El Palauet Living Barcelona: Spanish Art Nouveau boutique hotel. Where to buy Goth clothes, skeleton dress!

barcelona art design luxury hotel

La Carmina loves Barcelona! Finally, I have a chance to catch up on work and share my recent travels in Spain. My film team and I flew into Barcelona, and rode around the country on Eurail train passes.

Long-term readers of this blog know that I’m an Art Nouveau obsessive — so it was a dream come true to stay with El Palauet Living, a masterpiece of decadent Catalan architecture.

purple red ombre hair, la carmina haircolor

We couldn’t resist shooting fashion photos in the curvacious lobby and suites. In this post, I’ll also reveal my favorite places to purchase Gothic clothing — including skeleton dresses and spiky shoes!

modernista historical building barcelona

When we first saw photos of El Palauet hotel, my team and I were mesmerized. We simply had to stay here.

The five-story mansion, built in 1906, is located on one of the city’s most beautiful boulevards. Two of Gaudi’s buildings are on the same street, including the skull-like Casa Batllo.

(Address: Passeig de Gràcia 113, Barcelona, Spain, 08008)

barcelona passeig de gracia catalan architecture

The photos say it all. El Palauet is a magnificent example of Modernisme: the flowing, ornate, Catalan version of Art Nouveau.

Principal Tibidabo suite, el palauet

I’m sure you are wondering about my outfit, so let’s chat about fall Gothic fashion before we go inside…

● I’m wearing my new skeleton dress from Rat Baby Clothing. I paired it with a translucent vintage blue dress, and YRU platform shoes. The bag is from the hotel, and I used it during the entire trip.


gothic high heel spike shoes

I’m a fan of Rat Baby, an alternative clothing brand inspired by rock music and Gothic styling. They also make the most delicious shoes, with lightning bolts and spikes.

● Shop their footwear below — the prices are pretty, pretty, pretty good! 

witch hooded dress, killstar

Now that fall has arrived, I’ve been looking at new wardrobe pieces. I can’t get enough of this Killstar hooded witchy dress with dangling sleeves. It can double as a costume for Halloween.

● Pick up this dress online: they make a bodycon version (left) and skater skirt version (right).

skeleton sexy dress, rat baby apparel

Or how about a skeleton dress, like mine? I picked out my favorites, at various price points, below:

leather goth jackets

In my mind, fall is leather jacket weather. I’ve got my eye on the following:

1) Sigil jacket: what glorious symbols! Get it from Killstar
2) This rocker-style one is a steal, at only $48 
3) I love my hooded leather jacket, similar to this

goth backpacks, gothic bags

Finally, for those going back to school (or back to Ghoul)… I thought you’d dig these Gothic backpacks.

4) Witch occult backpack
5) Circular Goth bag
6) Luna the cat from Sailor Moon! 

art nouveau buildings, barcelona architecture

Back to the “Palauet”, which means a small palace in Catalan. The hotel is right next to this elegant facade: Modernism was truly a glorious era for design.

barcelona 5-star luxury hotel suites

The architect of this building is Pere Falqués, a contemporary of Antoni Gaudí. He’s famous for his stylized lampposts and mosaic benches on this exclusive street, Passeig de Gràcia.

el palauet living barcelona entrance

Now a hotel, El Palauet Living Barcelona keeps the rich, decorative history alive.

catalonian modern architecture palace

All of the original ceilings, wood carvings and tiles have been restored to perfection. The lobby is a work of art, with details like peephole windows and stained glass.

(My hair color and cut are by Stephanie Hoy of Stratosphere in downtown Vancouver.)

rose painted spanish ceiling

Don’t forget to look up, lest you miss out on the rose-painted, swirling ceiling. 

glass rotunda barcelona

During the early 20th century, Art Nouveau took on a distinct character in different European regions. In Catalonia, the style had a bold and patriotic feeling.

spain modernism architecture art nouveau

Curves, rich handcrafted details, and organic forms are major themes.

antique grape shaped lamp chandelier

This antique chandelier, which mimics the shape of grapes, drew my attention.

barcelona carved wood staircase bannister

If there was really a “stairway to heaven,” it would look like this carved wooden wonder. (El Palauet also has a fun old-fashioned elevator, where you squeeze inside and close the metal gate by hand.)

art nouveau windows, apartment barcelona

The hotel has six spacious apartments, which merge Modernism with 21st-century amenities. 

We stayed in the two-bedroom Principal Tibidabo suite. When we first walked in, we couldn’t get over the high ceilings and semi-circular lounge!

el palauet living suite

This is my Art Nouveau apartment of dreams. The floral stained glass window has views of the Convent of Pompeii and Tibidabo Mountain.

elegant luxury apartments barcelona

All of El Palauet’s suites come with a fully stocked kitchen, dining and living room, and balconies or terraces that overlook Barcelona. The magic is in the elegant details, such as these sliding doors to the two bedrooms.

beautiful hotel interiors

These interiors feel clean and modern, thanks to designer furniture by Eero Saarinen, Philippe Starck, Knoll and others.

heart art nouveau carved ceiling

The minimal-modern decor harmonizes surprisingly well with the historic stucco ceilings.

occult sigil gothic dress

El Palauet also equips the apartments with touch-screen panels, which we used to turn lights off and on, and play music. They also offer guests a personal assistant.

(My white 90-style shoes are by YRU. They always have fabulous footwear, including the rainbow platforms below.)


goth model, occult gothic fashion

We played around with the beauty lighting in the bathrooms. (Photos by Borderless Media)

modern spanish bathtub

The bathtub looks like a modern art piece, and is surrounded by flower light projections that change color. 

white jellyfish ceiling lamp

Love this lotus-meets-jellyfish lamp.

makeup mirror beauty lighting

Can you see my ribcage? (I might get this skeleton-sweater for colder weather).

curved art nouveau sculptures

I’m sure you now understand why El Palauet is my fantasy apartment! I have a new appreciation for Spanish Modernisme / Art Nouveau after staying here.

el palauet lobby, lounge

Thanks also to Visit Spain and Eurail for making our travels possible, and to Blacklane Limousines for the transportation. I’ll get off the couch and take you around Barcelona’s hippest districts next. 

barcelona designer hotels, espana

What do you think of my skull-and-bones dress? Which of these below Goth designs would you add to your closet? 


Tokyo Ganguro Cafe & Robot Sushi! Gyaru Black Diamond makeover & nail art in Shibuya.

ganguro cafe girls, black diamond gal unit

Dark-skinned makeup, zebra print dresses and massive eyelashes… Yes, 1990s Japanese Ganguro fashion is back!

In this dispatch from Tokyo, my friends investigate the new Ganguro cafe and get a technicolor makeover by the Black Diamond Unit gals.

hello kitty haneda airport gifts store

As you might remember, I was recently in Tokyo for a Travel Channel TV shoot. Although I’m not permitted to reveal anything about the filming yet, I can share photos of the latest Jpop trends in the city, taken during my days off.

Keep reading to see a “cat party” with friends, Haneda Airport’s new kawaii stores, and sushi made by Mr. Roboto!

ganguro cafe shibuya, ガングロカフェ

We’ll begin with John Skeleton’s review of the new Ganguro theme bar / cafe. He writes:

If you missed your chance to see Ganguro girls in their natural habitat (Shibuya, Tokyo) during their heyday in the mid-9os and early 2000’s, now is your chance! All you have to do is take a trip to the Ganguro Café (ガングロカフェ), run by the Black Diamond musical unit that has performed at such international venues as the Japan Expo in France and Anime Expo in the U.S.

The café is equipped with a fully stocked bar, karaoke machine, and darts, and while it may be rather small, it sets off the larger-than-life Ganguro fashion even better. (Address: 2F, Crea Dogenzaka Building, 2-22-6, Dogenzaka, Shibuya, Tokyo, 150-0043)

Yamanba Manba makeup, hairstyle

Super-tanned skin, contrasting white makeup, bleached hair, and impossibly elaborate fingernails are the order of the day at the Ganguro Café. My new friend Alcy and I decided to venture into this latest hotspot and see what all the hype was about.

Staff member Harutamu was assigned to our table, well-coiffed and happy to discuss what drew her to Ganguro fashion. “I remember seeing some Ganguro girls on TV and thinking, Wow, this is amazing! They were like beautiful dolls and so colorful. I’ve never been interested in normal fashion, so this was perfect for me!”

gyaru tokyo nail art

Although the initial Ganguro boom had ended more than a decade ago, Harutamu and her fellow staff members represent the next generation of young people who have been inspired by their fashionable forerunners. She also explained how, while often misunderstood as an imitation of hip-hop style, Ganguro is a fashion and musical sensibility all its own, embracing J-pop and rejecting the common aesthetic that says white skin and natural makeup are the ultimate in feminine beauty.

(Some girls take the look further, with stark white eye makeup and Day-Glo clothing, in an offshoot called Yamanba or Manba. And yes, the spiked nail art on their hands are acrylics, meaning they don’t come off.)

crazy long ganguro japanese nails

Of course, the establishment is also a café, so we had to try some of the food. The signature dish is theGanguro Balls,” a dish similar to takoyaki (octopus balls), but dyed appropriately with black squid ink and and containing sausage and cheese – the perfect accompaniment to the many alcoholic beverages available at the bar. For dessert, we tried the pudding and chocolate cake, both of which were mouthwateringly good.

ganguro cafe makeup makeover

It wasn’t long before it was makeup time. Alcy had volunteered to make the dramatic transition from light to dark, Ganguro-style, and the Ganguro Café “Image Girl” Erimokkori was up to the task, even with her outrageously adorned fingernails.

gyaru beauty salon, eyeshadow

Watching her apply false eyelashes with six-inch nails was quite a sight to behold and, if nothing else, one certainly has to respect the amount of time and effort these young ladies put into constructing their striking appearance.

gyaru gal ganguro before after

To top it all of, a green wig was applied and Alcy had been transformed from Goth to Ganguro.

black diamond ganguro gals

Even if you don’t make the full transformation, if you’re looking for an underground tourist spot off the beaten path in Tokyo, the Ganguro Café is guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience!

Info: Thanks to John and Alcy for the photos and story. You can find out more about the Ganguro Cafe on their website, and also reserve tickets in advance – since the seats often sell out, especially on weekends.

Price: The 3000 yen package includes entry, 1 drink and 1 food dish, and souvenirs. For 7000 yen, you will also get a ganguro make-over and purikura with the gals.

japanese matsuri celebration

What else is relatively new in Shibuya, the neighborhood with the famous street crossing? Well… there’s a robot sushi parlor.

shibuya street view, crowds crossing

Located near Shibuya’s 109 department store, Uobei Sushi looks like a factory assembly line, and there are no chefs in sight. Tip: go early or at off-hours to avoid lineups, since this sushi parlor is popular among both locals and tourists.

(Address: 2-29-11 Dogenzaka, Shibuya, Tokyo)

uobei sushi parlor shibuya

How do you order from this bizarre sushi restaurant? Everyone sits in front of a touch screen, which you can toggle between Japanese and English (and other languages).

uobei shibuya sushi

Flip through the various screens, and press to choose up to three items. I’m a fan of the nigiri selection, especially the salmon topped with pepper. There are also pages for desserts, edamame, and side dishes.

japanese computer robots sushi chef

When you’re ready, push the big Order button. A few minutes later, your sushi will come zooming down the rails on a platter, which stops right in front of you!

uobei sushi, menu, nigiri

Take your sushi, and you’ll hear a beeping noise. Look for this unhappy-faced blinking yellow button, and push it.

robot automatic sushi, tokyo

This will send the empty tray hurtling back into the kitchen.

japanese robot sushi restaurant

You can keep on placing computer orders until you’re full (and drink unlimited green tea). The meals will arrive on different ramps (top, middle, bottom).

The robot sushi parlor is a marvel to behold, and inexpensive too (two nigiri are about $1 US). The quality of the food is excellent, considering the price. That’s what I love about Japan — even the cheapest sushi is made with better quality rice and fish than most places in North America and Europe.

Want to see the flying sushi in action? Check out my video above and on my @lacarmina Instagram.

cat themed birthday party

Who else is a fan of fish? Cats, of course! (That’s my attempt at a topic transition…) My friend Lily was celebrating her birthday, and invited us over to play with her kitties. Here she is above with Luna.

black white cat, tongue out

The black-and-white Noche greets guests. Many of us are crazy cat-lovers, so the party turned out to have a kitty theme. 

pink cat shaped cupcakes

Our friend Xiomara Entropy showed up with adorable cat-faced cake pops. (She runs a “baking with a mohawk” blog, with recipes for original baked goods like these.)

japanese male goth makeup

Atsushi couldn’t resist taking cat selfies with Luna…

japanese goth mens hair

.. who looks a bit confused by the face he’s making!  Meanwhile, Yukiro worked the room with vampire-red wine.

friends with cats

Cats are the best, aren’t they? Soon, I’ll show you photos from Tokyo’s cat-themed temples, Gotokuji and Imado Shrine.

cat birthday decorations

It was fun to catch up with my Japan friends and finally meet Lily’s “babies.”

cell phone cat wallpapers

We laughed when we compared their iPhones. These mobiles are version 4, 5, and 6 — but all with kitty wallpapers!

haneda hello kitty shop

The Japanese queen of the nekos, however, remains Hello Kitty. She has a new souvenir store in the revamped Haneda Airport.

Fortunately, you can order items from anywhere in the world! Browse below; I personally want the Kitty iPhone case.

sirotan cute baby seal character

I had time to kill before my flight to Singapore, so I went around to the kawaii stores and took photos for you.

I prefer Haneda Airport to Narita because it’s closer to the city, modern, and filled with cuteness — like Sirotan the seal.

yellow japanese chick character

If you didn’t have time to pick up souvenirs in Tokyo, you can make up for it at these airport stores. Tons of photos below… click to see
More here!

Iceland Game of Thrones fashion: Princess dress & braided hair! Travel video & black sand beaches.

game of thrones hair, braid hairstyle princess

If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, then I have a feeling you will like these Iceland photos… inspired by the fantasy fashion and northern landscapes!

I’m also happy to announce that our Iceland travel video is now out — and you can watch it here.

(It would be amazing if you can share this post with friends who are fans of the HBO series. I’d love to hear what they think.)

tokyo fashion magazine cover, japan model

Above: I’m honored to have one of these Icelandic images on the cover of Love Japan magazineInside, you’ll find an exclusive interview with me, and a spread of photos taken both in Reykjavik and worldwide.

Love Japan is a publication that I believe in: it’s dedicated to Japanese culture, lifestyle, food and fashion. You can find this issue in various stockists around London, or order it online through their site (the first 20 customers get special gifts). It’s also free to read online here.

During our time in Iceland, Joey and I also shot an atmospheric film of our travels. It’s quite different from my usual episodes, and has more of a music video feeling. What do you think? Watch our video above, or on my LaCarmina YouTube.

bell sleeves top, game of thrones

A big round of applause for my team:

Photographer: Joey Wong
Hair: Stephanie Hoy
of Stratosphere Salon in Vancouver, BC

daenerys targaryen cosplay

I’m a fan of HBO’s Game of Thrones, which is partially shot in Iceland (standing in for the Wall and North of the Wall). What better place to do a photoshoot inspired by the characters?

I channeled Daenerys Targaryen with my braided and curled hair.

reykjavik mountains, photographer

Iceland is a photographer’s paradise, thanks to the clear light and dramatic landscapes. Photographer Joey couldn’t resist crossing the road to capture this mountain range.

mystical fashion magical photoshoot

We got access to these hidden nature areas, thanks to Thor and Anna of Salty Tours. They were excited about our photoshoot concept, and brought us to the perfect settings, far away from other tourists. 

reykjavik game of thrones tour

Since we were on a private Jeep tour, we could go wherever we wanted and work at our own pace. We couldn’t have asked for a more magical location, at this elf park.

westeros king's landing dress, clothing

I’m channeling the dragon queen and King’s Landing fashion, with my wide-sleeved top (by Japanese brand Ozz On, found at Closet Child.

● My long skirt is a gift from Black Milk Clothing, known for their cool printed tights and Gothic shoes. They make the best alternative footwear, which you can find below:

sulfur iceland hot springs

Salty Tours took us to sulfur hot springs, Icelandic horse farms and other hidden spots throughout our day journey. We were grateful for this customized 4×4 experience, which went above and beyond a regular Golden Circle tour.

dried fish racks iceland

We even stopped by a bizarre rack of dried fish, and tried fermented shark! For the full story of my Salty Tours adventure in Iceland, check out this post.

daenerys targaryen dress, clothing, hair

When Joey and I researched Iceland, we were in awe of the black sand beaches. We asked Salty Tours to take us to one, and they delivered by bringing us to this epic, deserted beach.

iceland black sand beaches

How Gothic is this location? Joey set up lights, and Thor and Anna kindly assisted us with the equipment.

game thrones female hair braid

We were grateful for their help — we wouldn’t have been able to capture images like this, without Salty Tours!

braided crown princess hairstyle

The image above should have you humming the Game of Thrones theme song…

game of thrones diy braids, braided hairstyle

My stylist, Stephanie Hoy of Stratosphere Hair Salon in Vancouver, put my hair in princess braids. We looked at photos of Daenerys and Cersei, and she created her own look inspired by their hairstyles.

game of thrones makeup, hairstyles

Stephanie also does all my vivid hair colors, which never fade out. Give her a ring if you want rainbow hair like mine!

la carmina hair color

Waiting for my dragons to come back to me…

waterfall on rocks iceland

Finally, Salty Tours took us to a little-known waterfall, Öxarárfoss. We got to go right up against the crashing falls, and get the best possible photos.

reykjavik best waterfall

Yes, there’s an Asian dragon on my Ozz On top — how appropriate!

braided hair cersei

The mist from the waterfall resulted in a mystical effect.

goth model iceland clothing

It’s pretty obvious that I fell in love with Iceland! The energy here is remarkable, and unlike anywhere else in the world I’ve visited.

horse riding tour iceland

Humongous thanks to Salty Tours for making our dream photoshoot a reality. If you come to Reykjavik, shoot them a email — there’s no better way to experience Iceland than on one of their private, bespoke Jeep tours.

fashion blogger iceland

See the rest of my Icelandic nature tour, including the cute horses we met on the way!

la carmina japanese model, magazine cover

What do you think of our Game of Thrones styling and photos, shot in Iceland? Thank you to Love Japan for the magazine cover feature – be sure to check out their site.

If you enjoyed this post, we’d appreciate any shares! And please take a few minutes to watch our Iceland travel video — there are RuPaul’s drag queens in there.


My cat went on a Stuffed Toy Tour of Poland with Panda Tours! Travel agency for toys in Europe.

For me, 2015 has been all about voyage-voyage. It’s only September, and I’ve already flown to a dozen countries this year.

It’s too bad my Scottish Fold cat can’t travel with me… Basil Farrow always likes to look out the window, his round face full of curiosity.

However, thanks to an innovative tour company, he got to have a foreign adventure of his own. Read on to find out how Basil visited a country I’ve never been to, with a group of furry friends!

Basil and I got an intriguing “press trip” email from Panda Tours, a travel agency that creates vacations for toys. The owner, Agnieszka, offered to send one of my stuffed animals on a customized tour of Poland. 

Basil convinced Panda Tours that he’s a “plush kitty” (the above photos are proof enough) — so I put him in a box, and mailed him overseas. A few weeks later, Panda Tours emailed me to confirm he had arrived and was napping soundly.

And so, the journey began! I looked forward to waking up every morning and checking the PandaTours Instagram, where I could see Basil’s day-to-day activities. 

I’m usually the one posting updates from foreign countries, so it was fun to have the tables turnedI’m sure you will smile at these photos… so read on.   More here!