Where’s My Armani?

Wherever I turned last week, from YouTube to the Wall Street Journal, there was talk of editing your life, editing your home and, most importantly, editing your wardrobe. The siren song 'less is best' played on and on, suggesting that when adding items to your wardrobe, be sure to choose pieces that not only make you feel good, but are stylish (not trendy) and will stand the test of time. In other words, traditional pieces—the classics.

If restraint was in the air, there was a caveat: Do not trouble yourself should you splurge on a pair of, say, Louboutins for evening wear, as that's quite understandable. Really? After all, social-behavior researchers know full-well that the first thing others notice about you is not your smile or your hair or your demeanor, but...your shoes. If like me, you have your doubts, check it out. You'd be surprised.

On YouTube, the New York Times best-selling author Jennifer L. Scott was discussing the 'Ten Item Wardrobe Check-In for Winter 2015.' The idea of delimiting your wardrobe was one she had picked up as an exchange student in Paris, when living with a well-to-do French family in a grand apartment in the 16th arrondissement. Everything about Monsieur and Madame Chic—their fashion sense, sophistication, even their family life—was unlike anything she had known growing up in Southern California. Naturally, it made an impression.

Years later, back home in California, she missed the beauties of Paris, missed the pleasures of life she had known when living with Monsieur and Madame Chic. The result? Lessons from Madame Chic; Twenty stylish Secrets Learned while Living in Paris. And what is the secret to la vie Parisienne? To simplify your routines, rid your home of clutter, and build a limited wardrobe around a few quality items. The author must be onto something, because her YouTube videos have attracted thousands: 'Clear that CLUTTER' and 'Polish Your Poise' each had more than 23,000 views.

Turning next to the Wall Street Journal, I came across a piece about a young French designer, Alexandre Mattiussi, the owner and design talent behind the AMI Paris brand. Introducing Les Classiques, his collection of menswear for fall and winter on an e-commerce site called 'Mr. Porter' he suggested purchasing a few classic items to create "the perfect wardrobe” to hold you in good stead from year to year: A camel-hair coat, a pair of jeans, a navy blazer, a pair of white sneakers and a go-everywhere striped mariner shirt. So popular was this Breton-style mariner shirt this year that you could find it at every other store on Madison Avenue.

All of of which had me rummaging through my closet searching for les classiques. Surely, my 20-year-old Burberry trench-coat would qualify. So, too, my Armani jacket that, unfortunately, I gave to a friend who had admired it. Sometimes such glad-handed generosity turns to empty-handed remorse. 

Say 'Armani' and what comes to mind? Sophistication, elegance and timelessness, all rolled into one, which is why when Restaurant Week came around in July, we beat a path to Armani. Not to the store, but to the third floor restaurant. Enter on East 56th Street and the elevator sweeps you to a très chic space overlooking Fifth Avenue, a place where all the diners that day were well-dressed and many of the men wearing business suits.

Being summer, the list of wines showcased a number of rosés. Indeed, how better to celebrate summer than with a glass of rosé? For so long rosé was thought a beginner wine, and for me, it actually was. The first wine I ever fell in love with was a Mateus rosé from Portugal. When flying for TWA, we would stop in the Azores to refuel on the Madrid-New York flight. And there,  for two dollars a bottle, we discovered the lush and lovely Mateus rosé.  Increasingly popular nowadays with connoisseurs, rosé has been something of a breakout wine of the year.

Selections by the glass included a French from Cote de Provence, and two Italians—one from the Alto Adige in the high Alpine country and the other from sun-blessed Sicily. We went with the Lagrein rosé (Lagrein the name of the grape, not the winery) from the north, to find it fruity, floral and downright gorgeous in the glass. Smooth on the palate, with a long finish, my friends agreed it was a winner

 Amuse-bouche at Armani

Amuse-bouche at Armani

Presently, out came an amuse-bouche. Pinch me, am I in Paris? There it was, the most delectable broccoli puree ever, which sounds like a contradiction in terms, doesn't it? We followed that with a risotto primavera, each translucent grain of rice like a pearl set against a matte black dinner plate. Of course, this is Ristorante Armani where presentation counts.

 Red Mullet with zest of orange

Red Mullet with zest of orange

 Risotto primavera

Risotto primavera

For the main course, we enjoyed a crimson striped mullet—crispy on the outside—a fish found in the Mediterranean as well as in the eastern part of the North Atlantic Ocean. Passing on dessert, we ordered espresso, as rich and black and bitter as the very best. At which the waiter insisted we try a sampling of the gelato, each one transporting us to a patio table on the piazza Navona in Roma.

At Armani, the chef outdid himself. The service was professional and friendly, and the young women at the front of the house could not have been more charming. So, should find yourself shopping on Fifth Avenue or visiting nearby MoMA, treat yourself royally and enjoy lunch at Armani. He may not be French, but Giorgio is without doubt a classic. So, too, la femme bleue seen above.

In thinking about clothing choices for fall and winter, money being no object, what would be the one item you would most like to add to your wardrobe? Other than a Hermes Birkin bag.

Before I say goodbye, could I ask a favor? Have you noticed the changes at the top of the post? The BonitaBabs Writes logo has given way to Barbara Donsky and a Facebook button has been added. Click on the "f" button, and that will bring you to my Facebook Author page. Could you click the LIKE button? These things mean so muc to budding authors. Hope to see you next Sunday, when I'll have the coffee ready. In the meantime, may life be good to you. Au revoir mes amis....