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Sunday, 8 September 2013







Let's get one thing straight, structured white's are (apparently) here to stay. And I for one, am ecstatic.

If you didn't get in on Zara's structured white skort on time, no fear as it seems (judging by Alexander Wang and BCBG) that crisp, structured white's were not simply a 2013 trend but are indeed carrying on. Before I go on, let's talk about Wang because it seems everybody else is. How does he do it? Somehow Mr. Wang has made Miley Cyrus esque branded crew neck sweaters look fabulous, as he did with twill pant suits. Speculation says his collection may give some a hint that in your face logo's are popping up again. Perhaps this wouldn't be a bad thing for Wang pieces but the days of monogrammed Vuitton and Burberry pant suits are (hopefully) gone. 

To make things short and sweet i'll just outright announce my observations simply from perusing some collections so far: baby blue will soon make its post age 3 and a half debut; that leather Balenciaga cropped top that was featured last Spring has obviously made its mark; jumpsuit sets will be readily available in Zara and/or Topshop within the next 2 weeks; and neutral coloured florals will be the new "not neutral" coloured florals. Have I missed anything?

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Anteprima/Max Mara F/W 2013 - Milan Fashion Week

Ermanno Scervino F/W 2013 - Milan Fashion Week

Emilio Pucci F/W 2013 - Milan Fashion Week

If anyone needed yet another reminder of just how old they are, here it is. Are fuzzy sweaters (you know which one's I'm talking about, ladies) a thing? I hope so. The revival of fuzzy sweaters can mean one thing, and one thing only: This whole "90's" trend is in full swing, and it's here to stay... at least until a new 2014 F/W collection is dropped. Also, let us all sulk at the fact that Clueless came out 17 years ago. For those who are old enough to remember this movie while it was still new, shall we curl up and die now?

Is this a trend you'll get in on? Reply below with thoughts!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Van Gogh "Olive Tree's" -

Van Gogh "Starry Night" - MoMa New York

As a precursor, I'd like to apologize for this posts' title. It's dreadful in every single way and thats all I'm going to say about that.

Moving on...During my last week in Provence, which was spent in a lovely village by the name of Goult, we spent one day touring a nearby town of St. Remy. Recognize the last photos? If you don't recognize at least one then please google "art" and come back to this post after (sorry). Turns out Van Gogh really wasn't that crazy after all and such sights didn't just come out of nowhere. No, instead they were inspired by the town of St. Remy where Van Gogh spent a year of his time in the late 1800's. Post ear-cutting and on a strict diet of only coffee, cigarettes and absinth, Van Gogh came to St. Remy and was admitted to their mental institute "Saint Paul Asylum" (pictured above). What is perhaps often forgotten about Van Gogh in the midst of his surrealist art is a very real mental illness that he struggled with until the day of his suicide.

Currently, St. Remy prides itself on its unique history and tourists flock from all over Provence to spend the day picnicking among the olive groves (as we did) and visiting Saint Paul's, and for good reason. Naturally, I had some fantastic meals in France but they often came at a hefty price (as I have emphasized in past posts). None of the meals I ate in restaurants though can really compare to the simple picnic we had in St. Remy which was filled with good cheese, fresh fruit, cured meats and soft breads. It's things like that that make Provence stand out - the idea that you can sit in a park, eat fresh food and be at utter peace with yourself. Such times are one's I will certainly never forget. Of course, what set St. Remy apart from other Provence villages and parks was its Van Gogh connection and amazingly enough you can still visit St. Paul's Asylum. While the grounds where Van Gogh would have stayed have now been turned into somewhat of a museum, St. Paul's remarkably still remains relevant as nearby there is a full time women's mental health facility. Especially neat was the fact that often the women staying in the facility will paint and their paintings can be bought in the museum store and funds will then go to supporting and treating those in treatment. 

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Wilfred silk blouse / Wilfred Free sport shorts / Asos sandals / Kaszer leather clutch / Aritzia "Talula" bralette / 

What do you buy abroad when you can't even afford a crepe (see last post)? The temptation to spend money that you really don't have runs high in one of the worlds fashion capitals. Also, deciding on souvenirs can be limiting if you're like me and are paranoid about airline competency and thus travel only with carry on. For the record - most airlines are competent (most) and it really is just me being paranoid about losing luggage. Okay so yes, regardless of whether you only travel with carry on or not, when travelling you are limited to certain sizes and quantities of souvenirs. It is easy however to forget this when surrounded by beautiful scents and sites, so how do you limit yourself? Like most things in life, I've found that the trick to shopping internationally is going for quality over quantity. 

Quality over quantity sounds obvious but what does quality really mean? Some may argue that quality is distinguished by high prices though I'd have to disagree. To me, quality is marked by products that are indigenous to or at least characteristic of the country you are travelling in. Leather, for example is a product that is often distinct to Europe. Leather production is far more refined and common in Europe than say, North America. As such if the leather is produced at home, it's most likely extremely expensive. Even if European made it's usually still twice the price due to duty (and simply because retailers can sell it for this price). And so, during my last two Euro visits what have been my favourite purchases? Leather goods. 

In Greece for obvious reasons, leather goods are both common and cheap. In particular, leather sandals are a hot item, though I skipped out on these while I was there for a reason I both forget and regret. Instead, I opted for a leather backpack which was discovered completely by fluke though it is one of my favourite items I own. I was walking one night and happened to spy a bag hanging from the ceiling of a simple convenience store. I ended up walking out with an amazing real leather saddle backpack, stamped and made in Greece for only 25 Euros. Simply looking at Etsy and Ebay for bags similar, they range in cost from $150-250. I can't imagine what an in store retailer would charge for such an item. And so, naturally in France my first substantial souvenir purchase was one of the leather sort. I opted this time for a brown leather Kaszer envelope clutch. Unaware of the brand "Kaszer" before buying the clutch (pictured above), after some research I've found that it's a brand from Belgium and it seems as though online it's sold exclusively in the UK and Europe; though I would not be surprised if boutiques or department stores carry the brand in North America. The price was not as much of a steal as my Greek backpack, nevertheless though I am still convinced it was much cheaper than any leather product similar would have been back at home. The bag's quality is apparent. It's hand stitched and padded (as I believe it's meant to hold an Ipad). Not only this but it's flat and relatively small which is ideal for my luggage situation. 

By request, I also am expected to be bringing home a few other things like herbs de Provence and a few lavender products. Both of these things however follow my "quality" preference being that they are distinct to the Provence region. If you're going to get lavender liquer anywhere after all (as I have), it may as well be in the region that is ever so iconic for its rows of purple goodness.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

If there's one thing I've learned about the South of France, Provence in particular, it is that it's not budget friendly. Perhaps I'm looking in the wrong places, but no matter how small the town is it seems as though even the simplest of French treats come with a hefty price tag. No matter how good a crepe....from France...may sound, could it really be worth 11 Euros? Crepes aren't even this expensive in Vancouver dammit. Past all of the perceived luxury though, is something fantastically simple. Google image "French Countryside" and the results tend to be pretty spectacular. While the "South of France" has a certain connotation to it, that being, exclusive and expensive (and at many times it is just that), what ironically seems to make it so special is its simplicity. There is something about Aix-de Provence's rows of lavender, dusty roads and endless wheat fields that make you feel completely and utterly alone in the best way possible. So how do you enjoy the humbleness of the French landscape with a humble budget? You match simplicity with simplicity, of course. 

If eating out in Provence expect to see many, many dollar signs. But like most places, eating out does not always (if ever) trump home cooking. Though I am not a barbecue fan, there is something about French barbecue that just works. Most likely it's the quality of the meat rather than a particular barbecue  technique (it's pretty hard to fuck up barbecue, after all). Pictured is a luncheon I attended at a group event in the town of Montemeyan. There is really nothing exotic about pasta salads, barbecued sausage and bread but it is the quality of the ingredients that really made this lunch something special. I should also add that crepes may be one thing that can be found cheaper elsewhere, but French Bread is a food group of its own. There must be something in the wheat in France that ensures deliciousness and as such, when grocery shopping in Provence many, many loaves of bread should be required. 

So where am I going with this? Oh right, it is not to brag about my delicious French sausage " du la couchon" (yea, pork) but rather to remind that some of the best things in life can't be bought (HA....) Okay well they can be bought, but they can be bought CHEAPER than if bought in a restaurant. This is all assuming of course that food is the best thing in life (which obviously it is). So skip the daily trip to the French cafe in the nearest village for breakfast; croissants may be tempting but not much can beat a cup (or bowl, rather) of coffee, some fresh fruit and nice bread overlooking rolling hills. And if you didn't understand that "bowl" of coffee thing, neither did I until a few days ago. Apparently in Provence drinking coffee out of a bowl, like a cereal bowl, is the social norm. Oh well, more coffee for me.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Cliche as it may be, Mexico is a travel destination that I personally will never tire of. Not only is the culture rich and deeply rooted, the people are beautiful, the food is delicious and the landscapes, well they speak for themselves. Over the course of my life I've been to Mexico around 7-8 times beginning with when I was a young child and my most recent trip being this past December over Christmas. Naturally, frequenting Mexico over the years has given me the opportunity to see the country in a way that I believe is too often overlooked. Something that I have for a long time been aware of is the difference between visiting a country and interacting with your surroundings, versus staying in an all inclusive hotel. The "All-Inclusive" scene which is often now how people prefer to vacation, I see as deeply problematic for a number of reasons. 

All Inclusives began to spring up in the 1950's with the rising popularity of renowned resort, Club Med.  While resorts like Club Med seemed to have everything taken care of - three buffet style meals a day, free alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, beach front locations, pools and clean rooms , I think it's important to note that Club Med took off in the 1950's for a reason. Vacationing in the 1950's in locations such as Mexico and the Caribbean (or the French isles..ahem.. French colonies) was reserved primarily for wealthy white's and wealthy white's only. It was, after all the 1950's and despite its romantic image, things were not all that dreamy for people of different ethnicities or colours. And so, Club Med catered to the time it was created in. The 1950's ended however, as did the 60's, 70's 80's and so on, yet Club Med and its equivalents never disappeared. In fact, they seemed to only multiply and in great numbers at that. So what is the problem with them today? Yes, people of all backgrounds may be able to have the luxury of vacationing but the impact of All-Inclusives on indigenous cultures, foods and livelihoods in my opinion is devastating. 

Perhaps the most obvious "problem" with All-Inclusive resorts is that they seclude travellers into small, overdeveloped portions of land (in this case, Mexico) and they in no way represent what Mexico and it's people truly is. While many All-Inclusive resorts are impressive; gorgeous rooms, sweeping gardens a multitude of pools and mediocre beaches, in comparison to those non-resort beaches anyhow, the Mexico that is outside of this, that is, the true Mexico is far more beautiful and simply cannot be competed with. On both its Pacific and Caribbean side, Mexico boasts gorgeous beaches. Most of which however, are unused by the bulk of Mexico's tourists. Resort beaches tend to be overcrowded and its waters due to the amount of boating excursions and bathers are most likely polluted. Mexico's beaches are certainly not the only features that characterize it though. Many would be surprised to find out that Mexico is home to an abundance of fresh water springs known as "cenotes". Cenote's, quite recently have gained popularity in Mexico and for good reason, but still they are often forgotten. I personally have been to a good handful, including cenote's that are underground in caves, bound between Mayan ruins and a multitude that are situated within Mexico's jungles. And hello, would it be too crazy to mention the fact that Mexico is home to some of the most prestigious ruins in the world. I mean, it's Mayan pyramids at Chichen Itza are one of the 7 wonders of the world...IT IS ONE OF 7 WONDERS OF THE WORLD PEOPLE. That speaks for itself and yet many who make the trip to Mexico often remain among their resort grounds, probably stuffing their faces, and definitely regretting it 5 hours later. 

All-Inclusives taking away from all of the beauty Mexico has to offer is one thing. If one decides that they simply want to relax, not move from the beach and enjoy the simplicity of pre-cooked meals, that is somewhat understandable. What is more problematic about All-Inclusives is their impact on Mexican locals and Mexico itself. The issue with such resorts can be elusive. Some may see All-Inclusives as a positive force on Mexican livelihood, they certainly do employ thousands of locals every year. It seems as though, however, that this overpowers the fact that the majority of All-Inclusives, while powered by perhaps struggling locals at the bottom are ultimately powered by wealthy often non-Mexican investors and developers, such is Club-Med's Belgian owner. This means, while resort employees are getting paid, their wages are most likely extremely minimal when compared to resort owners. In addition, large, somewhat "corporately" run resorts eliminate the option and demand for many Mexican businesspersons to open small, family run hotels. This would give the opportunity for locals to expand their career and perhaps make decisions that are better suited to Mexico as opposed to an outsider making decisions for Mexico. All-Inclusives at their best, are simply North-American hotels set into "exotic" landscapes. In fact, just about nothing within with All-Inclusives is representative of the cultures and realities of where many of these resorts stand. 

While I am quite positive there are more issues surrounding All Inclusive's, the last I would like to touch on is such resorts' environmental impact. If one where to simply take a stroll to the Quintana Roo region of Mexico, it would be undeniably obvious that All-Inclusives bombard the once inhabited grounds. The sheer size and number of All-Inclusive's is devastating. Such resorts apparently "had" to be put somewhere, and unfortunately that somewhere could have been jungle, beach habitats, marshes, etc. Regardless of what exactly it was, the point is what exactly they are now. They are concrete slabs, they are parking lots, they are 6 story resort rooms and buffets that waste bucketfuls of food every meal.    They are overeating, overspending and under appreciating. 

At this time, I'd like to emphasize that this post is not aimed to put blame on those who travel to All-Inclusives. More than anything, I simply think that issues such as these are often forgotten and overlooked when booking vacations. Thus, I feel as though writing about it in a public forum may be an opportunity for people to think twice about the impacts of their actions. This brings me to the last thing I would like to discuss. If I have been successful in convincing at least one of you that there are MUCH better alternatives to All-Inclusives, you may be wondering what those alternatives are. My best answer to this would be to give a brief description of a small Mexican town just outside of Cancun called Puerto Morelos. All of these years that I have been going to Mexico, we always end up back in Puerto Morelos. In addition to the fact that my grandparents own a home there, Puerto Morelos is an example of alternatives to overcrowded resorts. The town itself is beautiful, it's extremely small and close knit (it would take maybe 15 minutes to drive from one side of P.M to the other). With a mix of locals, vacationers and ex-pats alike, P.M has almost a suburban feel to it, but in a good, non-terrible-suburban way. It's town square consists a variety of authentic, cheap and buzzing restaurants, a church, a few supermarkets, a soccer field and a few souvenir stores as well. Let me add that all of this is only steps away from what I would argue is one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico. Puerto Morelos has virtually everything a traveller could ask for, no matter what the purpose of their trip is. For the most part it seems that those who book All-Inclusive vacations in the first place, do so because they wish to just sit back, relax and not worry about a thing - and this is perfectly understandable. But this is still very doable without resorting to large resorts. Puerto Morelos has a variety of accommodations such as condominiums, hotels and villas and all of these are small, mostly family run businesses that are extremely welcoming and professional.  I have stayed in a variety of different accommodations around Mexico, including all-inclusives might I add, and those that have been the most comfortable, affordable and clean have been small and family run. Sure, you may not have the "luxury" of three buffet meals a day and free drinks, but I have always had a full kitchen, pool and beach right at my fingertips. If cooking is just not something you'd like to do on vacation, it's often forgotten that Mexico is full of restaurants, good, cheap ones at that. While it may not exactly be an All-Inclusive rate, Mexico certainly is not New York City (heh), things are for the most part extremely affordable regardless of how you choose to vacation.

Mexico is more than what meets the eye, that is for certain. So next time you think Mexico, think beauty, culture, landscape, think Puerto Morelos. 

Friday, 5 July 2013

Can anything truly beat a Summer afternoon wandering around Vancouver's English Bay? Probably not. 

If you're unfamiliar with Vancouver, English Bay is our beach area marked by its diverse street cafes and gorgeous white sand beach. After spending a few hours in the West End, my mom, sister, friend visiting from Detroit (rock city, sorry had to) and I moseyed on over to English Bay to grab some lunch and enjoy the buzz that Vancouver seems to lack in its winter months (i.e. all months other than July and August). After wandering for a bit we finally decided on a spot for lunch - the Red Umbrella up on Davies Street. At first, we had mostly stopped there because we were starving, not caring much about what exactly we felt like eating. The Red Umbrella turned out to be a very, very pleasant surprise.

Not only were the cafe's prices extremely cheap, like, cheaper than anything I'd ever seen in Vancouver, the food was excellent. They offer a full all day breakfast menu which includes omelettes, pancakes, eggs benny, sausages, bacon and so forth. While most of these meals range from 6-10$, every week from Monday to Friday they also offer weekly breakfast combo's which range from 4-5$. In addition, they have great options for lunch including a variety of sandwiches, from BLT's to Ruebens, Montreal smoked meat sandwiches and burgers/pastas as well. I ended up going for the Reuben which came on toasted rye bread and was filled with smoked meat (flown in from Montreal), sauerkraut and swiss cheese. Both my sister and my friend ordered eggs benny and they were extremely impressed as well. The food was hot and fresh, served to us on the quaint patio overlooking a tree lined a-typical residential Vancouver street. Oh yea, did I mention they had a drink menu? I didn't look to much into that but from what I could see they had a variety of options for both hot and cold drinks such as lattes, machiatto's, smoothies and so on. I got an iced carmel machiatto which was huge, and though on the expensive side compared to the rest of their prices, I guess they are competing with both Starbucks and Tim Hortons who are right down the block. 

So the end result? A very full and satisfied me, and a very happy bank account!
Enjoy the sun everybody.