Manhattan's Men of the Moment

Phebe Wahl | March 28, 2017 | Feature Features

From dapper directors to hospitality's leading gents, the men of Manhattan are having a moment. Here, seven of the city's top tastemakers sound off—in their own words.

Director Bart Freundlich may be the handsome husband of A-lister Julianne Moore, but his coming-of-age-in-NYC tale, Wolves, is the star lighting up the screen.

“I wrote it as a short story in 10th grade. A lot of the times, a romantic vision of a writer is someone who is isolated... or sits there staring at trees and a calm lake at Walden Pond—but I think growing up in the city and the constant contact with all different types of people gave me an understanding of the diversity of experience that I was then able to translate into a lot of my writing. You have to really protect your own inner life when you are growing up in the city. You have so much input constantly. I don’t consciously... only set things in New York City, but that seems to happen. I always start with what I know. As a director, I find the city gives you so much built-in production value. All you have to do is go outside and shoot the scene on a certain street corner and it gives you such a texture and such a specific vibe. I have so much confidence that growing up in the city was such a great thing for me. Mainly just because it serves as a jumping off point, where you can do anything in the world, and meet and handle all different types of people. I am always trying to get to the human experience.”

Film director Bart Freundlich in a suit by Tom Ford, shirt by Saint Laurent and shoes by Calvin Klein, at The Marlton Hotel

Photo by Gregg Delman

Manhattan-based multihyphenate Waris Ahluwalia’s cool-kid collaborations range from cameos in Wes Anderson films and a new Vik Muniz subway mosaic to his recent collection with The Kooples.

“I’m a New Yorker. Having been around the world, I can confidently say this is hands down the greatest city of them all. It’s given me so much and continues to do so daily. One could argue it’s not the prettiest city, but it’s the people, the spirit, the electricity, the constant buzz—even that construction going on outside my window. I’ll take it all. My work is about the human touch. About humanity. About creating a thoughtful existence. About breaking boundaries while still respecting traditions. It’s reflected in the craftsmen House of Waris works with from over 14 countries. It’s about creating a dialogue between people. The inspiration for all my work has always been love and history. How this manifests into the work is the exciting part—thoughts and emotions translated into the tangible—sometimes gold, diamonds, cashmere, film, writing, food—it doesn’t matter. We’re about to start the House of Waris Dinner Club, working with a very talented chef, where we’re exploring the healing powers of whole food, plant-based nutrition. It’s a delicious way to gather friends and improve the quality of life here, in this maddening city.”

Actor and designer Waris Ahluwalia in a suit by J. Mueser

Photo courtesy of House of Waris

Interiors icon Miles Redd celebrates another stunning fabric and wallpaper collection with Schumacher, and his knack for decorating with a capital D.

“Movies and books are probably the biggest culprits in my visual education, from the early years. I had an early longing for the English country house due to a Cecil Beaton book on our coffee table and Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca. I remember going to the local library around age 10 and requesting Vogue 1930-1937, and leafing through the old leather-bound volumes in delight, but also I was influenced by my mother and her friends, who had pretty houses. The other big influence was movies, which still are an inspiration today. I think I got a sense of drama and color from old movies. The idea of what is cinematic has always been deeply ingrained in my mind, and I am always trying to carry that over to my interiors. I tend to be a high-low kind of guy when it comes to clothes. I love a Tom Ford suit, but my favorite pair of jeans came from Target. Color makes me feel good, and I suppose that is the main reason I surround myself with it. It really is just a gut instinct—something that I see or put on, and think, ‘That looks good.’ To quote Oscar Wilde: ‘It never hurts to be over-dressed, as long as you are over-educated.’”

Interior designer Miles Redd in a jacket by Tom Ford, shirt by Charvet, and pants and bow tie by Brooks Brothers

Photo by Melanie Acevedo courtesy of miles redd

As the tour de force behind Le Bernardin and Aldo Sohm Wine Bar, Éric Ripert’s dedication to City Harvest is the gourmand’s greatest gift to our city.

“My mother and grandmothers were excellent cooks and always fed me very well. Every day my mother would prepare lunch and dinner as you would experience in a nice restaurant; she would set the table starting with a fresh tablecloth, silverware, china, candles, flowers. … There was always an appetizer, main course and dessert. She was very inspired by nouvelle cuisine, and so I gained a taste for fine dining early on. I’m very hands-on at home when it comes to decor, furniture, lighting, art—and, of course, kitchen design. When it comes to my wardrobe, I like to stay comfortable during the week, which usually means jeans, black T-shirts and sneakers, but I like to dress up when I go out, though usually keep it quite classic. I’ve been very lucky in life and genuinely want to give back as much as I can to many different causes, including City Harvest, where I’m vice-chair of the board. Hunger is a cause I’m very passionate about, and what I like about City Harvest is their dedication to feeding the nearly 2 million New Yorkers who struggle with hunger and lack of access to fresh, healthy food. Our next gala is April 25, and it’s always a fun night.”

Le Bernadin’s Éric Ripert in a suit, shirt and tie by Hugo Boss

Photo by Gregg Delman

Hailing from a lineage of hospitality legends, Louis Rose is at the epicenter of the city’s swankiest soirees, helming Upper East event space 583 Park Avenue.

“You could say the hospitality business is in my blood, inherited from my father, who has had a storied career in all the grand New York City hotels. I loved visiting my father at work. It always seemed as though he had the most glamorous job—and in a way, he really did. Throwing parties for the cognoscenti of New York, particularly in the ’80s and ’90s, was quite over the top, and during that time the Pierre was the place to go. I am fortunate to have my father by my side here at 583 Park, as he always has good advice, and many of his past clients’ children are now our clients. My parents have been, and continue to be, a large influence on my personal aesthetic. My father is a sharp dresser and my mother is an artist, and they both have a strong sense of style, so the combination of the two has had a great impact on how my taste has developed. Of course, my wife, Alex, has also been instrumental in opening my eyes to the fashion world, particularly since she founded her company, Armarium, which rents out high-end dresses and ballgowns to many of our clients and their guests who attend our events here.”

Louis Rose in his office at 583 Park Avenue, in a Henry Poole suit, Ben Silver tie and shoes by John Lobb

Photo by Gregg Delman

As the creative force behind the city’s hippest hotels, Sean MacPherson turns his talent toward the iconic Chelsea Hotel, slated to reopen next year.

“In my head there’s always some kind of story that one tells oneself, that sort of throughline that keeps it all together. And that story or that theme may or may not ultimately end up being visible, but it’s a map to the design. I think that for my generation in particular, movies very much established a cultural literacy in our time. The difference with hotels or restaurants is that the public ultimately animates the story. I am diligently working on restoring the Chelsea Hotel right now, which is taking all my time and is an important project both for me and for the hotel itself. I hope we can carefully and responsibly do the right thing. I read somewhere it was sort of a cross between the Plaza Hotel and a Greyhound station, and I think there’s some truth to that. There’s an important history. It was designed and built as a Bohemian creative community, and it has maintained that over the last 130 years, fundamentally, so I’m trying to honor and maintain the DNA of a creative space in what is a very different Manhattan. ... There have been many different incarnations, so I’m just trying to honor its history and keep it moving in the right direction.”

Sean MacPherson in a jacket and shirt by J.Crew and jeans by A.P.C.

Photo by Gregg Delman

Descended from a long line of legendary cognac makers, Kilian Hennessy and his sultry by Kilian fragrance collection elevates luxury to a new level.

“My most sentimental memory is the perfume worn by my grandfather… Eau Sauvage. … He used to wet his hair with it. The smell of Eau Sauvage mixed with his pipe. …That was the scent of my childhood. For me, a great perfume is a great story long before being a beautiful olfactive harmony. A great perfume is always a great story first, like every great movie is a great script first. I don’t choose the same perfumers to express different scripts and express the emotion carried by the name of the perfume. It’s similar to how a director would choose his actors and actresses to best perform the roles that the script demands. My scents are very autobiographical. They are created with the utmost sincerity. My perfumes are all pieces of the emotion I am trying to convey, the story I am trying to tell. I have a wardrobe of scents: I use A Taste of Heaven, Absinthe Verte when I travel. … I use either Back to Black, Aphrodisiac; Amber Oud; or Noir Aphrodisiaque when I go out at night. … I use Bamboo Harmony on weekends when I am more casual. I use Vodka on the Rocks when I go to the gym. I have also been wearing my newest scent, Black Phantom, a lot lately. It is just so sexy!”

Kilian Hennessey in a jacket by Burberry

Photo courtesy of By Kilian


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