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Vintage, Hip Porto: travel guide! Harry Potter bookstore, modern architecture, Bombarda street art.

porto famous swimming pool

Blue skies, Smiling at me… Nothing but blue skies, Do I see.” – Ella Fitzgerald

As you’ll see from the photos in this post, the jazz song seems to have been written for Porto, Portugal! Let me share how I spent the perfect day in Porto — a travel itinerary that includes vintage shops, the Harry Potter library, futuristic architecture, and the best sponge cake in the world.

(PS – but I’m currently in Istanbul and Brussels… follow along on @lacarmina Instagram and Snapchat to see my daily life.)

rem koolhaas casa da musica

Porto is about a five hour train ride north of Lisbon. A stress-free journey, thanks to our Eurail passes that let us board trains all over Europe.

As you recall from this Lisbon story, we loved Portugal from the moment we arrived. I heard that Porto was a laid-back, artsy type of place — and so we came to check it out with the help of Visit Porto.

koolhaas porto music house architecture

Porto is known as a center of modern architecture. We started our day at the Casa da Musica, designed by the legendary Dutch architect, Rem Koolhaas.

This spaceship-like auditorium has over a thousand seats and is bathed in light, thanks to two walls made entirely of glass.

wire sculpture porto janet echelman

We saw more alien art as we drove along the coast. This hovering net is “She Changes,” a work by Janet Echelman. Made from wire, the sculpture pays tribute to Porto’s seafaring and fishing industries.

porto modern architecture, buildings

As we drove around the city, we spotted contemporary buildings at every turn. There’s a renown architecture school in Oporto, and two locals won the international Pritzker prize (the highest honor for an architect).

porto Álvaro Siza Vieira outdoor swimming pool

One of these architects, Álvaro Siza Vieira, constructed this mesmerizing Leça Swimming Pool in 1966. The open-air pool is filled with salt water from the Atlantic Ocean, and the design naturally harmonizes into the craggy coastline.  I felt like a mermaid, perched on the rocks and gazing at never-ending skies and waves.

harry potter bookstore Livraria Lello

In addition to these modern works, you’ll find charming century-old buildings all over Porto. One of the oldest bookstores in Portugal is Livraria Lello, which dates back to the late 19th century.

jk rowling bookstore porto

The shrubbery hides the long lineup inside… Livraria Lello is Porto’s most famous landmark because of how it inspired author JK Rowling to write Harry Potter! 

portuguese bookstore stained glass

The best-selling author spent a great deal of time in Lello as she was formulating her story. The art nouveau meets Gothic interiors conjure up the magic of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

harry potter bookstore portugal

JK Rowling was most likely inspired to put a Grand Staircase in Hogwarts Castle, after seeing the winding wood stairs of this Porto bookstore.

porto fountain, portuguese church

After, we spent a few hours walking around Porto. It’s the perfect balance for travelers like us: no annoying  tourism trappings, and yet the city has a lot to see and experience.

porto carmo and Carmelitas Church

Our guide took us to the downtown square, and explained that this mega-church is actually two churches, separated by one of the world’s narrowest houses! 

Carmo and Carmelitas was built this way to overcome a loophole, which prevents monks and nuns from having contact.

two porto churches Igreja do Carmo

Located the left, Carmelitas has an ornate gold interior. On the right, the baroque Carmo has a striking blue and white panel on the side. 

porto travel blog, blue skies

It seems blue and white are favorite colors here — I can see that inspiration comes from the sky.

porto houses, architecture design

Those classic facades, with swirling wire balconies!

porto cathedral, city view

Our guide stopped at a viewpoint, overlooking red rooftops and the Romanesque Porto Cathedral (oldest in the city). I did a little panorama of this view on my Vine (you can add me @lacarmina).

porto bombarda cool hip neighborhood

Onward to my favorite Porto neighborhood: Bombarda, a district filled with young art and hip galleries.

street art porto, murals

Bombarda is the bomb. Every few paces, we saw giant works of street art. The round cat over-top a heart was my favorite.

cats tails intertwined

Perhaps these two kitties, intertwining their tails on a nearby wall, were the muses.

bombarta art creative shop, portugal

We browsed small, indie “creative shops” inside the Bombarda CCB Centro Comercial.

dog shaped lamps

Locals have all sorts of designs on display here, from Robert Smith illustrations to dog and cat lamps. We also stopped by the CCB cafeteria for a simple yet incredibly tasty homestyle meal.

hipster porto, design stores

I recommend walking on Rua Miguel Bombarda, and popping into the various galleries. So much intriguing art to see here! Keep reading…

More here!

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Goth modeling at Whitby Abbey! Dracula Victorian fashion, vampire makeup & hair.

steampunk model, corset

Happy Halloween, pirates! Are you dressing up for the spookiest day of the year?

To celebrate October 31st, I’m pleased to share my latest magazine cover for Carpe Nocturne — shot on location at Whitby Abbey, the church that inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula!

goth girl makeup hair portrait

As you might remember, I went to Whitby Gothic Weekend in spring 2015. (See my guides to the Goth festival, in part 1 and part 2.)

Photographer Joey Wong and I couldn’t resist shooting a vampire-inspired fashion editorial, right in the ruins that inspired the famous Dracula novel.

horror magazine cover, goth magazines

And here’s the cover, for the fall issue of Carpe Nocturne magazine! Thank you to the team for featuring me — they were kind and professional the whole way through. (You can order the issue through their site, link is above.)

gothic model, female goth modeling

Carpe Nocturne is a magazine dedicated to alternative subcultures and creativity. Their headline is “other than the norm,” which resonates with my whole approach to life.

steampunk goggles necklace, corsets

Makeup details: I’m wearing decadent eyelashes from Velour Lashes — their quality is far and above regular plastic falsies.

My lip gloss and eyeshadows are from Anastasia Beverly Hills (get it here)I swear by my Sigma Beauty makeup brushes, which come in travel size and let you blend and contour like a pro.

asian goth, japanese gothic

I’m standing in front of Whitby Museum. Inside, you’ll find display of artifacts found in the ruins, and other objects linked to the British town’s long history.

la carmina makeup, face, eyeshadow

It’s always a pleasure to shoot with photographer Joey Wong — he also did our recent Love Japan magazine cover, on the frozen beaches of Iceland.

My hair color is by the one and only Stephanie Hoy of Stratosphere Hair Salon in Vancouver, Canada.

goth magazine cover model

Inside this issue of Carpe Nocturne, you’ll find more fashion photos and an extensive interview with me. Each of the Feature Editors asked me a question based on their section — meaning that I spoke about Art, Entertainment, Fashion, Film & Literature, Life & Style, Music, and Technology/Gaming.

la carmina model, hair color

My entire outfit is by Dracula Clothing, who came to Whitby Goth Weekend with me. I adore this black off-the-shoulder Victorian style dress, gold steel-boned corset with a Da Vinci design, and steampunk goggles.

goth editorial fashion shoot

I stood in front of Cholmley House, also known as Whitby Hall. Now a museum and reception area, this building dates back to 1672.

whitby abbey, ruins

We continued shooting inside Whitby Abbey itself. One glance at the crumbling Gothic arches, and you’ll know exactly why it inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel.

victorian mourning dress, goth

Whitby Abbey is a protected historical site, and there’s an admission fee of about $10 US. Here’s the visitor info — be sure to note the closing times, since if you arrive too late, you won’t be able to get inside.

purple hair bangs, goth hairstyle

Could there be any better place to shoot this long-sleeved Victorian mourning top and tiered skirt? (They’re also from Dracula Clothing.)

dracula abbey windows, architecture

Whitby Abbey dates back to 657 AD, when it was a monastery founded by the Anglo-Saxon king. The second version of this monastery was destroyed by Henry VIII in 1540, and fell into ruin.

vampire photoshoot, england

The Benedictine abbey was further damaged by storms, and a German naval shelling in 1914.

gothic girl, dracula dress

Despite the wear and tear, Whitby Abbey has retained its Medieval Gothic glory. The intricately carved arches and mouldings have stood the tests of time.

whitby dracula abbey church

Whitby Abbey became famous for inspiring author Bram Stoker, who lived in the seaside village as he wrote his 1897 novel, Dracula.

gothic vampire modeling, photoshoot

In “Dracula,” the vampire is shipwrecked on his way to London on the Russian ship, Demeter. The vessel broke apart while near the coast of Yorkshire, England…

whitby goth weekend abbey

… so Count Dracula took the form of a big black dog, and climbed the 199 steps of the Abbey. And so, the terror and blood-sucking began.

church windows portrait girl

The character Mina wrote a journal that described the ruins.

“Right over the town is the ruin of Whitby Abbey, which was sacked by the Danes, and which is the scene of part of “Marmion,” where the girl was built up in the wall. It is a most noble ruin, of immense size, and full of beautiful and romantic bits; there is a legend that a white lady is seen in one of the windows.”

outdoor natural portrait fashion lighting

(I didn’t see any white lady in the windows that day, but visitors got to see an Asian purple-haired lady lurking around!)

dracula vampire girl, victorian goth dress

Tip: if you want to take photos at the Abbey, arrive as soon as it opens (we came at 10am). If you come later, there will be too many people mulling around and getting into your shots. Don’t bring a tripod, as it’s not allowed.

And be prepared for people to look at you and take their own snaps as you are shooting!

goth whitby abbey fashion

Walking around the skeleton of the abbey, it was easy to understand why Bram Stoker made this the setting of his horror classic, Dracula.

whitby uk cityscape, scenery

The location is as dramatic as Mina describes it, in the novel. Whitby Abbey stands on the East Cliff, overlooking the North Sea. 

staircase to whitby abbey

There are indeed 199 steps that you must climb, to reach Whitby Abbey from the town. It’s a steep but scenic trek.

whitby gravestones, cemetery

Before you reach Dracula’s Abbey, you’ll come across the Church of St Mary. This graveyard also inspired one of the settings of the Bram Stoker story.

St Mary’s is a Norman church constructed around the year 1110, and modified over the centuries. The King of Bernicia, who signed the Magna Carta, is buried here among other notables.

old british tombstone, burial ground

Bram Stoker wrote: “For a moment or two I could see nothing, as the shadow of a cloud obscured St. Mary’s Church. Then as the cloud passed I could see the ruins of the Abbey coming into view; and as the edge of a narrow band of light as sharp as a sword-cut moved along, the church and churchyard became gradually visible… It seemed to me as though something dark stood behind the seat where the white figure shone, and bent over it. What it was, whether man or beast, I could not tell.

whitby abbey graveyard, tombstones

While it may be tempting to take fashion photos amidst the fascinating tombstones, the church and town asks you to respect this space and refrain from posing in the cemetery. However it’s okay to photograph the stones from afar, as we did.

pink purple hair, dyed hair color japan

Details of my makeup — I swear by my Anastasia lip gloss and brow pen

whitby church arches

After seeing the Abbey in person, it makes absolute sense that Whitby is a world-renown Gothic destination.

whitby goth church, dracula abbey

I wouldn’t be surprised if there were ghosts haunting the remains.

vampire girl makeup hair

I hope you enjoyed this fashion editorial for Carpe Nocturne magazine. Let us know what you think of the photos.

dracula location, setting

I encourage you to visit Whitby and see the Abbey for yourself — especially if you’re a connoisseur of vampires and Victorian horror.

whitby abbey, horses

Don’t forget to say hi to the horses, as you descend the 199 steps back into town! I hope these photos get you into a Halloween mood. Comment below, and let me know what costume you wore this year.

PS: check out my other Whitby Goth Weekend guides, including tips for where to stay and fashion and music reviews. The festival happens twice a year, and is going on right now.

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Asia fashion magazine Kirameki: cover model! Japanese kabuki makeup.

la carmina makeup, kirameki asiatique magazine cover

I don’t often do editorial photoshoots, with avantgarde hair and makeup… but when the opportunity arises, I go all out. Kirameki Magazine asked me to be the cover model for their 10th anniversary issue, and I brought in my talented Vancouver team to create these images.

We’re happy to announce that the Asiatique issue of Kirameki Magazine is out now — featuring me on the cover, and in a spread and interview!

moi meme moitie dress print

I’m so happy with how the images turned out. All the credit goes to my team:

Photographer: Shimona Henry
Makeup artist: Jennifer Little of A Little Artistry
Hair stylist: Stephanie Hoy at Avant Garde Hair Studio, Vancouver
Assistant: Katherine Dockrill

ophelia makeup, hair flowers

Kirameki is a fashion magazine with a theme for each issue. We interpreted “Asiatique” with makeup and styles from a variety of Asian influences.

japanese goth hairstyle, victory rolls

This look is inspired by kawaii Harajuku anime-eyes, and Japanese street fashion. The two hair rolls almost look like cat ears — the look is very “me,” don’t you think?

asia gothic model, japanese fashion modeling

I’m wearing a Moi-meme-Moitie graveyard dress (the print is called Sleeping Garden), bought in Tokyo. This brand was created by Mana, guitarist/leader of Malice Mizer and Moi dix Mois, if you aren’t familiar with it. I also wore this EGL (Elegant Gothic Lolita) dress to the LA Oscars party.

japan goth girl, egl dress lolita

Ankle boots: hair stylist’s own
Tights: Jonathan Aston

japanese hair color, la carmina

We collected fresh flowers and placed them all around the bed. Downtown Vancouver’s Georgian Court Hotel generously let us shoot these images in one of their suites. (I previously reviewed this luxury boutique hotel; it’s one of my hometown favorites.)

swimming pool modeling photos

The Georgian Court even let us shoot in their whirlpool, resulting in these dramatic underwater images!

skeleton swimsuit dress swimming

Black lace dress: c/o Salsit (I wore it in my cherry blossoms outfit post)
Skeleton bathing suit: c/o Little Wicked’s Emporium (I wore it in Bangkok)

japanese kabuki makeup mask face

Forever grateful to makeup artist Jennifer Little, who went into the water to help me float — or else I wouldn’t have managed these poses!

waterproof makeup

Stunning, the kabuki-like mask that she painted on my face.

modeling in swimming pool

Jennifer also did my makeup for Alt Noir Gothic magazine and more. Check out more of her works, including award winning bodypainting, on A Little Artistry and her Facebook.

silk japanese kimono, wet hair

Kimono robe: makeup artist’s own, a vintage silk number.

chinese sequin cheongsam dress

For the third look, I’m wearing a traditional sequined Chinese dress called a cheoungsam. I got it in an Asian fashion boutique.

traditional chinese dress, makeup hair

My hair got some poof thanks to a 1980s crimper. The blue color, cut and styling are by Stephanie Hoy — ask for her at Avant Garde Hair in Yaletown, Vancouver!

chinese cheongsam flowers

Love the mood captured by Shimona Henry, who runs Pin Up Perfection in Vancouver. As the name indicates, she’s a pro at pin up and alternative portraits. She’s fast and fun to shoot with, and I’m excited to do more with her soon.

modeling behind scenes

A behind-the-scenes peek at Jennifer, me, and Stephanie. Wish we could have had a slumber party at the Georgian Court.

Hugs for my team — I love how the photos and concept came together, and couldn’t have done this without you!

la carmina hairstyle, goth model

And thank you to Kirameki Magazine for honoring me with the cover. I hope you’ll order a copy of the magazine — both digital and print copies are available. You don’t want to miss the full spread and extensive interview with me, along with other inspiring Asia fashion features.

Which of these three styles do you like best? What do you think of these more dramatic looks on me?

Art Nouveau Disco Goth! Rebelicious Magazine cover: Angelica Brigade hair flowers, Vaute Couture dresses.

rebelicious magazine, goth cover model

While I was in Portland, I did something special… I shot a cover and spread for Rebelicious Magazine! It’s an honor to be the face of their winter issue, which came out today.

There’s more happy news: my Budapest travel video and slideshow are published here on Business Insider, and the reaction is huge — 150,000 views and counting! I hope you’ll take a minute to watch, and that you’ll enjoy the photos below.

la carmina modeling

My team and I took these images in Portland, Oregon, mainly around Steel Bridge. I love shooting outdoors in different cities, as I feel these types of photos best convey the feeling of a place.

alternative model, goth girl

All of the magazine photography is by Melissa Rundle and Eric Bergemann, who are also my travel filmmakers. So far, we’ve filmed in Budapest, Maldives, Mexico, Hawaii, Belgrade and more! (You can see all videos on my YouTube channel.)

First Mate Naomi Rubin took behind-the-scenes and additional photos, which I’ll share in an upcoming post.

blue hair, turquoise hair color

Aren’t these velvet dresses adorable? They were lent to me by Vaute Couture, an eco-conscious and vegan fashion label. The latest collection is inspired by Sailor Moon — the Jpop colors and cute cuts were a perfect fit for me.

You can purchase this Kristina dress, a Constellation dress and more from Vaute Couture’s website.

hair flower accessories

My silk flower hair accessories were created by hand, by Angelica Brigade.

goth makeup, lipstick

The accessories can be pinned or clipped on, and arranged in any way — including stacking them to make a flower crown. Angelica Brigade customized the colors to match my new hair!

flower crown, japanese fashion

Speaking of — my mermaid hair color is the work of Stephanie Hoy of Avant Garde Hair in Vancouver. The ombre effect is a combination of turquoise, blue and dark purple.

harajuku hair, goth model

My coat is a disco-pimp dream, isn’t it? It’s vintage Alan Cherry (Toronto designer brand), from Portland store Hattie’s. Once I saw the long white leather panels and faux-fur trim, I had to have it.

The cut-out black boots are Yosuke, from Marui One Shinjuku

la carmina fashion blogger

My makeup is 100% Annabelle Cosmetics, a Canadian company. I’ve been wearing them the entire time in Portland.

alternative gothic magazine cover

As you might know, I’m a big fan of Art Nouveau, and wanted to do a shoot inspired by this aesthetic.

faux fur purple scarf

My take on the dreamy, floral world of the Mucha ladies. (Remember when I saw his Art Nouveau exhibit in Tokyo?)

portland steel bridge photoshoot

It’s an honor to shoot for Rebelicious Magazine, a publication “for girly girls in a brutal world.” They celebrate alternative style, underground culture and individuality — all things I stand for.

famous goths, celebrity goth

The winter issue features an interview with me, so you’ll have to pick up Rebelicious Magazine here for the full scoop!

white faux fur coat

Which of the two outfits do you prefer? It’s fun to switch up my wardrobe, in order to match my ever-changing hair color.

blue green hair, ombre dyed hairstyle

No animals were harmed to make this faux fur scarf. I got it at Holt Renfrew.

pimp coat, white collar leather coat

Here is the shot that ended up being the magazine cover.

flower clips hair accessories

The back of my Vaute Couture dress has a cut-out star.

vaute couture, designer dresses

Portland’s autumn colors were too gorgeous not to shoot.

twee cute fashion blogger

Lens flare is always welcome, especially when it reflects teal like my dress.

vaute couture fashion, dress

Thanks to Rebelicious Mag and my team for this wonderful project.

japanese street style snap

For behind-the-scenes shots, jump over to Rebelicious’ Facebook page. Don’t forget to read my interview and order a copy of this issue.

PS: My Budapest travel video is released! Watch as I visit hipster bars, rock out at a surreal music festival, and taste Hungarian food. I hope the Mission Impossible running scene makes you smile.

See my shenanigans above and on Business Insider. Thanks to all of you, for making my creative pursuits possible.

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