Saturday, January 31, 2009

The legendary Rainbow Room

The Rainbow Room is one of those places, along with the Staue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, that true New Yorkers expect to never visit.

But how could we pass up a visit after that scene from Sleepless in Seattle, when Annie (Meg Ryan) is having dinner with Walter at the Rainbow Room on Valentines Day. As Annie sits down, she sees the spectacular view of the Empire State Building, lit up with huge pink heart. Suddenly Annie's heart leaps as she realises she wants to be with Sam (Tom Hanks), so she starts sprinting toward the Empire State Building where Sam and his son Jonah are waiting for her in their own "Affair to Remember" moment.

It's all very romantic.

Seeing the view for ourselves did not disappoint - it kicks the view from the Auckland Sky Tower's arse.
Unfortunatly The Rainbow Room, which is perched on the 65th floor of Rockefeller Center, is the latest victim of the current economic meltdown and will soon be closing its restaurant after 70 years as a New York icon.
Clik here for a look at the Rainbow Room's glamorous past — from Marlene Dietrich in the 1960s and Diane Von Furstenberg in the 1970s to its retro restoration.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Steamy is an understatment


Anna Selezneva, Anna Jagodzinska and Natasha Poly aren’t wearing much more than their Calvins in the new racy Calvin Klein Jeans ad. Sex sells I guess - literally.

The commercial is so provocative that it's banned from even late-night cable TV. Instead, Calvin Klein is working on an edited version to be aired in the U.S., but European countries such as Italy, France, Spain and Germany will show the uncensored version.

I'm no prude, but even I'm kind of have a look for yourself at the banned Calvin Klein ad here

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Eat this

I've become a bit of a bookworm since I moved here, mainly because I don't want to waste the 30 minutes I spend on the subway each day dumbly staring at the cringe-worthy ads plastered all over the train walls.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath was a depressing but excellent read (special thanks to Charlette), and if you're a fan of The Lovely Bones or The Time Travellers Wife, you'll love Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

But my new book obsession is I Was Told There'd Be Cake, written by a twenty-something suburban girl who moves to the big city (New York), and in a very Carrie Bradshaw way recounts her adventures and mis-adventures in a collection of rip-roaring essays - which is made all the more resonant by living here.

If you get a chance, pick it up. It's like tuning into a episode of Gossip Girl every time you open it - very addictive.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Fancy Pants

It's one thing trying to get dressed for work every morning, but it's quite another trying to get dressed for an interview. At a fashion magazine at that.

What you want is to come off all cool and casual, in a 'you're so fabulous you whipped your outfit together in five minutes while simultaneously downing your morning coffee and applying a lick of mascara' kind of way.

But the truth is you stand in front of the mirror for 45 minutes contemplating dress or skirt, brown chunky heels or black pumps. Then you start to worry you'll look like a try hard - mainly because you are trying too hard.

The answer? Pants. Spring is all about the pants. The skinny, the ankle-cropped, the straight leg, the high-waisted. Whatever, they all work.

Throw on with a black or navy tee, add an accessory du jour (chunky or embellished, who knows it changes every five minutes) or oversized blazer and voila - instant chic, without the going insane part.

Lanvin SS2009

Malo SS2009

3.1 Phillip Lim SS2009

Karen Walker SS2009

Chloe SS2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

ACP shuts down New York office

Today I became a statistic. I found out that I no longer had a job, along with the other 35,000 people in New York.

ACP Australia has decided they can no longer afford their offices in New York and that means we were all made redundant, effective Friday - as in, in just four days.

Who knows, perhaps this will lead to bigger and better things (it will certainly make me try harder for that elusive job at Harper's Bazaar), but this afternoon I couldn't help but wonder - what does all of this mean for magazines in general?

It is no secret that the magazine industry is falling apart, with advertising and circulation down across the board, and entire editorial and advertising departments being 'let go' like a bunch of bad eggs. But what a lot of people are unaware of is how much it actually costs to produce your weekly fix of Woman's Day or US Weekly.

Last week I found myself bidding for a photo of Kylie Minogue skiing with some unidentified man pal that cost more than my annual salary. Yes, you read correctly, one image. All in the hope that it might be the image that will make you, dear readers, want to buy the magazine and therefore help boost circulation.

Even though this seems a little warped to me, I know magazines are just trying to stay alive - albeit a little frantically. Doing so requires an unenviable tightrope act: while trying to hold onto upmarket advertisers, they must remain fun, diverting and subtly escapist, and at the same time not alienate readers whose own wallets have become as thin as this years issues of Vogue.

Editors are in a constant tug-of-war, unsure whether to give readers an escape from the bleak economy through the sparkly lives of celebrities and beautiful couture, or give practical and sage advice, like "100 Perfect Outfits That Are Already in Your Closet". But let's face it; this is just a fancy way of saying "wear the same clothes you've been wearing for the past 10 years." How very depressing.

Perhaps I should try my luck in the one publication category that will never be dowdy or depressing: the food magazine. I've always wanted to be a food critic. Or I could turn my talents to paparazzi photography, which seems to be the only sturdy career choice at the moment. $5,000 for a photo of Blake Lively eating a burger? Sure! Watch this space.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Central Park crush

As much as I love New York, one of the city's great pleasures is being able to just get away from it all.

Stretching 51 blocks between 59th and 110th streets, Central Park is an 843 acre oasis of tranquility. Seriously.

No matter what kind of day the city has thrown at you, you can walk into Central Park and you wouldn't even know Manhattan existed.

It's like walking into your own little fairytale, one covered in powdery snow and absent of any city chaos, rude pedestrians and honking yellow cabs. Need I say more?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Magazine supreme

This morning all my magazine Christmas's came at once.

Not only did I find out that the Luella magazine is a done deal, with Jourdan Dunn appearing on the Spring (so soon!) launch cover, but I very nearly had a heart attack when I stumbled across Russh in the window of what seemed like a small and inconspicuous magazine boutique in the West Village.

It's something I didn't think I would see again for a very, very long time and even contemplated having friends send issues over for me together with Vegemite and Vogel's.

If there are any New Zealander's or Aussie's out there suffering Russh withdrawals, the store is on the corner of W 12th and 8th Ave.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

New York mascots

People in New York love little dogs.

No where else have I ever seen so many pint-sized companions in one city - they are tucked under arms, on leashes, in cages or scoping out the world from the confines of a Balenciaga look-alike bag.

Like all the top New Yorkers, these pooches dine downtown at Mercer Kitchen and window shop for boots at Gucci. They go everywhere with their mistresses, and I swear they are taking over the city.

Once toted by fashionable women inside the folds of their gowns, miniature pets have been the favourites of aristocrats from Marie-Antoinette to Elizabeth II. Now the pseudo-royals of Hollywood love them, where the likes of Tinkerbell (Paris Hilton's Chihuahua in case you've been in a hole for the past few years) are just as much gossip column fixtures as their owners.

Flaunted as fashion statements, these tiny canines are like the equivalent of a pair of Manolo's or the latest Fendi 'it' bag, and Yorkshire terriers, French bulldogs, Papillon's and Chihuahua's are among the most coveted breeds.

In their defense it is true that Manhattan housing doesn't have the backyards (or any space for that matter) suitable for Golden Retrievers or Huskies to run around. And so really the only solution is a Bichon Frise sized thing, which will always fit more easily in a studio. And of course, a tote.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Justice is Served: Free makeup for all!

Want free cosmetics? Well it's every Manhattanites for the asking this week at Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.

When I heard about the possibility of free makeup I made a beeline for Macy's after work.

In hindsight this was not the best for speed and ease (Saks apparently was line-less today, their shoppers seem to be above free makeup), but it was worth the 15-minute wait for my $35 Lancome Mascara prize. Free makeup is free makeup, especially if it means long Twiggyesque lashes.

The giveaway is the result of a 2004 legal settlement where cosmetics companies and retailers were accused of price fixing.

The companies deny any wrongdoing, but the settlement requires them to give away $175 million in makeup to customers who purchased a product between 1994 and 2003. And it happened with big cosmetics brands too! Chanel, Guerlain, M.A.C, Clinique, and Clairns were all involved.

No receipt? No worries. They're operating on an honour system. To claim my free mascara (at this point all the Chanel perfumes and expensive creams were long gone), all I had to do was sign a form stating I was eligible, and off I shopped.

Customers are only supposed to get one item each, but many clever young things enlisted their boyfriends or male pals in their hunt, getting seconds and even thirds. And some major diehards I chatted to were on a department store trail, visiting every store and scoring up to nine products each.

The giveaway runs until Monday, or while supplies last. And any remaining items (yea right) will be donated to charity.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Spoken like someone who's never seen a Cabbie drive

Learning to become a 'recessionista' in New York means cab rides start to evaporate right next to Dries and Prada purchases.

But besides being much cheaper, using the subway and your legs for transportation is so much more entertaining. For one, you discover (or re-discover) the city and it's endless nooks and forgotten gems; but more importantly, the conversations one overhears while on the way to work are so worth the sore feet and packed-in-like-sardines ride.

One website has capitalised on these conversations and sends spies onto the streets of New York to eavesdrop on innocent strangers, reporting on the many hilarious quotes they encounter.

Here is one of my recent favourites from Overheard in New York:

Daughter: Okay. So we've got to take the N uptown. It should be arriving on this track soon.
Tourist mom: But that sign says the N goes to Queens. I don't wanna to to Queens.
Daughter: Yes, it goes to Queens but we're getting off way before then. It just ends in Queens, don't worry.
Tourist mom: Don't worry?! The sign says the N goes to Queens. And that it's an express! An express to Queens?! I don't think so. Let's just go take a cab...It'll be safer.

--Herald Square Subway Station

Monday, January 19, 2009

Walking in a winter wonderland

This morning I woke up to a beautiful milk-white tree outside my window. It's snowing! The novelty never wears off.

Coming from a snow-less city, there is nothing better than rugging up in layers of winter woollies, drinking a cup of green tea and looking out at a snow covered Manhattan.

One minute the city is loud and buzzing, the next it's eerily quiet and peaceful; the city suddenly transforms from a brown concrete jungle into a February postcard.

And the best thing about the snow? Trekking around in gumboots all day

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Marc Jacobs-designed, Sprouse-inspired

Most of us didn't have the funds in 2001 to buy the Stephen Sprouse Louis Vuitton collaborations, and I for one still don't. But many will be maxing out their credit cards this time around for the many covetable pieces that pay homage to Sprouse, who passed away in 2004. $8,000 skateboard anyone?

In time for the collection’s arrival last week, Louis Vuitton's boutique on SoHo’s Greene Street was transformed into a Sprouse destination. -14 degree (Celsius) weather or not, it is definatly worth checking out Sprouse’s gargantuan signature graffiti in neon and vinyl that covers the entire store front, and the 6-foot neon light installation of Sprouse’s Rose design.

And for those looking to spend their hard-earned paychecks, there are various small accessories under the $300 mark, including a gym set complete with head band and towel, neon pink bag charms and a limited edition Stephen Sprouse Roses T-shirt. Good luck shoppers.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Playing Cinderella

A pair of high heeled shoes has the power to make a woman lose her mind temporarily, where a casual flirtation becomes a love affair that can quickly turn into a full-blown obsession.

No where else is this more true than in Manhattan, where the world of high heels knows no limits and where shoes seem to be more addictive than coffee and cigarettes put together.

Angelina Jolie wearing Christian Louboutins for V magazine

The ultimate high heel, the most coveted in this city, are the Louboutins. Manhattan women save up for months for the now famous scarlet soles. So, in the name of research I walked into my first Christian Louboutin boutique in the West Village to see what all the fuss was about, I mean can a pair of shoes really be worth this much? And not just for their $600 plus price tag, but for all the worship they inspire? - Even Suri Cruise has a custom-made pair.

Katie Holmes in patent blue Louboutins at the Met's Costume Institute Gala

The boutique itself is a small, low-key spectacle. Made of brick, the store is on a quiet corner surrounded by other brown-stone houses, and is only known from the tiny pink neon sign in the window.

First off I picked up one-half of a heavily embellished pair of platform high heels. They were $4,500. Yes, $4,500. I, too, lost consciousness.

Suede Louboutins in pretty pastels from the spring 09' collection -
Harper's Bazaar Feb 09

Next I plucked a classic pump off the shelf, which were a more reasonable $695 (I can just see my boyfriend, Bruce, rolling his eyes at this observation) and popped it on. And yes, the tales are true. In an instant I felt different. Somehow more grown-up, graceful and elegant.

However, I am all too aware that maintaining a relationship with Mr. Louboutin, no matter how effortlessly chic I feel in his shoes, would be extravagantly expensive.

Like any addiction, you only end up wanting more.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Plane Crashes Into Hudson River

I am currently sitting at my desk at ACP New York watching a US Airways plane sink into the Hudson River on CNN. This is the first time New York has seen a plane fly so low over the Hudson in eight years.

According to CNN, the plane took off from LaGuardia Airport at 3:26 p.m. was bound for Charlotte, N.C. and had 146 passengers and 5 crew members on board. The plane, according to the news report, hit a flock of geese and the pilot had to bring the plane down as best he could, managing a controlled landing in the river.

New York Police Department divers are in the water to assist with the rescue, while some passengers were able to free themselves from the plane and could be seen standing on the planes wings fifteen minutes ago. The temperature in the Hudson is approximately 1 degree Celsius.

UPDATE: 4.40pm A quick rescue kept the death toll at zero, with all 155 in the plane safe after the accident .

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Coffee cravings

It’s as hard to find a consistently great latte in New York as it is to find scrambled eggs for breakfast in Italy.

It’s an understatement to say that coffee here is severely lacking. New Yorker’s are completely unaware that brewing a good coffee is akin to an art form and words like properly short, rich and dense describe something closer to Wall St bankers than an espresso - basically as long as it gives them their caffeine fix, it’s good enough.

Apparently, New York has been going through some sort of coffee renaissance lately, which frankly, is news to me. After one-too-many bitter and watery coffees, with something bubbly on top that is supposed to be froth, I found myself pining for Auckland's flat whites.

After a long and tedious hunt, I finally found five favourites that never fail to satisfy my crema craving.

Best Espresso: Gorilla Coffee
97 Fifth Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn

Best Latte: Sant Ambroeus
259 W. 4th St, West Village

Best Coffee Bar: Joe
141 Waverly Place, West Village

Best early Saturday morning take-away coffee: Oslo
Bedford Ave, between S 2nd and S 3rd, Williamsburg

Best Old-World coffee house: Café Sabarsky
1048 Fifth Avenue

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

But what about my Manolos?

The dream: finding a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in an elevator building with a doorman in the West Village for under $2,000 a month.

The reality: never going to happen.

Let's face it, we all want the Sex and the City apartment. We want the brown-stone stoop à la Carrie Bradshaw and Holly Golightly, the Magnolia cupcakes around the corner, the cobble stone streets and 'the closet'. But consider this. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom in the West Village is more than $3,000, a studio is just over $2,200, and the average rent for a one-bedroom in a doorman building anywhere in Manhattan is close to $3,500.

So, we started looking in Williamsburg. We checked our expectations at the door, grudgingly decided to raise our price limit, and looked for places with a roommate, and no closet.

We quickly learnt that renting in New York is not like renting anywhere else.

It's not uncommon in New York, for example, to have a convertible one-bedroom - which is not a one-bedroom at all but a studio that has a wall/curtain put up to create a bedroom. It is also quite normal to walk through someone else's bedroom to get to your bedroom or the bathroom. This is called a railroad style apartment. We learnt to avoid those.

New York landlords don't help matters much; they turn the most sanguine first-time renter’s outlook grim. It seems landlords only want tenants who earn at least 35 times the monthly rent, which means a $70,000 annual salary for a $2,000 per month apartment. According to census data, graduates aged 22 to 28 living in New York have a median salary of $35,600.

On top of this, landlords frequently ask for a security deposit in addition to first and last month’s rent. At this point Bruce and I were starting to realise that the elusive $2,000 one-bedroom apartment can be found, but only in Harlem.

Competition for a desirable apartment is nothing less than intense, and after weeks and weeks of craigslist searching, seeing apartments with mouse droppings on kitchen counters and cockroaches running along ceilings, dodgy neighborhoods and some pretty weird flat mates, we finally found our Lower East Side humble abode. Tucked away next to a cupcake bakery, one of Manhattan's best bars Chloe 81, and lots of vintage boutiques, I am finally one happy camper.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Morning After the Night Before

Moving cities can be daunting, especially when your moving to New York city from out-of-the-way New Zealand. But, since I was 12-year-old, I have been devouring books, Vogue articles and movies about the magical city that is Manhattan, and for 10 years it has been my dream to live here and maybe, just maybe, land my dream magazine job.

So, after a stressful journalism and advertising degree, and one years worth of experience at New Zealand's only equivalent to Vogue, I convinced my boyfriend to uproot his modelling career from Milan and make the move to New York with me.

Five months later, with boyfriend and best friend (who's here for her summer holidays) in tow, here I am, waking up in New York. These are the tales of one girl's journey in the city that never sleeps.

A New York Moment

"Look what can happen in this country, they'd say. A girl lives in some out-of-the-way town for nineteen years...and ends up steering New York like her own private car. Only I wasn't steering anything. Not even myself."

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath