Fabrics Even Finer Than Cashmere

The shift toward lighter, softer fabrics is changing the precious-wool market. In addition to improved milling techniques and an increased appetite for novelty, changing lifestyles have wrought a dramatic transformation in the fabrics that high-end consumers are looking for.

Luxury Jewelry: Not Just for Women Anymore

Earlier this month, news leaked that rapper Jay-Z was looking into launching a line of male jewelry. Of course, there is nothing new about pop musicians wearing jewelry, whether it's rapper bling, goth skulls, hippie beads, or heavy-metal chains. But changing from customer to jeweler is a big step, and Jay-Z is not the first musician to take it.

London Gardens Where Smoking Is Encouraged

They are called COSAS—an acronym for Comfortable Outdoor Smoking Area. And according to Jemma Freeman, the sixth-generation owner of the London-based Havana cigar importer Hunters & Frankau, "They are opening up in London at the rate of one a week."

Haute Couture Shows Embrace Jewelry Designers

For those who order their year by the fixed calendar of fashion, late January and early July are synonymous with Paris couture. To be allowed to use the term "haute couture," a fashion house must maintain an atelier and show twice a year in Paris, present a minimum number of outfits to the fashion press, and make garments to measure with fittings for individual clients.

Racing Through History at Britain's Epsom Derby

As the colorful 19th-century Whig politician Lord Palmerston put it, "Epsom week is our Olympic Games." That was back in 1847, when both houses of Parliament adjourned for most of the week of the Derby, then the world's most famous horse race. The way Palmerston saw it, the holiday was "part of the unwritten law of Parliament."

Basel Watch Fair Report

The Basel Watch Fair, or Baselworld, to be precise, is the second great horological gathering of the year. The Geneva fair comes first, but while the January fair in the lakeside city is ritzier, the Basel undertaking is bigger.I have been attending the Basel fair for most of the past 20 years, and it is testimony to the hold that watches have over me that I still feel a frisson of excitement as I enter the grand hall each year.

Where Books Are Treated Like Works of Art

The first sight to greet those exiting the recent must-see show of Anish Kapoor's work at London's Royal Academy was a large poster promoting "the most comprehensive monograph on the celebrated sculptor." This was not a Royal Academy ploy to separate art lovers from their money; rather it was an enticement to enter the stand-alone Phaidon bookstore across Piccadilly, one of four pop-up shops the publisher has opened in recent months, including in New York's SoHo neighborhood.Founded in Austria...

Remaking Tweed for the Modern Era

I recently made a cameo appearance in a three-part BBC documentary about tweed; I was wheeled in to give a bit of historical context and to enthuse on the subject.

Raising Caviar on the Farm

"The trouble always is," explains James Bond to his female companion, "not how to get enough caviar, but how to get enough toast with it." That might have been true in 1953, when 007 was getting his first outing in the novel Casino Royale.

The Gun Makes the Grouse Hunter

Autumn is the "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" and—as John Keats omitted to mention—the sound of shotguns and the thud of birds falling to the ground.

Elton John Slept Here and You Can, Too

Staying in Cannes for this year's film festival, I was amused to see that the InterContinental Carlton hotel had inaugurated a Sean Penn suite. In an enterprising take on the notion of the presidential suite, each year the president of the Cannes jury is asked to give his or her approval to an eponymous hotel room.

Hotspots: Where to Stay and Dine in Basel

Basel at fair time gives me a good impression of what the Klondike must have been like during the gold rush: if you haven't booked a topnotch room or table way in advance, then you are in trouble.

Decor: The Well-Laid Table

At times of economic crisis, the first and most obvious casualty is often eating in restaurants. So if we are likely to see a rise in entertaining at home, then perhaps we will see a rebirth of what the French call les arts de la table, a wonderfully swanky way of alluding to cutlery, crockery, stemware and all the other bits and pieces that find their way onto the dining table.I was pondering this the other day as I was touring the Meissen factory in the eponymous medieval town near Dresden.

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