Category Archive for Art + Design
Hej from Sweden! I had a “dotty” time in Scandinavia this summer, as you probably saw on my social media.
It was my first time here, and I managed to catch the Yayoi Kusama exhibition in Stockholm. (The Moderna Museet retrospective closes September 11th, so I hope this post encourages you to visit.)
If you’re looking for an alternative Stockholm travel guide, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, I’ll take you to Swedish Goth bars, Viking restaurants, and a special place called “Cum Clubwear.”
I’ve long admired Yayoi Kusama, Japanese avantgarde artist and High Priestess of Dots. Finally, I got to see her works in person, at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet / ArtDes. The interactive installations also created the perfect backgrounds for photos (all these are by Joey Wong).
Yayoi Kusama was born in Japan in 1929, and moved to Japan in 1957. She became part of the Swinging Sixties scene, staging experimental “happenings” and naked parties where she painted people’s bodies with dots.
Kusama’s works were far ahead of her time, and eventually returned to Japan to live in a mental hospital (where she continues to paint and sculpt, to this day). Her outsider status kept her her art from being fully recognised until recent years.
Dots, dots everywhere. This motif has appeared in Kusama’s works since her earliest days. She suffered from hallucinations since childhood, which made the world appear to be covered in dots and repetitive shapes.
Art became her way of working through demons, and giving form to these visions.
Yayoi Kusama is known for her giant sculptures and installations that take up entire rooms. They’re always infused with her surreal, playful spirit.
I’m sure you have seen these dotted pumpkins before. They cover the landscapes of Naoshima, an art-filled island in Japan.
In one room, I stood among the silver balls of “Narcissus Garden,” her disruptive work from the 1966 Venice Biennale. Yayoi wasn’t an official artist at the event, but staged her own performance art piece and sold these globes to visitors for $2 a pop!
Such fun to enter Yayoi Kusama’s universe for a day.
Yayoi likes to play with mirrors, and create “obliteration rooms.” She’s fascinated with the idea of dissolving the sense of self, and becoming united with one’s surroundings — like in her dotted hallucinations.
By walking through the obliteration room, visitors can similarly lose themselves in the infinite patterns.
Joey and I walked into the “Infinity Mirror Room – Phalli’s Field.” When the docent shut the door, we found ourselves in this tiny room, surrounded by an endless field of red and white phalluses.
The “In Infinity” exhibit included a variety of Yayoi Kusama’s works from over the years, in different mediums. Not everyone knows she created cut-out dresses (and modelled them with friends, in the 1960s), videos, and lesser-known paintings. I especially enjoyed seeing her photos from the hippie era, sprawled out in a busy street or cavorting in a kimono.
Some snaps of the textures, forms and patterns found in Kusama’s oeuvre. The Japanese icon is 87 years old and continues to work daily in her studio, producing new pieces!
My Long Clothing x Grace Neutral top looked like it belonged to her Obliteration Room. You can find more pieces from Long Clothing by clicking below:
This “Infinity Mirrored Room – Hymn of Life” had the mood of a shrine. We entered the dim room, filled with water and hanging lanterns marked with — what else? — dots.
The colors shifted constantly, bouncing off the reflective pools and ceilings.
Yayoi Kusama encourages you to take snapshots and get immersed in her art. Joey took this selfie while peering into a hole, which revealed a kaleidoscope of kabochas. All hail the high priestess of polka dots!
Modern Museet (Stockholm’s modern art museum) is huge and well curated. You can spend a day in here, walking through the changing and permanent exhibits. (Yayoi runs until Sept 11, so hurry on over.)
I especially loved the bizarre video art collection. “The New Human” had footage of mandalas, disco and apocalyptic death cults — some of my favorite things! (In this funny video, you can see me grooving with the images.)
Time for some shopping. Of course, I wanted to find Gothic, alternative and fetish fashion in Stockholm.
My evil queen Yukiro ordered me to the wonderfully named C.U.M. Clubwear!
I met owner and designer Dominika Skansen, who designs her own collection and also sources clothing from all around the world.
CUM is a huge, two-level store and it carries every type of subculture style: EBM, rave, pin-up, drag, you name it.
I found tutus, corsets, fishnet tops and other underground accoutrements here.
If the zombie apocalypse arrives, I’d head straight here for some Mad Max cybergoth fashion. Love the metal spikes in the goggles and gas-masks.
What more can I say? “Cum” to this alt clothing store, and you won’t be disappointed!
(In the next post, I’ll show you more fashion from the hipster district of SoFo.)
Summer is the best time of year to visit Stockholm. The weather is ideal — warm, but not overly hot — and I enjoyed strolling over the bridges to the various districts (Old Town, Gamla Stan, Sodermalm).
But as always, we like to go off the beaten path. (This is an alt / Goth guide to Stockholm, after all!)
We ventured into the hipster district of Hornstull, located at the western tip of Södermalm.
A lot of young, artsy types live here — which is reflected in the bright murals and posters. The Pride Circus sounds like my type of event.
I loved the look of Hornhuset, a popular bar / restaurant spread out over three stories of Hornstull mall. Each level has a different design and food speciality, and becomes packed with regulars at night.
I had a lovely walk through Hornstull Market, or Hornstulls Marknad, which takes place by the water every weekend from April to the end of October.
The laid-back flea market is open to all types of vendors and food trucks — I saw everything from antiques to minimal fashion. My friend chowed down on a burger, while I got a Velo Coffee from a bicycle.
We wandered through Hornstull’s park, and stopped at this rather Gothic church (Högalids Kyrka) for photos in the doorways.
I’m wearing a rainbow top by Gladnews, my Sailor Moon jacket, and Ksubi sunglasses.
(You can shop my wardrobe directly from me — check out the listings on Depop and shoot me an email!)
Stockholm has a fun Goth nightlife, but there unfortunately weren’t any club nights while we were there. (I wish I could have gone to the post-punk Klubb Dod.)
We did stop by Synth After Work, a casual happy hour gathering at Temple Bar. The DJ plays synthwave / 80s Goth music, the crowd wears black and the drinks are cheap — what more can you ask for?
When you’re in the land of the Vikings, you must feast like a seafaring warrior. We pillaged through a magnificent meal at Oaxen Slip, a Nordic bistro located next to the docks. (They also have a fine dining arm, Oaxen Krog.)
We started with the “grogg”, or alcohol mixed with housemade herbal cola and ginger lemonade. The old Norse gods would have approved of this nectar!
Oaxen Slip is housed in a refurbished boatyard shed, on the green island of Djurgården. The cool interior design stays true to its roots, with boats hanging from the ceiling and sweeping views of the harbor. Even the art has an industrial vibe.
The server brought out starters: cod and a plate of raw radish, with a whipped sour cream dip. A surprising combination that I’ve never seen anywhere — and it works remarkably well.
Oaxen Slip delivers a modern interpretation of hearty Swedish food. I could imagine vikings gathered around a table, sharing the herring and stewed vegetables.
All the ingredients are locally sourced and seasonal, and simply prepared to let these flavors stand out.
The blackened, cured perch with baked leek and roe was another example of traditional fare with a creative touch.
Berries are tart and fresh in Sweden. I’d love another scoop of the raspberry sorbet with lemon verbena.
Such a joy to dine at Oaxen Slip, amidst these Viking vessels. I’m sure Thor and Odin were there with us in spirit!
On the waterfront, wearing my Long Clothing x Mishka eyeball top. (Get this exact shirt here. and more from the label below):
On another evening, I ate my fill of Swedish fish at B.A.R. Stockholm. This highly rated restaurant is located in the central Blasieholmen area.
I stepped up to the seafood display and learned about the catch of day. Every order is customizable: customers choose the fish and shellfish directly, and it can be prepared in all types of ways. The bartenders even made me special cocktails with local Aquavit, to suit my palate.
We started with the red caviar, which is simply fabulous in Sweden. Ours came with buckwheat crepes, red onion and sour cream. Don’t leave without trying this appetizer.
You can also order dishes a la carte, such as grilled sea bass tortillas, and salmon tartar with anchovies and ramson capers (above left).
Then, a plate the size of my head arrived — piled high with different types of fish! I got to try wolf fish and others I had never heard of before, straight from Scandinavian waters. We added on sides of creamy risotto, garden carrots, grapefruit salad… What a meal at B.A.R. Restaurant Stockholm.
The blueberry pancake was truly the best I’ve ever had. Perfectly cooked, with creamy vanilla ice cream and maple syrup. It even looks like one of Yayoi Kusama’s dot artworks!
More from Stockholm coming soon, including a tour of hipster SoFo, and more Viking feasts.
(If you liked what I’m wearing in these photos, check out more from Long Clothing here.)
I’ve long been fascinated by the mysterious temples of Angkor Wat. It was a dream come true to live out my “Tomb Raider” fantasies in Siem Reap.
If this UNESCO site is on your bucket list, then I hope you’ll enjoy my latest Cambodia travel video (watch here), which includes tips on what to see and do.
I’ll also share the dramatic photos we took amidst the ancient temple ruins — inspired by Lara Croft!
But first, a special announcement. I’m excited to finally reveal that I’m in a new NBC travel TV show, “Better Late than Never” — starring William Shatner (Captain Kirk) and Henry Winkler (The Fonz!) I shot this series last year in Asia, and had to keep it secret until now.
You can see me goofing off in Hong Kong on this major network program, which airs on Tuesday, August 30th at 10pm ET. (Check your listings to make sure of the exact air time, and stay tuned to my social media for previews.)
“Better Late than Never” is basically four elder celebrities on a bucket list adventure all throughout Asia. That’s correct: I got to be on-screen with William Shatner (Star Trek), Henry Winkler (Happy Days), boxer George Foreman, and football legend Terry Bradshaw!
Can you imagine how much fun I had with these legends? There was dancing, singing and costumes involved… Be sure to tune in this Tues, Aug 30 for a good laugh at our Hong Kong shenanigans!
My glasses are by Oliver Goldsmith, whose styles are inspired by Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and other silver screen icons.
Please take a moment to watch our short Cambodia travel video (above and on @lacarmina YouTube). It highlights some of the best travel attractions in Siem Reap, from the circus to the temples.
What’s the best hotel in Siem Reap? My vote goes to the magnificent Le Méridien Angkor hotel. They have a lush backyard garden…
… and modern interiors, inspired by classic Khmer design. The location is also as good as it gets: Angkor Wat is less than a 10 minute drive away.
Le Meridien has one of the coolest swimming pool designs I’ve seen. The waters are framed by gardens dotted with Hindu statues.
Lotus flowers add to the feeling of peace.
Posing with my travel buddy John Skeleton. We also went to Vietnam together, one of my favorite trips.
See many more photos of my outfit and Le Meridien Angkor, in this previous post.
Thanks to Ken Yuen and Sniper Chau for the photography.
Now, let’s tackle the temples!
I recommend going to Angkor Wat at 5pm the day before your visit, to purchase your ticket (for one, three or seven days entry).
This way, you can go inside to see the sunset and skip the line-up the next day.
Our Le Meridien guide took us to a prime photo-taking position by the second reflective pool.
I am not a morning person, but it was worth waking up at 5am to see the sunrise over the towers of Angkor Wat.
After dawn breaks, many tourists go on to explore the main buildings of Angkor Wat. However, to avoid the crowd, I suggest seeing other temples in the morning (there are over a thousand in this large complex).
Walking through the humid jungle can be a challenge, but you’ll get to see powerful trees with roots like this.
Some tourists ride tuk-tuks or bikes, but my team and I had a driver and guide, which made it easier to get around.
The left side of this pathway over the water had Buddha statues. We preferred to take photos of the right side, which was lined with scowling demons.
Our guide showed us the Terrace of the Elephants. It was the site of public ceremonies for the Khmer king and his troops.
One can’t help but smile when you come across these beaming Buddha faces, peeping out from the trees.
I was mesmerized by this long wall of carvings, which depict Hindu devas.
Some of the faces have been worn down by the elements and time, adding to the feeling of mystery.
Words can’t capture the feeling of standing right in the doorway of century-old ruins. The Cambodian architecture stands the test of time.
Anyone can get up close to the structures, and even climb them. Just watch out for the slippery moss.
Feeling like I’ve entered a lost world. There were no other tourists around us, since our guide helped us avoid the crowds.
Imagining that I am Lara Croft for a day. I even wore a braid in my hair.
The fallen bricks are as beautiful as the standing structures, in their own way.
If you only have one day, be sure to visit Bayon with its smiling Buddha faces. You also can’t miss Ta Prohm, the “Tomb Raider” temple with tree roots converging into the ancient architecture.
In the afternoon, I suggest returning to the main Angkor Wat temple. The lighting conditions are best at this time, letting you capture dramatic light and shadows.
A big thank you to HK Express for making this epic journey possible. This short-haul airline goes directly from Hong Kong to Siem Reap, and the service is phenomenal. They fly to Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul and other destinations in Asia as well.
In addition to the temples, you can experience a wide range of nightlife, restaurants and entertainment in the city center. Be sure to check out my Siem Reap travel guide for food and bar tips.
If these photos caught your attention, then come see my Angkor Wat Cambodia video (click to play). I hope you find my recommendations helpful.
And don’t forget to tune in on Tuesday, August 30th — NBC channel — to watch me on “Better Late Than Never” with Henry Winkler, William Shatner, Henry Foreman and Terry Bradshaw! Life can be full of amazement, wouldn’t you agree?
Istanbul Nightlife, Fashion, Hipster Districts: Beyoglu, Karakoy. 360 panorama bar, 1924 Rejans restaurant.
Istanbul is one of those fascinating destinations where ancient history and edgy youth cultures co-exist. In a single street, you can walk by the 14th century Galata Tower, and come across a spread of psychedelic graffiti.
Let’s take a stroll through the hipster neighborhoods of Istanbul: Karaköy and Beyoğlu. I’ll take you inside video-art galleries, and the design stores of Çucurcuma. We’ll end our day with cocktails while overlooking a 360 degree view of the Bosphorus.
And since this is my birthday week (August 17!), I’ve put up many new items on my Depop store! Please take a browse. It would make me happy to send you a package of my Goth Kawaii fashion and accessories.
Istanbul is a city made for walking. At every turn, you’ll find photo-worthy details like flowering tiles, brightly painted walls, mosques… and a cat or two. (I wrote more about the street animals of Istanbul in this post.)
For a glimpse of local life, wander through the winding roads of Beyoglu. I enjoyed seeing the family-run markets and colorful homes of this district.
You’ll come across cats and dogs everywhere in Istanbul. They’re quite well fed and relaxed — this kitty made himself at home, on a motorcycle!
I recommend wearing good walking shoes, since Beyoğlu’s roads are steep and lack pavements. The area is safe during the day, but my local friends advised me not to go here alone at night.
On the popular shopping street, Istiklal, you’ll find lots of modern art galleries. At Arter, there was an intriguing collection of video and light projections. Quite a few had creepy motifs: a giant stuffed bear, a floating dress, a bedroom voyeur.
If you’re afraid of clowns, then you wouldn’t want to come across this gigantic pregnant mime!
Continue to the Karakoy district. You’ll find stores selling handmade goods, and walls of colorful street art.
There’s a funky, hippie vibe to a lot of the works. I just love the energy of cities like Istanbul.
Be sure to find Çukurcuma, a cool street in the heart of Beyoglu. It’s famous for its antique shops, but I was more interested in browsing the hip design boutiques.
I found Totoro pins and bunny dolls in Lunapark. Most of the Cukurcuma retailers are local and independent — a nice contrast to the more commercial shopping areas.
Nearby, there was a jewelry maker, and a comic books store. We passed by the cutest cafes, and couldn’t resist stopping for a tulip-shaped glass of hot black Turkish tea.
Every district of Istanbul has a distinct character. The fish and fruit vendors waved me into Besiktas market.
Pants: I’m wearing these exact Black Milk leggings.
Shoes: Ecco Intrinsic sneakers — love these kicks!
Shades: Moat House Eyewear
Istanbul’s hottest restaurants and nightlife are centered around Istiklal St, near Taksim Square.
We had a world-class dinner at 1924 Rejans, a restaurant that hearkens back to the era of Russian emigres in Turkey.
(Address: Asmalı Mescit Mahallesi OIivya Geçidi No:7-A, 34435, Istanbul)
Rejans was once an Istanbul hot-spot for wealthy Russians, who fled the Bolshevik revolution and recreated their urbane lifestyle in Turkey. Bohemians and politicians alike rubbed shoulders in the wood-paneled dining room.
Today, the restaurant has been revived as 1924 Rejans. The classic decor and attentive staff instantly bring you back in time.
The mixologist introduced himself, and brought out a pushcart of house-infused vodkas. We started with the classic lemon vodka: I was tempted to taste every flavor.
We ordered a round of classic cocktails, each made in perfect measure.
Nostalgia isn’t afraid to meet innovation. I watched the bartender make me a smoky Negroni, with molecular cocktail theatrics.
The menu is tribute to classic Russian and Eastern European favorites, with some modern twists. We started with a delightful spread of appetizers including salads and warm salmon blinis, followed by comfort classics like chicken Kiev and beef Wellington.
A live accordion player filled the room with Slavic song. 1924 is a warm, elegant dining experience that brings you back to Europe’s golden days.
On another night, we had a very different — but equally memorable — evening at 360 Istanbul. Located on the rooftop of an eight story building, this bar / restaurant / club offers one of the best panorama views of the city. (Address: Tomtom Mh., İstiklal Cad. Mısır Apt.No:163 K:8, 34433 Beyoğlu).
360 Istanbul is completely surrounded by windows, which lets you dine with a spectacular unblocked view. You can also step onto the patio to gaze out at the Bosporus, mosques and historical district.
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, with a large selection of dishes that range from Turkish mezzes to international cuisine. On the weekends, 360Istanbul turns into 360Club, with top DJs and live musical performances.
Don’t miss out on the many clubs and bars in the Taksim area, especially in the summer. At night, these streets are full of energy, and venues are pumped up with partygoers until early morning.
I leave you with some illuminated art, from a gallery in Besiktas.
Istanbul is inspiring, isn’t it? I hope this guide gives you a sense of the coolest neighborhoods, what to see, and where to eat! Please feel free to share the post with friends who are interested in Istanbul, and perhaps traveling here soon.
And thank you again for the birthday wishes. I’d love it if you took a look at my store — I’m selling lots of my Japanese fashion and accessories for low prices.
Just take a browse here, and email me directly if there’s something you would like. I’ll gladly do exact shipping and bundle discounts, and send your package with a personal note, photo, and more. Talk soon!
I’m very excited to share my latest travel video with you — about the vibrant culture of Brussels, Belgium!
In my view, Brussels is one of the best places in Europe to be a young creative. The city’s relatively low rents and large number of galleries have shaped a vibrant community for artists.
My team and I captured Belgian food, fashion, and festivals in this new travel show episode, published on Business Insider. Please take a few moments to watch it here and above. Did my “chocolate dress dance’ make you smile?
(Produced by Borderless Media, and all these photos are by them too).
Let’s take a deeper look at the travel attractions we featured in our episode, including two top restaurants, and museums dedicated to Rene Magritte (Surrealist master) and comic books.
(Above, I’m relaxing at Charles Home apartments. Loved staying in this hip abode, right in the historic district.)
Perhaps Belgium is most famous for its “chocolat.” To my delight, I got to learn how to make these delicacies by hand.
My film team and I went to visit one of the best chocolatiers in the city – Laurent Gerbaud — for a sweet cooking lesson. (Address: 2 D rue Ravenstein, Brussels 1000, Belgium)
I was thrilled to be the apprentice of this local master. He surprised me by asking: “Would you like to put on a chocolate dress?” Oui, naturellement!
Laurent had made this design for the Salon de Chocolat, which had a runway show with models in edible haute couture. This corset and bell skirt are made of brown fabric — and entirely covered in chocolate creations.
In our Brussels travel video, you can see me sashaying down the streets, and letting passersby eat chocolates from my skirt. Each of these edible disks is attached with string.
Back inside, it was time to learn how to make Belgian chocolates. Laurent a true artisan who creates everything by hand. He taught me the process from start to finish (with many tastings along the way).
First, I ran a chocolate mold under a stream of liquid chocolate. Then, I had to quickly press toppings into my squares before they set. As you can see, I had many high quality ingredients to choose from: pistachios, berries, ginger and more.
Laurent Gerbaud’s chocolates are melt in your mouth magnificent. This is as fresh and gourmet as it gets — and we got to take home several bags of our own creations.
His chocolaterie is open to anyone who would like a chocolate making and tasting experience. I hope you seek him out.
Now that our chocolate cravings were satisfied, it was time to step into the Rene Magritte Museum. I knew I was in for a surreal experience: this is the world’s largest collection of the Belgian artist’s works.
The Magritte Museum is dedicated to the work of the Belgian surrealist artist, René Magritte. (Address: Rue de la Régence 3, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium). It’s located next to the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, as well as other sights in the City Center, so you can easily spend a day wandering around this area.
Hats off to René Magritte, whose surrealist visions were ahead of his time. I’m sure you have seen his famous works featuring pipes, clouds, bowler hats, apples and other “regular” objects — but in dreamy and bizarre contexts.
In addition to his Surrealist masterworks, there are rare collections of his early Impressionist paintings, photography, and experimental films. The museum displays about 200 original Magritte works from the early to mid 20th century.
I admire his thought-provoking surrealism. This seeming simple painting (of two coffins, bent and seated as if they were having a conversation) is imbued with wit and meaning.
I also enjoyed seeing Magritte’s lesser-known works in different styles, such as this pig in a suit.
“Ceci n’est pas une pipe” is one of his most recognised images. If you’re intrigued by this artist and Surrealism, I encourage you to check out this book about Rene Magritte.
Design is everywhere in Brussels. We loved the old world architecture of the city center.
(My leggings are Black Milk.)
And how cool is the modern interior decor of Charles Home apartments, where we stayed during our Brussels trip.
The location couldn’t be beat — the apartment was right by Central Station. Our Montagne two-bedroom had a huge kitchen and dining area, where we could make coffee and share late-night feasts of waffles and French fries.
Everything was provided in the apartment, including free Wifi, high end TV and speakers, and all amenities. Each room was done in tasteful, contemporary design: wood floors, a cozy fireplace, geometric lights.
Audrey Hepburn smiled at us near the entrance, and Bridget Bardot lounged over my bed.
I encourage you to stay at an apartment rental instead of a hotel, for a more local and spacious experience. If you’re coming to Brussels, check out the fabulous Charles Home apartments.
As you can tell, there’s so much art to see in Brussels. I posed with the Smurfs at the Belgian Comics Art Museum, which is housed in an Art Nouveau building. The exhibits celebrate both international and local comic book characters, such as Tintin..