Fried green tomatoes.
Thirty-four inch weaves.
Alexander McQueen's armadillo shoes.
Some concepts can't can't really be explained - they simply must be experienced.
Cue Indochine. The legendary New York City restaurant's Vietnamese-inspired menu has always been a favorite. But alas, I'm a little too young and born too far away to have experienced those early days which catapulted Indochine from a place to eat to the place to be.
As their latest book, Indochine, Stories Shaken Not Stirred tells it, Indochine was launched in 1984 by music producer John Loeffler and restaurateur Brian McNally, two of the restaurant's original five investors. Five years later they sold it to then-chef Huy Chi Le, day manager Michael Callahan and head waiter Jean-Marc Houmard. Twenty years since then, the trio of new owners have furthered the menu and mystique of Indochine to now legendary status.
I finally experienced it first hand late last month when I was invited to Indochine's 25th anniversary soiree, helmed by the amazing Nadine Johnson Agency. The party celebrated Indochine's undisputed reign as the restaurant of choice for fashion, media, and music folks alike.
From the outside looking in, it might have looked like another standard New York event, but from the inside it was obvious that this was an extraordinary night, featuring a mix of glittering celebs and the reporters, like myself, who love them.
Liev Schrieber and Naomi Watts canoodled in a leather booth, a very pregnant Padma Lakshmi excitedly snapped photos of friends. Tory Burch and Lyor Cohen looked happier than ever while model Iman walked the red carpet solo. Alongside them were Ally Hilfiger and friends, hotlier Andrea Balaz, Catherine Malndrino, Vladimir and Julia Restoin-Roitfeld, Francisco Costas, Narciso Rodriguez, Rupaul and countless more.
As I flitted through the crowd, it was clear that this was not fabulosity for fabulosity's sake. For those present, Indochine was a poignant part of their past.
Schrieber recalls hanging out at the restaurant after performing during his days at the Public Theater across the street. Willem Dafoe fondly remember meeting Norman Mailer at the restaurant. Iman and Bowie would make this their haunt in the early days of their romance.
By the end of the night my Indochine experience had educated me: this was a restaurant that feeds much more than the body - it feeds the creatives' soul.