Category Archive for Fashion
Jump for joy — I’m heading back to Tokyo for the launch of Odigo! Wouldn’t you like to join me?
There’s a rare chance. On Feb 28, I’m hosting an exclusive travel blogging workshop in Tokyo. We’ll teach you all we know about travel blogs, journalism, TV, video, photography and more.
Read on the for details, and photos from the bloodiest, strangest, craziest theme bar ever!
I’m excited to announce the official launch of Odigo, a site that lets you plan an exceptional journey to Japan. You can search for offbeat attractions — such as kawaii stores, theme restaurants — as well as more traditional spots. Odigo links everything together in an optimized itinerary, which lets you get from place to place with ease.
I invite you to sign up to be a contributor – anyone can share their finds on Odigo! And if you’re in Japan… come to my travel blogging workshop on 2/28. My professional photo/film team and I will give in-depth advice on travel writing, photography, TV and video production, social media, working with sponsors, finding a niche, and much more.
When: Saturday, February 28, 1:30-4pm (followed by a round-table and reception). Matador U is giving a workshop before us (see all details on the Facebook invite and MeetUp)
Where: Ryozan Park, 6F, 3-36-7 Otsuka, Tokyo (here’s a map. It’s a few minutes walk from Otsuka station on the Yamanote line).
Cost: Free if you sign up on Odigo and submit writeups for 10 spots. For everyone else, 5000 yen per person. Limited to 25 spaces, including lunch, resources and networking.
Thanks to Odigo, you can easily find info about the most bizarre and obscure places in Japan. For example, I did a writeup about Kabukicho bar, Guinea Pig. Look for a plain building with a winding staircase, and take the elevator up to a door with a barely visible sign.
This underground bar is for those with a bloody disposition. The decoration consists of such nightmares as chains, baby mannequins, and horror movie art.
So, how do you get to Guinea Pig? The address is: 2-41-2 Leo Kotobuki Building 3-A, Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku, Tokyo (all this info is on Odigo!) 1000 yen cover. Opening hours vary; generally from 8pm to early morning. Phone: 03-3209-3455
The bar’s decor is inspired by b-horror movies: zombie hands reach down from the ceiling, and a mannequin in chains sits at a table.
The owner, a flamboyant fellow named Roxy, is hilarious and will make you special cocktails. He’ll also dare you to play with his live pet snake.
Our friends ordered Bloody Marys, while Yukiro and I got his specialty, a mix of grapefruit, rum, and maybe some voodoo potions.
Strange art hangs on the walls. It’s a unique mix of dread and humor in this bar.
And here are all of my posts about bizarre theme restaurants, in Japan and elsewhere.
Some of these bars are one-act novelties, but I can go to Guinea Pig again and again. It’s a subculture hub — there are always interesting people drinking at the small counter.
If you’re a fan of Japanese horror films, and fetish is your idea of fun, then I have a feeling you’ll dig Guinea Pig too. You can look up more spots like this on Odigo.
All of these photos are by Tokyo-based photographer Said Karlsson. He took these candid snaps of Yukiro and me dominating the neon streets of Shinjuku.
No, we’re not posing… we always cross the street like this!
Every dark creature must stop to curtsy in front of evil queen Maleficent.
We couldn’t resist climbing this Japanese kids playground equipment, and striking a pose. Funny, we did something similar in Berlin.
Antics in the convenience store. I’m not sure what we were doing in the magazine section…
We ended up getting special edition rose and sakura flavored Haagen Dazs ice cream. The pink looks nice against my Totoro nails.
In heaven, people feed each other rice with chopsticks. In hell, I suppose they survive on pink ice cream!
Have you been to any of Tokyo’s crazy theme bars? Which ones are your favorites?
I hope to see you at my Odigo travel bloggers workshop, on February 28 in Tokyo! Info is at the top of the post, and feel free to leave a comment if you have questions.
I’ve always been fascinated by how themes of life and death are expressed so vividly, in New Orleans. This is a city where locals party hard, and play jazz in the streets. At the same time, NOLA is famous for cemeteries, haunted houses, voodoo shops and vampires.
To celebrate Mardi Gras, we’ll climb the Tree of Life…
… and then wander through the French Quarter’s dark side. At the end, we’ll take a frank look at the Katrina aftermath, and the struggle to rebuild neighborhoods destroyed by the hurricane.
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My friends and I rode the historic St Charles streetcar to the Garden District, about 20 minutes from the stop near the Hotel Modern. It’s a scenic ride that costs only $1.25 each way.
We passed by grand Southern houses (some photos at the bottom of this post), the Eiffel Society, and the Loyola and Tulane university campuses. We got off at Audubon Park, and found ourselves surrounded by majestic trees and lakes.
“I’m like a bird…” A variety of creatures make the park their home. We spotted a Great Egret soaring above the water, and a mother duck with a row of babies swimming behind her. Do you see the squirrel on my left?
This land was once a plantation. In 1871, the city purchased it, and made it into a park. It’s named after John James Audubon, an artist / naturalist who lived in New Orleans at the time.
The more time I spent in New Orleans, the more sides I saw of the city. I wish I could have stayed longer, to explore more of the outer neighborhoods and nature sites.
Like Elaine from Seinfeld, I don’t use the word “breathtaking” lightly… but it seems like the right word to describe this pathway, shaded by Southern oak trees.
The twisting branches and soft, mossy canopies are a quintessential part of Louisiana’s landscape.
After walking for about 15 minutes, we reached the Tree of Life. This immense oak is the size of a building, and the branches dip to the ground — the ultimate invitation for climbing.
Beneath these powerful, century-old branches, you can’t help but admire nature’s grandeur.
I braided part of my hair, to show the contrast between purple and blue, over red. My hairstylist is Stephanie Hoy at Vancouver’s Stratosphere salon.
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The Tree of Life is a popular spot for couples to get married. According to legend, someone planted this tree to honor his new wife, during the days when Audubon Park was a plantation.
Molly (who took the photos of me in NOLA) says “I know nothing about Audubon Park from a history angle, but let’s just discuss how much fun I had climbing that tree.”
– I turned of the knobs into a make-shift hanger for my handbag. (It’s by Paule Ka and available here.)
Molly tried out some pole and yoga moves on the branches.
Nature makes the best seat in the house.
The trailing fringe from my dress mimics the strands of Spanish moss, hanging down from the trees.
Next to the tree of life is Audubon Zoo. The giraffes are so tall that you can see their heads poking out from above the fence!
It’s disappointing when visitors to New Orleans never leave the French Quarter. Less than 30 minutes away, Audubon Park is a joyful place that shows a different slice of life.
The surrounding homes are stately antebellum mansions with columns and gardens. Since the Quarter and the Garden District are located on high ground, these upscale areas escaped the devastating flooding from Hurricane Katrina.
Molly and I felt it was important to see the areas of New Orleans that were most heavily hit by Katrina. Taxi driver David Hammer gave us a 3-hour personal tour, which took us to the Lower 9th Ward, the breached levees, and more. (To arrange for one of his city tours, phone David: 503 931 0323)
A local who is versed in the history of New Orleans, David didn’t shy away from speaking about the ongoing problems with rebuilding. We saw homes marked with “X-Codes” or “Katrina crosses,” which rescuers used to indicate if there were hazards or deaths within.
Ten years after Katrina, many of these neighborhoods remain destroyed. Some homeowners came back and tried to rebuild, but lack of funds forced them to abandon their properties. We drove on bumpy roads, warped by the water. We passed overgrown and empty lots, followed by temporary housing, followed by ghost-houses like the one above — hazards for vermin, squatters and other dangers.
Molly reflects, “It was really painful to see a house, then a space where a house used to be, then a house, then more space. I kept thinking about what it must be like to come home to a house next to a space. Was it lonely? Scary? Do you wonder if Katrina will happen again? I used to not understand why someone wouldn’t come home if you could, but now, I think how do you come back to a place that completely fell apart? Aren’t there times where you just have to start over?”
“So, I guess what I mean is that both the spaces and the rebuilding make sense to me.” Yet there is still so much that needs to happen, before these neighborhoods are livable again. There’s a lot more one can say about the impact of Hurricane Katrina, but I’ll wrap up with the photo above: a reconstruction attempt that was abandoned probably due to lack of funding, and left as a decaying shell.
That feeling of life, death and all the areas in between come to the forefront at night, in New Orleans. Not far from Jackson Square, you can buy a hot buttered rum to go (alcohol is allowed in the streets here), and walk right up to the banks of the Mississippi River. Yes, that’s a rainbow on the top right.
The streetlights give off an eerie glow. They illuminate the history of the city, from old rail tracks to new hotels.
The castle-like Saint Louis Cathedral is the oldest in North America, established in 1720. A horse and carriage raced across, taking us back several centuries.
The spirit of Mardi Gras haunts the city all throughout the year. A feathered mask peers out of a window.
I was keen to learn more about voodoo, which has roots in African spiritual/folk traditions, and took on a life of its own in Louisiana. We popped into Reverend Zombie’s Voodoo shop (723 St Peter St), which offers readings and rituals.
Gris gris (talismans or amulets), voodoo dolls, and powerful queens like Marie Laveau are part of this tradition. While some of New Orleans’ voodoo shops have a touristy feeling, there is a tangible power in the masks and dolls we saw..
I was in my element, visiting these occult, spiritual, witchcraft and esoteric shops.
Another way to experience the darkest side of New Orleans is by joining a ghost, vampire, cemetery and voodoo tour. Some are on the cheesier side, so I recommend doing your research and looking for niche tours run by insiders.
How spooky is this image of New Orleans? It’s a marble statue of Jesus with hands aloft, casting an ominous shadow onto St Louis Cathedral.
Don’t be surprised if you run into skeleton hands and witchy-women, in the streets of the Quarter.
Vampires are a major part of the culture of New Orleans. This city is not just a setting, but almost a character in the novels of Anne Rice (Interview with the Vampire, Queen of the Damned) and Poppy Z Brite (Lost Souls).
We visited Boutique du Vampyre (709 St Ann St), a collection of all things bloody (fangs, candles, handcrafted gifts).
There’s also a strong vampire subculture here in New Orleans. Members belong to Houses, and some engage in ritual blood-drinking.
I leave you with the stray cats of Jackson Square. Quite fitting that cats are associated with witches and the spiritual world.
I hope you’ll come to New Orleans, one of the most fascinating cities I’ve ever encountered. Joyeux Mardi Gras, everyone!
Do you remember when I visited Torso Vintages, the famed San Francisco purveyors of vintage fashion? I was swept away by their museum-like collection of hats, robes, purses and jewelry from past eras. If only I could play dress-up with their wardrobe…
Thanks to my dear Trevor and the staff of Torso Vintages, this fashion fantasy became reality. Enjoy this very special shoot, featuring a floral kimono, Issey Miyake set, and beautiful flowers!
San Francisco was a tad rainy, so Trevor and I scouted out an indoor location. We settled on the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park — a Victorian greenhouse that looks like something out of American Horror Story. Neither of us had ever been here before, which added to the anticipation.
This lush setting was a perfect match for the kimono and purse, which are decorated with flower and leaf motifs. Trevor was my stylist and photographer for the day (you can see more on his Instagram). Love the shape of the fringe top that he picked out for me.
The Conservatory of Flowers is a treasure chest of rare flowers and plants. The skeleton structure dates back to 1878, making it the oldest in America.
The wings have different climates and themes: Lowland Tropics, Highland Tropics, Aquatic Plants and more.
Trevor sits on a bench in the Potted Plants room, which was probably our favorite. We wished we could sit here all day, reading or meditating.
In the Victorian era, upper-class collectors would display their exotic plants in greenhouses like this.
This round picture-window created the perfect frame for my Torso Vintages kimono.
For my second look, I wore a dark purple Issey Miyake pleated top, jacket and skirt. The Japanese designer is famous for his high-tech, pleated garments.
Close-up on the sleeves. What an intriguing, custom fabric. (You can get a similar Issey Miyake jacket here.)
Pleats, please! The first outfit is traditional, the second futuristic, and both are quintessentially Japanese.
I wish I knew more about plant species (I confess I have a bit of a black thumb). I was mesmerized by the hundreds of exotic varieties in the Conservatory, like this trumpet-shaped one.
Follow me, and I’ll show you more marvels…
… like heart-shaped leaves. Look at the delicate veins and strands.
It’s intriguing to see the influence of nature on man-made designs. Love the big collar, paneled skirt and shell-like curves of Issey Miyake’s coordinate.
Trevor and I could have taken a thousand photos inside the Conservatory. Those colors and patterns!
We kept remarking at how fresh the air was. I felt like my lungs had been cleansed from the inside out.
It’s a jungle in there. Towering, living, breathing.
The green theme matched my current hair color: an ombre that flows from blue to purple to magenta. My hairstyle / color is by extraordinarily talented Stephanie Hoy, stylist at Stratosphere Salon in Vancouver.
I didn’t want to “leave”…
Details of this magnificent bracelet, which looks at home next to purple orchids.
Trevor picked out this velvet purse to match. The flowers and fashion make magic together, don’t you think?
Explosive flowers… it was a vintage dream come true. Thank you, Trevor and Torso Vintages, for making this shoot happen!
There’s a lot to enjoy in San Francisco, no matter what type of traveler you are. (Here are all my SF travel tips, to help you plan a trip).
The Conservatory of Flowers is a perfect example of a place that anyone can enjoy.
It’s open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am – 4:30pm, and admission is between $2-8. Address: 100 John F Kennedy Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118. More info on their website.
Another look at my blue-purple-red hair. I’m wearing an animal-print bathrobe — these are found in all Kimpton Hotels. (Remember when Rose and I wore these robes at the Seattle Kimpton?)
I stayed at the Prescott San Francisco, a boutique hotel in the SOMA district. It’s part of Kimpton, one of my favorite hotel groups. I particularly look forward to chatting with the staff — they give personalized recommendations, and wear bow ties!
My room was big enough for Trevor to spread out all the clothing he borrowed. The close-up of the purse reveals all the intricate detailing.
I wore long, black silk gown from Torso Vintages for the daily cocktail hour. That’s right: free local wines and cheeses. Yet another reason I heart Kimpton.
Kimpton’s decor has an Art Deco feel — yet the rooms are modern and the WiFi is fast.
The recently renovated Palomar has an artsy, hipster vibe.
The decoration is all about big, eye-catching visuals.
We had dinner upstairs at Dirty Habit, an inventive new restaurant that specializes in craft cocktails.
We’re adventurous drinkers, and tried the cocktail with a porcini mushroom infusion. Weird, in a great way.
Dirty Habit has a laid-back vibe and young clientele. The clockwork gears on the wall are a draw for Steampunk lovers.
The menu is constantly changing, and is a mix of fine favorites (like seared scallops) and unexpected combinations (how about yuzu and bacon crumble on coffee cream?). For dessert, we had a memorable Pavlova with madras curry. It doesn’t sound like a combination that would work, and yet it does.
It was a short trip to SF, but a fun one! I also did a TV interview with ABC Nightline while I was here, in case you missed it.
Do you wear vintage? What do you think of Torso’s couture collections?
Poor panda. Looks like he’s crying because I’m hugging him too hard!
Hong Kong’s contemporary design scene used to be scattered around the city. But now, there’s a massive glass building – PMQ in Central – that puts over 100 artists, fashion designers and chefs under one roof.
PMQ’s industrial architecture and pop art mural (by artist D*face) are easy to find. The address: No.35 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong Island
PMQ’s aim is to nurture young designers. Rent is high in Hong Kong, but this building gives them an affordable space to showcase their works. In return, the artists have an “open-door” policy to the public, meaning anyone is welcome to come in and even take photos.
PMQ opened in spring 2014, and already, most of the studios are occupied. My team and I love this creative hub so much that we visited three times.
Set aside at least a few hours to explore all the little shops and studios. If you’re short on time, I recommend heading straight to one of my favorites: The Refinery HK, a colorful and poppy fashion boutique.
Here, you’ll find unique quality accessories like pancake and taiyaki (fish waffle) bags. The Refinery HK carries various select brands, from both Hong Kong and worldwide designers.
The boutique is curated by London designer Elizabeth Lau, who also has her own witty and playful fashion line.
She had just gotten back from a buying trip to Paris Fashion Week. Every season, she hunts for creative pieces like the earrings above.
Elizabeth styled me in this outfit. Can’t get enough of the “Where’s Waldo” hat with a veil.
In a city dominated by big brands, it’s a relief to see this spotlight on indie design. We saw yellow ribbons tied to the front of this jewelry shop, in support of the Occupy Hong Kong movement.
John Skeleton wears one of these ribbons to support the student protesters. (Photos by me, Eric Bergemann and Melissa Rundle).
PMQ stands for Police Married Quarters, since this was the previous incarnation of this site. Remnants of the historic building remain, such as an underground tunnel that show the old foundations.
In urban Central, this courtyard is a welcome green space. The design is modern, while the Chinese bamboo adds a relaxing atmosphere.
I squished another panda at the Chocolate Rain studio and store in PMQ.
As you’ve seen in my other travel guides to Hong Kong, “kawaii” cute design is big here. Chocolate Rain’s original mascots are on every imaginable piece of merchandise: toys, stationery, clothing, home goods.
The gallery space is all about interaction. Customers can take lessons on sewing, painting, doll-making, and more. The restaurant Eat & Play encourages fun with food, through cooking classes.
How cool to see founder and designer, Prudence, painting designs right at the table.
Chocolate Rain and I are currently taking part in a hotel decoration project in Hong Kong. Keep your eyes peeled for announcements, and maybe you can join us for the opening next year.
PMQ’s artists work in different mediums, from bamboo to glass. Melissa got this unique lotus necklace in a Japanese ceramic studio.
If only I could show you photos from inside each store! I hope these visuals give you a sense of the fun, high-quality designs that you can find at PMQ.
The art hub is also home to several creative new restaurants. My friends and I were invited to brunch at Aberdeen Street Social. In the words of John Skeleton, “It’s the perfect place to have a relaxed meal, and take a break from the fast pace of Hong Kong city life.”
This is the latest venture of Michelin-starred British chef Jason Atherton, a protege of Gordon Ramsay. The restaurant concept encourages socialization, hence the name.
Two huge floors with outdoor terraces, set in a green garden — unheard of, in Hong Kong!
We started with a trifecta of fresh fruit and vegetable juices.
Atherton’s modern British cuisine takes the stuffiness out of fine dining. His brunch menu is a home-run of favorites, including the lobster benedict above.
John praises the “simple fare like the avocado on toast with poached eggs, to the amazing flatbreads featuring ingredients such as London cured smoked salmon, Iberico ham, and king oyster mushrooms.”
Save room for the house-made pastries, like the Sweet Social Cheesecake and Matcha Mascarpone (my personal favorite). And you can’t leave without trying at least one creative cocktail. I enjoyed the Indian-flavored cocktail with a papadum (above), and “What The Doctor Ordered,” served with a pill jar and prescription.
I also ate at PMQ’s Chinese restaurant, Sohofama – here’s my review.
It’s obvious why PMQ is one of my favorite places to visit in Hong Kong. I’ll be back in HK soon for a new project and video… stay tuned for more!