Monday, 14 October 2013

25hours Hotel in Vienna. Photos & text by Glenn Belverio


Dear Shaded Viewers,

 Last month, during MQ Vienna Fashion Week, I stayed at the quirky 25hours Hotel located at the border of Vienna's newly trendy 7th district and steps away from the wonderful MuseumQuartier (so you can get your fill of Egon Schiele AND hipster thrift shops). The 25hours Hotel reminds me of a few things: the Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs, the Lloyd Hotel in Amsterdam--and a time-traveling Bozo the Clown on acid. But really, it's like no other hotel that I've ever stayed at.

The lively "show" mood of the hotel is right in step with many Vienna institutions: the Prater, the Opera Ball, the Life Ball and the city's many music and theater venues. The building that is now the 25hours Hotel began its life in 1971 as a 6-storey student dorm designed by architect Dr Kurt Schlauss.

25hours--a mini empire with hotels in Austria, Germany and Switzerland--opened their property in Vienna in March 2011 after being refurbished by the Viennese firm BWM Architekten und Parnter. The second phase of the hotel was unveiled in April 2013, with 219 guest rooms spanning 7 storeys--topped by the wildly popular Dachboden bar on the 8th floor.

Above: In the lobby and elevators, bars are used to evoke the animal cages at circuses. Now they're used animals! *rim shot*

Headed by Armin Fischer, the Augsburg-based design team Dreimeta was responsible for the hotel's aesthetics and design. A humorous take on the world of spectacle. Sexy and surreal fantasies inspired by Vienna's circus legacy. In 1808, a permanent circus opened in Vienna's Prater amusement park. Throughout Europe, the circus experienced its heyday in the early 20th century when it was a combination of a freak show, a chance to gawk at people from faraway lands, and vaudeville entertainment.

With this in mind, Dreimeta gathered together and revamped vintage finds from this period, without concealing the age of the pieces. They sought out memorabilia with a story to tell. "Juggling clubs, trapeze wires, chairs and desk lamps--we trawled countless flea markets, hunting and gathering," recalls Fischer. "Everything at the circus is temporary and can be put up and taken down quickly. The troupe uses the venue they find themselves in and make the best they can of it with simple means. We wanted to give the hotel an improvised feel too, while still making it seem cosy and not unfinished."




After soaking up the hotel's "Euro hipster backpackers run off and join the circus" mood, I was prepared for whatever my room was going to throw at me....Luckily, I'm not clown-phobic (unlike so many others) so I was delighted by this whimsically frenetic mural behind the bed of my rather spacious suite. I wondered what kinds of dreams I would have in this bed (nice ones, it turned out)....and would it scare off any male suitors who might find themselves in my suite...(no, thank god.)

The mural behind the bed and all of the other 19th-century circus-themed paintings in the hotel are by Berlin-based artist Olaf Hajek, one of Germany's best-known illustrators. They were my favorite element of the hotel.


 I liked how this plush blue rug was used to delineate the "living room" area of the suite....the round rug and others around the hotel are an indirect allusion to a typical circus ring.


 The office area of the suite (and there's a kitchenette, complete with dishwasher to the right, not pictured). This is a bit of a gonzo aside, but I can't hold it in: the mismatched letters and numeral 1 on the wall remind me of an obscure feud between Barneys New York's former creative director Simon Doonan and artist Jack Pierson. Pierson claimed that this style was his intellectual property and that Doonan had stolen it for displays at Barneys Co-Op.



 Even though the hotel is technically 3 stars, one of the many things that imbues an overall luxury feel are the bathrooms. My suite had a cavernous rain shower that was big enough for a circus elephant, and included copious amounts of sustainable bath products. The lighting in the bathrooms is reminiscent of a performer's dressing room (and they were flattering) and the taps have a nostalgic feel.


 The fixtures, like this stool and the waste bucket, feel like they were plucked from a circus trailer.


I don't drink soda but I love the designs of these bottles from the mini bar. What I did partake in was the complimentary tins of high-end aromatic teas that were replenished daily.




 Vintage luggage stacked and repurposed as a display for the flat-screen TV. Clever! And who could not love this turn-of-the-century clothes form.



Each room has its own mascot outside the door....I had the illustrated man snake charmer...


And who doesn't love a good transgendered trapeze artist....


 As a copywriter, I couldn't help thinking that this hotel project was some copywriter's dream job....the design of the hotel is very copy-heavy....for each room, instead of a Do Not Disturb/Please Clean My Room sign, there is a BOOK with red and green pages of 25 sometimes-witty, sometimes-annoying slogans to choose from: "it might not look like it, but it was fun"   "it's the 25h hotel. i need an extra hour."  "police crime scene. move on."   "still naked."   "imagine the rolling stones stayed in the room."   And so on.



 The top floor is the very spacious Dachboden bar and the circus-cum-hipster eclectic decorating theme continues in full force...


 Out on the deck, it's all about the view....on a clear day you can see Maria von Trapp.


 Another view...lovely Vienna....


Normally, hipster vinyl-only DJ booths get on my nerves, but as this is Europe, the taste level is higher and more discerning than in tired America. Case in point: Ennio Morricone's magnificently languid soundtrack for the film VERUSCHKA is displayed totem-like in it should be.



 The spacious and airy restaurant at 25hours, 1500 FOODMAKERS, has a great look, if you love ecleticism (as I often do). The pizza is so good, you'll almost forgive the restaurant's ill-advised official slogan, "Fuck it, eat pizza."


 Mirror mayhem in 1500 FOODMAKERS.


 The hotel at night....I probably took this photo when I was returning from one of my wurst and/or Kaiserbründl runs....


 The 25hours is just spitting distance from Spittelberg, that tiny, charming, cobblestoned Biedermeier festooned pedestrian district that was once--horrors!--a red-light district. Now, for better or worse, you can buy postmodern dirndls by Austrian designer Lena Hoschek and the kind of vintage '70s clothing that Mary Richards and Rhoda Morgenstern first shopped for at a hippie boutique called "Shot Down in Ecuador, Jr." circa 1973.


 Me doing my imitation of Christ routine in Spittelberg...


 The many charms of Spittelberg...this is basically how I feel inside when my appetite is rampaging Godzilla-like through Europe....



Thanks for reading. I had a marvelous stay at 25hours....danke schön.


Glenn Belverio



03:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, 09 October 2013







10:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, 08 October 2013

Magical mystery tour with Diane & visiting other friends in Paris last month. Text & most photos by Glenn Belverio

Above: No trip to Paris is complete without Champagne and Diane Pernet at Cafe de Flore on the Rive Gauche.

Dear Shaded Viewers,

Last month I was holidaying in Europe and I spent a glorious week in the City of Light visiting friends. The highlight of my trip was a magical mystery tour with Diane...and then there were all the stolen moments I had with old and new friends, not to mention one or two rencontres érotiques


 On one particulary muggy yet brilliant afternoon, I walked from the Hôtel de NELL where I was staying to Diane's chic address in the 7th arrond. I passed through the Place de la Concorde, as one does during such a walk, and it was as magical as I remembered it from four years ago.


 Diane at ASVOFF HQ with her Casablancas and NASA space view looming behind her.....she is looking even younger than when I last saw her: Barcelona, Summer 2010. We caught up on all the news and laughs as I fanned myself with my Amanda Lear Chinese dance fan.


 Me & Diane's reflection out on her curved street....I brought some Keith Haring old-skool New York City realness back to Diane...


 We went to an absolutely divoon Japanese restaurant near Diane's apartment...the exquisite courses just kept coming and coming...I think it was an 11-course meal...


One of the courses involved succulent clams in broth and they were heaven.


 A couple of days later I met Diane at the wildly popular TUCK SHOP which is co-owned by the divine Puurple Rain....everything is vegetarian, homemade and out of this world....Diane and I both had the stellar zucchini transported me....and this was the start of our magical mystery tour around drug of choice: vegetarian fare (and Champagne).

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 7.42.06 PM

Instagram madness at the TUCK SHOP with Diane! Edgar Allen Poe held sway. Funnily, there is an "Edgar Poe" school in of Rebecca Voight's kids attends it....she took me to it....and it's right next to a crusty gay bar! Oh, Paris!


 Rain! She works hard for the money at the TUCK SHOP! Bringing vegetarian delights to the Croque Madame-stifled masses....


 This is what I'm talkin' about....#TuckShop #YUM


 After the Tuck Shop, Diane and I made are way over to to the legendary Cafe de Flore to rendezvous with the legendary Lemon (she is seen her perched on the coupe de OJ) and the one-and-only Mayor of the Marais, Akiko Hamaoka. Akiko told me all about her fabulous new job and Lemon went on and on about the new apartment's Olympic-pool-sized bathtub.


 After I fortified myself with some Moët, Diane, Akiko and I went on a looooong walk, our magical mystery tour up Paris, from Cafe de Flore through Les Halles (where tourist heads were spinning around a la Linda Blair when they spotted Diane) and finally to the Le Marais. Diane said she never walks that far and never walks through Les Halles so it was a rare treat. At one point we passed by the magnificent Tour Saint Jacques, above.


 Later, we stopped by L'Hotel to pay homage to the great Oscar Wilde. There are varying reports on what his last words were when he died here (it was a dump in 1899, now it's this ridiculously chi-chi boutique hotel): "These curtains and I have been fighting a duel to the death. One of us has got to go."

"Either this wallpaper goes or I go."

And so on.



 Not sure what this mosaic was but it fit right in with our magical mystery tour.


Not on the magical mystery tour route, but here's a graffiti-ed squat in Montmartre near where I was staying after I left the Hôtel de NELL. Apparently Bender from Futurama enjoys the same kind of cult success that Jerry Lewis once had in France.


 Medusa and the angels...


One on sunny day I had brunch in Le Marais with fashion designer Teddy Parra (above) and his partner, the stage actor Jean-Luc Bertin. Teddy took me on a tour of his charming shop and downstairs atelier.


 I need this look for my next lunch date with Jax (Joan Collins) in St. Tropez. Teddy also creates wonderful made-to-measure men's suits.


 Downstairs in Teddy's atelier, I was mad for these crane scissors.


 While I was with the boys we passed by this pin-up plastered Vespa. Sexy!


 On one particularly balmy afternoon, my friend Frédéric invited me over for a cocktail on the large terrace of his glamorous penthouse in the 15th arrond. I died when I saw the view. I offered to make us some of my world-famous Belgronis™ but since Frédéric had limited spirit options, we went into War-time rationing mode. We made do with some gin and red vermouth. Since he didn't have a proper cocktail shaker, I had to mix the cocktails in a wine decanter with a swan-like neck. Not easy to get the ice cubes in there! But we ended on a high note by drinking my Belgronis™ from Fréd's Dior crystal tumblers.


 Frédéric avec Belgroni™ et Tour de Eiffel.


 Moi soaking up the booze and the sun. Holiday! Celebrate! In ev-ery nation....


 For the sunset view, one must tolerate these very un-Parisian towers that look like they belong in one of China's ghost cities...


 And then when you turn your head, you get the most iconic view in the world. I was excited to finally witness the 9pm 5-minute glitter and sparkle light show (cut down from 10 minutes in the interests of energy conservation...)


One of the other magical things about this trip to Paris turned out to be my ultimate public advertising fantasy: Huge images of the gorgeous and talented Amanda Lear on the street, in the Metro, on buses,...everywhere! This was reason enough for me to leave the world of tacky, ironic and idiotic hipster public ads in NYC and move to Paris.....The ads are for her new show which Gaultier did the costumes for. Unfortunately I was no longer in Paris when the show opened.


 The many passages in Paris are a delight and I absolutely adore Passage Jouffroy in the 9th. This cane shop is of special interest: handmade canes with exquisitely designed heads in sterling silver and bone. When I'm old enough to pull off the cane look (maybe on my 40th birthday in 5 years?) I definitely plan on buying one here.


 On my last day in Paris, I had lunch with the delightful Angélique Bosio, director of the terrific documentary on Bruce LaBruce, The Advocate for Fagdom. I (and my alter ego) appear in the film and Angélique interviewed me for it in 2009 when I was staying in an apartment in Pigalle.


 We lunched at Richer à Paris and I started with the watercress soup which was not only a mesmerizing shade of green but delicious. (I followed this with, if my memory serves me, some rare venison.)


Another view from Frédéric's terrace...I love the faerie lights.

Thanks for reading.



Glenn Belverio


05:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, 07 October 2013

Hôtel de NELL & La Régalade Conservatoire in Paris. Photos & text by Glenn Belverio


Dear Shaded Viewers,

September is my favorite month to travel in Europe and this year I decided to add Paris to my itinerary so I could visit Diane and other friends. (I hadn't been to Paris in 4 years!) My trip started out on a sweet note when I was invited to stay two nights at the superb Hôtel de NELL, located in the heart of the 9th arrondissement, the center of Paris. And while this is a bustling area, the 5-star luxury hotel is tucked away on the peaceful corner of rue Sainte-Cécile and rue du Conservatoire. A relative newcomer on the Paris hotel scene, the NELL opened back in February.


The hotel, left, and the Saint-Eugène-Sainte-Cécile Church, which was built between 1854 and 1856. Of note: On January 10, 1857, writer Jules Verne married Honorine Viane here. And since 1989, the mass is celebrated in the church both under the Paul VI ritual (that is, in French) and under the St Pius V ritual (in Latin, priest turning his back to the faithful).

I grew up reading Jules Verne novels and would have loved to see the inside of the church--but it was closed for the two days I was staying at the NELL.


Hôtel de NELL was designed  by Jean-Michel Wilmotte whose objective is not limited to "creating for the sake of creation, but reconciling man with his environment and culture." Wilmotte likes clean lines and warm materials. I really loved the spare look of the room. Very serene and chic without feeling clinical or boring.

This is the bed in the Prestige room I stayed in. Sandy tones are dominant in the room and I found the blonde wood and textured beige floor to be very zen and relaxing.

Wilmotte is a big fan of the "recessed joint principle", which is a vacuum soldering of two walls. The recessed joint connects two masses while reducing their volume and highlighting an architectural approach.

"Not a ceiling, not a desk, not a single line is without a recessed joint. Aesthetic rigor means not a single air conditioning or CMV grate will intrude upon those lines, and the recessed joints themselves become vents in all the rooms and bathrooms."


Exclusive Artemide bedside lamps rise out of the panelled headboard. All the lights are 100% LED. I really like the industrial accent the lamps added to the otherwise clean, monochromatic design.


 My room's pièce de résistance: a Japanese bathtub carved out of a single block of raw marble, bathed in natural light. The tray, seat and footstool are made from the lightest Oregon myrtlewood. I thought the seat was a bit strange but then again, I've never taken a bath in Japan! The bath products were superb, especially the body scrub.


 I loved the bath's faucet.


 There was a fabulous rain shower with stone-colored walls...


 ...a very design-y, anti-fog mirror...


 ...and two raw, white-marble basins.


 I really liked the office chair with an articulated back.


 One of the views from my room: the former Comptoir National d'Escompte with its clasically Parisian dome.


 My other view was of this quiet pedestrian street.


 I really loved the weathered 13th-century mockup facade of Saint-Eugène-Sainte-Cécile Church which faces the front of the hotel.


 I loved the bar lobby because they stocked the kinds of not-so-trendy spirits one might find chez Belverio: Byrrh, Dolin vermouth, Lillet, Chartreuse.


 Behind the bar lobby is a lounge with a glass ceiling and Wimotte-designed sofas.


 Family portrait time: My friend, the journalist Rebecca Voight (center), joined me in the lobby for a cocktail with her kids, Joe and Jan.


 If you know me, you know all about my love for Negronis (mine are known as Belgronis™) so of course I had to try the NELL's drier variation on this classic aperitif cocktail (although the bartender didn't seem to appreciate me comparing it to a Negroni.) The Kina is made with Byrrh, Citadelle gin and Dolin Blanc and it was wonderful.

Rebecca opted for the Nell's Vesper: Lillet blanc, Citadelle gin, Cîroc and zeste de citron. (She loved it.)


Above: Dinner began with some rustic chicken terrine (one of the chef's signatures), bread and cornichons

 After cockails, Rebecca's kids left to go out and paint the town rouge, and Rebecca and I relocated to the NELL's formidable restaurant, La Régalade Conservatoire. Unlike a lot of hotel restaurants where breakfast is routine but dinner is ignored in favor of the outside world, La Régalade Conservatoire has become one of Paris's top gastronome destinations. We were seated at 8 and by 8:30 there wasn't an empty seat in the joint. Reservations typically need to be made one week in advance.

The chef, Bruno Doucet, took the reins of the original La Régalade from Yves Camdeborde in 2004 after learning the ropes in the kitchens of Pierre Gagnaire, Charles Barrier and Jean-Pierre Vigato. At La Régalade Conservatoire, Doucet's philosophy is "in-season ingredients that I enjoy waiting for and then rediscovering, and precise, learned, repeated techniques that transform them." In short, haute cuisine at bistro prices.

Regalade Conservatoire Salle

A view of the restaurant a few hours before dinner time--as spare and chic as the hotel's rooms.


 As a starter, I had the royal foie gras and chicken wings in a creamy mushroom broth. Orgasmic!


 Rebecca had the creamy cuttlefish risotto with chili-and-garlic-roasted prawns and "La vache qui rit" cheese emulsion. It was an explosion of flavors and textures and I couldn't stop digging my spoon in "just to try it."


As my main, I chose the scorpion fish fillet cooked in a bouillabaisse with snow peas and shaved fennel. The flesh of the fish was rich and full of favor--not like a mild white fish at all. The sauce was perfection.


 Rebecca with her main: Catfish "stung" with chorizo, cooked beans from Paimpol Xeres and tomatoes. At this point we were past the champagne and well into our red wine--and gossipping up a storm, I'm sure--so I think I forgot to try this one. I'm sorry I didn't because I adore the idea of fish stung with chorizo!


 The dessert....the dessert! It was an absolute triumph! Soufflé Grand-Marnier served piping hot and boozy. Later that night in my comfy bed at the hotel, I had a dream about this soufflé--and when I woke up, my pillow was gone!

Rebecca had Kouign Aman served warm, caramelized apples with cardamom and homemade sorbet. A perfect early-fall dessert.


After dinner we wandered around looking for a nice bar to have a nightcap--we didn't find anything that great (Paris sure is sleepy compared to NYC! Not that there's anything wrong with that) but there are plenty of charming locales near the hotel.


 This was some kind of financial institution at the end of the street from the hotel. Grand!


 The NELL is near a lot of iconic venues, such as the Folies Bergère. I think the scaffolding is up because the gilded tuchas of the theater's famous Deoc dancer was being polished!


 Also nearby is the eternal Parisian favorite, the confectioner A la Mere de Famille (founded in 1761). The NELL serves complimentary bonbons from here at their front desk and of course I stopped by to pick up some (expensive) gifts for my co-workers at Tiffany's in New York!


Another view of the NELL's bar lobby.

Thanks for reading!



Glenn Belverio

03:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sneak Peek: Michael Sailstorfer, enfant-terrible

Dear Shaded Viewers,

Today, a sneak peak at an upcoming November exhibition that can elicit a literal, "this has never happened before".

Michael Sailstorfer will be making his debut solo exhibition in Dubai exclusively at Carbon 12 Dubai.


Carbon 12 Dubai - Michael Sailstorfer - Zeit ist keine Autobahn Friedrichshafen - Tyre, iron, electric motor - 95 x 65 x 80cm - unique - 2010 - photo courtesy of Paul Silberberg

Time is not a motorway, 2010, A tire which spins itself into the wall, self destructing, "going nowhere fast"


Michael Sailstorfer could be considered either the enfant-terrible or the new voice of a long-line of German contemporary art. His wabi-sabi aesthetic often deals with space, motion and how we function in the world. He is resourceful: he utilizes the day-to-day, decrepit, oft-overlooked functional objects as his materials. He is also naughty: he decontextualizes these materials, reassigning them physical qualities that simultaneously incite wonderment and fear while keeping the palette of decay in the shiny new-ness of his incarnations. Sailstorfer uses his mind through his hands (a tendency since his childhood), deconstructing, tinkering, reassembling with a youthful curiosity, “what happens if…” The results are playful, pure in form… but functionally useless. Yet their wabi-sabi nature does not take away from the works, rather, it reinforces the poetry within the purity (albeit mischievousness) of his latest exhibition, Try to reach the goal without touching the walls (November 18 - January 7).

A preview of the press release:

This is the kind of ride you take Saturday afternoon, weary from the night before, where everything seems to be going wrong. The video you’re recording is upside down (Welttour, 2003), the steering wheel isn’t turning the way it should (Lenkrad, 2012)… this journey seems like one giant endless maze-like track (Maze, 2012-13). The absurdity is laughable. But at least your partner-in-crime is entertaining you with song (Welttour).


Sailstorfer may play games, egging us on, but this is serious play; he takes that extra step: his art smacks you in the face… gently. His manipulation of juxtaposition plays with you as much as he plays with his materials. The charm of the simplicity of his works oscillates between the beauty of the forms and palette, and the realization that the materials display physical qualities they should not possess, simultaneously absurd and threatening. However, perhaps the best way to epitomize the “Sailstorfer-ness” of Sailstorfer, is to consider his Pulheim Grant.

Upon receiving a 10, 000€ grant, he exchanged it for the equivalent in gold coins and bars and buried them in a field in Pulheim, Germany in August 2009. Whether encouraging “relational art”, stirring up cultural interest, or just instigating a frenzy… Sailstorfer then invited the public to go and “dig for gold.”

But then, just when you think you’ve figured it out, an artist masterfully playing with the perceptions of physics, the boundaries of materials, emotional polarity by inciting a dichotomy of fear and delight… Sailstorfer reminds you, that story, behind his works? Just a story. And you bought it.  

Oh, Michael Sailstorfer, you naughty boy, you.


Sternschnuppe video3  Sternschnuppe video4

Shooting Star, 2002, In an effort to impress a girlfriend by capturing her a shooting star, he transformed his Mercedes into a catapault for streetlights


Maze_50_0106 copy
Maze 50, 2012-13, A reference to bad-boy behaviour of creating donuts in a parking lot


Berlin-based German artist (b. 1979) active since 2001. Sailstorfer is represented by multiple international galleries and exhibits in the Americas and heavily across Europe, with works in private and public collections including the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), Sammlung Goetz (Munich), and S.M.A.K. (Gent).

Til next time,

Katrina, the Dubai-side 


01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, 01 October 2013

A grand vegetarian lunch at Tian in Vienna. Photos & text by Glenn Belverio

Above: Our handsome waiter wheeled out what looked like a chemistry set. It turned out to be a Japanese coffee pot.

Dear Shaded Viewers,

A few weeks ago, while attending MQ Vienna Fashion Week, Carole Pope and I were invited to experience an epic, haute-couture vegetarian lunch at a restaurant called Tian ("heaven" in Chinese), located right in the heart of Vienna. I had the pleasure of having lunch there last year, but this time they pulled out all the stops--and presented us with a 5+-course meal that is usually only served during dinner time.

At Tian, their primary aim is "to offer their guests a healthy, fascinating, varied and extremely tasty vegetarian menu. We would like to introduce our customers to a world of exciting meat-free favours, which they never would have thought possible." Mission accomplished!

Tian, which opened in 2010, sources their ingredients from their own growers and from producers they trust: mainly from the region, but also from their own organic market garden in Carinthia, in the south of Austria. All the water they use on the premises has been revitalized using the GRANDER process--an energy-efficient eco-water system developed by Austrian Johann Grander.

Tian's chef, Paul Ivic, posesses an in-depth knowledge of the chemical composition of raw natural ingredients. Tian's owner, Christian Halper, sent a Viennese engineer on an expedition in 2005 to places said to be the homes of some of the oldest people on earth. "When we tried them out, we realized the dishes were wholesome but not exactly the right match for European tastes." Tian's team combined this knowledge with European traditions of cuisine and infused it with an avant-garde outlook. The result is vegetarian food like you've never experienced it before.


 Tian's show-stopping chandeliers are composed of wood, crystal and wire.


 Lunch, or at least my version of the lunch, started out with the best way to begin one's afternoon: Champagne. But instead of following this with a hellish descent into gout-inducing fatty dead animals, we embarked on an enlightened journey into green, greener and greenest pastures.


Carrot-pumpkin spiced milk with a minimalist carrot salad.


 One of our mouth-watering starters: mangoes covered in amarant seeds.



 Chanterelle tartare served in a petri dish over organic earth.



 This was rather spectacular: a salad of yellow and green beans, goat cheese, sorbet and chanterelles served under a bell jar filled with pepper smoke.



A blini topped with "caviar" that is politically correct on so many levels. It's definitely not Russian and the "caviar eggs" are rendered from basil seeds. Take that, Putin!



The lunch took on a performative quality when the waiter wheeled out a Japanese coffee pot and conjured up a tea of tomato and basil....


...which was served as a lovely, mesmerizing soup.


Carole was treated to a different soup. I think it was a squash soup with an artistic array of tiny vegetables.


 Another salad that almost belongs in an art gallery instead of one's stomach!


 Things just kept getting more and more delicious and interesting: Zucchini blossom with various vegetables and mushrooms served in an absolutely divine parsley broth.



 More food performance: a corn pate molded into the shape of a corn cob served on a piece of slate and toasted before my eyes with a creme brulee torch by an exquisite little Japanese woman. Enchanting!



 Carole enjoyed a futuristic "salad" served on a miniature Rock of Gibratlar that might be a repurposed chunk of meteorite from the Crab Nebula.



 Some palate-cleansing beet foam was served between two of the courses.


 The dizzying array of dishes kept soaring higher and higher to new artistic heights. While this salad resembles a Cubist painting, it's meant to mimic a game of Tetris. Bravissimo!



 This dish was perfect for the early-fall weather in Vienna: a hash brown of artichoke and young corn, served with artichokes and young corn in a whisper of a cabernet sauvingon sauce.



 My dessert made me think of a selection of Anna Piaggi's hats that been plopped down on a starchitecture construction site. It's actually meant to recall the Milky Way Galaxy and consisted of delicacies created from lychees and white chocolate. Devastatingly delicious!



We emerged from our futuristic lunch to wander through Vienna's fairy-tale-like past.

Thanks for reading.



Glenn Belverio


04:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, 09 September 2013

Dziga Vertov's 1924 - Soviet Toys - Animated Soviet Propaganda film @presentfuture_




05:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Almighty Almaty -- Ravenous Days & Wild Nights by Robb Young

AIKA ALEMI, S/S 14 designed by Aika Jaxybai (photo by Yan Ray)

About eight years ago, Diane and I took one of our most frisky, memorable "double trouble" trips to Kazakhstan.  As some of the first international fashion folks to touch down in the country, we were the first daring double-act from abroad to run the gauntlet of local designer gear as it swish-swashed down the Almaty catwalks.  Needless to say, a lot has changed since then.  Almaty today is a bigtime boomtown and on the express-lane toward more serious style vistas. This week, I was lucky enough to be invited back by the founders of the Kazakhstan Fashion Institute, Sima Rozikova & Zhanel Bertayeva, to see with my own eyes just how fast and just how far things have come along.


If the Aika Alemi brand is anything to go by, creative things really can and do happen at lightning speed in Kazakhstan today. Aika Jaxybai, who has held high-flying executive roles for multinational companies around the world and moonlights/daylights as a film producer among a myriad other artistic roles, only bought her first sewing machine a couple years ago.  Already, she's being tapped as the country's first designer with the talent and tenacity to make it big abroad -- endorsements from key international buyers are coming thick and fast to prove it.  This season, Aika used deceptively complex reversible patchwork strips and quilted textures in effortlessly elegant contours of what Diane herself might call a "shaded view on white" -- a pristine palette ranging from snow, clouds and mist to the ‘edible’ whites of vanilla, cream, milk and butter.


It seems like anyone who's buzzing in Almaty is remarkably young and doing a multitude of projects all at once. Aika's is the only Kazakh label being championed by serial entrepreneur Sima Rozikova's sleek online boutique which caters for women who crave niche international brands like Ostwald Helgason, Tatanaka, Ek Thongprasert and Eugenia Kim.  

Lucky little old me sandwiched between two lovely Almaty ladies -- KFI hostesses with the mostestest, Zhanel Bertayeva (L) and Sima Rozikova (R)

Sima's partner at the Kazakhstan Fashion Institute, Zhanel Bertayeva, is a former lawyer who, like Aika, caught 'the fashion bug' after corporate life left her feeling she wanted more.  Together, Sima and Zhanel also publish a subtly irreverent fashion news website called which keeps Kazakhstanis and Russian-speakers around the wider region both entertained and on their toes. 

FireShot Screen Capture #263 - 'Грузинская кровь I TFR' - thefrontrow_kz_thefronters_gruzinskie-dizainery_#

The Kazakhstan Fashion Institute is being modelled after the Kiev Fashion Institute which Daria Shapovalova (the prolific organiser of Mercedes-Benz Kiev Fashion Days, veteran fashion broadcaster for among other programmes and a contributor to many titles including Vogue Russia) spearheaded in order to help bring better fashion education and career prospects to young people in the Ukraine.  And now, also through partnerships with others in the CIS region like Sima and Zhana in Almaty.  More about Kazakhstan's blossoming scene and the institutes can be gleaned from Daria's candid article about it all on   As for me, this boy's certainly hoping to come back to Almaty soon, trekk up to Astana, and hopefully even persuade Diane to make her long-awaited return to Kazakhstan one day too.... And to conclude, here are just a few more of the beautiful faces and stylish charmers around town who caught my eye.... (although there were indeed many, many more whose photo I simply couldn't or perhaps shouldn't track down -- alas)...

Above, Olga Trefilova, Publisher of Harper's Bazaar Kazakhstan; Sonia Plakidyuk, fashion photographer; Daria Shapovalova; Masha Tsukanova, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Ukraine; and Saken Zhaxybayev, a well-known Paris/Almaty-based fashion event producer at Fashion Bureau.  All either speakers or supporters of the KFI this week (from L to R, photo courtesy of


(L-R) Danila Okay, (don't let his surname fool you!) of Harper's KZ and Alex Kazakov (Editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar KZ), Yan Ray (photographer), Aika Raiymkulova (fashion production, PR & marketing multitasker) and little old me yet again -- oops. (photo courtesy of

Alex Kazakov (Harper's) and Victoria Shurmach (editor-in-chief of Vintage magazine)
(photo courtesy of

Kuat Abeshev (art directior & Anita Zharkova (editor-in-chief of; (photo above courtesy of

Aika Jaxybai, designer of Aika Alemi



02:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, 23 August 2013





Presenting our new film recommendation series... "SEEK AND LEARN", at @PRESENTFUTURE_ on TWITTER presents KUROSAWA AKIRA's KAGEMUSHA. Watch the trailer and the film.






12:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Thursday, 22 August 2013



I had a great surprise this morning to see these wonderful clips from a documentary on Georgia O'Keeffe. What a force and presence, truly inspirational. Watching this makes me want to go back to the South West...the kind of landscape and energy that one can only experience in dreams and nightmares. Enjoy.







01:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack