Truman Show: Culture & Travel Launch Party

Are magazine launch parties back? After last week’s Good blowout, two more notables were held in opposite corners of Manhattan last night. While the not-a-Harvard-magazine Harvard magazine 02138 was busting up the Core Club, we snuck away in the opposite direction, toward the glass house of Louise T. Blouin MacBain, who was feteing the launch of her own magazine, Culture & Travel. The party was held in her magnificent duplex apartment at 165 Charles St., which is better known as the least prestigious and most expensive of the three white towers Richard Meier has tossed up on West St. (She’s taken a similar approach, an uncharitable guest suggested, in buying herself a spot in the city’s media firmament.)

We haven’t done much more than flip through the handsomely designed magazine yet, courtesy of former Travel + Leisure creative director Emily Crawford, as we feel the need to give it our full attention — it signifies the return, after all, of James Truman to magazine publishing after his one-sided falling out with Condé Nast and short-lived sabbatical. But enough about the magazine, we want to talk about the apartment.

There’s a glass box backlash underway in New York, best embodied by A.A. Gill’s masterful takedown in the October Vanity Fair. But we could see the point of glass walls when they happen to have penthouse views of the sun setting over the Hudson. That said, every guest was in agreement that the residents of the Meier about 100 yards north had been totally screwed out of their views by the apartment we happened to be standing in.

From a guest perspective, the party started off with a startling high percentage of artists who had dropped in for a peek. We have no idea what most of them look like, so we passed the early going talking to president Robin Kamen, who’s planning to relaunch the online arm of LTB Media — publisher of Culture & Travel, Art + Auction, and Modern Painters — sometime in December. We tossed out all sorts of Web 2.0 ideas (What if you applied the principles of Digg to the art world? Or the old “Map of the Market?”) but Kamen demurred: “We’re going to focus on teaching readers about art, at all levels.”

We also ran into the former Budget Living dream team (and current In Style editors) Sarah Gray Miller and Natalie Warady, both of whom abandoned MacBain’s wraparound terrace in a hurry because of acute vertigo. After that, the media crowd began rolling in. Just about every media reporter showed up eventually, so here’s a quick roll call: New York Post‘s Keith Kelly, Timesman David Carr, Lorne Manly, Women’s Wear Daily‘s Irin Carmon, Carl Swanson, New York Observer‘s Michael Calderone and Jossip’s David Hauslaib. Erstwhile dead-gossip-walking Lloyd Grove gamely chatted with MacBain, Michael Wolff lurked, and Anthony Haden-Guest tried to charm our girlfriend.(“He took my hand, then he kissed it, then he kept touching my arm,” she reported.) Also spotted in the well-heeled crowd: Elle Decor’s Margaret Russell, Vicky Lowry and Sophie Donelson, super-agent David Kuhn, Nick Denton plus posse, Boykin Curry & Celerie Kemble, Rufus and Sally Albermarle and dozens more.

New York editor Adam Moss eventually bolted, but not before he confirmed he does, in fact, ride a scooter. Brian Grazer, the film producer, showed up late. And no one seemed to leave until the champagne ran out.


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