Just two months after announcing her pregnancy, Jessica Alba, still looking movie-star thin and beautiful, boarded a plane for Beijing to support the Chinese debut of good friend Diane von Furstenberg’s “Journey of a Dress” retrospective, an exhibition that chronicles the fashion designer’s 40-plus years as a designer, art collector and philanthropist. The show that features personal archives, including the original wrap dress from 1973 and art by Andy Warhol, Francesco Clemente and Ahn Duong made its debut in Moscow, moved to Sao Paulo and opened April 2 in Beijing.
Along with supermodel Natalia Vodianova and Wendi Murdoch who also traveled to China for the show, von Furstenberg and Alba stayed at the Yi House, a boutique art hotel nestled in the northeast corner of the 798 Art District.
Yi, like many Chinese characters, has a double meaning: “without equal” and “guest house,” a playful, yet grandiose pun that, in this case, works. With a Swiss chef who has been known to import white truffles from Italy, an attentive, fluently English-speaking staff, custom-designed furniture and exclusive access to 798’s galleries and private tours, this 30-room hotel is a sparkling alternative to the corporate monoliths that dominate Beijing’s high-end hotel scene.
Located on the site of a 19th century crystal factory, the hotel more than lives up to its art district location. Bauhaus graffiti mural flank the building, every suite has photographic portraits by Chi Peng and the lobby has art exhibitions that change every three months.
Although Alba couldn’t imbibe, she and von Furstenberg popped into the hotel’s Gossip Bar, a late-night cocktail bar that attracts art district coolios, and Fennel, the high-end restaurant helmed by Swiss chef Christian Hoffman.
While in China, Alba also visited the Temple of Heaven and the Pearl Market, rode in a rickshaw and attended von Furstenberg’s glam Red Ball, an elegant black tie fete held at the studio of Chinese artist Zhanag Huan. With typical Furstenberg aplomb, the 600-person party featured thousands of red lanterns, an original Ming temple and a hundred performance artists lighting the path with red lasers.
Click here for more on Beijing’s Yi House, 706 Hou Jie No. 1, 798 Art District, Jiuxianqiao Lu 2 Hao Yuan, Lido District.