-lined booth for hours upon hours and no one will bother me. I think about their rooftop pool and how access to one is such a rarity in Manhattan. I think about how I learn so much from their panel discussions and cooking classes. I think about how comfy those Chesterfield sofas are, especially when in the company of a couple of close friends over cocktails. I think about that fabulous roaring fireplace and the live pianist in the winter. I think about how luxurious it feels to steam and shower at Cowshed Spa on the third floor--and how my hair and body smell gorgeous from using their products. I think about how there are supposedly tens of thousands of people on the wait list. And then, I renew my membership for another year.