Friday, December 31, 2010


Borders belt and shaving bag
(buckle not included)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mamma mia

Allow me to prefice this blog entry with the necessary holiday cheer of MERRY CHRISTMAS! I finally joined the smartphone market with the gift of a samsung galaxy (ha iphonites! eat your heart out, you haven't managed to brainwash me just yet..). Goodbye productivity, hello angry birds and other pointless apps.
Basically, I was thinking about my love of fashion/ photography/ ketchup on pancakes (the latter being irrelevant to this blog entry but just thought I'd slide that one in there), and it made me think of my mum (again, not the pancakes bit. lol). Perhaps she was an early inspiration into a world I would one day covet to be a part of. I love the retro look of these old photographs. Something about the over-perfection of digital cameras has a habit of erasing the character of certain images.When my mum moved to Holland from Brazil with her first husband, she became a model, modelling in places like Paris, Germany, and Poland. I remember as a child in Holland playing between racks of clothes that she was working with, or stumbling upon designer sketches of clothes. At 4/5 years of age I was more into eating sand than shopping per se, but come to think of it I vaguely remember how cool those illustrations were. All shoulder pads and power dressing captured in strokes of ink (yup, you guessed it, eighties...). In my childhood I couldn't care less about these pictures, but it would be interesting to find them again and appreciate them with a more mature, fashion-focused eye.
She would tell me all these hilarious modelling stories about how the girls would play pranks on each other. Mind you, she worked as an in house model for one fashion house, and they tended to use the same girls over and over again. Even to this day, she counts some of her modelling 'coworkers' as her best friends, so the tricks they played on each other were more tongue-in-cheek versus backstabbing bitchiness. Things like removing the elastic bands of trousers right before they went on the runway so that they would fall right off (can you imagine that happening at Gucci or something today? Fashion suicide!)
She would tell me about fabulous parties in Paris, where she would be allowed to stay at some designer friends' place and host a get-together. I can't even imagine what it was like to plan parties pre-facebook/ texting/ smartphones. Suffice to say, she can now speak about 7 different languages, not perfectly, but enough to get by. Apparently she was once in a charity fashion show that Princess Diana was watching. Bananas.
How Diana Ross is this picture? Below, my parents Diomar and Sam, circa eighties. Circa BIG HAIR. I seriously don't know anyone else, in any other decade, that could pull off a pink jumpsuit with green boots!
I remember looking at these old photos early in my adolescence, smugly laughing at how old fashioned they were as I stood there in my (hideous!) 90s uniform of baggy jeans , spaghetti straps and kohl rimmed eyes (curse you All Saints for making me think that look was cool!). But looking at them now, as the eighties have come into fashion time and time again, the outfits in these images look classic, but still relevant and fresh. Erm, perhaps not the pink jumpsuit with the green boots combo though, don't think I can pull that one off.. But fashion inspiration no less.

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Jorgina Bracelet From Paris

Here is the bracelet I bought for myself in Paris. I bought it at a little jewelry shop in the Latin Quarter. It is made by "Jorgina." 

I'm modeling it alongside a beautiful Christmas postcard from my Paris Tour Guide illustrating a boat riding on the Seine.
 This postcard reminds me of our dinner cruise on the Bateaux Parisiens.
 Close-up of my bracelet.

 Bonnes fêtes!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Buy "Made in France"

When I was sixteen, I had a pen pal in England, and when I went to visit her and her family, my mother sent me off with a specially selected gift. According to my mother, who is the consummate gift-giver, it had to be something wonderful, beautiful, for my pen pal's family's home (as a house guest never goes empty-handed), and it had to be "made in the U.S." She chose a hand painted mantel style clock, which was purchased from local artisans in an artsy-fartsy section of Bucks County, PA. Likewise, when my pen pal came to stay with my family, she came bearing a wonderful silver gift, "made in England."

Fast-forward 34 years. I am in Paris, and one of the hardest things to do is shop for gifts to take home.

You may be wondering, "How could that be? Paris is full of wonderful shops ..."

Visiting those shops was, I am sad to say, not part of our 8-day itinerary. Because I stuck so squarely to the group itinerary, I never ventured off on my own to get to the really really wonderful boutiques or flagship shops of the great French designers and crafts people. Instead, my shopping experiences were relegated to:

1) Chintzy souvenir shops where everything is made in China (no offense, China - but I am in France ...)

2) Shops of questionable quality goods within the Latin Quarter, which was close to my hotel. For instance, one shop had Vivienne Westwood boots - but which season or YEAR were they from? And again, she's a British designer. I'm looking for something made in France. Another shop had the type of stuff you'd find on sale at an outdoor flea market in the US. I'm not a big fan of flea markets.

3) Gift shops at the many points of interest we visited as part of the group itinerary.

While others in my group were happily buying sequined change purses that screamed "Paris" and polyester boxer briefs emblazoned with Eiffel Tower graphics at the souvenir stands, I seemed to be walking around in circles.

But all was not lost.

One place where I WAS able to find the coveted made in France label was in Giverny, at Monet's House & Garden gift shop. I found this lovely barrette. There were an assortment of barrettes depicting different designs taken from Monet's artwork. The price - extremely reasonable.
Another great item I found at the Giverny gift shop was a made in France mouse pad - also with a scene from a Monet painting.

These made wonderful gifts to take back home!

And then there were the pastry shops. I did buy a box of mini macarons to take home. I wish I had bought more! I remember setting the macacrons out and Mark ate them like gumdrops, popping one after the other in his mouth. "These are awesome! What are they again?"

"Like $2.00 a cookie! Save a few for when my parents come over, I'd like them to try them too!" was my reply.

On the last night of my trip, at the last minute, sort of desperate but not senselessly so, I did get myself a silver-toned, modern style charm bracelet, with pretty pink mother-of-pearl shells and pink and gray (Austrian?!) crystals - supposedly made by a French designer who lives near the ocean - at least, that's what the shop owner at the far end of the Latin Quarter told me. It wasn't cheap. I showed it to one of the ladies in my tour group who sported a Prada handbag and HAD gone to the flagship shops on her own. She said it was lovely and worth what I paid. I'll show you that in another post.

And I broke down and did get my neighbor a sequined Paris keychain and Eiffel Tower charmed zipper pulls from a Latin Quarter souvenir shop that possibly sensed my desperation and possibly overcharged me ...

Hermes? Louis Vutton? Chanel? For now, I'll have to buy that online. Or in NYC. But oh, how wonderful it WOULD HAVE BEEN to have bought them in Paris. At least I have something I must do when I go to Paris again. Shop!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Beijing 我们爱你

Oh blogging how I love thee. And have missed thee whilst in Beijing (I promise I will cease with the 'Shakespearian' ((Is that how it is spelt? I just did a super-parentheses, a bracket within a bracket! (((Clearly, the highschool geek of yore still resides strongly within me. Note the super-super bracket I am in now! Wait, how do I end this sentence? With how many closing brackets? I feel like I'm in that third dream layer in Inception...)))))).
Apologies, due to the great firewall of China, I have not had access to my blog and thusly (I will forever maintain that this is, in fact, a word) am so giddy with excitement that I can blog that I am going a bit loopy. Although I did download a VPN when I was there (a type of proxy server that allowed me to access blocked sites via the U.S., THUSLY circumventing the firewall, in principle) it was uneven at best and wasn't very reliable. But now I'm home; bring forth the random spiel and mediocre blogging, yes!

Whilst studying putonghua in Beijing, I was actually pretty rubbish at documenting the streetstyle. I arrived with high hopes for myself, and was quickly distracted by the AWESOMENESS THAT IS BEIJING. Ah, to be a student again, where every meal felt like I was in a United Colors of Benetton ad/ the UN with people from all over the world, where one can afford to eat out for every meal, where you can get all-you-can-drink nights out for 10RMB. Thank God I had a bike or I would have quickly morphed into a bit of a heffer (or as my boyfriend says, more junk in the trunk. Not quite sure if we are street enough to use that phrase!)

Beijing is very large, dusty and flat. Bicycles are everywhere and pretty much a necessity for students. I stayed in Wudaokou, the student area in northwest Beijing where most of the universities are located. Very few of the locals speak English, which is excellent when one is a student studying Chinese. Although many feel Shanghai is a more beautiful city, it is believed that the local Beijing are much friendlier people. I can certainly vouch for the latter. But enough chin-wagging, check out the few photos of streetstyle that I actually took. Generally I think it is a sartorial challenge to dress chic in winter vs dressing in summer.

I saw this girl in the 798 art district in Beijing. Love the 50s style black and white saddle shoes paired with the leopard print coat. That's one thing I loved about Beijing, the art district. Full of eclectic boutiques, art galleries and cafes, it was one of my favorite destinations, and lends Beijing an artsy vibe that Hong Kong is sorely lacking.

Note the above stylish version of a new fashion term that I recently learned: the canadian tuxedo. Denim jacket with denim trousers. I'm sure you all have fallen victim to this styling at least once in your childhood! I am, after all, a child of the eighties. Cue this song.

I admit the above photo is slightly stawkerish, but I really do love bit of animal print! Although the leopard print on both scarf AND bag is a bit too jersey shore, less Cavalli for me. However, Jane Doe (Jing Di? Is there a Chinese equivalent?) just about pulls it off. The jury is still out on the two-tone hair, despite the fact that it is quite in now. And check out that amazing canadian tux her 'companion' is rocking! Bon Jovi circa 1991 eat your heart out!

It's difficult to pull off multiple stripey items but she does it nicely. I especially like the jacket.

I've recently taken quite a shining to light brown side bags and on the hunt for the perfect vintage brown saddle bag. I saw some at the Panjiayuan market in Beijing, a famous 'flea' market that opens 5am on the weekends. However, it's reputation as a genuine source of antiques is somewhat shakey. My teacher told me its mostly fake. See below picture and decide for yourself - I regret not purchasing any of the brown bags I saw that day, mistakenly telling myself I would have time to return. Sigh.

This girl was spotted at the Summer Palace, a behemoth of a sightseeing spot with a lake, temples and walkways, where reportedly the emperor and his entourage used to summer. As the chinese would say, hen ke ai! Slightly dressy for sightseeing, but there's no judgement on this blog. Unless canadian tuxes are involved. I just love saying that. Canadian tuxes. Chortle.
Excuse me as I put my girly fashion hat on and say: CAPES! Love them! Am tempted to buy one in red and pay homage to my Little Red Riding Hood halloween costume of '93. Ah, that was a good year. Predicted to be the next big thing in fashionland.

This was spotted at xiang shan, the fragrant hills. Love the pink boots.

Just realised how much leopard print is in this post. I must note that Beijing is not full of people in leopard print, I just happen to gravitate towards it, stylistically. In my defense, leopard print is in this season. Imagine a leopard print canadian tuxedo - something I imagine would only ever look good on this man.

With that parting image, I must bid adieu.
Nat x

Dinner Cruise on the Bateaux Parisiens

When I heard my tour group was going on a dinner cruise on the Seine, I imagined something sort of "campy" - not in the whimsical campy sort of way ... more like life-preservers, splashing water, windy gusts and oh, yes, a glass of wine. I didn't do any online research about the cruise before going. So I was pleasantly surprised at HOW ELEGANT the affair was. 
Shown above:  The Bateaux Parisiens dinner cruise menu.

What I had:  For the first course, I tried the green and white cream soup served cappuccino style, with lobster bits and slow-cooked morels. Delish!
The duck foie gras - always a good choice.

For our next course, I chose the beef tournedos, with a reduction of Bordelaise wine sauce. My pick for dessert was the Crepes Suzette, orrange butter and Grand Marnier.
Unfortunately, due to where I was sitting (you know, one of those places where you have to disrupt everyone else to get away from the table), I never made it onto the deck. I did catch glimpses out of the windows as we passed by these famous landmarks ...
A little map of the boat's course along the Seine 

A nice touch:  During our cruise along the Seine, we were serenaded by the musicians, and even an operatic rendition of "Ava Maria" as we passed Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres.

Needless to say, with the delicious food, lovely company, and enchanting ambiance, I was "a happy camper"!

Here's the video, for your viewing pleasure ...