Category Archive for England
Gothic punk alternative shopping in London, England! Camden Market Cyberdog, hipster Shoreditch fashion.
London calling! If you’re planning to travel to the English capital, this shopping guide is for you.
Read on for a comprehensive Goth / punk/ hipster tour of London’s most alternative districts, Shoreditch and Camden!
I was overjoyed to reunite with my long-time friend Kat Williams of Rock n Roll Bride (we went to Prague together years ago).
We spent the day exploring two of London’s “youth culture” neighborhoods: Camden Market (Gothic punk rave) and Shoreditch (hipster and artistic).
If you’re in a shopping mood, this post comes at a good time because…
It’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday! From Nov 24-27, there are major sales on Gothic / alternative / kawaii clothing online. If you love dark fashion, I’ve rounded up some of the best deals for you.
You can also find tons of discounts at the following sites. Just check out the URLs below:
Feel free to share / re-post this to let your friends know!
If you’re a fan of Killstar – there are lots of sale prices here…
Morph8ne – click for reductions.
Here’s another version of my outfit of the day (shot in my apartment; more photos of my home here.) My skull and roses Gothic sweater is by Jawbreaker Clothing. The light knit keeps me warm, and the Gothic embroidery design truly stands out!
Now, back to my alt shopping guide of London UK. Kat and I started in Camden Market, the long-time hangout of British punks, Goths, metalheads and other alt youths.
To get here, take the tube (subway) — Northern Line to Camden station — and walk outside. You’ll immediately come across all sorts of alternative stores (such as the Gothic Lolita boutique, Sai Sai) and Camdenlock (where I stopped for a shot of fresh orange juice).
The vibe reminds me of St Mark’s Place in NYC, but larger (there are over 1000 stores). I first visited Camden over 10 years ago, and was mesmerized by the scene. Today, this remains the go-to place for tattoo and piercing parlors, and dark fashion.
The storefronts are creatively decorated with giant shoes, elephant heads, dancing girls, and even a dragon that appears to be twisting around a building.
New Rock has a shop, with an entire wall displaying hardcore stomper boots and leather shoes.
London was one of the earliest centers of Goth and punk subculture, with bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Damned, Alien Sex Fiend, and the Sex Pistols. These influences live on in various parts of the cities, but especially Camden Lock.
Camden is also a wonderful place for food, with lots of small stands selling ethnic cuisine, sweets, and creative takeaway. Kat and I saw a man at a Chinese fast food station, joyously singing “I’m a Barbie girl!”
When I visited, I encountered the Stranger Things pop-up food truck, which doled out fresh waffles. The lineup was too long, so I went around the corner and got a fresh ginger-lemon-honey drink that hit the spot.
Camden’s alt stores differ in quality. The main streets mainly have inexpensive souvenirs, so we gravitated to the smaller, inner alleyways. Here, you’ll find beautiful handmade goods such as this peacock feather neckline. Many of the shops are run by the designers, giving you a chance to meet them and make a custom order.
The shops are constantly changing around, but there’s always a great mix of underground styles. I snapped these photos at Tainted Prince, a Victorian / steampunk / elegant Gothic aristocrat / kodona dressmaker. Kat and I also went inside a few K-pop streetwear and vaporwave / Tumblr aesthetic boutiques.
My favorite Camden store remains Cyberdog, which seems to contain an entire universe of futuristic fashion.
Cyberdog blasted off in the 1990s, and continues to innovate with rave clubwear and high-tech accessories. The mothership (and largest store) is this one in Camden Market, located in a building that was once the living / rehearsal space of punk band The Clash.
(Cyberdog address: 842 Chalk Farm Rd, London NW1 8AH, UK)
Inside, you feel like you’ve stepped into a scene from the Hackers movie. Two floors of clothing, jewelry, shoes and toys, lit up with neon lights and pumping with the sound of EDM.
The space was decorated with cobwebs and other Halloween elements for “Cyber-Ween.” I imagined I was being abducted by the UFO, and posted with the giant robot with flashing green eyes.
I was blown away by the staff’s attention to detail — their makeup and fashion skills were A++. The store goes all out to maintain an immersive sci-fi environment. Note the escalators with flashing rainbow lights and moving 8-bit characters!
True to its concept, many of Cyberdog’s designs creatively incorporate futuristic components. These include space-age fabrics (florescent, holographic) and tech (flashing lights, electronics, LEDs). On this wall, you can spot my light-up mini backpack.
The sweet staff illustrate two of the many looks you can put together at Cyberdog. Whether you’re into Goth, Industrial, rave clubwear, Burning Man, flower child… there’s something unique to be found.
(The store also has relatively “normal” shirts with the mecha-devil-alien logo, for those who are less experimental dressers!)
I first visited Cyberdog about 10 years ago (when it was in a smaller Camden location), and was delighted to see the brand maintain its subculture roots. The staff welcomed me enthusiastically, and I could tell they were truly passionate about underground music and lifestyles.
The Camdenlock store is immense — I felt like I was exploring an extraterrestrial city. One section is adults-only, and dedicated to Cyberdog’s “Futurelovers” brand. Launched in 2012, it sells sex toys and fetish clothing (displayed in what appear to be alien pods!)
It’s amazing to see how much Cyber Dog has spawned, from a small Camden Market stall in 1994. The founders, designer Terry Davy and business manager Spiros Vlahos, named the label after their pet chihuahua, “Chichi the Cyberdog.”
The rave days of the 90s are over, but electronic / club music continues to evolve and thrive. Today, EDM festivals like Ultra are held worldwide, and Burning Man attracts record numbers. I’m personally loving synthwave (future 80s synth sounds) — this devilish headpiece would be perfect for a Perturbator concert.
From goggles to vinyl skirts and O-ring necklaces, the company has a huge selection of items. You can shop for everything from Cyberdog’s website (I remember ordering from their site in the early 2000s!)
Cyberdog keeps a pulse on the latest beauty trends, such as glow in the dark makeup, and LED false eyelashes.
There’s a section for home goods too, and gifts from the year 3000.
I could see the Jetsons in these intergalactic dresses. And how about this fuzzy pink hat?
There were even live Industrial / club dancers in the store… and I wonder what those robotic arms can do.
If you’re in London, ride a rocketship to Cyberdog. Their Camden Market store is full of eye candy, and lets you dress (and feel) as if you’re in outerspace.
The shop is easy to find: just look for these two silver robots guarding the entrance!
Kat then took me to Shoreditch, which has become London’s “hipster neighborhood” in recent years. Quite a few alleyways are emblazoned with colorful murals.
To get here, take the overground to Shoreditch High Street, or take the London Tube to Aldgate, Bethnal Green or Liverpool Street and walk.
Shoreditch is the place to go if you’re into indie and vintage shopping. We admired minimal jewelry, and ducked into a Halloween charity shop. Kat and I couldn’t resist snapping a photo of these spooky donuts by Dum Dums Donutterie (I spot a ghost, Frankenstein’s monster, spider, and zombie eye).
Be sure to stop by Boxpark, a retail complex made from shipping containers. There are lots of hip boutiques and pop-ups here, including The Ordinary (inexpensive science-based skincare). Kat’s holding a pink bag from Skinnydip, the London soft grunge / pastel cute brand (below is more info):
Located in the East End, Shoreditch has an eclectic, artsy feeling. You can find lots of ethnic food here, including a row of Indian curry houses that all claim to have won a “best of London” award.
I was impressed by the street art that runs through Shoreditch. Many of the works have an ear to politics, such as this S&M commentary on “Mistress May.”
“I am an Immigrant” sits next to the Queen of England.
Young Brits have been pondering “Brexit?” ever since the unexpected vote to leave the EU. It’s fascinating to see the notes and art, scrawled in response to these current topics.
I’ll have to come back soon to spend more time in this vibrant neighborhood. I left before a taste of Shoreditch nightlife, but noticed some original themed bars (a circus-themed one, and a Ballie Ballerson ball pit).
V-fingers for a fantastic day with Kat! (I paired my Jawbreaker Clothing skull and flowers wide-neck sweater with a leather biker jacket.)
If you haven’t heard of Kat’s website, Rock n Roll Bride, you’re missing out. She features alternative weddings from around the world, from Victorian to glam rock. It’s the ultimate resource for anyone planning an offbeat wedding (or simply looking for inspiration), and also features Kat’s travel, lifestyle and fashion adventures in different countries. Kat also publishes Rock n Roll Bride print magazine, which we spotted in WHSmith and other British newsstands!
More from London to come — for now, here’s my previous Goth guide to London.
2015 is drawing to a close… Time for my annual blog ritual of looking back at the highlights of the year!
In my 2014 recap (see part 1 and part 2), I was determined to dedicate more of this site to travel and subculture stories. I feel like this goal came into fruition: my work took me to 14 different countries in 2015, where I covered alternative topics ranging from British Goth festivals to Moroccan beauty workshops.
In this post, I’ll share how these projects came together, and reminisce on my favorite memories of the first six months (above is my Giuseppina Magazine cover – here is the whole shoot). I’ve also embedded my travel videos from each destination, in case you missed them when they first came out.
And the year’s not quite done yet… Two more destinations ahead. Find out what they are at the end of this post, and on my social networks (@lacarmina, linked below). Thanks for being part of my journey, and here’s to a meaningful 2016!
My travel filmmakers and I started the year in Hong Kong, where we were working with the new Hotel Sav. I always love coming back to this city, where I have many friends and relatives.
It was an incredible honor to have my own hotel room at Sav, which I decorated with artist Naomiyaki! This “Floor of Love” project appealed to us because it had the goal of elevating a traveller’s stay through art, and giving back to charity.
Check out all my Hong Kong articles here for the behind-the-scenes story of how we made a “La Carmina” room, and what these paintings represent.
We also celebrated Chinese New Year for the first time, in Hong Kong.
Dragon dances, fireworks and food… take a moment to watch the travel video above, to see it all in action.
Next, my film team and I flew to Tokyo, Japan. We were working once again with trip-planning startup Odigo. I had the time of my life at the Odigo launch party with my friends.
We also did stories and videos about the bizarre, kawaii attractions found only in Japan. From the Pompompurin puppy cafe (above) to the mecha Gundam robot, you can see the latest pop culture oddities in all my Tokyo posts.
And above is the Tokyo travel video — Pokemon cafe, Suspiria horror pubs, game centers and more madness.
In the spring, I finally visited one of my top dream destinations: Iceland. The country is like nowhere else, with science fiction buildings and an otherworldly landscape.
My Reykjavik memories include exploring the street art and prismatic architecture, eating insanely fresh seafood, and meeting the RuPaul drag queens (they were randomly performing while we were there).
You absolutely must take a nature tour in Iceland. Our wonderful guides Salty Tours took us to secret spots including black sand beaches, waterfalls and elf caves, instead of the usual Golden Circle. (Here are all my Iceland photos and posts, to help you plan a trip here.)
Enjoy the ethereal video of my Iceland adventures above and on YouTube @lacarmina. There’s footage of me dipping into the Blue Lagoon and taking selfies with plump Icelandic horses!
My white rabbit (Miffy) and I went onward to Manchester UK, where we were working on stories with support from the tourism board. These British adventures included Alice in Wonderland high tea…
… and a pilgrimmage to Manchester music landmarks, including Salford and Sons. (Enjoy the full story about my The Smiths and Joy Division music tour.)
After a train ride through the Yorkshire countryside, I arrived at the seaside town of Whitby. We did a magazine cover shoot at the Dracula abbey that inspired the Bram Stoker novel.
Such fun to finally experience Whitby Goth Weekend, where Andi Sex Gang and other Gothic greats performed. For more photos of the event, take a gander at all my England posts.
I then went back to Tokyo, Japan for a Travel Channel TV shoot. I can’t reveal anything about this TV hosting gig yet, but when it airs next year, I’ll be sure to let you know.
I also got to see the Japanese cat temples, Gotokuji and Imado shrines (featuring thousand of lucky cat statues). I haven’t had a chance to blog about this yet… still so many posts from 2015 that need to go up…
In May, I traveled to Singapore for the first time (it was a year of many firsts). We got insider access at Marina Bay Sands, and ate our way around the city — from high end molecular gastronomy, to hawker center street food.
I still have a Little India and Chinatown post to share with you, but until I get around to it, you can see all my Singapore travel tips so far.
And then, there was Bali — land of temples and spirituality. I thoroughly enjoyed my time here with my friends Cohica Travel, and think back fondly at our temple tour around Ubud.
We also had far too much fun taking a Bali cooking class at the Ritz-Carlton Nusa Dua, with these jolly chefs!
I invite you to check out my Indonesia posts here, for a visual diary of my time on the island.
That takes us up to June! Next up, I’ll look back at memories from the second half of the year.
And what’s next? Off to New York City and Mexico — with partner in crime Yukiro! We’ll be celebrating New Year’s Eve, and kicking back at the new Karisma El Dorado resort in Riviera Maya / Tulum.
How about you — what were your favorite moments of 2015? Did you achieve any goals that you set, or experience something extraordinary?
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!
Photographer Joey Wong and I couldn’t resist shooting a vampire-inspired fashion editorial, right in the ruins that inspired the famous Dracula novel.
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.)
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.
Makeup details: I’m wearing decadent eyelashes from Velour Lashes — their quality is far and above regular plastic falsies.
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.
My hair color is by the one and only Stephanie Hoy of Stratosphere Hair Salon in Vancouver, Canada.
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.
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.
I stood in front of Cholmley House, also known as Whitby Hall. Now a museum and reception area, this building dates back to 1672.
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.
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.
Could there be any better place to shoot this long-sleeved Victorian mourning top and tiered skirt? (They’re also from Dracula Clothing.)
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.
The Benedictine abbey was further damaged by storms, and a German naval shelling in 1914.
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 Abbey became famous for inspiring author Bram Stoker, who lived in the seaside village as he wrote his 1897 novel, Dracula.
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…
… 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.
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.”
(I didn’t see any white lady in the windows that day, but visitors got to see an Asian purple-haired lady lurking around!)
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!
Walking around the skeleton of the abbey, it was easy to understand why Bram Stoker made this the setting of his horror classic, Dracula.
The location is as dramatic as Mina describes it, in the novel. Whitby Abbey stands on the East Cliff, overlooking the North Sea.
There are indeed 199 steps that you must climb, to reach Whitby Abbey from the town. It’s a steep but scenic trek.
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.
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.”
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.
After seeing the Abbey in person, it makes absolute sense that Whitby is a world-renown Gothic destination.
I wouldn’t be surprised if there were ghosts haunting the remains.
I hope you enjoyed this fashion editorial for Carpe Nocturne magazine. Let us know what you think of the photos.
I encourage you to visit Whitby and see the Abbey for yourself — especially if you’re a connoisseur of vampires and Victorian horror.
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.
Where am I? And even… who am I? The answer seems to vary every day — but for this post, you can call me Alice in Wonderland.
During my Manchester stay, I got to experience the British ritual of high tea… in a Tim Burton meets Lewis Carroll environment. Come down the rabbit hole with me, and we’ll journey through the city’s vibrant Gay Village too.
Photographer Joey Wong thought our rental penthouse at the Light Aparthotel was aptly named — because the windows and sheer curtains created the perfect soft-box for portrait photography. Each day, before heading out, we shot images here.
I’m wearing decadent eyelashes from Velour Lashes (the 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.
I wanted my look to be a tribute to Alice in Wonderland, without doing a full-on cosplay. (My haircolor is by Stephanie Hoy – ask for her at Stratosphere Hair in Vancouver.)
My outfit is a little tip of the hat to Disney’s Alice, who wears a light blue dress with a similar skirt shape. The white rabbit necklace is something I made — with a tag from the Miffy store in China!
I met my friends at Richmond Tea Rooms — isn’t this the most adorable English traditional tea house?
The tea rooms are connected to a cocktail lounge, decorated with quirky fixtures like antique clocks and taxidermy animals.
Walking through the entrance, I couldn’t help but feel like I was living in the storybook. The decor takes inspiration from the Queen of Hearts’ royal garden, and the White Rabbit’s pocketwatch.
Inside, a case of homemade cakes and the signs “Eat Me” “Drink Me” hint at what’s in store for diners.
The smiling waiter took us “that way” to the prime tea enclosure, decorated like a garden patio draped in vines and birdcages.
Richmond Tea Rooms was at capacity when we arrived, so I recommend reserving a table well in advance. Ask for this semi-private area, especially if you’re celebrating a special occasion.
Now, the hard part — what to order, from the extensive menu?
The strawberry milkshake was an easy decision, as was the Earl Grey tea. (My steampunk clockwork nail art is by Glam Nail Studio in Richmond, Vancouver.)
There are a few variations on the high tea sets, with names like Queen’s Tea and Alice’s Tea. The chefs can prepare vegetarian and gluten-free options for you. The stacked trays are ideal for sharing, and include both savory and sweet treats, like rainbow layer cake!
All the little details — like a chain of playing cards — make the Wonderland experience come to life. It also helps that everyone around me was speaking in British accents, and pouring tea with their best Victorian manners.
Afternoon tea is something you can’t miss if you’re in England. I was all over the scones, clotted cream and jam.
Cheers to Richmond Tea Rooms, which executes the Alice in Wonderland theme with flair! You can tell that the owners and staff genuinely love the stories.
Japan has an Alice in Wonderland theme restaurant (see photos), but it feels like a commercial enterprise. This, on the other hand, is the Mad Hatter’s tea party come to life.
In addition to the tea sets, you can order a-la-carte items. It’s an opportunity to try traditional English dishes like Yorkshire Pudding and Welsh rarebit (melted cheese and vegetables on bread).
Miffy is my white rabbit for life.
Perhaps you can come here with a group of friends, all dressed up! The staff would welcome you warmly.
Thanks to Visit Manchester for bringing us here. There are so many gems to discover in this city…
… such as the Gay Village, which is where the tea room is located. I didn’t realize Manchester had such a big LGBT scene, center around Canal Street.
Did you know Queer As Folk was set in Manchester? The Gay Village is full of energy — we saw colorful clubs and murals at every turn.
If you’ll recall from my Northern Quarter post, Manchester has a wonderful indie / alternative scene in general.
Every year, the Pride parade takes over, proving why Manchester is one of the world’s most gay-friendly cities.
The sign says it all… G-A-Y, in bright lights! Every weekend, the balcony is packed with revelers dancing to pop music.
The Molly House is more my scene — a vintage-styled, laid back pub that serves cakes, ales and wines. The playlist veers to the indie side, and the music is kept low enough so that you can converse.
Manchester’s city center is unexpectedly small, and it’s easy to get around by walking. From the Gay Village, it took us only about 15-20 minutes to reach New Wakefield Street, an area known for funky murals like this one.
There are entire bars under the bridge, like Black Dog Ballroom. I recommend coming to the New Wakefield area for a walk around.
After a long day, we were glad to head back to our luxe apartment at The Light ApartHotel. It’s a few paces away from Affleck’s Goth/alternative shopping center, and other cool spots in the Northern Quarter. We thoroughly enjoyed this view from our giant window, and free tea and cookies in the lobby.
More from Manchester — including my New Order and Joy Division music tour — in my England category.
And if you’re intrigued by the Alice in Wonderland teahouse, here are my stories about theme restaurants around the world!