They say San Francisco is the “Paris of the West” and if our recent trip there is any indication, all signs point to a certain je ne sais quoi that sets the city apart from its West Coast neighbors.
First things first: we were invited to the Bay Area as guests of Lexus, to attend the World Premiere of their flagship LS 460 sedan. The car was launched through a special art exhibition curated by Barneys New York Creative Ambassador Simon Doonan and designer Jonathan Adler, that featured exclusive shots by fashion photographer Ellen von Unwerth of celebrities and their spouses with the Lexus vehicle. The “models” for the photo shoot included actress Jaime King and her film director-husband Kyle Newman, model/actress Devon Aoki and her husband, James Bailey and – one of our faves – actor Jason Schwartzman with his wife, Brady Cunningham.
Taking place on the rooftop patio of City View (@ the Metreon) in downtown San Fran, the event brought out boldface names and bloggers alike, and it was a chance to not only see the new car, but also a chance to see how the company is reaching out to a new audience and taking a more artistic and cultural approach to its marketing. Case in point: the event was streamed via a live webcast on Facebook and Lexus encouraged attendees to tweet throughout the evening using the #LexusAttracts hashtag (The tweets were then projected onto giant screens throughout the venue…which was a good way to encourage lots of tweeting by those in attendance, and also a good way to discourage people from tweeting anything negative!)
The event, meantime, was titled “Laws of Attraction” and Von Unwerth was tasked with exploring the age-old question of what makes something attractive. Her black and white photos were classy and romantic and captured “moments” between the couples as opposed to simply producing a high-quality ad. It felt perfect for the event and for the Lexus brand, which on this night, was less about horsepower and specs as it was about engaging in conversation with its followers old and new.
With Fabrizio Moretti of The Strokes spinning as guest DJ (his girlfriend Kristen Wiig was spotted helping him pick out tunes in the booth) and a steady stream of food and alcohol (including fancy cocktails made with a vaporizer!) going around all night, the vibe was decidedly less “automaker” and more “party maker.” And while the car enthusiasts, corporate execs and other suited-types were among those in attendance at this exclusive event, from this vantage point, the Lexus brand has never felt more inclusive. In fact, whether you were geeking out over the LS 460′s performance handling or starstruck over meeting Jason Schwartzman, and whether you were a Japanese billionaire or a lowly magazine editor, it didn’t seem to matter; on this night at least, Lexus truly had something for everyone.
Our time in San Francisco was filled with other adventures as well. Click through to see what else we got up to during our recent visit…
Everybody knows San Francisco for its beauty: the rolling hills, the unique architecture, the waterfront… But we wanted to explore the shopping – and do it on foot. Hours of walking (uphill and downhill) later, here are three stores that caught our eye:
1. The Voyager Shop – 365 Valencia Street
A retail collaboration between three other San Francisco-based stores (Revolver, Spartan, and Needles/Pens), The Voyager Shop is like one big (high-end) flea market, with a carefully curated mix of clothing (for men and women), accessories, books, art and other assorted knick-knacks (think everything from Japanese tape dispensers to limited edition soaps and candles). We were happy to find clothing from our friends at Metsa Design on the racks, as well as fellow Canadian label Reigning Champ. But our favorite part of the store was its submarine-like “pod” tucked behind the cash register. The space carries a mix of zines, art books, posters and records and, in keeping with the submarine theme, even features a periscope that visitors can peer into. It’s the type of shop that you can outfit your entire home – and body – in, and one we will be sure to swing by again very soon.
2. Unionmade – 493 Sanchez Street
There’s something to be said about a store that knows exactly what it wants to be and who its audience is. Enter Unionmade. House in a pre-1906 earthquake Victorian storefront on the border of San Francisco’s Mission and Castro districts, the store is filled with high-quality staples and on-trend pieces that transition well for any occasion or environment (think brands like Alden, Carhartt and Filson). And while no one likes using the “A” word anymore (read: Americana), it’s alive and well at Unionmade, though you get the idea they care less about what’s popular and more about what’s well-made and authentic. From the new and vintage books, to the grooming products, to the clothes and yes, even the staff, everything about Unionmade feels real and without any pretension. And for a menswear store that’s received its fair share of buzz, it’s great to see they’re still just doing their own thing.
3. MAAS & Stacks – 2128 Market Street
There are parts of San Francisco dotted with guys in ripped jeans and graphic tees and then there is MASS & Stacks. A quiet boutique located off bustling Market Street, the store is a purveyor of classic pieces with modern tailoring, proving once again that a simple, well-constructed garment is always a better choice when it comes to good style. With brands like Patrik Ervell, Common Project, Band of Outsiders and Our Legacy, the store is what every modern man aspires to have his closet look like (us included). Even better for us: we stopped by the store just when it was having its big sale, which meant our “quick browse” ended up taking just a little bit longer.
Special mention to Ame Restaurant inside the luxurious St. Regis San Francisco (where we stayed during our trip) for its creative take of New American x Japanese cuisine, the Bluestem Brasserie (at Yerba Buena Gardens), whose signature “Bluestem Smash” drink was just that (like a mojito but made with vodka, Elderflower liqueur and white wine), and the much talked-about Bi-Rite Creamery, which lived up to the hype with its roasted banana and basil-flavored ice-cream. It was delicious!
(Lexus photos courtesy Steve Jennings, Drew Altizer and Ellen Von Unwerth)