The perfect Parisian day: Art, Fashion, Food & Wine

Image

Waking up in Paris makes me instantly happy, there is something about this magnificent city that inspires and puts me immediately in a great mood. The first thing one does in Paris is get out of the house and get your morning croissant and Café au Lait in one of the million cafés present in every street and neighborhood; we pick Au Rocher de Cancale, which happens to be just across the street from our apartment in the bustling, pedestrian neighborhood of Montorgueil. Beside the Swiss, no one makes croissants as good as the French, it’s something with the water and butter and flour that just cannot be replicated; the Swiss counterpart: the “Gibfel”, is pretty close but still not as good. There is nothing like having your morning coffee and croissant, sitting on a sidewalk in Paris witnessing the daily hustle and bustle unfolding in front of you…it’s just magic! After breakfast it’s off to the local market and one of my favorite Boulangeries in Paris: Eric Kayser, for some baguettes and basic French must-have in the fridge: butter of Normandy, any kind of French cheese and a few bottles of French wine…et voilà!

 

IMG_5248

Eric Kayser Boulangerie

 

IMG_5251

Paul Boulangerie on Montorgueil

 

IMG_5253One of our neighborhood Brasseries

 

Today we are going to two amazing exhibition in two of the most iconic building in Paris: one very old and one just recently completed, the Grand Palais and the new Frank Gehry, Louis Vuitton Foundation. The Grand Palais is featuring an exhibit on Jean Paul Gaultier, the super-famous-genius French designer that exploded in the eighties with his innovative and daring new style of design that broke all rules and conceptions and opened up the door for more daring designer such as John Galliano and Rick Owens. I was just in my twenties when Gaultier rose to the top of the fashion world and, as many others, I became a huge fan and a total Galutier fashonista, I dressed head to toe in Gaultier for many years, earning the nickname: fashion victim. Looking back at photos of some of the outfits I was wearing in those days I can’t help but cringe at the depth of my dedication for this designer to the point of looking totally ridiculous in some of his outfits. That’s the eighties for you sister! So you can imagine my excitement on the way to the beautiful Grand Palais by the Seine for my pre-reserved VIP tickets to Jean Paul’s exhibit (with all the money I spent on his clothing in the past I should get a private viewing by Jean Paul Gaultier himself). As expected the exhibit is beyond fantastic with so many of his iconic work and some I never saw before; Madonna’s infamous and trend setting stage collection that he designed for her “Truth of dare” tour in 1891, to the Sex Pistols’ costumes to his Pocahontas wedding frock…just mind boggling!!!!

 

IMG_5256

Jean Paul Gaultier”s exhibition at the Gran Palais

 

IMG_5260

Classic Gaultier

 

IMG_5292

Genius at work

 

IMG_5288

More Gaultier

 

IMG_5272

Madonna’s “Truth or dare’ tour costume

 

IMG_5294

Pocahontas wedding frock

 

IMG_5375

Silly turists unleashed

 

IMG_5408

When in Paris…

 

IMG_5405Humpty Dumpty…

 

IMG_5224Pont Alexandre III


IMG_5210

Pont Alexandre III

 

IMG_5236

 

IMG_5238

Paris Love Locks Bridge

 

IMG_5240

Notre Dame cathedral

 

After a nice walk and sightseeing by the Seine and over the Pont Alexander the 3rd and the usual silly tourist photos with the Eiffel Tower (see below…), It’s time for lunch and I can’t think of anything better than the legendary Les Deux Magots   (www.lesdeuxmagots.fr) in the Rive Gauche, a classic Parisian Café serving up classic brasserie dishes since 1812. Only in Paris you have these iconic places that have been around for hundreds of years that give you such a sense of history, pride and tradition that is hard to find anywhere else…I just LOVE IT!!!! I have my usual Steak Tartar; a mix salad with a bottle of Rosé from Provence and Raphael salivates over a perfectly cooked Steak Frites that only the French know how to do. No rest for the wicked…it’s back to the culture train and off to the Foundation Louis Vuitton. The $143 million museum has recently been completed and opened its doors on October 2014; the building is designed by Los Angeles based, famed architect Frank Gehry, and is adjacent to the Jardin d’Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne of the 16th arrondissement of Paris. Commissioned by Bernard Arnault, the Chairman of the fashion empire LVMH, this new addition to the must-do list in Paris is a true beacon of architecture and innovation and a shrine dedicated to promoting art and young artists…music to my soul! The collection is amazing and so diverse from Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, to Richard Prince and Andres Gursky and a video-sound installation that will take your breath away.

 

016

Les Deux Magots Brasserie in the Left Bank

 

IMG_5227

Les Deux Magots Menu

 

IMG_5226

Les Deux Magots place setting

 

IMG_5225

Les Deux Magots outdoor terrace



IMG_5109

Fondation Louis Vuitton by Frank Gehry

 

IMG_5197

Fondation Louis Vuitton Exhibit

 

IMG_5111

Frank Gehry’s masterpiece

 

IMG_5113

Exhibition halls

 

IMG_5118

Warhol

 

IMG_5119

Jean-Michel Basquiat

 

IMG_5114

Richard Prince

 

IMG_5142

Sensational Audio/video installation

 

IMG_5133

Art

 

IMG_5071

More silly turists at the Arc de Triomphe

 

IMG_5201

Lines on people outside the Louis Vuitton boutique on the Champs Elisées

 

I think I’ve reached my Cultural Nirvana; it’s time to go back to my lovely Parisian apartment for an afternoon tea, baguette and cheese and a glass of Beaujolais. One of my best friends in Paris, the very handsome and talented opera singer Vincent Simonet, has suggested we have dinner in this tiny little restaurant in the Passage de Panorama named Racines; I trust Vincent’s taste for he is a full-on gourmand as I am. The place has 8 tables and is located in this lovely indoor gallery lined with many little restaurants, one more damn cute than the other; it would be impossible to pick one if I didn’t already know where to go.  I start with the Boudin Noir, a French specialty made with Cow’s blood (I know…yummy!!!) and then the best Entrecôte to Cochon Ibérique I have ever had in my life!!!! Pair all that with a beautiful Bourgogne a Crème tender du Chocolat Noir to finish up and it’s food coma…again!!!! The amazing thing about Paris is that you walk everywhere and having a nice walk after a meal is the best way to digest and get a little workout between really, really fattening meals. We are pretty close to Les Halles neighborhood, one of my favorites in Paris, so tonight we really go for it and after what seems like hours, we finally retire at 2am for some much needed sleep.

 

IMG_5420

Passage de Panoramas

 

IMG_5426

Racines restaurant

 

IMG_5421

Front on Racines restaurant

 

IMG_5424Racines Menu

IMG_5425Entrecôte to Cochon Ibérique

 

What an amazing day: Gaultier, Vuitton!!! It’s incredible how fashion is and has always been such a monumental part of the cultural, social and artistic development of this city, it’s part of the DNA of these people and its evident in every aspect of French daily life. Paris is my favorite city in the world and after years of coming here, I am still in awe of it’s culture and traditions and its determination to put life’s little pleasure before possession and accumulation; they really give the old saying: “Stop and smell the roses” a whole new meaning!!!!

“Bonne nuit mes amis…a domain”. Le zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Back in LA and off to the MOCA Gala presented by Louis Vuitton

Image

Talk about getting right back onto the swing of things! I just got back from my amazing South American trip and it’s time to tux up and attend the very glamorous MOCA Gala at the Geffen Contemporary at the MOCA museum downtown LA, honoring renowned native California contemporary artist, John Baldessari (www.moca.org). Both myself and my on-and-off wife Loree Rodkin are guests of my dear friend Eugenio Lopez, who is a board member at MOCA and just about every other big art museum in LA. Loree picks me up at the KassPad with her on-and-off “other” husband Mark Brooke and off we go to mingle with the art scene’s elite. Loree is in head-to-toe leather Dior (as only she can pull off), I’m in Tom Ford and we are ready to rock & roll…It’s good to be back and play dress-up!

As the sun sets on this beautiful summer evening, Patricia Arquette, Marisa Tomei, Tessa Thompson, Dita Von Teese, and Sam and Aaron Taylor-Johnson arrive on the red carpet to celebrate the museum’s 36th annual gala. Young Hollywood darlings Nathalie Love, Gia Coppola, and Britt Robertson, all clad in Louis Vuitton, joined artists Ed Ruscha, Mark Bradford, and Catherine Opie for cocktails beneath a canopy designed by Frank Gehry, also attending. I love the enormous 55-by-16 foot William Pope.L flag hanging on a pole in the middle of the gallery continuously blown by large industrial fans, it really makes you fell proud to be an American somehow. We make our way to our table to meet Eugenio Lopez and his usual suspect: Janette Longoria, Esthella Provas, Isa Jonay, the beautiful Celesta Hodge, real estate mogul Daniel Mani and his lovely wife. After the customary speeches given by gala chair Lilly Tartikoff Karatz, museum director Philippe Vergne and honoree John Beldessari, the beautiful Janelle Monáe takes the stage, which quickly gets nearly everyone in the room on their feet for one last time before heading back out into the night.

The event is winding down and it’s time to join “The Velvet Pack” at The Standard hotel downtown LA: David Cooley, Chad Waterhouse, Kevin Huvane, Martin Beaurivage, Larry Hancock, etc… This night is about to take a different course all together…and I’m still wearing a tux! Loree drops me off at The Standard where my posse is waiting and ready to go to the rooftop to party the night away under the stars! 3AM…Uber! Welcome back to LA!!!

 

IMG_3686Robert Kass ready for Gala action in Tom Ford


IMG_3691

Disco flooring on the way to the main tent

 

IMG_3694

Table setting

 

IMG_3699MOCA’s main tent


IMG_3703

“The dark one” Loree Rodkin and the hilarious Mark Brooke

 

IMG_3752

Loree Rodkin showing off her jewelry as only she does

 

IMG_3708Honoree John Baldessari addressing the large room of guests


IMG_3725

Our host and MOCA Board Member Eugenio Lopez, Esthella Provas and Robert Kass

 

IMG_3728

Stunning art installation by William Pope.L

 

IMG_3742

The beautiful Janelle Monáe performing her hot songs

 

IMG_3747

Stunning views of downtown from the Standard Hotel rooftop

 

IMG_3750

Martin Beaurivage, Chad Waterhouse and Robert Kass at the Standard Hotel Downtown

LACMA 50 Year Anniversary Gala, Los Angeles, California

Image

Los Angeles has made a giant leap when it comes to Museums in the last 20 years and LACMA (www.lacma.org) stands on top of my list with it’s amazing transformation from a mediocre, local museum, to an international leader, especially when it comes to contemporary art. LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States; it attracts nearly a million visitors annually and holds more than 120,000 works spanning the history of art from ancient times to the present. The super charismatic Michael Govan, the latest LACMA director, has done an amazing job raising a gazillion dollars to bring this museum to it’s current place among the best in the art world.

The evening starts at home trying to stuff myself into a very slender cut Dolce & Gabbana tuxedo that could definitely be one size larger to accommodate my recent weight gain. As they say: You can’t squeeze a ten pound sausage into a five pound bag! Anyway… it’s time to Uber (www.uber.com) my fat ass to the museum. The arrival on Wilshire Blvd is very glamorous and definitely sets the tone for the evening; the entrance is lined with hundreds of Valet guys and girls in red and black uniforms. After checking in, we are ushered though the amazing installation “Urban light” by the artist Chris Burden, through the press line with armies of paparazzi, over the long corridor lined with black-tied waiters serving Krug Grande Cuvée Champagne and into the Bar Lounge.

These kind of events bring out the crème de la crème of the art world, and this one has them all, including: Hitoshi Abe, Doug Aitken, Frank Gehry, Mark Grotjahn, Alex Israel, Toba Khedoori, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Ed Ruscha, Paul Schimmel and Firooz Zahedi. after an hour of mingling, Michael Govan finally announces the opening of the exiting new exhibit followed by dinner and show in the main pavilion. Thanks to the enormeous generosity of benefactors such as Jane and Marc Nathanson and Lynda and Stewart Resnick, LACMA’s new exhibit boasts pieces by Damien Hirst, Roy Lichtenstein, Julian Schnabel, Frank Sa, Hans Memling, Giambologna, François Boucher and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.

 

IMG_1549

Robert Kass being silly at the “Urban Light” sculpture, by Chris Burden

 

IMG_1556

Red carpet entrance lined with servers serving Krug Grand Cuvée Champagne

 

IMG_1557

The arrival cocktail Lounge

 

IMG_1615

Robert Kass and the fabulous Irena Medavoy

 

IMG_1582

Robert Kass

 

I am a guest of my dear friend Eugenio Lopez who not only is one of the most important collectors of contemporary art in the world, but he’s also a generous benefactors to the arts at large and to the most important museums in Los Angeles. At the table are all of Eugenio’s friends, including the fire-cracker art dealer Esthella Provas, Veronica (one of Eugenio’s good friend and curator at his Mexico City Jumex Museum) and Priscilla (curator at the Museo de la Bellas Artes in Mexico City). Noticeably missing is out host Eugenio, who is tied up in New York at another event…literally!

The evening topic at the tables is clearly art, which happens to be one of my favorite subjects, being as I am a frustrated artist at heart; but the highlight of the evening must be the surprise performance of the one and only Seal! This is a pretty stuffy room but as soon as Seal takes over, it is finally a party! Running into my wifey Loree Rodkin, is also a treat; she never seems to miss a good party…how does she do it! Among the dancing guests there are a slew of celebrities including: Julie Bowen, Jim Carrey, Laura Dern, Will Ferrell, Armie Hammer, Dustin Hoffman, Anjelica Huston, Liev Schreiber, Seal, Barbra Streisand Naomi Watts and our city leaders, Mayor Eric Garcetti and former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

 

IMG_1587

LACMA Dining Room

 

IMG_1595

Place setting

 

IMG_1622

Robert Kass and Raphael Tessier

 

IMG_1625

Surprise performance by the one and only Seal

 

IMG_1634

Seal

 

The Cinderella moment has come and I must leave this beautiful evening to go home and pack; tomorrow I am off to Mexico City for a one month South America trip that will be sure to bring some amazing experiences. If I don’t get kidnapped by the Mexican cartel, you’ll be sure to hear from me soon!!

Good night!