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Insider's view · Europe · russian federation · Moscow

Insider: Mikhail Druyan

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Insider: Mikhail Druyan

"Must-sees" in Moscow

Mikhail Druyan is a human one-man theater, a human volcano of energy. He literally bubbles with positive charisma. He is one of the most sought-after organizers of glamorous events, his little black book filled with the names of practically every "A-lister" to be found in the Russian metropolis. He's a producer, hedonist and journalist, and often writes for Tatler Russia. This October saw him host a dinner to mark the 250 years of Moet&Chandon in Russia. And rumour has it that the Hollywood diva Scarlett Johansson, the face of the famous champagne house who was among the guests on the night, has not been able to get him out of her mind ever since.
Druyan arrived in Moscow ten years ago - from Krasnoyarsk - having been a one-time DJ and certified attorney. At the time, he didn't know anybody here, but now he says that his life is akin to a "colorful cartoon", and has been for quite some time now .
Druyan desperately loves Moscow. In the sense that he cannot live without it. "If I'm not in Moscow, I miss it terribly." Why is that? "Look, I'll tell you how I spent last evening - I went to a premier of a film produced by my good acquaintance, Fyodor Bondarchuk, directly after which, I headed to the opening of the Ralph Lauren store (where I had a few glasses of champagne), then to the opening party for Allure magazine, and after - I chatted with shoe designer Christian Laboutin over dinner at the restaurant Bolshoi... and then at the Pushkin, I met with Aliona Doletskaya (one-time editor of Vogue Russia, now editor of Interview) and the French director, Michel Gondry, who was in Moscow for only one night - now tell me, in what other world city is something like this possible? That is why I love Moscow. It is a city loaded with a crazy amount of energy. It is Russia's Hong Kong."
And here we have Mikhail Druyan's au courant list of must-sees and must-dos:

The cultural life. Before the onset of winter, you must definitely take a walk through Gorky Park. Not too long ago, it was an abandoned territory, needed by no one, and which was best avoided with the onset of dusk. Today, it is the prime relaxation spot for Muscovites. Always full of people, in the summer you could lounge on large, colorful poufs. A slew of renown Moscow restaurants have opened offshoot "kiosks" here. I might not go there for dinner, but their burgers, khachapuri and coffee are great. On 20 October, 2012, the Contemporary Art Centre "Garage" opened its temporary pavilion here, designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. It's made of wood - not even wood, but paper - and is such a unique structure, that I wouldn't be surprised if it won some architectural award. The pavilion hosts exhibitions, lectures, concerts and various master workshops, and it has its own café and bookstore. In a year's time, the new, permanent home for "Garage" will open, designed by architect Rem Koolhaas.
Apropos music, my favorite is Stadium Live (Leningradskij prospekt 80, www.stadium-live.ru), a huge club in which the very best concerts and the most interesting events are held. Mummy Troll will be performing there on December 7.
For aficionados of classical music, no place is more ideal than the recently-restored Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory (Bolshaya Nikitskaya Street 13/60).
And then, of course, there's the Bolshoi (Theatre Square: www.bolshoi.ru). If you haven't been there since the reconstruction, you definitely must go. Not only has the facade's hammer and sickle been replaced with a two-headed eagle, but the whole historical interior has been renovated back to its former glory. The old/new stage has been outfitted with the latest technologies. Although I'm not a huge fan of Glinka's music, I was very happy about the opening show last year. "Ruslan and Ludmila" was put to the stage by one of Russia's brightest directors (and multiple winner of "The Golden Mask" award), Dmitri Tcherniakov. At the end of December, his version of "Eugene Onegin" will again be played at Bolshoi new stage. Admittedly, it may not be the greatest of Tcherniakov's productions, as far as I am concerned.
Another hot ticket right now is the Theatre of Nations (Petrovsky pereulok 3; www.theatreofnations.ru), which had been operating for ten years without a roof over its head, and just last year moved back into its newly-renovated building. Their repertoire is always worthy of attention.
One museum that requires an obligatory visit is the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, where the unique exhibition, "Le Corbusier. The Secret Laboratory: between art and architecture", is going on through November 18. More than 400 artifacts from this master of modernistic architecture have been put on display, including drawings, sculptures, furniture, photographs, and scale models. There happens to be a building designed by Le Corbusier in Moscow - the Tsentrosoyuz Building (Myasnitskaya Street), built in 1933; today it houses the Russian State Committee of Statistics.
Another outstanding and inspirational art space is the Multimedia Art Museum (Ostozenka Street 16; www.mamm-mdf.ru/en), whose six floors always contain several exemplary exhibitions.
The post-reconstruction reopening of the legendary exhibition hall, Manege (Manez Square 20), is, in my opinion, the best thing that to have recently happened in Moscow's art scene. They say that Japanese artist Yajoi Kusama, one of my favorite contemporary artists, will soon exhibit there. She recently did a collection with LouisVuitton - I was so excited that I even bought a polka-dot scarf!

Food. Fine dining is my thing; I'm one of those who spend most of their income on visits to restaurants listed in the Michelin Guide. And that's why I can safely say that the best restaurant in Moscow is Semifreddo (Rossolimo 2, www.semifredo.ru) - an Italian restaurant run by Sicilian chef Nino Graziano. Before moving to Moscow, he owned one of the best restaurants in Sicily - Il Mulinazzo (two Michelin stars). I also really like the restaurant Chaika. It takes up a whole building, and lies a bit outside of the city center - in the Tagansky District. The dining room is made-up in the style of a library. The main interior design element is an extravagant lamp collection, and they play classical music in the restrooms. But the main reason to head there is, of course, the food; Chaika (Marksistskaya ulitsa 7; www.chaika-cafe.ru) boasts one of the best young chefs in Moscow, Dmitri Shurshakov. Shurshakov serves up surprising combinations of flavors and textures (he was once very into molecular gastronomy), all in the best traditions of experimental cuisine; be sure to try the tasting-menu.
A good and "manly" restaurant for lovers of meat - in all its forms - is Mjasnoj Club (Kuznetskij most 19; www.novikovgroup.ru). They have an excellent wine list: expensive, but worth it.
For cocktails, head to Moloko (Bol. Dmitrovka 7/5), a cool place located in a one-time dairy shop. Or, try Carabas (Lva Tolstogo Street 18), which is under the same ownership as Moloko.
After taking in a production at the Opera, definitely head over to the restaurant Bolshoi (Petrovka 3/6; www.novikovgroup.ru). It's beautiful, and expensive - but that's purely relative: when in Moscow, you definitely shouldn't order wine by the glass (which, compared to Europe, really is expensive), but rather by the bottle... which, just the same, always ends up being not enough...
For breakfast and lunch, Vogue Cafe (7/9 Kuznetsky Most) is still the best choice: very good food and the most beautiful clientele. And it's nice to know that at least something in this city remains unchanged...
What would be the most... most...? The "poshest" bar at the moment is Mendeleev (Ul. Petrovka 20/1). Look for it in the basement of the inexpensive Chinese diner, Lucky Noodles - behind the black velvet curtain.

Shopping. My favorite shop is Kuznetskij most 20 (Kuznetskij most 20; www.kuznetskijmost20.ru). A wonderful concept-store in which intelligence has been magnificently combined with the latest trends in the fashion industry. Fashion, interior objects, gadgets, books, magazines - I always buy both clothes and gifts here.
I also like Aizel (Stolesnikov pereulok 11) - a terrific multi-brand store named after the owner. The selection is very discerning.
In terms of perfume, nowhere in the world have I found a better selection of niche brands than in the ground floor of TSUM (Petrovka 2; www.tsum.ru). The corners of my favourite brands - Dries Van Noten, Raf Simons, Balenciaga - are also excellent here.

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