Fashion: Recycled and Wow
While Giorgio Armani dabbles in hemp jeans and Stella McCartney showcases sustainable ecofriendly fashion on the catwalk, some hot new designers are focusing their entire lines around being green. Last month London Fashion Week hosted a crop of designers wholly committed to fair trade, ecologically friendly production and recycled materials.
Denmark-based Noir's latest cotton line mixes sexy with ethical. Women's tops made from treated organic cotton feel like silk, and coated cotton gives leatherette trench coats a dangerous look. Following in the footsteps of labels like Edun—Bono and wife Ali Hewson's high-end fashion line—Noir also adheres to fair-trade practices, producing its cotton in accordance with international labor safety, human-rights and environmental laws, and provides essential medicine and micro-loans to African cotton workers and farmers (noir-illuminati2.com). Ciel, which offers a range of chiffon, silks and Peruvian alpaca fleece, partners with Save the Amazon Rainforest to offset the label's carbon footprint (ciel.ltd.uk).
Other ecolabels recycle fabrics. The Italian label From Somewhere—soon opening a boutique in London— recycles unused materials like cashmere, jersey and tweed directly from Italian luxury textile manufacturers like Lanificia di Pray and Tessitura Monti. Davina Hawthorne designs form-fitting pieces from recovered industrial wools (davinahaw-thorne.com). And the London niche label Junky Styling recovers materials from damaged or used garments and factory scraps, refashioning men's pinstripe shirts and suits into semi-couture skirts, dresses and experimental accessories like capes and corsets (junky styling.co.uk).
The trend extends to footwear. American shoe label Terra Plana uses hand-stitched local leather, natural latex and recycled Indian silks to give each pair an original look. It gives new meaning to the concept of secondhand clothes.
Hot Spot: Hotel Le Regina, Warsaw
Located steps away from the Old Town Square, Le Regina was recently named the most prestigious hotel in Poland—no small feat given the growing number of boutique hotels and upscale chains transforming the capital's skyline.
Ambience: Made to look like an 18th-century palace, the hotel is in keeping with the brightly painted buildings that surround it. The front sports a charming courtyard with a fountain and a picturesque garden. In the lobby, plush couches beckon invitingly.
Rooms: There are three types of rooms: standard, superior and deluxe, with prices starting at €220 a night. Some superior rooms feature handpainted wall frescoes. The luxurious suites boast hardwood floors and ornate brass spigots. Top-floor rooms sport terraces perfect for a romantic dinner or breakfast al fresco.
Dining: La Rotisserie, the airy restaurant, offers an eclectic menu of modern European fare. The salad of smoked tongue, pumpkin seeds and yogurt may not be to everyone's liking, but the tuna carpaccio, sprinkled with sunflower sprouts is a sure winner. Irresistible entrees include roasted prime of venison in a vodka and honey marinade on dry fruit noodles, and roasted fillet of white halibut coated with black pepper and chicory stewed in Riesling.
Four Hours in Zürich
Spreading out from the banks of the Limmat and the Zürichsee, Switzerland's commercial center is both walkable and picturesque. The shopping's good, too.
WALK through the Old Town, home to boutiques, bars, restaurants and quaint little streets. If there's time, hike up the hill to the university's eclectic collection of museums.
CLIMB the tower of the Grossmünster Cathedral, said to have been founded by Charlemagne, for stunning views.
SHOP the mile-long Bahnhofstrasse, Switzerland's answer to the Champs-Elysées. Don't expect bargains, just enjoy the displays.
EAT a quick sandwich at the Confiserie Sprüngli, a Zürich institution. Don't forget to pick up some chocolate or macaroons on the way out (Bahnhofstrasse 21).
SAIL the Zürichsee on the 90-minute Little Tour boat ride.
Tea: Reading Leaves
Forget grandma's milky cuppa. Today's "infusiasts" take their tea loose-leaf, sun-dried and hand-processed. At TeaSmith in London, experts advise on the exotic selection of flavors from the floral to the bittersweet. Try the Phoenix Supreme oolong tea, made from the cuttings of a 500-year-old plant once reserved for Chairman Mao (€33 for 50 grams; teasmith.co.uk).
California-based Teance, which opened last autumn, is at the forefront of America's artisanal-tea renaissance. Choose from a menu of more than 60 white, green, black, oolong and herbal teas to sip at the heated stone-imbedded bar. One favorite: the Formosa Baochong, a Taiwanese oolong tea with a lilac and gardenia fragrance (€13 for 43 grams; teance.com). Le Palais des Thés, with shops throughout Paris, stocks rare blends from Asia, Africa and South America. Thé du Hammam, richly flavored in the traditional Turkish manner with rose petals and orange-flower water, comes in an Oriental silver tea caddy (€39 for 100 grams; palaisdesthes.com). You won't even need lemon or honey.
Travel: Room Exercises
Drained after a long day on the road? Don't call room service; call a personal trainer. Langham Palace Hong Kong Hotel conducts group workout sessions, for which they'll send you an e-mail reminder (from $85 an hour; langhamplacehotels.com). At the Beau-Rivage Palace in Switzerland, gain self-confidence with kick-boxing world champion Martin Mutanda, whose workouts are designed to stretch and strengthen the body through deep breathing (from $113 an hour; brp.ch). Go for a jog in Hyde Park with a personal trainer, or attend sunrise boot camp in the private garden at 11 Cadogan Gardens in London (from $117 an hour; number-eleven.co.uk). Forgetting a swimsuit is no excuse to skip an underwater music workout with a trainer at London's One Aldwych; just ask for a disposable one (from $127 an hour; onealdwych.com).
Food: City of Ethnic Delights
Eating in Paris often conjures thoughts of fresh baguettes, Camembert and steak au poivre. But there's so much more than that. The authoritative new "The Ethnic Paris Cookbook" (published by DK) not only provides great recipes but also leads readers to restaurants and specialty food shops in remote corners of the city. Dine on the rich, nutty "CEO's Chicken" from Cameroon at Moussa l'Africain, an airy restaurant that features live African music. The Lebanese Rimal offers some of the city's best mezzé, small plates of hot and cold appetizers, and homemade, rose-flavored ice cream. The trendy Dar Moha makes a divine Moroccan tagine, a fragrant stew of simmered meat and vegetables, often with dried fruits. Vietnamese, Chinese and other Asian cuisines are also heavily represented; La Baie d'Halong serves the popular Bo Bun, a Vietnamese salad of rice vermicelli, meat strips and fresh greens. For a Japanese dessert to rival even the best French pastries, try the green-tea eclair at Sadaharu Aoki. Bon appétit!