March 13, 2013 | Style & Beauty
It’s symptomatic for Rolls-Royce to look backwards before moving forward when the time for contemplation of a new model is imminent. With a storied history—founder Charles Stewart Rolls was in his twenties when he co-founded the company and, as a young pilot, became the first man to double cross the English Channel non-stop—and a reservoir of creativity at its disposal, the British automaker proudly staged the world debut of its dynamic new Wraith recently at the 83rd Geneva International Motor Show.
Wraith, titled after a mystical Scottish spirit, represents new potential direction for Rolls-Royce and extends its level of luxury, refinement, and hand-craftsmanship, but also presents unique positioning defined by power, style, and drama. Originally conceived in 1938, the rebirth of the current fastback and its perfectly engineered features and technical contour introduces a younger demographic to the Rolls-Royce brand. The sleek and vigorous Wraith is purely driver oriented with its Ghost-based 6.6-liter V12 that now outputs 624-horsepower (European spec), allowing it to reach 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds. With this in mind, the majestic gran turismo becomes the most powerful Rolls-Royce in the history of the company.
Hallmark coach doors open into the Wraith’s rich cabin, which is composed of Phantom-grade leathers and Canadel Panelling wood veneers. A bespoke touch of imagination is displayed by way of the lustrous night roof lining, conceived by the hand stitching of 1,340 fibre optic lamps. For enthusiastic owners who position themselves directly behind the wheel, innovative technology dubbed Satellite Aided Transmission applies GPS mapping algorithms to forecast the driver’s next move using current location-base and drive characteristics. The system then pre-chooses the most suitable gear from the 8-speed automatic ZF transmission appropriate for the impending topography ahead.
Expect deliveries by the end of the year to early 2014 with a current European price of €245K. Further pricing details for additional markets such as the U.S. will be revealed at a later date. It’s currently a moment of introspection for Rolls-Royce as they position themselves for supplementary growth, heightened levels of performance, and inflated expectations from their loyalists.
—KIMANTI D. RAWLINS, automotiverhythms.com
March 06, 2013 | At Home
Thanks to the Madoo Winter Garden Lecture Series, you don’t have to wait until the first day of spring to get inspired about your garden. Starting March 10, The Madoo Conservancy in Sagaponack will showcase three guest speakers with diverse expertise in the gardening world. The brainchild of renowned local artist Robert Dash, this event is a great opportunity to prep for the prime gardening season ahead.
Accomplished writer and award-winning interior designer Charlotte Moss kicks the series off on March 10, drawing from her East Hampton gardens and international travels to explore how greenspaces incorporate nature into our daily lives. If you’re looking to be more eco-conscious this season, stop by March 17 to see Anne Raver, garden columnist for the The New York Times, and discover green practices that are ideal for both you and the environment. Internationally acclaimed photographer, Mick Hales, closes the series on March 25, sharing his insights into what attracts us to different spaces. Hale will use photos from a recent trip to England in his talk.
All lectures begin at noon in the Winter House Studio, and are open to Madoo Conservancy members and the public. The entrance fee for the individual lectures is $30 for guests, and $20 for members. To attend all lectures, the fees range from $45 (members) to $75 (nonmembers). All talks are followed by refreshments, and attendees are invited to take a wintertime walk on the grounds. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a space. 618 Sagg Main St., Sagaponack, 537-8200
PHOTOGRAPHY BY PIETER ESTERSOHN (MOSS); ROB CARDILLO (RAVER); VERT (HALES)
March 05, 2013 | Style & Beauty
Kathryn Livingston is the former executive editor of Town & Country and a long-time chronicler of the beau monde. In her new book, LILLY: Palm Beach, Tropical Glamour, and the Birth of a Fashion Legend (Wiley, $25.95), she writes about the woman whose dresses became the default casual wear for America’s preppy. A sometimes rebellious daughter of wealth and privilege who dropped out of finishing school to become a nurse's aide in Appalachia, Pulitzer was a working mother at a time when mothers, especially fabulously rich ones, didn't work. Interestingly enough, the notoriously private fashion legend began her career by opening an orange juice stand in the heart of one of America's most luxe enclaves. This book chronicles her remarkable story.
What prompted you to write this book?
KATHRYN LIVINGSTON: What I hoped to do next was a biography of an exemplary American woman who embodied what’s at the top of the American Dream, but whose private ups and downs through several eras were also reflective of modern American social history. In the fickle world of fashion, she is one of the very few who has been able to make a smashing comeback. While she is as colorful as her merrily printed styles for men, women, and children, there has never before been a published biography of her.
Where does Lilly live today?
KL: In Palm Beach, Florida. Now in her early eighties, she pretty much shuns the limelight. A family-centered woman, she is often surrounded by her visiting children, their spouses, or even ex-spouses, plus Lilly’s eight grandchildren and sister. Her nine-bedroom house is every bit as unique as she is: A bold turquoise front door leads through a terra-cotta foyer into a bright yellow living room the size of a ballroom, filled with colorfully upholstered, pillow-strewn sofas and easy chairs, eccentric mementos, and elegant antiques.
Have younger women embraced the Lilly Pulitzer line the way that they did Diane von Furstenberg’s classic wrap dress a number of years back?
KL: Absolutely. It has been embraced by a whole new generation of young women, men, and children. The brand, which started out as a Palm Beach snob uniform in the ’60s and became a much-copied fashion craze across the U.S, is now considered an American classic.
How has resort style changed since you were an editor at Town & Country?
KL: Amazingly, not much. It’s still civilized barefoot ease, casual classics. The effortless chic of a hibiscus-bright cable-knit sweater casually tossed over the shoulders of a pastel-hued polo shirt worn with crisp white cotton pants and sandals for women and loafers for men is still a perfect seaside club uniform by day in Southampton or Palm Beach. Lilly’s trademark gold gypsy hoop earrings are as popular today as when she originally wore them when she launched her business. Prints are big in fashion once more. So in a sense, fashion has caught up with Lilly.
Lilly Pulitzer is emblematic of a certain era’s wasp style. How would you describe wasp style today?
KL: Low-key but up-to-date. Never flashy. Never looking like you’re trying too hard. Being aware of trends but knowingly sifting out the latest as to what is appropriate for an occasion, what is practical for a specific task. Clean-cut and fresh-scrubbed. Sporty and seemingly effortless. Uncluttered silhouettes, no superfluous ruffles. Good jewelry but not too much of it. Carefully put together but carried off with an air of nonchalance. This style’s assured stance starts in prep school, with mastered traditions, dress codes, awareness of rules. It’s a style acquired by osmosis [that] relies on the tried-and-true: Oxford cloth shirts, khaki pants, navy blazers, cashmere sweaters and shawls, well-cut suits in fine natural fabrics.
February 13, 2013 | Talk of the Town
Charles Dubow recently released his debut novel, Indiscretion, a sultry tale set in the Hamptons. A New York native, Dubow was a founding editor of Forbes.com. His story of love, lust, and betrayal is told in a powerful voice, and Dubow is poised to make waves among our current literary landscape.
Your debut novel, Indiscretion, was just released. What inspired this intimate story? CHARLES DUBOW:I had the idea back in 1997 when I first started working at Forbes.com. I imagined a happy couple spending a golden summer in the Hamptons surrounded by friends. It was a very happy time in my life, I was recently married and my family’s house in East Hampton had an old barn on it that had been converted into a guesthouse. This was when most of our friends were just starting out in their careers and didn’t have weekend places of their own yet so everyone came to mine. But, of course, that alone wouldn’t make a very interesting story. There needed to be an element of conflict. It was obvious to me back then that it had to do with infidelity—a beautiful young stranger thrown into the mix. I wrote up a brief synopsis and tucked it away, planning on getting to it someday. Every year I’d look at it and think about it again but I could find neither the time nor the courage to write it. Finally, I realized there were no more excuses.
Give us your elevator speech on the setting/plot of Indiscretion?
CD: My editor called it a mash-up between The Great Gatsby and 50 Shades of Grey. I am not sure anyone is being especially well served by that comparison, but it does have a certain pithiness to it.
How did living in Manhattan and spending summers in the Hamptons shape the novel?
CD: There’s good reason why people say you should write what you know. I was inspired to write the book based in large part on my summers in the Hamptons. We had a house there for decades, on Georgica Pond before it became fashionable. It wasn’t until the 1980s when people like Calvin Klein and Steven Spielberg moved in. When I was a child it was pretty sleepy. I was very jealous of my friends who lived closer to town or to the beach. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized just how lucky I was.
Given the monster success of 50 Shades of Grey, and your novel’s sensual plot, why do you think America is obsessed with such voyeuristic reads?
CD: I’m not sure that voyeurism is an especially American or even 21st century obsession. After all, authors have been writing about the private lives of the well-to-do since the ancient Romans. Look at Petronius’ Satyricon, for example. However, I do think that the main reason for this is that people have always wanted to see how the other half lives—what their pleasures are, their peccadilloes. It’s fun to snoop, right?
What books are currently on your nightstand?
CD: I’m reading the third volume of William Manchester’s biography of Winston Churchill, The Last Lion: Winston Churchill: Defender of the Realm. It’s a brick of a book but deeply engrossing. I am also reading Transportation, a collection of short stories by Nancy Rommelmann, an old friend from Wesleyan, and A House of Gentle Folk, by Ivan Turgenev.
CD: I’ve never encountered a word I dislike, even if sometimes the connotations might be distinctly unpleasant.
Which authors do you most admire?
CD: I’ll answer with those authors I most admire as opposed to those I most like reading or who I would most like to emulate. For example, F. Scott Fitzgerald was a genius but I sure wouldn’t want to have his life. Ditto Evelyn Waugh, whose work I adore but he was apparently a real shit. Therefore, those authors would be Tolstoy, Turgenev, Chekhov, Balzac, Austen, Graham Greene, Le Carré.
January 04, 2013 | Style & Beauty
Audi aficionados knew exactly what was expected when the German purveyor of luxury cars announced their new line of “S” performance vehicles including the S6, S7 and S8, which is the company’s four-door breadwinner in terms of power output and performance. But how could that be with the fierce and mighty V10 being supplanted for a smaller, more efficient twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8? It’s called German evolution.
Audi changed degrees with enhancements to their renowned quattro all-wheel drive technology, presented fascinating new products like the Q7, R8, and A7, enriched their interior cabins from an already stellar platform, and introduced magnificent engineering technology to ensure that the driving experience is pleasurable and safe. Now, the 2013 S8 is a new topic of conversation. The twin-turbo, 4-liter V8 produces 520 horsepower, helping the aluminum space frame go from 0 MPH to 60 MPH in 3.9 seconds. Mate the powerplant with Audi’s 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission with manual shift mode, and the vehicle achieves 15-city MPG and 26-highway MPG. Cylinder on Demand also aids in this mileage by transitioning eight cylinders to four cylinders when full power is not required. For example, fuel reduction at 55 MPH is 12%.
As for the interior, I felt special to say the least as the 22-way, diamond cross-stitched sport seats massaged me pleasantly. My mocha leather cabin was infused with a plethora of carbon fiber to intensify the level of craftsmanship of this German touring sedan, including the gear selector, seatbacks, dash, and center console. As I gripped the thick 3-spoke leather wheel and ignited the red Start/Stop button, the needles on the gauges rotated, the LCD screen rose from its embedded position, and the acoustic lenses from Bang & Olufsen’s big-ticket, concert-themed sound system emerged out of the dash. LED lights can also brighten up the cabin when needed.
Audi Connect, launched in the “A” cars, uses an array of various multi-media technologies along with Audi’s Multi Media Interface (MMI) for driver convenience. MMI is one of the most advanced telematics systems in the auto industry. When inputting the address in the Google Earth navigation system—which displays from the aforementioned LCD screen—superior visual computing takes over and guidance is enhanced by displaying satellite and 3D images of buildings and places of interest, as well as “Street View.” Online searches also come from Google, just as on your smartphone or laptop, and you receive weather, gas prices, RSS news feeds, and sports scores. Speaking of your smartphone, up to eight devices can connect wirelessly and search the web by way of the S8’s T-Mobile-provided hotspot. The first six months of hotspot ownership are free, with a separate monthly fee charged thereafter.
Once you reach your destination and step out to look back at the vehicle, you know you have properly arrived. With a massive grille that dominates the fascia and front air intakes, the larger 21-inch 5-star bladed rims and matching aluminum optic side view mirrors, and quad exhaust, this is not a typical A8 but an “S” driven by the very best. All you need to justify your $110,000 purchase.
—KIMANTI D. RAWLINS, automotiverhythms.com