Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Amsterdam Visual Diary

Here's a very brief visual diary of my time in Amsterdam....

Photos taken with my Nokia Lumia 1040.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Hotel Review: The Ambassade Hotel, Amsterdam

Situated right on Amsterdam’s stunning Canal Loop UNESCO Heritage site, the Ambassade Hotel is undoubtedly one of the gems of the city. Housed in a beautiful building dating back to the 17th century, the independent boutique hotel began life 60 years ago in one townhouse. Over the last few decades, the Ambassade Hotel has slowly expanded out to its neighbouring townhouses. Despite now spanning across ten-interconnecting houses, the hotel still feels, friendly and intimate while retaining much of its original charm, from the impeccable personal service to the understated regal d├ęcor.

Located on the Herengracht canal, the Ambassade Hotel is fortunate enough to enjoy an extremely picturesque setting. I was fortuitous enough to stay in a canal-facing room, which I would thoroughly recommend. There’s nothing more ‘Amsterdam’ than waking up with a beautiful view of the iconic canals. As well as being by one of the prettiest canals, the hotel is extremely central and is just a short walk from pretty much everything in Amsterdam from Dam Square to Leitsesplein Square. During my stay, I walked absolutely everywhere and it was nice not to have to rely on public transport or cabs.

The hotel is also a few minutes’ walk from Amsterdam’s De 9 Straatjes, or the 9 Streets shopping district. Unsurprisingly, this was one of my favourite areas in Amsterdam. Arty and slightly bohemian, the area is home to lots of designer and independent boutiques as well as art galleries, jewellers and gift shops.

The biggest USP of the Ambassade is that it is somewhat of a literary hotel and a retreat for authors, hotel owner Woulter Schopman owns a publishing house and the hotel has been home to several authors who have visited The Netherlands. The hotel library is a cosy haven which started in 1987 and features countless shelves of signed books by the hotel’s illustrious previous guests. The library was one of my favourite areas in the hotel and I took advantage of the peaceful sancutuary to both read (on my Surface tablet) and write a couple of blog posts.

I had a quick tour of a few rooms and suites after settling into my own and I have to say, every room was exquisite in its own way. The majority had canal views and this is unsurprisingly one of the most common requests that the Ambassade receives from guests. There are also a few rooms without canal views and they are equally lovely, very quiet and serene. Most rooms had their own colour scheme; my own room was decorated in a soothing royal blue colour with imperial gold accents. The room was surprisingly sizeable for a European hotel, with more than enough room to house the comfortable king-size bed, armchairs, table and desk with plenty of room to spare as well as ample storage space. The bathroom was absolutely stunning, with twin sinks and a very refreshing rainfall shower.

One of the most unique, individual and distinctive hotels I have stayed in, The Ambassade Hotel is an extremely rare mix of impressive and striking together with down-to-earth familiarity, making it a wonderful base for exploring Amsterdam. 

Sunday, 20 April 2014

A Year In Hair

Before 2013, I played it pretty safe with my hair. Of course I’ve experimented vaguely but aside from chopping my waist length hair into a sleek shoulder length ‘do aged 15 and going from jet black hair to *gasp* caramel brown, I’ve played it pretty safe. This is not through laziness or lack of imagination; rather it’s been down to the hairdressers I’ve encountered along the way. See there was Hayley from Toni & Guy who dyed my hair orange, Giuseppe who massacred my hair and made me cry and not forgetting whats-his-name at Rush who took my hair from black to orange only to return to dark brown (what a pig’s ear that was!). Regular readers will know that those hair mares are now firmly behind me after I discovered Joe’s Salon a few years ago and I’ve been a regular ever since. As our relationship has grown and blossomed, I’ve now reached the enviable stage in the client/hairdresser relationship where you become co-conspirators to drastic change.

For us, 2013 was a year of frantic whispers in the corner of the salon followed by furries of text messages discussing the next big change. And let me tell you, it’s been an amazing and liberating journey. I think far too many women think experimenting with hair is only for the Rihannas and Katy Perrys of the world and end up sticking with the same cut and colour for, well, too long. It becomes a grown up security blanket of sorts, something to hold onto for comfort. Long hair is the worst, the thought of cutting off long tresses brings out an irrational fear and everyone, and I mean everyone, tells you not to do it. Well I did and honestly, it’s probably the best thing I’ve done to my hair. My new mantra is: “It’s only hair”, whatever you do to it can be undone and at worst it will grow back. Last year, I learnt not to get too attached to a particular style and to use my hair to express myself and make a statement. Cutting your hair off is not scary and neither is going from black to blonde in 8 hours if you’re in the right hands.

So what exactly did a year in the life of my hair look like last year? Well, it went a little something like this:

Going from ombre to dark – I loved ombre, I still do but when absolutely everyone and their grandma starts to jump on the bandwagon, it’s time to for a change so I went dark.

Going from black to blonde – The biggest change I’ve ever made to my hair, ever. Doing such a drastic change in one day was a bit of a gamble but Tolga is a genius and it totally paid off. I loved being blonde and honestly, I sometimes still wish I was.

Going from blonde blonde to dirty blonde – Between the unexpected summer sun and some super sunny holidays, my hair bleached out a little too much so we took the blonde down a notch to a warmer, dirty blonde to go with my tanned skin and left the roots dark and slightly grown out.

Going from long to short – We’d both been thinking it, we’d flirted with the idea of it then one day we did it. Diego lopped 6+ inches of my hair off and gave me a chic little bob. I’ve not regretted it once, best thing I’ve ever done to my hair.

Going from blonde to brunette – Sometimes blondes have more fun but brunettes do it better. A mere six months after going blonde, we decided on whim to go dark again. I’m going to sound like a broken record here but guess what, I loved this change too. I absolutely love being blonde but I needed to switch it up one more time before the year was out.

What a year, right?! I have absolutely no idea what 2014 holds for my hair but I’m sure Joe, Diego, Tolga, Rex and I will have a few surprises up our sleeve over the next 12 months. I hope this post inspires you to make a change, whether it’s something drastic or more subtle. After all, it’s only hair. 

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Style Icon: Lupita Nyong'o

Becoming a bonafide fashion darling is bloody hard work. The industry as a whole has a nonchalant air of 'been there, done that, got the Alexander Wang tshirt'. While a rising starlet work their way into being flavour of the month for a couple of designers for a while, it's incredibly difficult to forge a lasting impression and relationship with the fashion industry. Not to say it's impossible, just look at the likes of Diane Kruger and Cate Blanchett who have been courting the fashion world for years. This is why it's so impressive that in less than a year, the stunning Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o has not only become a legit fashion darling and THE one to watch on the red carpet, she even has Anna Wintour on-side.

Oscar-nominated Lupita does not do things by half. Her debut in the award-winning 12 Years A Slave is testament to that, landing the role shortly after graduating from Yale in 2012. Since her red carpet debut at the Toronto Film Festival in 2013, Lupita has transformed from relative unknown to a bit of a fashion maverick. Here are my favourite Lupita looks:

Lupita in Lanvin.

Lupita in Gucci at the SAG awards.

Lupita in Ralph Lauren at the Golden Globes.

Lupita in J. Mendel.

Lupita in Dior at the 12 Years A Slave luncheon.

Lupita in Mary Katrantzou.

Lupita in Altuzarra.

Lupita in Chanel at the BAFTA nominees party.

Lupita in Elie Saab at the Paris premier of 12 Years A Slave.

Lupita in Lanvin at the premier of Non Stop.

Lupita in Prada at the Oscars.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Louis Vuitton SS14 campaign featuring Michelle Williams

Following on from her highly successful debut as the face of Louis Vuitton last season, super chic Oscar-nominated actress Michelle Williams has reprised her role for SS14. Showcasing the new Lockit bag as well as the Capucines and the iconic Alma, Michelle was shot by Peter Lindbergh and styled by Carine Roitfeld in a campaign which embodies modern femininity in three guises.
The original Lockit was released in 1958 and was discovered in the archives before being reinterpretated in 2014. Michelle channels the essence of the self-confident Parisienne to encapsulate the understated elegance of the new pastel day bag. Michelle takes on a more playful character to channel the eye-popping colours of the Alma bag while the Capucines calls for a more restrained, sophisticated look. Sprinkled throughout all of the images are pieces from the new Emprise jewellery collection, including a yellow gold watch, studded rings and a stunning white gold and diamond bracelet.

From the compelling combination of force and fragility of the first campaign, to the vibrant contrasts of this second outing, Michelle Williams, as she has done so many times on screen, makes her own her latest role as the multi-faceted Louis Vuitton woman.


Sunday, 13 April 2014

Interview: 5 Minutes with Boris Eifman


Here's a little known fact about me: I'm a bit of a ballet fan. When I was younger, I took ballet classes for a decade and I was pretty damn good. I ended up giving it up but I've always loved it and go to see the ballet as often as I can. Recently, I've seen posters on the tube announcing the arrival of St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet in London, I was dying to go after missing out last time Eifman's ballet was in town two years ago. Fortuitously, I have tickets to see one of the shows next week and as if that wasn't exciting enough, I was given the opportunity to interview prolific choreographer and founder of the St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet, Boris Eifman.

Here is my interview.

The St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet was established over 30 years ago with a completely new concept of ballet. Why did you start your ballet company?
When I started my ballet company, I wanted to create a new movement in the ballet world. As an individual, I felt ballet was lacking a personal connection. I wanted an opportunity to talk to the audience, to connect. This form of expression didn’t work with traditional ballet; I wanted to take the opportunity to create my own theatre.
How would you describe this new style of ballet?
I call it ‘psychological ballet’; it combines ballet with theatre to communicate with the audience through dance. It goes beyond being something that you just watch to appreciate; it expresses emotions and ideas to interact with the audience.
Classic ballet is centred on visuals and aesthetics. My new style of ballet focuses on communicating with the audience; it’s more introverted and expressive. It’s important for me to provoke an emotion from my audience, to make people feel and think and learn.
How do you choose the stories you choose to convey through ballet, what inspires you?
I choose subjects that I can relate to personally, a subject that inspires my creative process. It has to be something I can relate to at a certain point in my life so I can express myself emotionally through the characters.
Did you receive much opposition from ballet traditionalists when you launched the company in 1977?
Yes, it’s safe to say the audience was split. I was fortunate enough to have many dedicated fans and admirers of my style of ballet but fans of classical ballet saw it as the only form of ballet.

The Eifman Ballet of St Petersberg last performed in London in 2012, are you excited to return with two acclaimed shows?
I’m very excited to return to London, we had a very positive reception in London so it would be great to mirror our previous success. Our Rodin production has been very successful in other countries and it is a privilege to bring it to London. The London audience is very well educated in the world of ballet and it would be an honour to have a positive reception here.
How has the audience responded to Rodin?
Entertainment is very different today, the focus is on television and the internet. With my ballet, the audience is interacting emotionally which cannot be replaced. 

Could you describe Rodin in your own words?
Rodin is based on a passionate love affair between Rodin and his muse Camille Claude who tragically spent 30 years in a mental intuition following their break up. The ballet explores the story behind his famous masterpieces, the passion and creative relationship between artist and muse. 

Could you describe Anna Karenina in your own words?
Anna Karenina is a well-known story of lust, love and passion. I wanted to offer a different interpretation; my goal was to show the destructive, emotional side of the story rather than recreating visuals. It’s the story of a woman who was dependant on her sexual life; she had no balance between her family and lover. The ballet is focused on her emotional and physical destruction. 

Friday, 11 April 2014

Kate Moss for Topshop 2014

After a three year hiatus from her design gig at Topshop, Kate Moss is back with a bang. The collection combines influences from Kate's wardrobe as well as gorgeous seventies-inspired pieces. Featuring pretty embroidered smock tops and Aztec print dresses as well as high octane flapper dresses and soft suede pieces, the collection is unashamedly Kate and her best collection yet. Here are my favourite pieces:


Sunday, 16 February 2014

London Fashion Week: Sister by Sibling AW14

I feel like I need to caveat this post by confessing that I love Sibling and Sister by Sibling, the two coolest knitwear brands by a country mile. Sid, Joe and Cozette have created two very, very special labels and I absolutely adore every Sister by Sibling piece I own. So it's no surprise that I loved the Autumn/Winter 2014 collection. Deconstructing classic knitwear elements, the collection features Peter Pan collars, Fairisle knits and crochet pieces with signature Sibling wit and sparkle. Crochet, fringed shawls have never been so chic. The deconstructed cobweb knits were a highlight, though one of the models did have a little difficulty walking in heels which kept getting caught in the train of her dress, cue temper tantrum and shoes being thrown off. Props to the final model who persevered and made it intact, to applause. Great collection, despite potentially being unable to walk in it, I need the final dress in my life.


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