FA2L is for anyone who cares about beautiful things–clothing, shoes, accessories, home furnishings–and the interconnected tribes of those who make, sell, market and desire them. If something speaks to you, buy it now or hold your peace: there are links in each story, so the item you want is just a click away. I'd like to hear from you, too: please view my profile, use the email button and send me your comments.MG

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Heaven is Another Name for a Day at the Beach

From Maui to Montauk, and Montego Bay to Mykonos, beaches everywhere are calling. Answer them. You don't need to take much: a few favorite swimsuits (ladies, try ERES, www.eres.fr, for smart, sexy suits that fit and flatter); a giant beach towel; lots of sunscreen (we like Clarins, www.clarins.com); and something chic for carrying it all.

Men's swimsuits are...tricky. It's really a question of whose body, which beach? Even Olympic swimmers may feel awkward sporting Lycra square-cuts in conservative Nantucket, but skimpy Speedos won't raise eyebrows in Rio. Traveling with two or three different styles is wise. And while plenty of designer labels offer options, we like how J. Crew has kicked its men's collections into high gear (including collaborations with iconic brands like Mackintosh and Ray-Ban). This nylon trunk is trimmer and shorter than typical board shorts, and the print is surprisingly sophisticated. www.jcrew.com.

Rainbow sandals are, in a word, perfect. They occupy a realm between cheap flip-flops and fine, strappy shoes (which look wonderful but are no match for sand and salt water). Opt for leather models with double-layer arches, then take time to break them in. The nylon straps will--ultimately--curl perfectly between your toes, but you'll be miserable if you buy them at a surf shop, pop them on and immediately hike the boardwalk. Given time, the thongs will soften, the soles will mold to your feet and your Rainbows will be so comfortable you'll want to wear them everywhere. www.rainbowsandals.com.

We splurge on beach towels--there's something sad about thin, ratty versions that aren't much bigger than washcloths. Missoni's terry blanket is 69" square, and glamorous enough to make Coney Island feel like Saint-Tropez. Fun fact: Missoni assigns a letter to each year (2009 is "K") and names its prints accordingly. This gorgeous model is known as Kirsten. www.missoni.com.

Tomas Maier is almost impossibly sophisticated, and so fluent in the language of luxury he seems to occupy a higher plane--from which vantage point he can either hone in on specific local craftsmanship or pull back to observe global trends. German by birth, Maier is creative director of the very Italian Bottega Veneta, as well as the designer of his own, U.S.-based line of deceptively simple swimsuits and sportswear. He's gathered items from both collections, plus special pieces from around the world (like this straw-and-Lurex Tunisian beach bag), and sells them out of three stores in Miami, Palm Beach and--opening this summer--Wainscott, New York. www.tomasmaier.com.