“What do you do?” is an ubiquitous question that floats around cocktail parties from New York to Palm Beach. Once upon a time, the answers were simple and straightforward: banker, doctor, art dealer, whatever. However, the times are a-changin’, as they say. Now, it is all about the “VSPs,” or, the “Very Slash People,” a phrase I encountered during my recent jaunt through Europe, starting in France with Maison Rémy Martin.
It was pointed out that I too am a true slash person. Not only a fashion lawyer by trade, I am also a contributing writer /travel chronologist / philanthropist / mother. This concept became more obvious to me after Rémy Martin chauffeured a small group of VSPs around Paris for a visit to the famous Café de le Paix for lunch, Michelin-starred L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon for dinner, and Bar Hemingway at the newly reopened Ritz Paris for some after-dinner Sidecars (made with Rémy Martin, of course). After getting acquainted with the other guests, it was clear that none could check just one box: there was the photographer / writer, lifestyle blogger / medical salesman and so on.
After enjoying one another’s company the day before, we were then given a little free time of our own. With a need to beat the heat, I decided to take a ride on the aerial swings in the Jardin des Tuileries, part of the annual Fête des Tuileries that arrives each summer. The views over the Jardin, Musée du Louvre, and Rue de Rivoli were beyond refreshing. From there, I decided to check out the new Fou de Pâtisserie, Paris’s first concept pastry shop on the pedestrian Rue Montorgueil. While everyone else would be chowing down on basic hotel fare, I knew from where my breakfast pastry would be coming the next morning!
The following day we set out by train to the Cognac region of France. Three hours through countryside terrain later, we had arrived, warmly greeted by our Rémy Martin brand ambassador. We first toured a vineyard of one of their 1,500 growers on contract. We learned that she is a one-woman show, operating the vineyard and tending to the vines all on her own. From there we learned the proper way to examine, smell, and taste the cognac, and after a beautifully presented lunch at the Rémy Martin compound, we visited the house distillery. This is where eaux-de-vie is produced, a grape wine that forms the basis of the cognac. However, this is only where half the magic happens.
The other half is up to Cellar Master Baptist Loiseau, who approves of only the best eaux-de-vie that comes out of the distilling process. With this in mind, the following day we visited the Merpins cellars. It is there where Loiseau rendezvouses with the eaux-de-vie from countless years before. For our viewing (and tasting!) pleasure, we pulled cognac of three different ages from the barrels. Each has been maturing in oak casks that were assembled next door at Seguin Moreau Cooperage, the secret to what gives the clear eaux-de-vie its golden hue. Amazingly, some of these casks were the size of a small New York apartment. I’m not sure what that says about cognac drinking habits or the typical New York abode…
After a long day in the field, I had a wonderful stay in the penthouse suite of Château de l’Yeuse and a final farewell at the Rémy Martin Club. First we were presented with an “Opulence Reveal,” a smorgasbord of treats that served to bring out the cognac’s varying tastes and aromas. Then came an exquisite lunch prepared by the Maison’s in-house chef: three courses, all incorporating the “slash” ideology.
As the night drew near, we headed back to Paris and went our separate ways. My journey did not end there, however. I was to meet up with a few more of my fellow VSPs in Italy after a quick trip to Normandy: who can resist those Claude Monet gardens in Giverny?! Monet purchased the land “for the pleasure of the eye and also for motifs to paint.” The result was the Japanese footbridge and water lily garden, which he began painting in a series of 18 different views. Sound familiar?
Once I got my Impressionism fix, I took a quick jet over to Venice for a whimsical destination wedding. Situated on a private island off the Giudecca Canal, we had three fun-filled days with 200 of the bride’s and groom’s closest friends / VSPs, all flown in from New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. The best part? Post–wedding dinner, 15 private boats stocked with bottles of champagne were brought in to cruise through the Canal to witness the Festa Del Redentore, a fireworks display for a flotilla of sorts under the starry Venice skies.
After the wedding, we were brought back down to Earth and settled into the lake region of Italy. First stop: Villa Feltrinelli in Lake Garda, where Mussolini, the fascist dictator, also dined and dallied until he was ultimately captured there. After a fulsome six-course meal, which included an impressive 100-ingredient salad, all grown on premise, we got back on the road heading straight for Lake Como. Our villa tour would not have been complete without a visit to Villa Del Balbianello the next day, a shoot location for both the Star Wars and Casino Royale films. If it works for James Bond, it certainly works for us. We moved on to the botanical gardens of Villa Carlotta next, and finally had one last dinner with both new and old friends in the lake town of Bellagio. After a night of drinking and general over-indulgence, we rolled ourselves onto a plane back to New York the following day (with [false] promises to ourselves of diets and exercise upon our return).
If there is one thing I learned from my time in Europe this past summer, it’s that no person this day and age is defined by one talent, passion, or skill. In Maison Rémy Martin’s words, it is a “slash” type of life. That is, don’t be defined by one thing that you do, but all that you do. Meet new people. Go to new places. Try new things. Why be one thing, when you can be many. You only get one life. Live them. Well said, Rémy Martin, if I do say so myself. #OneLifeLiveThem