Are you ready for Black Friday? Agnes Lew, East West Bank’s senior vice president and head of private banking, shares a curated list of luxurious and hip gift ideas for yourself or your loved ones this holiday season. Endearingly referred to as the know-it-all concierge by her clients, Lew prides herself on always being on trend with the coolest things around the world, from contemporary art to the best restaurants.
“I love what I do,” laughs Lew. “It’s always fun when people call me and ask where they should eat, travel tips, or what art to buy. I meet so many influencers every day, and I love to keep learning about what’s trending.”
To help you prepare for this year’s holiday season, Agnes Lew brings her latest A-List edition that is full of unique products and experiences to gift loved ones and business associates.
About Agnes Lew
Agnes Lew, East West Bank's senior vice president and director of private banking, leads a team of financial advisors that provide financial and investment advice, ranging from retirement to estate planning.
Floral arrangements by Jeff Leatham: Take time to smell the roses
Flowers are always a great gift, but these aren’t just ordinary flowers. Jeff Leatham is the artistic director of the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris and the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. His sensational floral creations have been an integral part of the artist’s identity since he began in 1995, and his beautiful displays have been found everywhere from the Chateau de Versailles, to collaborations with luxury brands like Alexander Wang, Balenciaga, BVLGARI and Swarovski. In 2014, he was awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the Minister of Culture for his artistic contribution to French culture.
“Who wouldn’t be impressed by the gorgeous flowers from uber celebrity florist Jeff Leatham? When in Paris, I stay at the Four Seasons George V just so that I can see Jeff’s artistry in the lobby every day,” says Lew. “Peonies in December? Why not!”
“Caviar is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A and B12, and many minerals. You can literally eat it by the spoonful or top it on anything. Sprinkle it on some pizza, pasta, eggs, even potato chips! Need I say more?” laughs Lew.
“Astrea is the name of the Greek goddess of purity and precision—and let me tell you that Astrea Caviar is the purest tasting caviar ever, cured and aged with less than 3% salt,” says Lew. Founded by women entrepreneurs Eve Lin and Reisa Jiang, the two share a passion for travel, adventure and food. “I love supporting women-owned businesses, and it’s great that these friends turned what they love into a business,” says Lew.
Tommy’s margarita mix: Drink up anywhere, anytime, for any occasion
“2020 has been a long year, and we could all use a drink to lighten the mood,” says Lew. “I first had Tommy’s famous margarita at The Savoy in London, and at the time, I didn’t know that Tommy’s margarita actually came from San Francisco and I could make it at home!”
Tommy’s margarita mix has won multiple awards, from the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition, to the USA Margarita Mix of the year.
Signage from Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant and Julio Bermejo, creator of Tommy’s Margarita mix making a tasty drink. All Tommy’s Margarita images from their Instagram page @tommysmexican and @tommysmargaritamix
“We only use the best ingredients, and that comes down to every drop, from tequila that uses 100% organic blue agave nectar, fresh limes and purified water,” says Elmy Bermejo, owner of Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant and its margarita mix. “There’s only natural ingredients in here, and we literally did our research and traveled all around Mexico to create the perfect margarita mix.”
Tommy’s margarita mix can be purchased online, where you can also find drink recipes and details on where ingredients are sourced. Their mix can also be found in participating stores such as BevMo, Safeway and Whole Foods.
Thief and Heist: Tag bracelets that will steal your heart
Designed and created by Louis Vuitton’s head jewelry designer, Francesca Amfitheatrof, Thief and Heist is a bold jewelry label made for anyone and everyone. “I met Francesca and her husband by chance at one of my favorite restaurants in Venice—Trattoria alla Madonna—during the Venice Biennale and fell in love with her designs,” says Lew.
Amfitheatrof’s tag bracelets are part of Thief and Heist’s permanent collection. With its minimalist design and theme of making meaningful connections, the bracelets have been creating international buzz. As she mentions on her site, the tag bracelets showcase a light, unpretentious attitude that is opposite of what jewelry has traditionally represented.
“It’s equal parts elegant and rebellious,” says Lew. “Amfitheatrof has always been a bold designer who disrupts the traditional concept of jewelry. Thief and Heist is sure to be this season’s must-have item and beyond.”
Francesca Amfitheatrof and her iconic tag bracelet
Spinelli Kilcollin: Diamonds are a girl’s best friend
Spinelli Kilcollin is a luxury jewelry company that was started in Los Angeles in 2010 by a husband-and-wife team. Yves Spinelli and Dwyer Kilcollin began by making jewelry from their garage, and the brand has since expanded globally. “I love discovering LA-based artists, my art advisor and friend introduced me to Dwyer Kilcollin,” says Lew.
With a clean, conceptual and innovative aesthetic, Spinelli and Kilcollins have also expanded their offerings beyond fine jewelry.
“Each piece from the Los Angeles-based Spinelli Kilcollin design team is ethically handcrafted by a local artisan,” says Lew. “No wonder they have a cult following that spans from ‘It’ girls in the fashion and art world, to celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence, Michelle Obama and Gwyneth Paltrow.”
Jewelry designers Dwyer Kilcollin and Yves Spinelli alongside their work
Understanding Unrealism: A guide for the artistic soul
“Regardless of whether you are new to art collecting or an aficionado, you will learn what is hot and relevant from Jeffrey Deitch’s latest book ‘Unrealism: New Figurative Painting,’” says Lew.
With a focus on modern-day figurative painting, Deitch’s book shines light on emerging artists and explores contemporary representations that have consistently evolved over the years. Deitch zooms in on digital techniques and new forms of tech compositions that younger artists are now embracing. The book examines renowned artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Salle, Francesco Clemente and Julian Schnabel.
“Anyone who appreciates art will appreciate this book,” says Lew. “It’s the definitive guide to collecting contemporary figurative paintings.”
Gallery Platform LA: The gift of art that keeps on giving
With the onset of COVID-19, many museums and art galleries have been forced to close their doors. In an effort to continue providing art experiences and promoting engagement, 81 Los Angeles art galleries came together to create an online platform to showcase rotating exhibitions. Every week, Gallery Platform LA presents 10 gallery “viewing rooms” and one curated project.
“Now more than ever, we are spending lots of time at home,” says Lew. “Thinking about what is best to feature on that blank wall as you do back-to-back Zoom calls? Look no further.” Check out Gallery Platform LA, where you can easily inquire about works from emerging artists and household names online.
(Left): “BH Grid No. 1,” 2020, Eddie Martinez. (Photo credit): Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo. www.blumandpoe.com. (Right): "No Title (No other human)," 2020, Raymond Pettibon. (Photo credit): Courtesy of Regen Projects, Los Angeles. www.regenprojects.com
MOCA masks: Look chic and stay safe while supporting the arts
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Los Angeles has ramped up its merchandise by adding face masks to its online store. With prints and designs from many contemporary artists like Yoko Ono, Virgil Abloh and Alex Israel, wearing these masks will signal that you are an art aficionado.
“You can help support the arts and look chic with MOCA’s nine different limited-production, artist-designed face masks,” says Lew. “They’re all such different and cool-looking masks!”
MOCA has also started an online series with its museum director, Klaus Biesenbach, where he talks with contemporary artists over Zoom and virtually visits their artist’s studios, that Lew has found fun and educational. “During the last few months, one of the things I’ve enjoyed are the Virtual Studio Visits with Klaus,” Lew adds.
An array of face masks with prints of designs by famous contemporary artists. Klaus Biesenbach wears on in the photo on his recent trip to Yosemite national park
Habit Cosmetics: Nothing but good, clean fun
Founded by entrepreneur Aja Frierson in 2013, Habit Cosmetics prides itself in using clean and vegan formulas, as well as sustainable packaging, for its colorful cosmetics collection. “I’m a perfectionist, and after being in the beauty industry for six years, I’ve learned that there are no perfect solutions,” says Frierson. “But one thing that I will never compromise on is bringing you beautiful, clean, high-performance cosmetics.”
“I just love her line of nail polishes because not only are they colorful and so easy to apply, they’re also made ethically and are non-toxic,” says Lew. Habit Cosmetics also features highlighters and multi-use cream colors.
Habit Cosmetic founder Aja Frierson featuring her many colorful nail polishes. All Habit Cosmetic images from their Instagram page @habitcosmetics
JUICE: Up your streetwear cred on Zoom calls
JUICE is a multi-label retail store full of designer clothing items from brands like Clot and JW Anderson. Curated by Edison Chen and Kevin Poon, the store features the latest streetwear from both Eastern and Western designers.
“Edison and KP are dear friends, and I am always in awe of their multi-talented and multi-faceted entrepreneurships. Some of the most in-demand hoodies, especially the ones designed by Clot, are sure to make you look cool and feel comfortable at the same time,” says Lew. JUICE stores can be found in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Taipei.
Apparel by Infrathin: Add some California sunshine to your closet
Infrathin is a French concept that was first coined by Marcel Duchamp. When asked to define the term, he simply stated that the word is a concept and impossible to define. Trying to capture the essence of this word, artist Alex Israel started his clothing line Infrathin in 2018.
“I first saw Alex's new clothing line at the opening of his solo exhibition at Gagosian HK, but his stylish clothing is accessible to everyone,” says Lew.
Fred Segal: A 2020 collection that’s perfect for lounging at home
“Fred Segal is an iconic LA brand, and their designs and styles are fantastic,” says Lew. The brand recently launched their Art at Home series with limited edition American-made blankets and pillows in collaboration with LA-based artists.
Fred Segal’s 2020 collection accurately reflects the general attitude and functionalities for the year. Emphasizing style and comfort, the collection is full of soft tees, sweatpants, hoodies and blankets that are perfect for staying at home.
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