Contributors: Old Favorites and New Fashions

If some readers disagree with the judgment we exercised in an instance or two when assembling “America’s Finest Dining: 57 of Our Favorite Restaurants” , senior editor Sheila Gibson Stoodley will not be surprised. “This list is subjective,” she says, “but that’s good.”
 
Gibson Stoodley equates a fine dining experience with a night at the theater. “Going to a restaurant is like going to a play,” she says, explaining that a single night’s performance is affected as much by the actors on stage as it is by the technical crew behind the scenes. “The night you go you might have a terrible experience or a wonderful experience that goes against what everyone else is telling you, but that experience is yours.”

Robb Report’s list includes many well-established restaurants that, because of their consistency, sometimes are overlooked. “People tend to forget and take for granted restaurants that are good for a long time. They usually only notice them when they’re slipping,” says Gibson Stoodley, noting that the restaurant industry is a volatile business in which changes of ownership, chefs, and menus constantly shake up the pecking order. “Being good every day is not a way to be noticed.”

The son of a sculptor and a painter, Sergio Kurhajec contrasts his line of work, fashion photography, with the art forms practiced by his parents. “It’s more like directing in a way,” says Kurhajec, who shot the photos for "Modern Marvels". “There’s more of a freedom in the immediacy of painting. They say photography is immediate, but it’s not true, because there’s a long compositional process: taking the shot, studying it, reshooting it.”

Kurhajec, who was born in New York and grew up in Rome, says the location for this month’s fashion photo essay, the Setai hotel in Miami, provided an ideal backdrop. “You’re seeing a mood; you’re seeing a sensation. That’s the most important part of creating any image,” he says. “The clothing has the leading role and everything else must complement that, but the fashion cannot also take away from everything else, otherwise it just becomes a picture of a piece of clothing.”

Clothing is a focus for contributing editor William Kissel, whose story on fashion’s latest technological advances accompanies Kurhajec’s images. Kissel considers himself a traditionalist with no desire for his attire to be controlling iPods and other personal electronics equipment. But, he notes, designers of high-end clothing are implementing such technology in a handful of their pieces. “For every step forward, we always take two steps backward,” he says. “Fashion has always been that way. We’re all creatures of habit. As much as the fashion industry would like to take the customer forward, the customers are still people. Fashion has to push the envelope a little bit and then step back and see how people respond.”

Ian Wright’s invention elicited a visceral response from Marco R. della Cava. While researching "Motown, California", a feature on Silicon Valley’s influence on the auto industry, he joined Wright for a ride in his electric marvel, the Wrightspeed X1. “It is wildly powerful,” della Cava says, describing the vehicle as “a Bugatti Veyron without the thousands of pounds of a 16-cylinder engine around you.”

The X1 resembles a full-size go-cart and sprints from zero to 60 mph in just over three seconds. “It’s not your head snapping back; it’s the feeling of your stomach coming out of your body,” says della Cava, recounting the experience of sitting in the passenger seat while the car’s creator demonstrated a few straight-line accelerations. “I could see the road just past my feet. With that sort of speed and the open-air feel, it’s borderline terrifying.”

As appealing as the X1 is because of its power source (lithium-ion batteries) and its power, it is not necessarily a prototype for the next generation of automobiles, says della Cava. “Essentially what you have is some really smart people—some who are applying their attention to the automotive world,” he says. “But the venture capital world is still a little nervous about investing in the car of the future, because no one really knows what the car of the future is yet.”

Patrick Gosling
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