A trip into the city today left me squee-ing in glee at the collaboration between two of my favourite things- Peter Alexander Sleepwear and Disney!
All Images care of Peter Alexander online.
A trip into the city today left me squee-ing in glee at the collaboration between two of my favourite things- Peter Alexander Sleepwear and Disney!
All Images care of Peter Alexander online.
So, I know its not a post about America yet… but here is a Post! (And this is where you cheer).
So I’ve now been home just over two weeks and everybody is asking “So has the reality set in?” Yes, of course it has! I was back at work a few days later, and life continued. After a weeks work- always full of drama and challenges, I helped on a photo shoot that weekend. It did take two weeks for a full slump to hit. I spent the entire last weekend parked on my couch, sobbing in front of Pride and Prejudice.
But as my favourite phrase goes “there’s no rest for the wicked.” Perth Fashion festival starts tomorrow and I have a full schedule of shows and events fit around my work hours. Its my royal show. My week of fun, and show bags and carnival shows. Like an excited 8 year old, my every waking thought is “what do I wear? What shoes, watch, necklace?” Hopefully the excitement of the festivities can pull me back out of my post-holiday rutt.
I have also entered a number of competitions, one at Vix clothing which required me to open up my handbag and bare its contents to the world. I figured this would make an interesting post, so here is my handbag:
My handbag (A Vera Bradley, bought on my recent holiday) contains (L/R): My Sony Touch Ereader; My planner so I can keep track of things, Two tickets to Disneyworld from my recent holiday; My sunnies- Oroton prescription lenses; My wallet, alas empty of money but full of coffee cards, business cards and receipts; Deodorant, moisturiser and tissues; Lipgloss (Vanilla cinnamon yum); a mirror; a pen, to write in my planner; Lipliner I bought today; Tic Tacs with french packaging also from my recent trip; A bangle because I am never without my Arm-our; An umbrella-ella-ella because it is raining; Miscellaneous receipts, a dead battery, and my Mickey handbag holder (yep Disneyworld); Keys for Work and Home; and finally a soupspoon, because I had soup for lunch.
You can vote for me (because I want a free dress) Here
Whats in your handbag?
20 hours of flight and transit later, D and I are home in our apartment and I had my first day of work today. Back to reality.
Of course, anyone who actually knew our travel plans can see I am about 2 months behind on blogging. Oops. So watch this space because I will be continuing. Its mainly stubbornness, I want to finish what I started. Then I have some fantastic ideas for the blog after, plus some write ups for the upcoming Perth Fashion Festival (have you got tickets?).
But today I am writing about something else. Two days after coming home, I was invited by my BFF Nic who works in the mental health industry to go to the Bridges Inspiration evening. As this week is the Nation Eating Disorders Awareness Week, Bridges, an eating disorder association, held a mini expo at Princess Margaret Hospital. Several past sufferers stepped up and shared their experiences- the disease and the journey to recovery. A father spoke about his families ‘eating disorder education’ and co-ordinators of different groups (such as the Body Esteem Program from Womens Health Works) shared information and their programs. The night was inspiring.
There was a raffle (alas, my 4 tickets won me zip. I am so unlucky!), nibblies and coffee, freebies from the Body Shop and free glittered boxes to remind us ‘every day is a gift to cherish’.
As someone who works in close association with the fashion industry, and knows of people who have and still struggle with disorders I wanted to share the work these beautiful girls have done. Thank you for your hard work, courage and and strength in supporting those who need it.
A particular standout for me on the evening was Janine of The Black Dog Project. She shares hand drawn figures and encourages people in the community to share, write, draw, film etc to reach out during tough times in their lives. Its a ‘Community Webspace’ and Janine hopes people will come, collect and connect with the art and music. I loved her creativity and her willingness to share. Her Army of Ink, paper obsession and free Clunk and Jam notes were refreshing. So I felt I should share her page, and give her some blog love here. Thank you Janine.
I hope any readers struggling with EDs, or simply going through a rough time and feeling a bit blue can find some help on this page. There is no shame in reaching out.
My favourite place so far and definitely the highlight of France was Versailles. When I die, I hope to be reincarnated as a hummingbird in this magnificent garden. We arrived very early, and rainclouds loomed threatening to ruin our day, but they cleared up enough for us to enjoy walks around the grounds. We rented audio guides and toured the Castle and Dauphine rooms which were beautiful in décor. The French know how to decorate. My favourite features were the velvety wallpaper, and some of the beautiful wooden furniture.
I wandered around the gardens and palace with a permanent expression of joyous wonder on my face. During the day, classical music played across the gardens, and several fountains has ‘musical water’ displays, which was a happy surprise. I could gush about the gardens forever!
After wandering through one side of the gardens, we headed to the Grand Trianon and Marie Antoinette’s estate. Her tiny english village was charming! In the Grand Trianon, I was thrilled to discover a fashion display showing clothes from Versailles and the modern designer gowns and outfits they inspired. Amongst the displayed was Vivianne Westwood, McQueen and Givenchy. Whilst doing my stylist course, one of my assignments was about how a modern runway show was influenced by the French revolution, so I found the entire display fascinating and bought the accompanying book. We meandered back through the other side of the gardens, finally getting kicked out by garden staff at 5. A full day of wonderment.
Our last day again was split between two key places- the Louvre and Notre Dame. Happily, someone experienced with Paris told me about a side entrance to the Louvre, as there was a long queue at the main entrance. Again, D and I probably spent a little too long admiring some pictures, and missed entire sections, but we saw all the key pieces highlighted on the map (other people just shuffled between these, probably missing some gorgeous pieces in between, but with time constraints who can blame them). The cordoned off area to the Mona Lisa was jam packed with people, all pushing to get closest to it, raising cameras in the air and flashing. The poor guards next to it were powerless to enforce the no flash photography rule, or maintain order and quiet. D and I observed the painting from the side of the chaos, decided it was good enough and moved on. We found some Caravaggios , Raphaels, Michaelangelos and some other beautiful pieces .
With our ticket we also got entry into the temporary exhibit of Rembrants work, and by the time we were done with this, we were tired and hungry. A quick lunch later, we walked over to Notre Dame. The line to get in was very long- curving around the opposing square but it moved fairly quickly. Entry into the cathedral was free, so like all other major attractions there was a lack of respect from the sightseers. As we were finishing our round of the cathedral, a service was starting. The pews had been sectioned off to separate genuine worshipers from tourists, with a ‘No photography’ inside the sectioned area sign. Yet some people still pushed in flashing their camera. I am not a religious person, but I respect the sanctity of churches and other peoples beliefs. D and I stood up the back and listened to the organ start up- it was hauntingly beautiful when I managed to block out the blonde family jibbering away loudly next to me (someone in the mass turned around and shhhhushed them, which left them indignant- some people don’t get it). Next time we are in Paris, I’ll try and go to the top of the bell tower, and re-enact the Hunchback!
Something I’ve been forgetting lately-
We caught a train into Paris, and managed the metro to find the 19th Arrondissement. This was an outer suburb of Paris, full of immigrants. On many travel webpages (this is a reasonably nice one), it is listed as a ‘don’t stay here’ area, which put me on edge a little, but I had no trouble with the local homeless or vagrants. It was a rough neighbourhood though- on a particular night after watching vampire movies, D rolled over and fell asleep leaving me quivering under the bedding as a fight broke out on the street below, topped off with what I hope was a car backfiring.
As D travelled down to Orlean on the first day, and Luxemberg on the second for business, I was left to my own devices. I had heard a lot about consignment stores or designer depots in Paris and went in search of some. A simple Google search came up with many options if one is willing to click links to Vogue forums and Google translate the findings. I marked several on my map, but my first day of venturing turned out to be the most rewarding. Reciproque is a series of stores along a street, each dedicated to different products. I started in the handbag store and quickly realised how out of my price range I was. Divided by designers (Prada, Marc Jacobs, Chanel, Burberry, well you get the idea) the handbags hung on multiple rails, ensuring they didn’t touch the floor. Some were in better condition than others, and the prices adjusted accordingly. The cheapest price I found was in the proximity of 80 Euros but the bag was small, and not a designer I cared much for- I would be buying for the sake of buying. A number of Louis Vuitton or Birkin bags locked in a cupboard fetched several thousand. I felt uncomfortable with the staff in this store, who must have sensed I was not a wealthy collector. Usually I do not shy away from stores out of my range, and do not feel judged but these French sales assistants turned their noses up at me and did not tell me there was a second floor for me to explore.
The next and biggest store was a little friendlier. These were the clothes, and the collections were vast. Again a double storey store, the top floor was dedicated to the big designers and here I tried on a few Burberry blouses, a beautiful Thierry Mugler skirt (this tempted me and I very nearly bought it, but it was too dramatic for frequent wear), a Marc Jacobs dress and skirt, and a beautiful McQueen dress which alas was too tight in the bust (a frequent problem between designer clothes and I). Down stairs was the shoe collection which has an impressive collection of snakeskin boots, and rows of more high street finds or designers more affordable collections. It was here I found my win of the day- a Calvin Klein grey dress which flattered me in every possible way. Its only fault was a loose button, and at 125 Euros, I could easily fix it. After all- I’ve had dresses in this style before and found them incredibly versatile. In the time since, I have worn this dress enough to justify the price.
After a brief stop for an average sandwich which cost me too much (Paris is expensive!) I found the home wares and accessory store, which surprisingly didn’t have much to tempt me, and the menswear store which had a belt I would have bought if it were not far too big.
The Lafayette Galleries boast that they are the biggest department store in the world, so after my depot-diving, I headed here for some shiny racks and new things to look at- even further out of my price range. Paris is very strict about their sales periods, confining merchants to two periods during the year only. It was sale time and LaFayette was packed. I entered into the handbag/luggage section, where I was met with a queue and security guard for each separate designer consignment. Wow. The jewellery was slightly less crowded, especially in the lower end section and I bought some beads for my Pandora and a pendant watch from Agatha. I then spent several hours wandering the clothing ‘galleries’ upstairs where they stocked everything from American Apparel and Juicy Couture up to Karl Lagerfeld and Miu Miu. I had a lot of fun eyeballing the beautiful clothes, and even tried on a few within the upper end of my spectrum, but did not buy any. As D and I organised to meet at 6, I did not discover the entire floor of shoes until it was too late.
The most notable thing about the next day was that somehow I was an hour ahead of myself all day. As most stores close between 12.30-2, I walked to a designer depot at what I thought was 2, only to find it still closed. By 3, I gave up and headed back to our hotel, which is about when I realised my mistake. Silly me. The depot was in a area mostly occupied by childrens clothing and toy stores, so I had a little fun shopping for my niece and nephew- Spud and Pod.
As our location was less than ideal, D and I struggled with dinner each night. By now the novelty of eating out was wearing off, and expenses were building up. In our local area, we had a few expensive Japanese options, a lot of Turkish options, a Sicilian place which had questionable reviews, an African and a McDonalds. We ate Crepes from a Turkish place on our first night, then sushi, pizza from the Sicilian place- far more expensive and not comparable to Italian pizza – and then found a Turkish burger place at which we ate the last two nights. Not ideal French cuisine.
With D now free from business, we wandered through the French centre, meandered up Avenue des Champs-Élysées, around the Arc de Triomph, and down to the Eiffel Tower. We ate lunch at a sidewalk restaurant- D opted for a burger, but I chose a more French dish Salmone Tartare- a daring choice for me. Later we ate crepes in the Trocadero looking out over the tower. The Eiffel Tower itself was cool, but slightly overcrowded- as expected. It was accompanied by the usual swarms of merchants who had miniatures of the tower strung along a coat hanger who would shake them in your direction. Others had them set up on blankets, for an easy ‘pack up and run’ when the police came. The police were walking around with big rifles, which shocked me a little, it is not common place to see men so heavily armed- I would expect it in a less peaceful country, but not the middle of Paris.
We did not go to the top of either the Tower or Arc de Triomph- the lines were too long, and we figured it was one ‘touristy’ attraction we could skip.
In response to my last Blog about her upcoming tour, Kim personally answered three questions in this exclusive interview!
As someone who spends a fair amount of time traveling(not time-traveling, but time on the road… although that would be really cool if you were from the future), what is your fail safe, wake-up-sparkly-and-pink advice to us less seasoned travelers?
… to encourage those of you in America to buy a ticket to Kim Boekbinders Impossible tour!
I have seem Kim twice live now, and she hasn’t failed to impress. I know I haven’t blogged about it yet (slap on the wrist I know) but I saw her whilst in New York a few weeks ago. Her music is fresh, titillating and introspective. It inspires me artistically!
Kim is so impossibly independent she pre-sells her tours and projects before booking venues. This is how I saw her in New york, and how I am getting my hands on a unique vinyl of Kim and Amanda Palmer. She is so impossibly down to earth she interacts with her crowd and answers her emails herself!
Try to spot me in the New york audience! (Ok, I’m having issues imbedding this video, so do it old school and click the link.)
Did you see me? Try watching it again. By helping fund the project and turning up to the concert, I got a free poster, with artwork by Molly Crabapple an Amazing artist. I also bought the T-shirt, because its the cool thing to do.
She sparkles, she’s pink, she plays the ukulele and does awesome things onstage to build the many layers of her music.
All videos taken from Kim Boekbinders Youtube.
Paraphrased from Kims Kickstarter: Each city has a date, the venue will be determined by the size of the audience. 10 people means a magical house show, 100 people means an intimate venue, 1000 people means an amazing concert at a rock club with fantastic sound and lights.
The shows will only happen if you make them happen.
I know some of you are around those locations, It will be money well spent: I Promise you!
This isn’t my Last Kim the Impossible Girl post, expect more.
So to finish this shameless (actually, rather proud) promotion, here is her official press release:
Kim Boekbinder Redefines The Rock Tour
Iconoclastic New York musician, Kim Boekbinder, has set the internet abuzz with her passionate rant about the state of the music industry and how she’s decided to circumvent the broken system by using her vibrant social media presence to pre-sell her shows BEFORE they are even booked. Kim’s first test run of the idea was launched on Kickstarter and she got her funding for a show in New York City in under 24 hours. Now she’s doing a 10 date US tour: http://kck.st/pIcXeH
Ms. Boekbinder’s “Impossible Tour” idea has been featured on CCN Money, BBC Radio’s World Service, and BoingBoing.http://www.boingboing.net/2011/06/14/crowdfunding-the-tou.html#comments. The attention generated from the story has her email inbox flooded with thank you messages from fans, musicians, and venues; as well as offers from internet startups trying to address the very issues that she is dealing with.
Kim Boekbinder is The Impossible Girl; a performer, composer, musician, and visual artist who defies genre. She has travelled the world, stealing hearts and changing paradigms with her indelible live performance and her excitingly original and unforgettable music. http://www.kimboekbinder.com/about/
I’m catching up! By the time we’re home 2 months I may be finished, oops.
Our last day was split between the Vatican museum and the Borghese Gallery. Earlier in the week we wandered through an Impressionist, Expressionist and Abstract exhibit at the Galleria Nazionale we were getting a lot of art education. I did a little study of Expressionism at High school, and was excited to see original works from some of the artists I had referenced, but I think D wasn’t impressed. D however was impressed by the Raphael rooms at the Vatican.
The Vatican was extraordinarily busy, full of people shuffling along eager to see the Sistine chapel. D and I were short of time, but opted to take the ‘long’ way to the chapel, which took us into the Raphael rooms and through some galleries full of Matisse and Dali. Imagine the other tourists missing these wonders! The chapel itself was a bit like the Pantheon- the atmosphere that should have been there was obliterated by sheer number of people. Several guards stood watching, with one bellowing “Silence, No photos please” every time the noise levels crept, or someone was stupid enough to hold a camera within sight of him. It saddened me a bit to see such works displayed like this.
The Borghese Galleries are situated in the Borghese gardens and required us to book in advance. D initially booked for 1pm, which was not bright as there was no way we could do both the Vatican and the galleries. He was then too embarrassed to call up and change to the only other available time- 5pm, and made me do it. Silly D! Walking through the park was lovely, and if we had more time I would love to spend a day just here, reading a book or hiring a pedal car and exploring.
We queued up to get our tickets, then queued to check our bag in, as it was a requirement, the line was quite long- 10 mins at least. I know I sound like a grumpy witch, but what grinds my gears more than most other things are people who cut lines. As we reached the front of the line, a woman jumped in the line in front of us, she hadn’t queued at all. “Excuse me, the rest of us queued!’ I said, frowning. She justified that she had gone up to the gallery, and been turned away and asked to check her bag in, which is the lamest excuse- if she was too idiotic to see that no bags were allowed in given that signs said it in English, Italian and French (she was Italian, and spoke English) then she damn well should queue up! Grrrr.
D and I probably spent a little too long reading the information sheets and looking at the works, as we realised that two hours (the maximum time allowed in the gallery) was not enough time to see all the rooms. We both particularly liked the Bernini Statues - he had amazing attention to detail. We were also struck by the Romans fascinations for rape in paintings and statues. Alas, No pictures allowed.
Dinner was at a slightly pricier restaurant than usual but was very tasty, sharing a foccacia pizza, gnocchi and a few glasses of wine (for me of course). Our trip out of Rome was on the train I wrote about earlier, with the crazy arsehole waking us up.
Turin, or Torino is a small city in the north of Italy, which was apparently the capital of the country before Rome. It is rich in history and culture, but by this stage D and I were so tired, we used the city as a rest period and slept. So we did not see much of the history, oops. Since the nightmare train arrived too early to check into a hotel, we left our bags in the lobby and explored the main street where we encountered a military parade. Many different regiments from all over Italy had come to Turin to celebrate 150 years of unification. This is part of a nine month celebration Turin is hosting. Wow, I have a friend who celebrates her birthday for a month, but nine- its celebrating the entire gestation period! I would like to return to Turin one day and explore it properly.
Next stop, Paris!
First, I am Soooo sorry about the long silence. We’ve been waking up early, and coming home late most nights. Plus we haven’t had internet in some of our locations. And I started a new game on my Nintendo DS, which has preoccupied me. I know, excuses! Here is a bit of an update.
Our hotel was quite a distance from the city centre, but was modern and ran a shuttle to the local train station. Alas, the shuttle service wasn’t actually very convenient. On our first day we asked for a ride but we were told it was unavailable by the girls at the desk. and watched it pull up as we exited the lobby. The following morning, we asked if we could catch the first service and were told to wait outside. As we piled onto the full bus, and they asked our room numbers, we were reprimanded for not having a reservation as the bus was fully booked. Luckily, some people didn’t turn up and we got the ride anyway. Incidentally, there was also a Japanese couple who had been told the same thing as us.
We also tried to book the bus to pick us up that evening (10.15pm).
Pretty, but stupid girl at the desk: “Oh, we usually don’t do that. You should just call us.”
Us: “We tried that last night, but there isn’t a working pay phone at the station.”
PbSGaFD “Ok, we’ll write it in, but you can’t be late!” This last bit is particularly stressed.
That night, we got to our station at 10, and waited until 10.30. No bus. We caught the metro bus. When we questioned the guy at the front desk, he pulled out the reserve schedule only to see a piece of paper had been stapled onto the sheet, covering our reservation. “Oops, didn’t see it,” he says with a chuckle. Yea buddy, real funny when you’re stuck at a station in a foreign city!
Rome was beautiful though. It was clean in comparison to the southern Italian towns, which was enough to win me straight away! Naples had Rubbish piling up on every street corner. “We use too much” our Naples guide explained, as he gave us another ‘fresca’ water bottle each despite D and I always carrying our own.
Our first stop in Rome was the Santa Maria degli Angeli, a church which featured a Galileo exhibit. This was not on our “places to see in Rome“ list, and we were pleasantly surprised to see the ‘science and religion’ exhibit. The church had a giant pendulum and a hole in the ceiling which shone onto the time of day on the floor.
The next day we travelled to Vatican city, the line for the museum was huge, so we opted to book tickets later in the week, and visited the rest that day. St Pietro was huge!
One major factor that irked me, the entire time we were in Rome and later Paris, was the inconsiderate tourists. Entering most of the churches women are asked to dress respectfully- knee length skirts and no bare shoulders. I came prepared with a scarf to wrap around myself. In the queue to enter the security were checking for appropriate dress and pulling aside those that didn’t meet standard. A lot of women bought ‘Roma’ scarfs from street merchants to cover up, but one woman approached me and asked for my scarf on the promise she would give it back once past the guards. Erm- NO! A) the point is to remain appropriate the entire time inside. B) I think the guards are smarter than that, and likely would kick both of us out. C) If you were too stupid to come prepared, and too cheap to buy a scarf, I see no point to help you.
The other pet peeve I had was the number of people using flash when specifically asked not too. After all, a lot of the shots would be ruined by flash, taking away the atmosphere of the places. And it was completely rude, the museum asked for no flash for a reason.
When we finished exploring the Vatican, we walked to Castel sant’Angelo. It had a giant spiral stairwell/ramp leading to a courtyard and galleries. The view from the top was particularly good too.
D and I purchased a Roma pass for the duration of our stay. This allowed free public transport for 3 days, 2 free museum entries and reduced price for the other museums. At Eu25 each, it was easy to get our moneys worth, as Sant Angelo Castle was $8 and the Colosseum was $12, and we definitely spent more than $5 on transport. We then got reduced entry to everything else.
We attempted to find a back alley tourist-free restaurant to eat lunch in- but this was virtually impossible. Instead, we settled for one of better value places and I was able to eavesdrop on the Brits and Americans eating near us. Food in Rome wasn’t as good as the rest of Italy, lots of small cafes near main streets and attractions water food down for Brits and Americans. Food was much pricier, and finding cheap local haunts was folly- apparently Romans don’t eat out in Rome.
From there we walked to Piazza Navona to see Bernini sculptures, Trevi Fountain, which was crowded beyond belief, the Pantheon which was full of disrespectful tourists, and the Spanish Staircase which had the pushiest street merchants. I know we are part of the problem, but these sites would have been much more spectacular if it weren’t for the crowds of tourists.
Street merchants and beggars are everywhere. It is easy to lose patience with them and question their authenticity. Street beggar women appear to have a ‘uniform’. Dark colours, and full coverage- long skirts and headscarves, kneeling in prayer with a cup and note scrawled on cardboard. Around churches are the disfigured beggars, missing limbs or with golfball sized lumps on their heads.
Street merchants are at least doing something for you money, but frustrated me with their pushiness. The rose sellers were the worst. We encountered one nice merchant outside Trevi fountain, who took a photo of us on our camera for free. When D gave him a euro, he insisted on taking a Polaroid of us- his trade. Outside the Spanish stairs, we hit a very pushy rose-seller. He and his mates crowded the fountain at the bottom of the stairs and didn’t take no for an answer. They thrust a rose into my hand, saying ‘Is a gift’ then talked to Darren about how pretty his lady was. D and I made it clear we didn’t want roses and tried walking away, but he insisted I take it. “Three is good luck!” he repeated, throwing another two into my hands, “some money now?”. No, but I may kick you in the nuts.
We came across a Michael Jackson busker at the Piazza del Popolo, who was rather unique. He had three costume changes (jackets), and managed to get a small donation from us where others failed.
D had booked an underground tour of the Colosseum, which was really cool as we had access to areas usually closed off. We saw the underground area where the gladiators and animals waited for their turn. The underground area was actually two storey, with elevator style systems operated by slaves. On the second level, animal cages were opened and final preparations made before releasing performers to the stage. We also went to the top, and got a better view of the Forum (ruins next to the Colosseum) which is also off limits usually.
Next we headed into the Forum and Mons Palatinus, a large area of Roman ruins. Here’s some helpful advice- don’t forget to grab a map like we did. Actually I wanted to find a map, but as they we couldn’t see where they were immediately, D insisted we would be fine. The forum is a big place. Take water and snacks, because it is a big dry place- luckily with a few drinking fountains around.
Stay tuned for the end of Rome and our brief stay in Turin.