Category Archive for Press

Brussels local fashion boutiques! Shopping in Dansaert, Stijl Belgian designers, Lunetier Ludovic.

brussels fashion shops, clothing stores

Can you tell I was delighted to be in Brussels? I got an inside look at the local fashion scene, thanks to the special arrangements by Belgium Tourism Board.

We filmed stories in three very different boutiques: glasses, jewelry, designer couture. I also found out why Brussel’s Dansaert shopping street is known as one of the coolest in Europe.

PS – if you want to buy this Miffy shirt, it’s available on my Depop shop along with many new items… Email me (gothiccarmina att gmail dotcom)  and let me know what you’d like from my clothing sale, before it’s all gone!

Lunetier Ludovic glasses store

First stop on my Brussels fashion tour — a unique eyeglasses shop.

These days, glasses have become a style statement. Lunetier Ludovic is the vision of Ludovic Elens, a Belgian optometrist who crafts distinctive frames by hand.

belgian cool eyeglasses

We loved the vintage vibe of Lunetier Ludovic boutique (Address: Ernest Allardstraat 14, 1000 Brussel).

I’m a glasses-wearer myself (although you usually see me in contact lenses), and quite picky about frames. My favorite styles come from Europe — where the designs tend to have a minimal, modern aesthetic.

designer glasses brussels

Ludovic’s glasses stand out because of his handcrafted techniques and quality materials, sourced from around the world. I tried on a few frames made out of Buffalo horn and cellulose acetate.

cool hipster glasses boutique

Lunetier Ludovic’s storefront displays his own collection, as well as other indie glasses brands.

He is passionate about offering a bespoke experience for his clients. In the age of machines, Ludovic’s work is a throwback to the days when artisans used their hands and simple tools to craft spectacles, from raw materials.

handmade high end glasses europe

I loved the unique shape and speckled pattern of these eyeglasses.

Ludovic told me that he didn’t feel there was a single style that best suited certain face shapes. Instead, he aims to make glasses that reflect his clients’ personalities. 

optician factory, LUNETIER LUDOVIC lunettes

We went downstairs to his workshop. Ludovic showed me how to cut silhouettes from raw acetate slabs, and polish them to perfection on a spinning tool. He often spends weeks refining a single pair of glasses, as each order is individually made and customized to the client.

custom designing glasses

So cool to see the artistic process from start to finish, at Lunetier Ludovic. The Belgian designer has a knack for capturing the customer’s individuality through his handmade designs.

bel arte jewelry store brussels

The inspiration continued at Bel’ Arte,  a lively boutique run by a young couple. Everything here is made by independent Belgian designers. (Address: Rue de Flandre 53, 1000 Bruxelles)

belgian designer rings

Bel’Arte has the goal of highlighting local artisans, who often don’t have the opportunity to display their goods in stores. I browsed one-of-a-kind jewelry, leather goods, furniture, lighting and other design items.

dansaert jewerly accessories

Very impressed by the skill of these young Belgian artists. These twisty rings and earrings would be fantastic gifts, as they can only be found here.

(All photos by Borderless Media – and our travel video will be out soon.)

stijl fashion shop dansaert

I wore a Miffy outfit that day (it’s available for sale on my shop!), and found my bunny boyfriend at Stijl — a famous boutique for Belgian designers. (There are separate shops for men and women; the latter is at Rue Antoine Dansaertstraat 74, 1000 Brussels).

In the 1980s, this neighborhood had very few attractions. Stijl opened in 1984, and transformed Dansaert into the cutting-edge fashion destination that it is today.

brussels designers haute couture

I interviewed Sonia Noël, the founder and owner. She wanted Stijl to be a platform for young Belgian designers to show their works.

Thanks to her initiative, these little-known locals have become big names in the couture world: Dries van Noten, Rick Owens, Ann Demeulemeester and Raf Simons, to name a few.

stijl belgian fashion labels

Stijl carries the latest collections of these now-famous names. However, the store remains true to its original goal, and always gives space to up and coming Belgian designers. 

(Below are designs you can find at Stijl; click the images for details)

belgium local designers mode

I loved seeing the sleek couture of Maison Martin Margiela and the “Antwerp Six”, beautifully displayed in a single boutique. Stijl is a must-visit for those who appreciate fine fashion.

ancient belgian building facade

The entire Dansaert district is worth browsing. I spent hours looking at vintage and modern clothing stores, book shops… and even found this old building facade, next to Chicago Cafe.

brussels museum musical instruments

I’ll leave you with a look at the classic architecture in Brussels. The tourism board took us to lunch at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), known for its collection of over 8000 instruments.

You know I’m obsessed with Art Nouveau… what a treat to look out from the museum’s rooftop! This swirling steel and glass structure was built in 1899.

Restaurant Musical Instruments Museum

We had lunch by the windows: a feast of Belgian specialties like French fries, Liege meatballs and tartines (open face sandwiches).

bruxelles architecture

This is only an introduction to the spectacular food we ate in Belgium… There’s much more to come, including a video and a chocolate tasting.

Did the style scene in Brussels surprise you? Are you familiar with Rick Owens, Dries Van Noten and other local designers? (Shop a selection below…)

buzzfeed travel weird crazy japan

PS – Thank you to Buzzfeed Travel for featuring me in a big article about Tokyo bizarre travel! It went viral and trended for days.

PPS – Since there was so much demand, I’ve added new Japanese Lolita dresses, Miffy tops and more to my Depop shop. My best items are now up, so come take a look and email me quickly to let me know what you’d like. I’ll gladly do exact shipping, and discounts if you get more than one item. Have fun!

Come shop La Carmina’s wardrobe sale here.

Hosting a Travel Channel TV series in Tokyo! Using Happn app to meet new people through everyday coincidences.

tokyo travel tips blog

Tokyo remains one of my favorite cities on the planet. There’s always something new (and usually cute!) to discover here.

I recently filmed in Japan with a new Travel Channel TV series, and am delighted to finally share behind-the-scenes from the shoot.

As we whiz through Tokyo’s coolest districts, I’ll also introduce you to a fabulous French app called Happn, which seizes everyday coincidences and lets you meet the people you cross paths with!

Last month, I revealed I’m the host of a new Travel Channel TV series (Japan episode) called “Could I Live There?” Above is a teaser clip; you can also see it on YouTube.

(“Tokyo’s Cute Culture” airs again on March 29th at 8:30am. Soon, the show will be available for download on Amazon.)

tokyo street crossing

The Travel Channel team and I filmed all over Tokyo. Can you imagine how many people I must have walked past, during this TV shoot alone?

I snapped this photo in busy Akihabara, and it made me think. People are always on their phones, and yet, it can be hard to start up a real-life conversation.

shibuya beauty makeup

I was excited to learn Happn was launching in Japan, as it’s a brilliant way to bridge these gaps.

This free app lets you give a second chance at a first encounter. It first launched in Paris in 2014, and is now is in over 35 cities worldwide.

happn french app

Happn is all about facilitating real-life connections. Every time you cross paths with another user, their profile appears on your app: a starting point for getting to know someone new.

travel channel woman tv host show

On a busy day like my Travel Channel TV shoot, I’m sure I walked by or near tons of interesting people. (The app connects you with users within a 250m radius.)

However when we’re caught up in work, or in a hurry to reach the next location, there’s no time to interact.

hachiko statue shibuya station

We filmed an intro at Hachiko dog statue, near the busy Shibuya crossing. As many as 2500 pedestrians cross this street every time the light changes!

tokyo busiest street crossing shibuya

So many people gather here in Shibuya — but are often too shy to strike up a conversation.

Happn lets them see the number of times they’ve crossed paths with someone, as well as the time and approximate location of the last encounter.

shibuya station meeting point

Wouldn’t it be fun if the fellow behind me was checking his phone, and finding me on Happn?

namie amuro face makeup

If there’s a user who you want to get to know better, you can Heart their profile (the person doesn’t get a notification, so it’s private). If that person Hearts you too, you can then start up a conversation.

You never know… one of the people you cross paths with could be a special guy or girl destined for you!

travel channel tv cameraman crew

I love how Happn lets me meet new friends with common interests. As you know, I’m an animal lover… and was in my element when we filmed at Deco’s Dog Cafe.

japanese poodle cute

Owners bring their puppies here to dine on gourmet food, and see other dogs.

deco dog cafe tokyo

In Japan, locals can be reticent about conversing with people they don’t know. An app like Happn breaks the ice.

“Hi, I was at Deco cafe too! Where did your poodle get her cute dress from?”

dog food recipes cookbook

“Perhaps we can exchange cooking tips for organic dog food!”

Akihabara buildings streets

I have a feeling Happn will be especially popular in Akihabara, the high-tech otaku district. 

maid cafe akiba tokyo

Maid cafes are big here, since they let customers talk to the staff about manga, anime and other “nerdy” interests. 

anime shops tokyo

No need to be shy when you can first chat about shared hobbies on the app.

odaiba onsen Oedo Monogatari

As you can see, I went to all types of neighborhoods for my Travel Channel shoot. We filmed a segment at the Odaiba hot springs, Oedo-Onsen-Monogatari. 

tokyo shinto temple gates

The final “decision scene” took place at a verdant Shinto temple.

japan buddha statue

In the end, did my “relocation” clients decide to move to Japan? You’ll have to tune in to find out. (“Could I Live There”? airs regularly on Travel Channel.)

asakasa modern architecture

I think anyone new to Japan would have fun using the French app Happn. It’s a charming way to meet people, from real life encounters.

japan travel instagram

Who knows — you could bond over your passion for kawaii mascots, creepy accessories, or a heaping plate of pasta!

happn app japan logo

Perhaps you’ll even cross paths with me! (If you’re intrigued, here’s where you can find out more about Happn.)

Hearts for all of you — I wouldn’t have these opportunities in Japan without your support. More Tokyo coverage to come, and I hope you enjoy the Travel Channel show that I hosted.

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Watch me on Travel Channel’s new TV show: Could I Live There? Karisma El Dorado restaurants, cooking classes.

purple hair asian girl fashion

Welcome to a new edition of my Mexican travelogue. Yukiro and I ate like queens at Karisma Hotels & Resorts… I hope you’re hungry, as there are a lot of food photos ahead!

(I’m sure you are curious about my Basil Farrow cat top (above). It’s by LA-based designer Lili Chin, who custom-makes shirts and drawings to look like your pets! There’s info on her site, and I’ll be posting more images soon.)

travel channel, could i live there?

But first, some quick updates about my upcoming TV appearances and travel destinations.

Perhaps you’ll recall that I was in Tokyo last spring, to shoot a show with Travel Channel. Now, I can officially reveal details about the series, calledCould I Live There?

In each episode, a couple considers moving to a new country — and makes the decision after exploring it with a “relocator”. I’m the on-camera host for the Japan show, titled “Tokyo’s Cute Culture.” Above is a scene from a Shinto temple, where I took the pair before they decided whether to stay in the US or move to Tokyo.

I had a terrific shoot with the production team, and hope you’ll tune into Travel Channel to watch me on TV! “Could I Live There? – Japan” premieres Monday, February 8 at 9:30 pm (8:30 pm Central), and repeats the next day at 12:30 am (11:30 am Central).

istanbul bloggers world tourism forum

If you’ve been following my Instagram and Snapchat (@lacarmina), you’ll have seen me in Los Angeles.

Now, I’m boarding a flight on Turkish Airlines… and heading to Istanbul for the first time! I’ve dreamt of visiting “Constantinople” for years, and finally got the chance to go — thanks to a generous invitation from the World Tourism ForumI’m honored to be one of about 20 international bloggers chosen to participate in the event. Can’t wait to share images of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and more.

brussels tourism board surreal cats

Right after, I’m excited to be doing a project with Brussels Tourism! My filmmakers Borderless Media and I will be shooting travel stories in Belgium, including coverage of the decadent Binche carnival. I’m looking forward to a taste of chocolates, surrealism, street art and underground culture.

(Above is a still from their Rene Magritte inspired video featuring cats taking over the city.)

ganesha elephant god statue

And now, back to our Riviera Maya escapades at Karisma El Dorado. As I mentioned in the first article, Yukiro and I had full access to their three resorts.

We found this Ganesha elephant god statue in a little garden, hidden between the Casitas and Generations properties.

krishna tattoo shirt

My t-shirt of the Hindu god, Shiva, turned out to be the perfect match for this mural! It’s by 1991NewYork, a newly launched clothing line by designer and tattoo artist Hiten Damodar. The striking style pays respects to his Indian background, but with an Americana feel.

hindu gods art mexico

Hiten says: “We chose the name 1991NY because that is the year my family and I moved to this country. The style is influenced heavily by my tattoo background as well as imagery from mythology, religion, and symbolism.”

el dorado casitas couples resort

In addition to Shiva the Destroyer, 1991NewYork has eye catching t-shirts featuring Ganesh, Kali and more. Everything is made in the USA and sure to turn heads. Pick out your favorite shirt here and check out @1991newyork on Instagram.

honeymoon cancun resort

Now that our fashion vogue-ing is complete, Yukiro and I are ready to eat!

Each of the Karisma resorts has a different focus (Casitas is for couples, Generations Riviera Maya is for all-ages and families). We enjoyed aspects from each of them.

generations riviera maya rooms

There’s a suite and experience for every type of traveller. At the newest property, Generations, guests could walk right out into their own balcony swimming pool. 

riviera maya all inclusive restaurants

Between El Dorado Royale, Casitas and Generations… we had over a dozen all-inclusive restaurants to choose from!

The cuisine offerings included: Caribbean, Italian, Mexican, Japanese, American. Yukiro looks like he’s strangling himself out of amazement.

generations karisma wine kitchen

I knew that Karisma had a reputation for excellent food. However, I confess I didn’t expect their restaurants to be quite this good.

Wine Kitchen (at Generations Riviera Maya) set the mood with chandeliers and candles. We loved the amuse bouche with watermelon and spices, and the special wine pairings that came with each plate.

el dorado resort dessert

When everything comes at no extra cost, you can live out your foodie dreams. We ordered a large range of plates to try… and dessert, always.

jade asian restaurant mexico

If only we had time to try each Karisma dining room! Jade Restaurant has an Asian menu, and the decor to match.

chinese customize tea bar

Karisma encourages guests to participate in the food experiences. At the Jade “tea bar,” you could create your own unique blend of tea.

el dorado royale cooking demo

The resorts had several entertaining “dinner theaters” where you could watch guest chefs prepare meals — and take part in the cooking too. Several volunteers came up to help create Mexican dishes, which we then ate with pairings from Jackson Family Wines.

fuentes restaurant chef cooking

Fuentes Culinary Theater is one of the most popular attractions. The venue is set up like a Food Network TV show, and the chef riffs and jokes around with the audience — which teaching them how to make authentic Yucatan dishes. 

cooking tv show closeup

On the two big screens, we could see close-ups of the ingredients. The chef walked us through each step of the preparation. As soon as he finished making the dish, a team of servers came out and served it to each table.

karisma gourmet food

That evening, his menu was based on traditional Yucatan Peninsula flavors. To start, we had a fantastic soup made from avocado, octopus, radish, apple, and X’catic pepper.

mexican cooking show chef

I particularly enjoyed the segment where the chef introduced us to masa (corn dough), and showed us how to build it into tortillas, tamales, pupusas and more.

yucatan mexican recipes

After three small bites inspired by street food, we devoured the mahi mahi (with pumpkin seed puree, corn, beans and crispy achiote tortilla). Above is the pork loin marinated in charred chilies, sweet potato and tamal. We had never tried these types of flavors and combinations before — what a meal to remember.

karisma casitas beach bar

Karisma also had dozens of all-inclusive bars. We took the advice of this swing — “Enjoy” — and cooled down with salt-rimmed margaritas. 

romantic honeymoon mexico

Since we were in Quintana Roo, Yukiro and I mainly ate Mexican food. We particularly are fans of avocado, mahi mahi and ceviche (raw marinated fish),

mexican food at resort

All of the above were on the menu at “La Carreta” in El Dorado Royale. Once again, if all the food is included, why not order one of everything…

avocado tuna ceviche

… and a double serving of the outstanding ceviche? 

strawberry avocado cream dessert

We ate our fill of fresh berries, including in this strawberry dessert with avocado cream.

tulum juice bar

For lunch, we usually hit the Health Bar. In North America, I always cringe at the price of a fresh green juice (usually around $7-10). But at Karisma, everything is included… I think we must have ordered 25 smoothies and juices between the two of us!

healthy food wellness resort mexico

The Health Bar had a long list of drink concoctions, and we also could create our own. We paired them with fresh salads and sandwiches made with whole grains.  

indian elephant god statue

Thanks to Karisma El Dorado, we were able to relax and enjoy the Riviera Maya.

buddha statue mexico

No need to stress over anything… it’s all taken care of here.

hindu art t-shirts

I hope you are enjoying these Mexican posts. Don’t forget to watch me on Travel Channel (Feb 8), and check out my Snapchat and Instagram @lacarmina for the latest updates from LA, Istanbul and Brussels.

Inside with Palina Rojinski: hosting a Hong Kong travel TV show for Pro7! Farfetch Style Reinvention.

Palina Rojinski fashion, hair, makeup

At last, I can show you footage from my latest Hong Kong travel TV show shoot! (I’ve filmed two more times in Asia since then, but it takes forever for shows to come out… hence the old hair color.)

If you live in Germany, perhaps you saw me on the new ProSieben series, “Inside – Unterwegs mit Palina.”  I was the fixer and on-camera host for this new TV show, which takes Palina Rojinski around the world in search of local experiences.

But fist, I want to share with you a new Style Reinvention project with Farfetch, where I reinterpret boy-style for a female wardrobe.

korean male fashion, kpop boys

It’s always fun to film TV shows in Asia, since this lets me see the latest fashion and trends up close.

Right now, Kpop style is everywhere. I’m particularly keen on the sleek, black, rocker clothing worn by Korean boy bands such as Excite (above).

kpop fashion moodboard, collage

Kpop male idols have always leaned towards an androgynous look — so why not mix up your wardrobe with some menswear pieces? I teamed up with Farfetch to create a “Style Reinvention” moodboard. I had fun breaking out of my usual zone, and browsing the men’s section for ideas.

Clockwork from left, I created a K-pop rock star look with:
– Issey Miyake black studded backpack
Off-White top (this type of black/white contrast is very Kpop)
– Rick Owens blazer with shawl collar, stud cuff, and zip leather boots
Raf Simons black skinny jeans

kpop boy band fashion, 24k

Now, I feel like I can fit in with the Korean boys of the band 24K!

How would you reinvent your style? Farfetch is inviting you to build your own moodboard (like I did), and share it on your blog and social media with the hashtag #myfarfetch. The best outfit, chosen by Farfetch, will receive a £250 voucher to spend on their site. The competition ends Oct 31 — Halloween — so get to it. Can’t wait to see what you come up with.

la carmina tv hosting, pro sieben

And now, back to the travel TV shoot in Hong Kong.

It was a pleasure to work once again with Pro7, the biggest German TV network. I previously filmed with them for Joko vs Klaas in Vancouver (where we sewed Joko’s lips together), and Tokyo (where we gave Klaas a bagelhead).

While I can’t release the whole episode, I put together some of my TV clips in the video above and on YouTube. I also have behind the scenes photos and stories to share — so read on for martial arts, horse racing and snake soup!

waiting hong kong airport arrivals

I was Palina’s on-camera guide to Hong Kong, in this episode of “Inside.” For the first scene, I met her at Hong Kong airport.

(My company, La Carmina & The Pirates, did the fixing for this TV program, meaning we arranged all the permits, casting, story ideas and more.)

Palina Rojinski german tv host

If you’re from Germany, I am sure you’re familiar with Palina Rojinski. She’s a DJ and popular TV host, and we hit it off straight away.

Palina Rojinski travel tv show

The concept of the show is that Palina wants to get offline, and travel around the globe without the help of cell phones, computers, or money. As her Hong Kong local insider, I was excited to show her the city’s wildest nightlife and food.

hong kong race course

We filmed a thrilling scene at the Hong Kong Jockey Club race course, in Sha Tin. People placed bets on horses, and cheered like maniacs when their favorites galloped by.

hong kong horse race spectators

This photo gives you a sense of the excitement in the grandstands, as betters cheered for their favorite horses and jockeys. Horse racing is a popular attraction in Hong Kong, a former British colony.

happy valley race track, hong kong

My friend John Skeleton and I were the odd Goths out, in this racecourse filled with older men! John was my fixing partner for this German TV show, and led all the scouting and first day’s shoot.

hong kong horse races betting

On this turf, jockeys paraded their horses for the spectators.

chinese watching horse races bets

I’ve only been to the Hong Kong horse races once when I was a child, as it’s not exactly my scene. However, it was fun to film here with the TV show. Palina placed a bet on a horse — and with the magic of TV, she won!

bunny face balloon

After the races, we paid a visit to our X-mouthed friend Miffy. (Or as we call her, “Miffeeehhhh!”)

miffy halloween costume

Oh Miffeh, always getting into shenanigans. (The TV crew filmed the balloon, and you can see it in this video.)

Palina Rojinski hong kong offline

This was a very special scene… because it starred my cousins, uncle and aunt! As you probably know, I have many relatives in Hong Kong, and they generously opened up their apartment to Palina and the TV crew.

cute asian bear toy

Palina and my family chatted about growing up in Hong Kong, and all the cultural quirks. They offered her local snacks, and let her sleep in my cousin’s bed… surrounded by cute stuffed animals.

tv show filming equipment cameras

The B-roll camera did a time lapse of the sunset. My uncle’s apartment has a marvelous view of the harbor.

hong kong harbor reflection lights

Can you imagine looking outside, and having this as your view? Palina loved meeting my family members and learning about their cosmopolitan lifestyle in Hong Kong.

Palina circus halligalli television

Palina Rojinski insisted on taking selfies with all of us, and left adorable notes for them, written in Chinese.

villain hitters, causeway bay

On another day, I arranged for Palina to visit a villian hitter. These women set up stalls beneath the overpass of Causeway Bay, around Hennessey Road. They offer a menu of spiritual rituals that drive out negative feng shui. 

chinese gods statues

This lady set up an altar with incense and statues of the Chinese folk gods, including the red-faced warrior Guan Yu.

Villain hitting, hong kong

My aunt appeared in the TV program, as Palina’s Cantonese translator and guide for this scene. She introduced her to the villain hitter, who performed a dramatic ritual that stamps out bad luck.

chinese folk rituals, spells

She burned papers and beat an effigy, to vanquish Palina’s enemies. It’s quite the ritual, and worth witnessing if you’re in Causeway Bay.

hong kong construction workers

Talk about bad timing… We ran into a traffic jam, near the Hong Kong government buildings. A huge crowd had gathered there. What was going on?

central protests, occupy hong kong gas masks

Later that evening, we looked up at a TV screen… and couldn’t believe our eyes. The Hong Kong protests had broken out into chaos, with police firing gas into the crowds. This was the start of “Occupy Central,” and we had missed it by a hair.

hong kong snake soup restaurant

Regardless, the show must go on. Palina was up for a food challenge, so I set her up at Sher Wong Yip New Snake Restaurant.

bizarre foods hong kong andrew zimmern

Look who else has eaten snake soup here… My friend Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods (Travel Channel)! Remember when I took him around to Tokyo restaurants for his TV show?

hong kong china cat

At the entrance, there was a big glass case filled with writhing snakes. This cat sat right next to the snakes, and didn’t seem at all scared.

Shai Wong Yip New Snake Restaurant

The owners held up snakes, for a teaser shot. In Hong Kong, people traditionally ate snake soup to “warm up the body” and for its supposed medical benefits.

snake soup restaurant hong kong

The taste of snake soup? Just like chicken with herbs. I bet you wouldn’t even know you were eating a serpent.

hong kong martial artist, fighter

We ended the Offline TV shoot with a bang. Palina had to fight one-on-one with martial arts expert and filmmaker, Sam Leong.

He taught her some killer moves at his Kowloon fighting studio.

sam leong hong kong muy thai

Then, we drove to this epic location overlooking Hong Kong, for a kung fu death match!

Take a moment to watch my German travel TV show appearance, and let me know what you think. Thanks to all my friends and family for making this episode a success. We couldn’t have done it without you.

la carmina travel tv show host

PS: We were so busy running around that it was hard to take photos. Here is a clearer head-to-toe of the outfit I wore on this travel TV show. These were shot at Pacific Cebu Resort (more photos here.)