Category Archive for Fashion
If you’ve been following my Instagram, you’ll know that I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Singapore!
The city is known for having big malls, indoor attractions, and nothing too gritty. But is there an indie, alternative side to Singapore?
Let’s see what I found out. It may surprise you. (And in case you’re wondering, my hat is from here.)
Singapore is packed with big-name accommodations, but when I researched them, most felt rather hollow. I wanted a more artistic, authentic experience — and found this at Naumi Hotel. (Address: 41 Seah Street, Singapore.)
Naumi is an award-winning boutique hotel that puts you in a playful, art-filled atmosphere. “Naumi” refers to a fairy-like spirit who lives in these halls, adding a special energy to your stay.
These chic touches include holographic paintings in the hallways, and fun messages on the walls like “Dance with Me.”
The 73 rooms are spacious and have a modern, Asian-influenced design. Naumi knows how to make her guests happy… all of the room snacks and alcohol are free, and there’s a cocktail hour every afternoon!
Several of the rooms have theme designs. My favorite was the Andy Warhol suite, which looked like a funky New York penthouse.
That day, my “Age of Aquarius” outfit was a proper match for the Factory Girl decor!
What I wore:
– Montana black hat from Lack of Color Australia
– Round hippie sunglasses by John Lennon
– Zodiac top from Pretty Attitude (they also sent me the Goth Pentagram swimsuit that you loved so much.)
Shop my 1960s style below:
Despite the Mod Sixties vibe — how cool is the soup bowl bathtub! — Naumi is equipped with today’s technology. I had an Apple TV and fast Wifi, and even the option to rent a video game console.
The rooftop is not to be missed: there’s a bar and infinity pool! I had the space to myself, and a grand view of the Singapore Flyer Ferris wheel.
Trust me — this infinity pool is better than the famous one at Marina Bay Sands, which is overrun with children.
Looks like the resident fairy left some street art for me to find! I loved the playful attitude of this hotel. The location is also ideal — right next to Raffles, and 20 minutes from Changi International Airport.
Shout out to the friendly staff, for making my stay at Naumi Hotel a pleasure. In an upcoming post, I’ll show you their Naumi Liora branch in Chinatown as well.
I was within walking distance of Haji Lane, a narrow street lined with psychedelic murals, hipster cafes and vintage shops. Young locals come here to chill with friends, and look for handmade items that you won’t find in the big malls.
My 1960s look of the day went well with the Haji Lane hippie atmosphere. “Going Om” is about right.
Even my Hindu / Buddhist / Sanskrit nail art fit the theme. These gel nails are by Glam Nail Studio, award winning Japanese artists in Vancouver.
This road is located near Arab Street, and you’ll see shisha bars amidst the colorful storefronts. Singapore’s ethnic neighborhoods are worth visiting; I’ll later show you Little India, Chinatown and more.
Photographer Ken Yuen and I wandered by a cafe called Selfie Coffee, which prints your portrait on a latte. We had never seen this type of store before, and simply had to give it a try.
The staff handed me an iPhone, and I took a self-snap. Then, with a secret process that they wouldn’t let us witness, the barista printed my edible selfie in color, on top of an iced coffee drink.
Pretty neat, isn’t it? Although it felt zombie-ish to drink my brains from a straw…
Haji Lane is a longer street than you may expect. I popped into the cute artisan and vintage boutiques, run by local designers.
A lot of Singapore feels hectic and high-tech, but Haji Lane has the opposite vibe — as epitomized by this lazy cat.
Inside this craft and home goods store, I found Scottish Fold cats in tea-cups.
I encourage you to support local, indie designers by shopping on Haji Lane! Bring your camera, as you’ll want to take snapshots of the bright walls and murals.
Since we were a short taxi ride from Orchard Road, we went to check out this famous shopping area. I confess I’m not interested in 95% of Orchard Road’s malls, which sell international brands that you can find anywhere in the world (like Nike and Zara.)
However, *SCAPE Youth Mall takes a different approach. This building is run by a non-profit organisation whose mission is to support young talent and leadership. (Address: 2 Orchard Link, Singapore)
*SCAPE is the site of various community programs that nurture burgeoning dancers, filmmakers, musicians and other artists.
We saw a group of teenagers working together on choreography. On another floor, a team was making posters with empowerment messages like “dream it, live it”.
In addition to workshop studios, *SCAPE has shops and restaurants for hanging out. An entire floor held youth recreation centers — something I’ve never seen elsewhere in Asia. Teens are welcome to drop in for film screenings, play pool and video games, and practice Kendama (a cup and ball catcher toy, above).
Nestled by the big malls is Keepers Singapore Design Collective, which sells fashion made only by local and independent designers. The store carries small-batch treats too, like nougat and popsicles. (Address: 230 Orchard Rd, at Orchard Green and Cairnhill Road)
At Keepers, you’ll find designs such as silk blue dresses with asymmetrical collars, and clockwork statement necklaces.
This Collective also lets shoppers get to know Singapore artisans with talks, exhibitions and other creative showcases.
I poked my head into a few more Orchard Road malls, just to see what they were like. I wasn’t impressed by the big-box shopping selection, but saw some fun optical illusion art and cute displays.
And… we discovered that there is a new Singapore Line Friends store!
I have a soft spot for this bear character, especially when he does this morose “finger tips together” signature pose. Remember when we went to the Line Friends Harajuku shop, and I hugged a giant Brown?
We ended this spectacular day with dinner at Burnt Ends, a modern barbeque restaurant that is lauded as one of the best dining experiences in Singapore. The charred-looking exterior hints at what is in store for me.
We sat down at a long counter top table, which looks right into the open kitchen. Australian Chef Dave Pynt prepared a selection of plates right in front of us. My mouth watered as I watched him smoke up ingredients in custom built ovens and on elevation grills.
What I wore:
Burnt Ends’ menu changes daily and uses only the freshest ingredients, including wines from family-run wineries. I recommend that you let the chef prepare whatever he feels is best.
Chef Pynt started us off with a smoked quail egg topped with caviar, a tasty burst in our mouths. His specialties are, of course, the proteins: slow roasted, baked, and coal-grilled to primal perfection.
The photos above aren’t exactly “Instagram-friendly” — but they were some of the best dishes we had in Singapore. The top shows a charred marshmallow on a stick. I’d return just for another bite of the juicy sesame chicken at the bottom.
Burnt Ends has mastered the fine balance of charred exteriors and moist interiors. One of their specialties is a Onglet hangar steak, with bone marrow infused bread on the side.
We ended with a palate-cleansing mint chocolate dessert, and flamed creme brulee. Out of all the meals we ate in Singapore, we’re most looking forward to coming back to Burnt Ends again.
Did my travel stories give you a different perspective of Singapore? If you’ve been here, what did you enjoy most about your visit?
I’m pleased you enjoyed my first report from Whitby Goth Weekend 2015! It was my first time at this massive British alt music and culture festival, and the entire town was filled with dark inspiration.
Let’s continue this WGW series with style snaps of attendees, a browse through the fashion bazaars…
(Find Goth corsets, boots and more below)
… and a review of the Goth and Glam musical performances.
Whitby is a seaside town in Yorkshire (northern England). At first, this seems to be a bizarre location for a Goth music and culture festival.
However, when you witness the dramatic skies, crashing waves and Dracula abbey on the horizon, it all makes sense.
Photographer Joey Wong spotted this appropriately black cat, giving us the evil eye.
We were glad to have a quaint, comfortable place to relax between the various Goth concerts and activities.
Staying with Sykes Cottages meant we got to experience “country living,” yet stay within walking distance to the center of Whitby. And we weren’t at all “roughing it” — the cottage rental had several bathrooms and a fully stocked modern kitchen.
I recommending finding accommodations through their site, if you’re coming to Whitby Goth Weekend. If only my ghost could linger here longer!
We spent most of our time at the Spa Pavilion, where the live music takes place. The Spa also has a cafeteria and multiple halls filled with vendors.
As I noted before, you’ll have to climb a steep flight of stairs to reach the Spa, so wear appropriate footwear…
The Spa is also the best place to people-watch. We were stunned by this gentleman’s DIY steampunk suit. Those clockwork gears and details!
He even rigged the outfit so that at the press of a button, steam emanated from the top of his headpiece.
We saw an enormous variety of fashion at WGW — carnival, cyber, Goth, deathrock, Victorian, pin-up.
Many attendees wore elaborate clothing that they made themselves, out of materials like feathers.
We recommend getting passes in advance via the Whitby Goth Weekend website, since early birds get discounts. The next event is in October, so you can plan ahead.
The organizers graciously gave us press passes. All of the staff was knowledgeable and well-prepared, and happy to answer questions.
Bring British pounds with you, as there are at least three different locations for vendor markets. These independent sellers set up booth, and sell one-of-a-kind alternative accessories, sweets, clothing, you name it.
This is what the scene looked like, in just one of the halls… As you can imagine, it gets overwhelming! I suggest briskly looking through everything first, and then coming back to narrow down what you want to purchase.
Steampunk is one of the most popular aesthetics at Whitby Goth Weekend. You can complete your outfit with a top hat or brass pocket-watch.
I’m loving this Goth wedding cake, which looks like a weathered book.
It was Whitby Goth Weekend’s 21st anniversary, so they prepared a chocolate skull cake! There were also bat lollies and absinthe chocolates for sale.
The bazaar had lots of spooky-cute designs, like these coffin earrings and Victorian cameo necklaces.
(Below are some Steampunk items for sale.)
I gave the giant stuffed bat a squeeze. There are gifts for all ages, from kawaii-Goth pillows to toddler t-shirts.
Now, let’s take a closer look at people’s personal style at the festival. There was no set dress code — you’ll come across all ages, all aesthetics.
The only overall link was “dark creativity,” as exemplified in this apocalyptic gasmask and steampunk explorer.
My friend Nyx wears Dracula Clothing — love her vampiric collar and collection of silver rings.
We saw a fair number of baby-Goths and children at the event. This one loved posing for photos, and rocked her pink cyber locks.
Very cool to see how Goths from the 80s and 90s now have families, who all take part in the lifestyle.
The Spa also holds the “Bring and Buy,” where you can sell and purchase used clothing at discount prices.
Be sure to arrive early, since all the vending bazaars close around 5pm. After, only wristband-wearers (who bought passes) are allowed into the venue to watch the concerts.
Joey and I got to see the bands from the photography area, just inches from the performers. We began the evening with The Last Dance, a Goth rock band that has been releasing consistently strong albums since they formed in California in 1990.
Vocalist Jeff Diehm sang a few songs with female guest Velvet Shadow. The band’s category-defying dark synth sound, coupled with a joyous stage presence, made for one of the most enjoyable performances of WGW.
The Last Dance ended with a raucous cover of “Dead Man’s Banter.” You couldn’t help but smile when Jeff and guest Ed Banshee linked arms and swayed together on stage.
Whitby Goth Weekend’s concert hall has impressive acoustics. The space has an intimate feeling, perhaps since everyone in the audience traveled a long way to come to this festival.
For every band, there were fans leaning over the railing, singing along to every song.
Next, it was glitter-punk decadence with Sigue Sigue Sputnik! Mohawks, sequined tops, horse tails, and codpieces took over the stage, and we knew we were in for a wild ride.
The band tore through glam rock numbers from the 1980s to the recent “Electronic” incarnation. The outfits and shenanigans took center stage, but each members had the musical chops to back up this visual candy.
Martin Degville looked like a dystopian punk, with his fishnet mask and salacious gestures. Near the end of the set, he launched into a cover of David Bowie’s “Jean Genie,” to the delight of the crowd.
Last but not least, we have Bella Morte. Joey’s image captures the pure, visceral energy from frontman Andy Deane. He leapt all over the stage — sometimes veering dangerously close to the equipment and ledge — and kept everyone in rapt attention.
The group’s name means “beautiful death,” and it fits their music: sometimes hard and dark, but always beautiful. Bella Morte’s latest album, “Exorcisms,” encapsulates the feeling of watching them raw and live on stage.
After the last set, the Spa turned into the ultimate Goth party! The DJs’ playlist veered towards old school Gothic, New Wave and post-punk tracks, which I personally love to hear.
The dancefloor looked like a coven of witches, swaying in their long black gowns.
See these bands and dancers in action, in the video above and on VideofyMe.
I leave you with the ominous Whitby Abbey… Later, I’ll show you an editorial magazine cover photoshoot that we did right against the church ruins.
Isn’t it wonderful to see dark, alternative bands and fashion thriving, at Whitby Goth Weekend? Perhaps you’ll make the trip out for the next WGW during Halloween 2015!
Remember when my team and I went to Hong Kong twice, to participate in the opening of Hotel sáv? At last, I can unveil the colorful fruits of our labor:
2) And our video about Hong Kong’s most colorful travel attractions — from the Big Buddha statue to Miffy stores — is out. Watch it above, and published on Business Insider.
I’m constantly amazed at the opportunities that come up from travel blogging. Decorating my own room at a boutique hotel is a new milestone, and I was honored when Hotel sáv asked me to take part in their “Floor of Love” project.
In a nutshell, artists from around the world are selected to create a themed room on the 22nd floor. We visited last year before the hotel opened, and our room (#2219) was a blank canvas
The team at sáv gave us free reign to decorate the room however we wanted — as long as it fit with their message of love, community and charity.
Hong Kong is a compact city, and hotel rooms are inevitably on the small side. However, sáv’s modern materials and large windows gave the space an airy feeling. Artist Naomi says, “It was from those initial views that the ideas for these paintings began.”
Our room had a vibrant view of the Hung Hom, Kowloon surroundings. I balanced on the ledge in my black-and-white Steelground Shoes – aren’t the metal heels and buckles marvelous?
The theme of “love” could take on many different meanings — where to start? I knew I wanted the room to represent the universe seen on this blog — the love for travel, Japan, alternative culture, and wild creativity.
I brought in my First Mate Naomi Rubin, who I run La Carmina & The Pirates with, to put this vision onto canvas.
In September 2014, the hotel was still under construction — only the bare skeleton was in place. My filmmakers captured the tremendous “before and after” transformation, in our new video.
Leave it to me to find something Gothic, even on a construction site.
(Photos and videos by Borderless Media.)
When we returned in February 2015, what a change! The building had blossomed into a stylish, contemporary boutique hotel.
The special 22nd floor looked like a gallery, with beautiful theme rooms and hallways lined with paintings.
Some of the pieces were by artists with disabilities. This one had tactile elements, for a blind person to enjoy.
So exciting… the placard on 2219 marks our “Love the Dream” room. (Yes, you can request to stay here when you visit!)
And here is what the La Carmina x Naomi Rubin decoration looks like! (Can’t believe this started out as a bare room, as seen at the top of the post.)
The hotel’s website says: “In this room, Naomi and La Carmina jointly created a different perspective that we have never seen through imagination, sub-consciousness and dreams. To spice up the décor, they created 5 paintings based on what they explored during their stay in Hong Kong.”
I’ll show you more photos from our room later in this post, but first, let’s see some of the other artists’ designs.
Hotel sáv brought in creative talents working in a variety of genres, from all over the world. It was inspiring to see how they all did their own unique riffs on the “love” theme.
In this room, Sarah Tse displays her pencil drawings and papermaking, inspired by her childhood memories and dreams. She included shelves of nostalgic found objects throughout the room.
Room 2201 – Love the Memory
Remember when we visited the cute character studio, Chocolate Rain in PMQ? Creator Prudence Mak filled her room with her handcrafted, smiling pieces. Her works range from postcards to bedspreads to a giant statue, all evoking the wonderland feeling of childhood.
Room 2202 – Love the Planet
I spread my wings in this room designed by E Herder, a contemporary artist living in Beijing. His “circles” are reflections on life and connectedness, drawing influences from Zen Buddhism. Meditate on these circles, and you’ll notice unexpected materials like artificial fur pressed into patterns.
Room 2203 – Love the Community
Hailing from South Africa, Janine Claase hung up works that reflect on our interactions in social media and “real” life. She explores human connections and how modern media can either help or hinder our ability to create communities.
How did we go about, decorating our own room?
Naomi prepared two circular acrylic paintings, which she cleverly framed with the skeleton of a clock. She brought these works to Hong Kong — and with the help of Eric’s arm, we figured out the best locations to hang them on the walls.
Now that’s what I call “using man-power!”
Once we had finalized the location of the artworks, Hotel sáv called in a maintenance team to nail them in place.
How many people does it take to hang a painting?
In this case, a minimum of six!
“La Carmina Room” #2219 – Love the Dream
And here you have it: our finished room! Of course, we chose purple pillows and lights as our color scheme. (Each room at Hotel sáv comes with a remote, which lets you change the color of the lights in your room.)
Artist Naomi Rubin writes: “Floor of Love can be interpreted in many ways, but because the Pirates live on travel, I wanted guests to feel like they could venture out, even while back in their own hotel room. Both pieces explore things we pirates love about travel from different views: one is up in the clouds and the other is grounded, with an aesthetically detailed view of a community.”
She adds, “The framing of the two paintings was chosen to make the pieces feel like additional windows in the room: portholes that would add to the view of the Hong Kong skyline.”
The circular paintings are acrylic on paper, and the Honk Kong drawings are ink wash with pen.
It was Naomi’s first time in Hong Kong. She says, “Above the bed are 5 pieces that I did while in Hong Kong during the hotel Sáv opening. These show a more personal record of how I absorb some of those same elements of travel shown in the window paintings: people, family, fashion, and the balance of nature with human architecture.”
“While both porthole paintings feature imagery based on the things that La Carmina & the Pirates focus on when traveling, the Window Community piece goes a bit deeper, drawing from Japanese and neo-victorian fashion and buildings. There is even a reference to one of the Pirate’s favorite Tokyo late-night eateries in the background.”
(See more of Naomi’s art on her Naomiyaki website.)
If you’re coming to Hong Kong, wouldn’t you like to stay in the La Carmina room? Well, you can! Just book Room 2219 via the Hotel sáv website.
Best of all, you’ll be making a contribution to charity. When you stay on the Floor of Love, 15% of your fee will be donated to “Make-A-Wish Foundation” and “Arts with the Disabled Association” in Hong Kong. After a year, all of these art pieces will be auctioned to raise funds for charitable organizations.
If you need more reason to stay at Hotel sáv, then watch our travel video about the many cool attractions nearby.
These include Arome Bakery, who make the infamous Miffy cake!
Walk down the street from the hotel, and you’ll find Wonderland. This store that sells every character good imaginable, even pirate Miffy.
This nearby flower shop sums up the “color journey” of the hotel. Sav’s philosophy is that colors can inspire and elevate a guest’s stay, and encourage positive action in the community.
Their name sums it up: S is for style, A for attitude, and V for vision.
Thank you to the staff for inviting us to take part in this artistic love-in! Find out more — and book a stay in the La Carmina room! — through the Hotel sáv website.
And please take a moment to watch our travel video here. Wouldn’t you like to visit Hong Kong for yourself? (Above is a joyous memory from the hotel’s Lion Dance, one of the Chinese New Year celebrations that we experienced.)
Fashion blogger profile on FashionOne TV! Tokyo’s Cutest Stores: Kokokim pastel goth, Harajuku girls.
Tokyo remains the cutest place on Earth — and there’s no better place than Harajuku for fashion inspiration!
Wouldn’t you like to follow along with me in Tokyo, and see what happens on a typical day? You can, thanks to the magic of television…
I’m honored to be profiled by FashionOne, the international style TV network that broadcasts to 120 countries worldwide!
The “day in a life of La Carmina” episode first aired on June 15, but you can see it on repeat and online on FashionOne’s channel (or just click play below).
Thank you to Stephanie and everyone at FashionOne TV, for letting me share my world with you. The video is created and produced by my travel filmmaking partners, Borderless Media.
In the video, you’ll notice that my team and I stayed at an AirBNB in Shibuya. We’re big fans of this short-term apartment rental site, which lets you live in comfort — as if you were a local — while spending less. Our apartment had two bedrooms and a kitchen, and was a five minute walk from the station. (Psst, here is my AirBNB discount link that gets you $31 off your first booking!)
A lot of people ask me where to stay in Tokyo. If you’re only visiting for a short time, I urge you to stay in one of the major districts (I prefer Shibuya or Shinjuku). This way, you won’t waste time and money on getting to the city every day. Also keep in mind that the trains stop running around 1am, so you might as well be in a neighborhood where you can party and then walk home.
But let’s go back to fashion blogging in Japan. To celebrate the release of the FashionOne episode, I thought I’d share photos of the best alternative shopping destinations in Tokyo.
Let’s start with Harajuku, since it was featured in the travel video. Over the years, Takeshita Doori has gotten more and more commercial. Nonethless, you can still find Goth, punk and metal fashion here.
At AC/ DC, the clothes are inexpensive ($10-40 US per item), and have cute-Gothic prints you can’t easily find anywhere else.
Such as tutu-dresses and this Miffy-mouthed hoodie.
Many of Harajuku’s shops are quite mainstream now, but if you wander down the side-streets, you’ll find the gems. Here’s a sign for Kera Magazine, featuring a cute model in a dessert-pastry-print Lolita JSK.
The StayReal brand is actually from Taiwan. The Heavy Metal Hello Kitty sign gives you a hint of the cute meets edgy fashion inside.
It pains me to report that more punk and Gothic brands are closing doors. Sex Pot Revenge is now no more. On the bright side, Hyper Core and Listen Flavor are still around.
And the experimental fashion boutique, Dog, is as madcap as ever. (Address: 3-23-3 Jingumae, Harajuku)
Every time I go down these stairs, I’m astonished by their intricate, avantgarde designs. Dog’s pricetags are expensive — I’ve never bought anything here, but I love to loo.
Lady Gaga and others go nuts for the various handmade garments, from Japan and all over.
For more affordable prices, stop by Kinji, the secondhandstore on Meiji-jingumae. Mori and dolly-vintage fashion is big here.
And if you have no money to spend at all… Well, Death Is Free!
Onward to Shibuya, another favorite neighborhood for the young and trendy. There are endless restaurants and bars here.
Inside Tsutaya (the music and DVD store), we saw these posters for the Jrock band Black Cherry. Looks like the two guys are giving some “fan service”…
Everyone has a smartphone these days, even this cute bear sitting at the top of a skyscraper.
Don’t forget to look down, or you’ll miss these Japanese manhole covers, decorated like flowers.
High-quality images are important to me, so in recent years, my blog photos are all from DSLR cameras. However, there are times when I’m in a hurry, and simply use my iPhone to capture inspiration.
I usually share these snaps on my Instagram, but felt I should also put some in this post for you. Keep on reading for my Tokyo smartphone snaps…
… including a peek at the Kokokim pastel goth boutique, which sells coffin purses in mint and lavender!
♡ Lots of photos below, click to see ♡ More here!