I’ve been making the most of the surprisingly sunny British summer but had a moment to experience some proper heat on a weekend trip to Barcelona celebrating a wedding and generally getting out and about. Barcelona is one of my favourite cities due to amazing architecture, beautiful pristine clean streets and a rich artistic heritage. Barcelona also has some half decent beaches in the centre, making it a dreamy location, plus some more impressive ones on the outskirts, Castelldefels and Sitges. The wedding took me to a quaint suburb, Sarria where I was hosted in a stunning farmhouse and ate the best Spanish and European food til I couldn’t move! I had an action packed weekend and came back needing another holiday but it was all worth it!
Selfie from the amazing balcony at Hotel Zenit
Selfies in Sitges
Sitges town and the Church of Sant Bartomeu & Santa Tecla, & Castelldefels
Ended my day in Sitges admiring a chilled out cat and eating Octopus with Fried Spinach balls
Park Guell and Gaudi’s House
Stunning church in Sarria and wedding of the year!
Wedding outfit and new Rosa Pietsch jewellery coming soon to Realm of Treasure
African print pre wedding party and vintage day on the beach outfits
I’ve always wanted to check out Marseille as I intend to gradually make my way to all the major cities and the quaintest villages of France. I’ve made a small dent in the country having visited the Cote D’or, Cote D’Azure, Lille, Bordeaux, Limoges, La Plagne (French Alpes), Versaille, and have the fondest memories of my Erasmus year studying in Paris ( a million years ago). Marseille has always been near the top of my list despite it taking me so long to get there. Its known as being one of the most multicultural places in France which in my mind, and rightly so, translates as lively. Plus its on the coast so what more can you ask for than a vibrant setting and a beach! Sadly going in March meant my swimwear had to stay put but I still got to enjoy the harbour and the stunning landscape which still were breathtaking on the gloomiest grey days.
En route the sun was shining over La Manche (English Channel) but sadly didn’t make it Marseille in time for my weekend there. At least I got to experience some sun even if still on the plane!
I stayed with a friend in the very chic Panier district which hosts a pristine shopping mall with its own terrace and harbour.
The Musee de Beaux Art (Museum of fine art)/ Palais Lonchamps lives up to its name as the building is one of the most impressive works of architecture I have seen and the variety of art on the inside was surprising for such a small museum. It was great to see dignified portraits of Africans & Arabs alongside those of French aristocracy plus a vast collection of imposing sculptures. Plus I loved the random Giraffe in front of the Giraffe theatre which is located in the building in addition to the Natural History Museum.
Another lofty heritage site is the church Notre Dame de La Garde which I couldn’t help comparing to Montmartre in Paris due it being situated on a hill with Panoramic views of the city. I can’t decide which I loved more about Marseille’s guardian church , the details of building, its striking interior or the views – it was an overwhelming experience and the pictures don’t really do it justice but I tried!
The Vieux Port (Old Port) is the heart of Marseille surrounded by restaurants and bars serving the cities signature dish, bouillabaisse (fish stew which I’ll show in my next post) and an array of wonderfully fresh seafood- so a paradise for me.
I also stumbled across the smallest and cutest market ever selling traditional Marseillaise soap which the city is famous for (amongst other craft, jewellery and gourmet food of course).
I had a taste of the Marseille night life in the White Rabbit bar which had a Shoreditch (east London hipster area) vibe. I think the rule for working behing the bar here is to be bearded, tattooed or both (the latter for men only thankfully). It was fun but not an out of the ordinary experience for me but I’ll definitely remember the delicious cucumber cocktail. I did my part to represent east London wearing jewellery from my boutique http://www.realmoftreasure.com which is also sold at East London’s finest, Broadway Market, but showed my respect to the locals by wearing a dress & shoes that I bought there. Oh and I spotted a fellow Brit- Susan Boyle.
Finally- a random cheapo shop with an ironic logo tee stating ‘I love to see your money hanging in my closet’- well not if you buy the 5 euro boots?!
Amazingly strong and tasty Soju and passionfruit cocktail at Jinjuu Soho
Its that time of the day where I count down to my lunch which I eat almost religiously at 12pm. During this time I often think about the culinary pleasures that have enriched my life and recently I’ve really been spoiling myself. My previous post hinted at my favourite travel destinations South Korea and Japan so this months I’ve sampled some of London’s finest Korean and Japanese cuisine. Firstly I finally made it to Jinjuu in Soho, the brainchild of TV chef Judy Joo, who also creates menu’s for Gordon Ramsey. This place is a far cry from many of the traditional restaurants I visited in South Korea with a trendy bar ( I spent my first night there dancing with the DJ), but the food is equally delicious. Jinjuu is the place for a modern fun night of signature Korean dishes such as Bibimbap and fried chicken ( I was surprised how popular fried chicken is in the country but its actually everywhere- and nothing like KFC thankfully!)
Then I headed to Tenshi in Angel (not on the same night- or even the same week!) for some heartwarming Japanese grub. I have moments when my stomach can only tolerate warm comforting food so I opted for Gyu Don- rice with thinly sliced cooked beef which I was surprised to see is very similar to bibimbap- I was clearly having a rice and beef craving. In comparison it was equally full of flavour absorbed beautifully by the veg (making me feel healthy) but the beef was slightly more thinly sliced which I loved. This place is not the best location for sufferers of food envy like myself. Even though I was craving hot food the sushi platters surrounding me looked spectacular and I couldn’t help but stare wide eyed. Will definitely be going back for Sushi.
Finally I had to mention some of my favourite treats at Broadway market where I do my market stall for www.realmoftreasure.com . This is just a quick mention of a couple of things I’ve tried recently but over the past few months I’ve seen , tasted and LOVED so much of the food there so I will do a fuller post on it soon! For now here’s a taster.
Bad Brownie moved back to the school Yard just a few spots down from me so I couldn’t resist! I went for what is officially Londons best brownie, salted caramel flavour with a caramel layer!
Who knew you could do so much with Marshmallows like making cakes and filling them with lemon curd. Dulci Bella are clearly experts!
International Womens Day which was celebrated this Sunday, March 8th, got me thinking about who my female role models are. I don’t pay too much attention to celebrities and at the same time I’m not aware of many of the most amazing activists so with my limited knowledge I gathered some inspiring girls / women who have varied achievements but are equally awesome.
Janelle Monae is one of the quirkiest musicians I know- her style and sound doesn’t easily fit into any category and is truly unique. She has most definitely not conformed to the requirements expected of many up and coming artists as she rose to fame when still wearing her signature black and white Tuxedo- and wouldn’t be seen in anything else for a considerable amount of time. She later attributed the look to her parents who wore uniforms in their humble jobs, one of them being a caretaker (Janitor). She mentioned this at her very moving BET awards speech giving the world an insight into the authenticity of her character, someone proud of her humble beginnings and never boastful of her huge accomplishments! And her hair- no words to describe how cool it is!
The Savages are the polar opposite to your typical girl band and are in fact the only indy / rock girl band that I know of (which could be partially down to my limited knowledge of the genre to be fair). They definitely have their own simple style and make a point of being known solely for their music, demonstrated for their love of classic black and white photography. I was lucky enough to met one of the members at a wedding a while back and once again her humility was her defining characteristic along with friendliness. I was shocked to learn she was in a rock band let alone one taking the world by storm. The Savages have just finished a residency at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn, NYC, have performed on the Jimmy Fallon show and will be playing at Latitude festival this year amongst many other shows. Oh and Questlove (The Roots) is a fan and you can’t get cooler than that!
I had to include Sophia Amoruso, founder of one of my fave etailers, NastyGal. her achievements are close to my heart as I would be over the moon if my boutique Realm of Treasure achieved a fraction of the success that this lady has. She’s also giving us aspiring ones a blueprint with her book Girl Boss which is soon to become my study manual! She started with an Ebay store selling vintage and now has a multimillion pound business and is one of the fastest growing retailers in the US!
Malala Yousefzai is globally recognized as one of the bravest people on the planet. She actually started off as a blogger at the age of 11 writing about her passionate desire for girls in her homeland of Pakistan to remain in School. Her village was a Taliban base and these animals attempted to kill her in 2012 but she was destined for greater things and survived a bullet in the head! She has since been the youngest person to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize, Travels around the world campaigning for girl’s education and she was particularly active in the bring back our girls campaign, even meeting the Nigerian president. She has unsurprisingly been nominated as one of the worlds most influential people by Time Magazine. I get chills down my spine thinking of Malala’s story, what she has achieved and imagining what she is going to accomplish i future. She was one of the people that came to my mind when I took part in Plan UK’s give child marriage the finger campaign and I’ll be eagerly following her no doubt inspirational next steps.
Last but not least is Lupita Nyongo who whilst has become celebrated for her striking beauty, is also a talented actress who rose to fame after co starring in 12 years a slave, the film for which she became one of the few black, let alone African, men or women to receive an Academy Award, Golden Globe and a Bafta. She has the envious combination of brains and beauty being an Ivy League graduate (Yale). She has also produced and directed a documentary the experience of Albino’s in her homeland, Kenya. Like most of the women I love, she is also challenging conventional standards of beauty and recently gave a moving speech about the insecurities she faced as a youth, when she was tempted to use skin lightening cream, a common practise amongst many black and Asian people. She herself was inspired to accept her own glorious skintone by the stunner supermodel Alex Wek and has in turn passed on the baton encouraging us all to be happy in our own skin. I’ll leave you with the final beautiful words of her speech; ‘And so I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside. There is no shade in that beauty. ‘
Although Giuliana Rancis has apologised for her, now we learned scripted slur on Zendaya’s locs hairstyle at the Oscars, it still raises the question of the negative connotations surrounding them and other more natural ‘black’ hairstyles. I wish we could live in a day where all people can wear their hair however they want without being judged (with the exception of a presumed mentally challenged lady I saw wearing a wig after cutting off all the hair from the ‘roots’- leaving a bald Barbie effect #onlyinlondon). However black people who choose to wear their hair without chemical processing- for those who don’t know we don’t have naturally straight hair so use either heat, straight perm or weave to get the look- are often forced to make a political statement. Whilst naturally straight haired people or even those with loose curls can wake up- put a comb through their hair and go to work, the same is often frowned upon if someone like me decided to go to work with my hair- combed but its natural tightly coiled poofy fro. I went though a period of time where I actually did this- as my hair was an awkward length- too short to tie back- and I’ve never been one that likes to spend ages doing the usual styles- braids, weaves even twists on my hair. I’m lucky enough to be living in the most cosmopolitan city in the world and have worked in a lot of very relaxed and cool workplaces where my hair has not been an issue but since I’ve never stayed anywhere that long I don’t know if this would have changed if I had tried to climb the career ladder. I’m not sure how well my fro would go down in a board meeting for example. I understand that some work environments demand very neat styles and even those with straight hair are required to tie it back- and I have no problem with this.
I just think there is still a very dated attitude towards natural black hairstyles like locs and the even sadder thing is that some of the worst attitudes are within our own community. I have Jamaican heritage and surprisingly its not a hairstyle that is well respected in the country where it currently has the strongest cultural links ( although it actually originated in ancient India and Egypt and is said to have been worn in the Bible). I’m glad Giuiliana / Fashion Police made the comments as discussion is always a positive thing. I hope people of all races will be challenged about their attitudes not just on hair but on judging people based on old fashioned ‘backwards’ concepts of beauty.
Here are some absolutely gorgeous celebs rocking locs and showing them in all their glory. Plus the best women I know wears them, my Mum ❤
London Fashion Week has a million and 1 showcases and presentations but these ones really will stay in my mind for a while.
Soropol, the brand which is known extravagance and drama, as is co founder Daniel Lismore, created a fantasy world with atmospheric rooms dotted with cool models draped in luxurious silks, with bold gold and silver embellishments, sparkles and the full works. This Season was a lot more wearable than their SS15 catwalk show featuring huge Victorian style ball gowns inspired by French African Queens, but just as stunning. They also treated us to Champagne and canapés set in a cool art gallery in Soho so no effort was spared in creating a little world of luxury which I could definitely get used to!
One of my highlights of London Fashion week was seeing Typical Freaks in the Fashion Scout Showcase in Covent Garden. They also do jewellery and I have been stocking their funky bling for www.realmoftreasure.com for a while although most of it has unsurprisingly sold out. I’m so excited to have planned a new order of their latest jewellery and clothing which I’ll be selling on Broadway market , The School Yard, in time for spring / summer!
GF Hawthorne‘s fun designs took me back to my childhood albeit an imagined much more stylish childhood than in reality. Maybe I can now understand what my mum was aiming for when dressing me in lime green as Hawthorne makes this colour look like the coolest thing ever with her tassled crop top 2 piece set. I’m also obsessed with the raincoat with little pockets of blue water and embellished penguins- its just an overload of cuteness but still high fashion- which is an impressive feat.
J Moon also used ingenuity to create pieces allowing the wearer to be extremely warm and even more stylish. I’ve rarely seen such beautiful knitwear and especially something that looks somewhat practical- (I attended Mark Fast a few seasons back but his knitwear is only for superficial purposes- its gorgeous so fits this purpose quite well). Being someone who personally hates the cold and who hates to compromise on comfort- even though I have some fashionista moments where I force myself, this collection ticked all my boxes! I love the geometrical shapes, the warm and bold colours and perfect tailoring. J Moon was one of the designers in the Ones to Watch show also at Fashion Scout and I will definitely be watching to see whats next! Oh and did I mention she’s South Korean- my favourite country on the planet- and bursting with design talent. I could go on forever about my love for this collection but I’ll stop here.
Fashion Scout is an exhibition plus fashion shows featuring up and coming designers, usually recent graduates and its where a lot the big names start so I’m always happy to be a part of it and can’t wait til the next season!
With all the celebrity hype I sometimes forget that New York Fashion week certainly contains its fair share of talent. Whilst most designers tend to offer more wearable garms than their wackier counterparts over the pond, here in London, creativity is not lacking and designs are interesting enough to provoke curiousity and at the same time can be pictured in the wardrobe of your average girl, like me. I actually pictured and dreamed of having every one of the following in my wardrobe so am taking my hat of to the formerly underrated (in my mind) NYFW.
Thakoon’s collection made me feel warm and cosy with its Autumnal hues and beautiful geometric and other intricate patterns and prints. I love the fact that the wearer of this collection can turn heads and still be in the utmost of comfort- a rare feat!
Prabul Gurung mixed class with sex appeal. The perfect tailoring of the collection was more noticeable than the high thigh splits and deep plunge necklines and it was definitely a sophisticated display of flesh.
I always imagine how pissed of Herve Leger must be at the billion (often tragic) copies of his iconic bandage dress. With this collection he has jumped 100 steps ahead of the fraudsters and shown that the original bandage dress indeed deserves its place in the world of high fashion. I’m completely mesmerised by the wonder of this collection, the bold detailed patterns, the flattering curve enhancing shapes, I could go on forever but to sum it up I’ve fallen hard for this one.
DKNY’s collection was a perfect representation of new York and was urban chic at its best. I loved the mix of rigid lines mixed with floaty chiffons and topped off with chunky black platforms. Oversized jumpers and bombers added the sports and casuals mix which is always expected from NYFW and it was done perfectly.
My appetite has been whetted and I’m counting sleeps til London Fashion Week!!!
Thursday April 24th 2014 marked the one year anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza clothing factory in Bangladesh where over 1000 people lost their lives whilst making clothes for a number of Western High Street brands. This horrific tragedy could have been avoided if Governments and brands worked together to enforce better working conditions in not only Bangladesh but other major garment producing companies. The sad reality is the majority of brands only pay attention to these issues- when we consumers make our voices heard and show that we do not want to wear clothes that have been produced through the misery of our fellow citizens on the other side of the globe. April 24th marked a day of protest on London’ s Oxford street in addition to a campaign called insideout where people were encouraged to wear their clothes inside out displaying the label and asking brands where their clothes were made.
It was also a day of sharing information on the issues surrounding garment production- something that a lot of consumers are unaware of – although this is changing especially when disasters like Rana Plaza grab the worlds attention. I went to the screening of a film,Tears in the Fabric, produced by the Rainbow Collective. Rather than focus on the failings of the numerous clothing brands involved it told a story of a mother who lost her two daughters and was struggling to raise her beautiful grandsons. People who are living in oppressive conditions usually get used to their voices not being heard, but Ms Begum, like many other people affected by the disaster, was extremely sharp and highly vocal about the injustice of the situation. You could see sadness mixed with anger in her eyes and hear it in her voice. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the scene of the factory rubble which contained a mixture of the clothes of the brands mixed with the clothes of the workers who were killed. Ms Begum and her grandsons picked up clothes showing the camera the labels of brands which were being manufactured and when doing so, without words asked the question why haven’t they compensated me and the thousands of people affected by this tragedy.
Countless lives have also been lost in clothing factory fires in countries such as Cambodia and there have also been reports of workers collapsing , being beaten, low wages…the list goes on. In the 21st century I think its time for these issues to be a thing of the past, especially when the CEO’s of the worlds largest clothing retailers are billionaires. It all boils down to recognizing that the life of a garment worker in Asia has the same value of the lives of consumers in the West. Luckily there are some clothing brands that adopt this philosophy and the screening of the Ms Begum’s story was followed with a charity auction of brands produced ethically and with sustainable principles, with proceeds going to families still waiting for compensation. Some of my favourites are shown below.
Itsy Bitsy Vintage
The momentum from the Rana Plaza is continuing and next week, Thursday May 1st the will be an Ethical Fashion Show in London with a discussion panel including Observer journalist, Lucy Siegle and founder of Fair trade clothing line People Tree, Safia Minnie. There will also be a number of brands available for sale including some hand made and vintage accessories from my boutique; www.realmoftreasure.com. To my London based followers I would love to see you at the event and I hope you all watch and share the excellent Tears in the Fabric documentary.
EJF (environmental Justice Foundation) is continuing to produce its funky T shirts and raise support it’s fantastic work at the same time. The charity works on a number of environmental campaigns on issues ranging from slave labour in cotton farming to illegal fishing. Its latest initiative focuses on the dwindling bee population in the UK in particular. You may think why should we care about bees- they sting. I tend to favour cute peaceful animals such as bunny rabbits over not so cute ones that potentially cause harm. However bees are fairly cute and they play a vital role in agriculture and food production through pollination, and of course they also produce honey which we all love. EJF are renowned for producing T-shirts in collaboration with designers and celebrities such as Vivienne Westwood, Katharine Hamnett, Giles Deacon, Alice Temperley and Christian Lacroix which have been worn by high profile supporters including Lily Cole and Naomi Campbell. Its latest collaboration for the Bee T-shirts is with punk fashion brand The Rodnik Band, and quirky organic T-shirt brand Rapanui. The pop up shop in Kingly Court, Carnaby Street also sells the full range of EJF T-shirts, plus eco friendly bags and jewellery. Visiting the store brought back fond memories of when I volunteered in one of their pop up also in Kingly court about 5 years ago so is great to see that the momentum hasn’t stopped since then. I look forward to seeing what they have in store next.
T shirt designed by The Rodnik Band
T-Shirt designed by Rapanui
Healthy and delicious treats including smoothies from Moosh, rose lemonade and Elderflower presse
I recently found out about Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fairs and their kilo vintage sale in particular. Like most fashionistas I have a slight obsession with all things vintage so was bursting with excitement at the prospect of filling up a bag with a kilo’s worth of the magic stuff and all for £15! Unfortunately in true straggler style I arrived a bit late so most of the clothing that remained wasn’t to my taste. On the plus side and probably due to the lovely summery weather London town has been experiencing of late (please don’t end!), there seemed to be a million funky leather 80’s style jackets. I’m not really a shoe girl but have a major weak spot for jackets and coats, since I always wear one- even a light jacket on a sweltering summers day. The hot weather didn’t adjust my mindset enough for me to not want most of the leather jackets on sale- even the heavy wintery ones. After trying on about a million of them and annoying the sales people by changing my mind and swapping a couple times I selected 3 gems.
On top of getting one of my best bargains of the year I also explored Bethnal Green- an area of East London that I’ve neglected despite the fact that its been uber trendy for a while. My main memory of the place was staying at my cousins in the area when I was a child off school sick with chicken pocks and a LOT has changed since then. I visited both Broadway market where I bagged another vintage bargain and Colombia Rd flower market- but it was Saturday and sadly the flowers come out on Sunday. I’d love to explore the area more often but I think I’ve bought enough for a while and need to resist temptation. We’ll see how that goes
I headed to the Kilo Vintage sale at York Hall Cambridge Heath and then showed off my finds in an impromptu photoshoot with budding actress Perry Lambert and trend forecaster Maria Paz Caballero of Trends and Topics.
Chilled at a cute bar off Colombia Rd where we did the shoot
Explored Broadway market’s vintage shops including an odd fully functioning launderette which is also used as a vintage shop on Saturdays for an interesting mix of people washing and buying clothes.
I’ll soon be posting on another part of East London (North East), Dalston and Stoke Newington which also has a great mix of vintage and charity shops!