The Best Trips are the Spontaneous Ones

Cheers to taking chances. Cheers that it actually worked out well! The quickest way to get to know someone better is to take a trip with them. In my case, I went to Iceland.

WOW Air had a really good flight deal going on and despite the fact that it sounded like the sketchiest airline on earth, Tony and I decided to go for it. We had a lot of suggestions on where to go, so this took some detailed planning on our part to fit everything in four days. Tony was excited for the Golden Circle Tour of the National Park. For me, there was a 50/50 chance of actually seeing it, but I was hoping to catch the Northern Lights!

Day 1: Exploring Reykjavik

We landed at 5:00 am. It was rainy, cold and depressing. I hate the cold. I was tired. We were off to a great start. Our airport shuttle driver dropped us off on the side of a random street and pointed us to the general direction of where our hotel should be. No sign of a welcoming hotel anywhere. We wandered into a restaurant asking where we were. We were greeted by a tall, skinny man who told us we were in the right place and insisted on carrying our suitcases up and down four flights of stairs. We asked him why he was doing this. He told us that he needed exercise. He then proceeded to check us in. Tony decided to make jokes because he thinks he is funny. Skinny tall man points out where all of the amenities were located in the hotel, including the gym. Tony asks how he would know since he never goes. Skinny man was not amused. Tony then asks where we would be able to find some mimosas to get the day started. He looks at us like we are crazed alcoholics. 

We had a bit of breakfast and took a power nap. It was already time for lunch. We stopped by a small restaurant called Saegreifinn and decided to try their lobster soup, a scallop kebab and...whale. One does not sound as normal as the others. Surprisingly, the whale wasn't bad at all! It tasted like a very tender steak. 

We decided to have a few gin and tonics and then it was time for dinner. We decided to try another restaurant called Tapas Barinn, which had a few courses to sample Icelandic foods: lamb, lobster, salmon, tuna…and PUFFIN. You would think since it is a bird, it would taste more like chicken. Wrong. It tasted like blubber. I liked it. Tony made a strange face. We finished the night with a nice bottle of wine and ice cream.

The Cute Little City of Reykjavik

The Cute Little City of Reykjavik

Smoked Puffin

Smoked Puffin

Scallop Kebab and Whale

Scallop Kebab and Whale

Day 2: National Park

Adventure day. We snuck a a few bottles of gin and and few cans of tonic water on the bus even though we weren't supposed to. Our tour group guide had the voice that could put anyone to sleep, so we had to make the most of it. Our itinerary consisted of geysers, glaciers and waterfalls. We made a few random stops off the bus. I pet a horse. I kept calling the geysers, geezers. Tony was looking for moose. We giggled the whole tour and annoyed everyone sitting around us. 

That night was a very special night for me. I finally got to see what I wanted to see: The Northern Lights. We took a bottle of wine up to the rooftop of our hotel and watched the green light flickering in the sky.  My DSLR camera somehow decided that it didn't want to work on me, so all I have from that night is a blurry iPhone photo (see below). Pictures did not do any justice from witnessing this phenomenon.

Thingvellir National Park

Thingvellir National Park

Gullfoss waterfall

Gullfoss waterfall

The Northern Lights from our Hotel

The Northern Lights from our Hotel

Day 3: Blue Lagoon

I was very excited for this day. We took a bus to the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. The light blue water consisted of silica and sulfur minerals and was between 99-102 degrees in temperature. The spa had fancy tracking devices for our wrists to track how many drinks were allowed per person. We found out very quickly it was a three drink limit. The spa guides also advised us to saturate our hair with conditioner to keep our hair from turning into rock. Mine did anyway. 

That night, we went to a really nice dinner at the Lobster House (also called Torfan). Tony was craving lobster and steak and I was craving duck. We went back to the hotel to get drunk have a dance party that night. Then we decided we should be social and head to the bars. We also decided to sneak in our own Red Bulls to the bar and pretend we were bartenders. 

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon

Tony and I in the Blue Lagoon

Tony and I in the Blue Lagoon

Tony and I at Torfan Humarhúsið (Lobster House)

Tony and I at Torfan Humarhúsið (Lobster House)

Day 4: Flight Home

We only had a limited time in the morning before we had to head to the airport, so we did some last minute gift shopping before making our way back home. After trying all the outrageous foods from that trip, all we wanted was a good old cheeseburger.

In conclusion, I would highly recommend going to Iceland. It was an amazing experience. You truly feel like you are on a different planet. That, and having a travel partner to explore things with. 

Ciao.

To Clarify on Odd Runway Designs

You question it and I question it. Why do designers create such crazy clothing for the runway if its not meant for everyday wear? 

Alexander McQueen - Paris Fashion Week 2009

Alexander McQueen - Paris Fashion Week 2009

The answer comes in several layers:

1) Publicity

High end designers want the shock value that makes the public pay attention. The collections that are presented on the runway are made to elicit a response. The most talked about designers showcase the most outrageous designs and shows. For example, Alexander McQueen's famous hologram of Kate Moss in his 2006 Fall/Winter Fashion Show (below video). Rather than just having models walk down the runway with his clothing (how boring!), he decided to try something new and that is what made him stand out.

2) Concept

Designers make it a point to put emphasis on beauty, art and ideals. Each collection is part of a particular concept for the upcoming season and has a theme prevalent whether it is nautical, floral or Victorian. What is usually seen on the runway isn't seen in retail stores. Mass production happens after the debut of the collections. The colors, fabrics and overall aesthetic remains true to the collection, but it is a translated version of the outrageous outfits to every day wear. That means we don't have to be wearing that big box with legs we saw walk down the runway in the past season, just something similar to it!

Alexander McQueen - "It's Only a Game" Fashion Show Spring/Summer 2005

Alexander McQueen - "It's Only a Game" Fashion Show Spring/Summer 2005

3) Innovation - Architecture, Art, Design

Historically, fashion started out with handmade material for different designs. Since technology had progressed, designers were able to make use of sewing machines, leading to new ideas and new designs. Nowadays, designers are incorporating new strategies for design, such as 3-D print designs which might even be seen in retail stores in the near future. 

Iris Van Herpen (who also interned for Alexander McQueen) - Amsterdam Fashion Week 2010 

Iris Van Herpen (who also interned for Alexander McQueen) - Amsterdam Fashion Week 2010 

Sensing a theme here? It's safe to say the late Alexander McQueen was one of my favorite designers, mainly because of his high attention to detail and his ability to put on quite a show.

This brings me to my last point… September is coming up soon and you know what that means…NEW YORK FASHION WEEK!

Ciao. 

Who Shops at the Mall Anymore?

Back in my teenage years, I lived at the mall. I diagnosed myself as a crazed shopaholic. Then I grew up and something changed. Was it bills? Was it my priorities? Oh no. I still prioritize in looking decent, but the difference now is that I don't have time to go to a brick and mortar store, look around, try on clothing and make small talk with the employees that work there. Nope. WAY TOO MUCH EFFORT. 

I'd much rather shop online. It cuts my gas costs significantly and I don't have to physically move if I don't want to. (Well, maybe to the door to grab my package.) Most people I know would rather browse for outfits online rather than wander around the mall for five hours. Why is that? Convenience is the word of the century. 

Retail stores have gotten creative on incorporating technology to update the consumer shopping experience. The other day I heard that Burberry was making significant efforts in using technology to mimic the experience of online shopping in store since they were finding that less and less people were coming in to their stores. 

Check it out here: 

Pretty cool right? I mean LOOK at that. Imagine walking into a retail store with multiple TV screens that use RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) to trigger multimedia content that relates to the store's products. Mirrors are able to transform into screens with real time runway footage. Sales associates can use iPads to keep record of past purchase history and refer the customer to similar items. I guess seeing what that experience is like would make me get off the couch.

Okay, maybe Burberry is a bit of an extreme example, but the point is, retailers are going to more extremes to 1) Keep up with technology and 2) Keep shoppers interested in physically coming in to the stores. Change is in the works, but is it effective?

So what do you think? Would you rather shop online or go to the store for the personal experience?

Being on the Other Side of the Camera

A brilliant idea popped into my head. Why not try fashion photography on the other side of the camera? My friend Andrea agreed to model for me and we collaborated a few shoot ideas to try in the future. This would also showcase my makeup, hair, photography and editing skills (quadruple threat!) We wanted to go with a more natural look to test shoot first before trying more daring/avant-garde looks. Fortunately, it turned out pretty well. Here are a few details of the products I used on her:

Makeup:

  • Foundation: Make Up For Ever in 125
  • Concealer: Clinique Eye Smoothing Concealer in Light
  • Eyeshadow Primer: Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion - Original
  • Eyeshadow Colors: Urban Decay Naked  Palette in Gin, Toasted and Creep.
  • Eyeliner: Kat Von D Ink Liner in Ultra Black
  • Eyebrows: Benefit Brow Zings in Deep
  • Contour Palette: Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit in Light to Medium
  • Blush: NARS in Torrid
  • Lipstick: Cinique Longlast Glosswear in Guavagold
  • Eyelashes: Andrea Strip Lashes

Hair:

  • Heat Protectant Spray: Tresemme Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray
  • Tools: Hot Tools Gold Curling Iron 1-1/2 inch
  • Hair Spray: TIGI Bed Head Masterpiece Shine Hairspray

Naturally she was pretty nervous. I coached her through a few frames and with a bit of time, she was able to relax in front of the camera. 

End result:

Note: Having a DSLR camera helps tremendously.

Additional note: Having a ring light also aids in giving the subject dimension. I would highly recommend for anyone who posts photos on their blog or records a video of themselves on their vlog. 

I only slightly retouched the photo by using Adobe Lightroom to add a little more depth and edit a few blemishes. Stay tuned for more crazy makeup. I usually gravitate toward the more artistic side of fashion anyway.

Ciao.

Europe Accelerated my Wanderlust

This past summer I went out of the country to cruise the Mediterranean with two friends, Kristen and Katie. It was one of the best trips to this day. Here's a bit of insight on our crazy adventures:

NOTE: Lots of drinking and awkward situations involved. Pics were all taken from an iPhone camera.

Day 1: Venice

We arrive. The cab drops us off about a mile from the hotel we booked. We get completely lost trying to navigate through the bridges and back alleyways. We glance at the map we were given. We need to get to Per Rialto. Every street was named Per Rialto. We wander in circles dragging our heavy luggage around. We finally find the hotel. It is a lovely one star resort. We lift our heavy luggage four flights of stairs to a room with no air conditioning. 

That evening we decide to explore the city. We walk the Grand Canal, eat authentic Italian food and watch the sunset. On our walk back, a monsoon hits the city. We shelter ourselves at a restaurant and order a few glasses of wine until the rain subsides. We get back to the hotel. I sleep soundly in my cot while Katie kills a bug next to Kristen's head.

Day 2: Venice and Arriving on the Cruise Ship

We decide to get gelato and hit the museums in the AM. We check out of the hotel and drag our luggage to the cruise ship terminal. An italian man stops us. Italian man offers to help us with our luggage if we pay him a small fee. Italian hulk man takes all three of our suitcases and brings them up and down two small bridges. Italian man expects payment even though we are nowhere near the cruise ship terminal. I give him 20 euros. Italian man says it is not enough and tries to rip us off by saying it costs 20 euros per suitcase. We have no money. We grab our luggage and run for our lives to the terminal. Italian man runs after us but finally gives up halfway through the chase. We make it safely onto the boat. 

We board the boat and consume multiple glasses of complimentary champagne upon welcome. It was only supposed to be one per person. We go to dinner and no one wants to sit with us. We consume more glasses of wine. We hit the club and make friends. 

Day 3: Montenegro

We go for a hike 1,200 meters all the way to the top of Saint John's fortress. I almost die of heat exhaustion. We finally make it to the top and take photos. Once we make it back down, we reward ourselves with a glass of wine and go souvenir shopping. Kristen and Katie buy magnets. I buy an fancy egg. We make it back on to the boat. We hit the club again and make more friends.

Day 4: Day at Sea

We sleep till 1:00pm. We go to the pool and lay around some more. I start a dance party with the whole ship.

Day 5: Santorini

We wake up as early as we can (6:00am) to go explore. Santorini lies on top of a cliff and there were two ways up: the sky train and donkeys. We thought that being on a donkey was a better idea. The salesman rips us off by placing Katie and I on the same donkey. He thinks I am Katie's adopted child. He also thinks Kristen needs exercise so he walks her halfway up the cliff before giving her the dumbest donkey he could find. I hold on for dear life while Katie takes donkey selfies. Kristen straggles behind trying not to get thrown off the cliff by her donkey. Katie and I make friends with two gay guys on the way up. 

We walk around the city and go souvenir shopping. We buy rubber duckies. We think this is the perfect representation of Santorini. I buy a white Grecian dress. I think I am Aphrodite. We look at the time and panic because the cruise ship is about to leave without us. We run for our lives to the sky train. The line is five miles long. The only other way is back to the donkey cliffs. We make our way down. The stairs are covered in donkey poop. I hate my life. 

11890982_3157218700670_6700990486884819257_n.jpg

Day 6: Athens

We hop on a tour bus to take us around the city. We stop at the Temple of Zeus and take pictures. We stop at the Parthenon because we figured that was where the main attraction was. We sandwich ourselves between crowds of sweaty tourists. There are signs everywhere that tell us not to touch anything. We touch the Parthenon anyway because we think we're rebels. 

Day 7: Katakalon

We take an hour long train ride to the Olympic ruins. We walk around aimlessly in the blazing sun and snap photos. We go back near the ship to go have lunch and search for wifi but we didn't want to pay for any food or drink which made finding wifi really difficult. 

Day 8: Day at Sea

We sign up for an exercise class. We never make it to exercise class. We go to the buffet instead and lay out. We spend the last night at the club with our new friends. We are sad to leave them. We dance till the club closes that night.

Day 9: Venice to Milan

Kristen wakes up drunk the next day and we find our way to the train station to get to Milan. We can't figure out how to get out of the train station. We finally make it out and look for our Airbnb with our host named Alex. Alex did not look like his picture. It's like when you meet someone on Tinder with pictures from ten years ago. Alex has a friend over and they both sleep on the couch in his living room while we sleep in his bedroom. It is a full house.

We decide to go explore Milan that evening. We visit Duomo but we get turned away from the church because we don't know how to dress appropriately. We eat pasta and decide to walk around the canal. We try to find somewhere to drink and stop at a chess themed bar. We get approached by creepy guys that keep speaking Italian to us. We go back to our Airbnb on the fourth floor where the elevator takes ten years to go up and down and only safely fits one person.

Day 9: Back to Venice

We get back on the train to Venice and are stuck next to a family that doesn't stop eating. I'm sleeping like a mummy and Katie and Kristen have to take on all the crumbs coming from their child's mouth. We make it back to find the water taxi and stand for a really long time. We try to find our last Airbnb with the host named Bin. We note that Bin looks like an asian man in his photo. We come to an alley and find the street number and its perpendicular to the street it should be on. We see six names on the door and none of them say Bin. We take a chance and choose the most asian sounding name. We hit the buzzer and the door opens by itself to a dark hallway. Katie and I look at each other with a "hell no" and push Kristen inside. We're really great friends. Asian woman walks down the stairs. Asian woman certainly does not look like Bin but says she is Bin. She takes us up four flights of stairs. She shows us not to slam the door by demonstrating what slamming the door looks like. Then she tells us to not get water on the floor and to be quiet.

We decide to explore Venice again on our last night. We end up getting pretty deep into the alleys. We stop to get food and get directed to the whitest bar in Venice. We spend our last night hanging out at a pub with a deer head on the wall. We leave and manage to find our way back to Bin's place through the dark alleys. The next day we wake up cranky and hungover, take the water taxi to the airport and make our way back home.

The end. 

What is the Future of New York Fashion Week?

It's time to get serious. This past New York Fashion Week was the first time the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) and a few designers experimented with see-now-buy-now fashion to keep up with the demand of the consumers. What do the people want? Instant gratification. 

The history of the fashion show includes the showcase of designer collections usually about four to six months before it hits the retail stores. Originally it was only seen by exclusive insiders: buyers/editors/the media/celebrities. They were the key people that determined what styles were "in" and what styles were "outdated" for each new season. Now that social media is used as another form of influence, there is a larger audience.

The attention span of viewers seem to have decreased over time. The only way to make an impact is to keep up with the fast pace. Social media has played a large part in the changing fashion industry. Snapchat. Twitter. Instagram. These strategies are used more and more to adapt to these changes. For the fashion show, the idea of see-now-buy-now is to keep the excitement of new product and drive sales.

What is see-now-buy-now? As soon as the designers showcase their collections on the runway, it is available to purchase directly.

PROS: 

  • It will cover our culture's insatiable need for instant gratification.
  • It will boost full price selling.
  • It will increase perceived newness.
  • BIGGER BUSINESS.

CONS: 

  • It becomes too commercial.
  • The timing of retail deliveries will be out of sync with the seasons.
  • It is not realistic for some designers to create in-season shows. Some designers spend a lot of time on concept and fabric development. 

I'm curious to see how the next New York Fashion Week will pan out. The CFDA announced that fashion designers are free to choose their own strategy moving forward. It is going to be a messy next few seasons. Ladies and gentlemen we are witnessing a revolution. 

Bonsoir. 

Every Little Girl's Fantasy

Most little girls dream about becoming a Disney princess and living a fairy tale…oh wait, I was one of them! The good news is that I was able to re-live this fantasy a few months back while visiting my cousin in New York City. During my downtime, I decided to venture out to explore an exhibit held at the Fashion Institute of Technology. 

The theme of it was "Fairy Tale Fashion" which depicted fifteen different fables in the lens of high-end fashion designers such as Marchesa, Alexander McQueen and Rodarte. Not only did these designers create pieces to represent each fairy tale, but they were also successful in including specific concepts (i.e.  Cinderella's glass slipper) and captured a period-appropriate look. 

It was all so beautiful…I think I almost shed a tear. 

Here are a few of my favorite photos, not in any particular order:

Sleeping Beauty

The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid

The Swan Maidens

The Swan Maidens

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz

Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

Cinderella

Cinderella

Snow White and Rose Red

Snow White and Rose Red

Cinderella

Cinderella

The Snow Queen

The Snow Queen

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

Cinderella's Glass Slipper

Cinderella's Glass Slipper

Cinderella

Cinderella

Want to see it as well? Well you can't, sorry. The exhibit ended April 16, 2016. HOWEVER, this brings me to my next point. The MET Museum in NYC is having a really exciting exhibit which I also hope to experience. This is going to be on display May 5 through August 14. 

This exhibit is about the history of traditional, hand-sewn haute couture all the way to fashion technology now which incorporates 3-D printing and ultrasonic welding. How awesome is that?

Find more about it here: Manus x Machina

Au revoir.

Weekend, Wine and 70 Degree Weather :)

What better way to spend the weekend than to play around with a brand new Canon Rebel T3i camera? I purchased this camera specifically to make my blog more aesthetically pleasing and so I can practice my very limited photography skills. I do have to note that working with photographers in my few years of modeling and high school yearbook class definitely gave me an advantage on lighting, the rule of thirds, and working with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. 

Here are a few edits from the weekend:

Friday Night Dinner:

Chef Lexi in the HOUSE! Thanks to Blue Apron and my fabulous culinary skills, I was able to create this awesome dish below (with help from my roommate of course.)

Spiced Pork Chops, Mashed Potatoes, English Peas, Kale & Goat Cheese

Spiced Pork Chops, Mashed Potatoes, English Peas, Kale & Goat Cheese

Saturday at Barrel Oak Winery:

A group of us met at my ex-roommates house and OH have I missed her dog! He was so happy to see me. I snapped a few photos, and this was the best one:

Gus :)

Gus :)

We ended up driving to Barrel Oak Winery together. The scenery was amazing. My review of the wine was mediocre, but that's just my opinion. 

IMG_5071.jpg

Overall, it was a perfect weekend to enjoy the weather and have a (few) glasses of wine. This place was located in Delaplane, Virginia. The photo above shows another winery within walking distance. We will definitely be wine-hopping over the summer.

Ciao.