The email invitation arrived without fanfare. “OMEGA invites you to a private dinner at The Stahl House, the midcentury architectural icon.” I quickly scanned the details—Nov. 30, 1635 Woods Drive, Los Angeles—starred the message, and carried on with my work. A few days passed before it hit me: They were talking about the Stahl House. As in Case Study House No. 22, a minimalist steel-and-glass pavilion perched on a cliff’s edge in the Hollywood Hills. Built by Pierre Koenig in 1960, the house was famously photographed by Julius Shulman, whose sublime image captured Southern California modernism at its most iconic.
I was beside myself. Not even the apocalyptic Santa Ana winds bearing down on the city on the night of the event could threaten my giddy good mood. When I arrived at the house, I gasped—L.A. was a sea of twinkling lights beneath us.
The view, as it turned out, was just the first of the evening’s fantastic sights. I sidled up to the bar to order the requisite martini—gin, dirty, stirred—and absentmindedly turned to the left only to find myself eye-to-eye with the second: Don Draper.
I had to hand it to Omega: This was clever. The presence of Jon Hamm, the debonair star of the hit series Mad Men, was pitch-perfect, the literal embodiment of Omega’s rich heritage of midcentury watchmaking.
As dinner seating began, I was in for another surprise: The organizers had seated me across from him. At once terrified and thrilled, I did my best to engage Mr. Hamm, who was friendly, charismatic, and unbelievably handsome. Mostly, our conversation focused on L.A. in the 1920s. When he had to leave just as the main course arrived, I was secretly relieved. Finally, I could relax!
Days later, I was still swooning over my brush with a bona fide A-lister.
Courtesy of Omega
It’s difficult to deny that celebrities—even the D-list variety—lend an incomparable thrill to the things, people, and places they touch. That’s one reason why in this issue’s cover story, “Cool Jewels for the New Year,” we included an item on the mysterious, magnetic power that celebrities continue to hold over our collective imagination.
I know what you’re thinking: This cultural obsession with fame, power, and the lucrative intersection between the two is hardly new. But like the rest of the memes we predict will have the industry talking in 2012 (chief among them the Roaring ’20s redux that promises to imbue all things Deco with a sense of now), our fixation on famous people is only intensifying.
Technology, of course, is the great enabler. The myriad ways we can search for information—on Facebook, Twitter, and, most effectively, Google—simultaneously satisfy and fuel our curiosity.
Courtesy of Omega
Top: Julius Shulman’s legendary photograph of the Stahl House, snapped in 1960; middle: the Stahl House on the wind-whipped evening of the Omega event; bottom: Omega president Gregory Swift and actor Jon Hamm
The oblique yet essential lesson for retailers? Ignore the power of search at your peril. Senior editor Rob Bates’ feature, “SEO Speedwagon,” gives you the step-by-step breakdown on how to improve your website’s search ranking—because, in the simplest terms, the easier it is to search for you, the more likely it is you will be found.
On that note, may 2012 find you happy, healthy, and, always, brilliant.