Saturday, June 30, 2012

Roksanda Ilincic hotness!

I couldn't help but post about this Roksanda Ilincic dress when I saw it on Princess Beatrice - is it not amazing? I think she looks absolutely stunning in it!

I've always thought Roksanda was uber talented and her designs are fresh with couture qualities, but still totally wearable (unfortunately with pricetags to match!). When I saw the picture above I had to know who designed it and I wasn't the least bit surprised when I found the source, so of course I went hunting a bit. I didn't need to look far as I found I had just completely missed its appearance on It was no wonder really because it doesn't look half as amazing on the website, right?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Topshop Sydney!

This week Topshop finally announced that their Sydney store will open in October in the famed Gowings building on George Street. Now this has certainly been a long time coming (I recall I posted about this a while back) seeing as Melbourne has had a store for a while!

I'm not a huge fan of Topshop, but it is exciting that the big chains are slowly dripfeeding us here in isolated Oz! I find Topshop price points a little steep for some items...for example this:

Adorable, right? But at full price of 48 pounds, not exactly cheap considering the quality isn't amazing. Nonetheless, I'll be interested to see what the price points will be like. Much like when Zara hit our shores the big question on everyone's lips was, how much will things cost? Will it still be rip off Australian prices?

We'll just have to wait and see!

In the meantime, I have on good authority that a major American youth brand will be opening in 2013! I'm waiting to hear from my source more about where they're going to open, but it is a definite so I'll post when I know more ;)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Pierre Herme 'Macarons'

If you couldn't already tell from my many mentions of macarons, I absolutely love Pierre Herme creations, especially his beautiful macarons. Whenever I'm in Paris, I just have to eat them everyday and this time I even indulged in London before heading home.

Anyway, his famous cookbook 'Macaron' is notoriously hard to get, being published only in French and Japanese in limited printruns. Well I was shocked to find out just recently that last November he finally released an English version! Yay!

Several years back I got my hot little hands on a French copy, but now I've added an English copy to my heaving bookshelf. Perhaps it is time I use the translation copy to help learn some French?

French and English copy side by side

So do any of you speak French and would you be brave enough to cook a French recipe? Can you believe I started trying to translate my French copy when I first got it (clearly I gave up soon after seeing as I never got very far with that).

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Life in Photos: June 2012

It's been a while since I've done one of these 'Life in Photos' snapshots so now is a perfect time to return to them! I love doing these kinds of posts because my iPhone snaps wirelessly sync with my Macbook and I can immediately post about this stuff without any hassle of connecting all my pieces of technology together. Plus, with my new cameras out of action (more on that another time), I'm back to using my old IXUS which is nowhere near as fun. Actually, my old IXUS is in great shape and still a fabulous camera given it is 7 years old - it has full manual functions and great video recording - but of course technology has progressed so much since then.

Anyway, I digress. Onto photos! =)

I spent a lot of time around Darling Harbour in my first few weeks back so of course stopped by Vivid a few times for a look. It was a nice change from the usual as I hardly ever venture to the touristy waterside areas unless I'm going to eat (which in these cases, I was) despite thinking to myself I should spend more time enjoying the beautiful harbourside walks.

 I <3 the MCA so of course this was an obligatory stop for my viewing of the Vivid displays.

And again, some more of my favourite Sydney places. A view over Cruise Bar which I love, and the Sydney Opera House as centrepiece of the Sydney skyline.

Onto some food - some of the people I work with decided to take a visit to a place near Central which sells these giant sandwiches for a mere $12. This shot unfortunately doesn't quite show the enormity of this sandwich which was the size of a football when wrapped up.

If I haven't already mentioned it, I love Pinkberry which as deprived Australians we of course don't get the privilege of enjoying. Never fear, there are the nasty imitations such as the one I had below from yoghurtberry. OK so I exaggerate, not really nasty at all and actually quite tasty, but no comparison to my favourite Pinkberry *sob*. The serving size was huge though!

For something a bit fancier, I went for dinner at one of my faves - Rockpool bar&grill. I go to the bar side which serves the same menu as the main dining area in a more laidback bar seating area. Their desserts are amazing as well - not unique or creative but just perfectly executed traditional favourites. And what's not to love about that? Profiteroles with ice cream were the choice of the night this time!

Last weekend (the long weekend) I stopped by Bills for my first taste of ricotta hotcakes in a really really long time. So then I had to stop by Messina for my favourite passionfruit gelato which I haven't had for some 6 months! I've been frequenting Messina for 3+ years as one of their early fans (pre-hype, I like to say) and yet I have never bought a take home pack...until now! And it's such good value :)

And finally, something a bit random. I went to Coles and couldn't resist paying just $2 for 6 large cinnamon donuts. They were a little doughy for my liking, but hey, 2 bucks!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Hair Appliances

So for the longest time I've always wanted beautiful wavy hair - I'm one of those people who get comments all the time of "Oh I wish I had your straight hair" but you always want what you can't have, right? I'm actually unlucky also in that I neither have dead straight hair or wavy hair, it's kind of this in between natural wavy straight if that makes sense.

Anyway, I went to my hairdresser the other day for a long overdue haircut and with my new slightly different cut she suggested using a curler occasionally to get the wave and body I so desperately want in my hair. That of course means I'm on the market for a hair curler! Now of course if I hadn't been so busy while in the US I would've had more time to buy one there and would have bought one from Hot Tools, which gets rave reviews worldwide and is a favourite of Kim Kardashian! There are a few other things I'm kicking myself for not buying in the US but I already had so much to ship home that it was probably a good thing ;)

Look at all the Hot Tools curling irons on offer - and these are just the 'professional' ones!
So I have looked online and been trying to scope out the best deal - I'm nothing if not a good bargain hunter. Conair (sold under the VS Vidal Sassoon brand in Australia) is pretty affordable and gets good reviews too and I also stumbled across their website that has some cool how-to videos and a 'hair styling wizard' which helps pick some great tools based on your needs, skill level (beginner here!) and hair type. Now I'm not being paid by VS to say this at all, but I thought it was pretty funky and worth sharing :)

And then once you go through the wizard the How To videos come up - I've already watched a few to get an idea of which curling iron type I might want to use - and then a list of all the different tools so you can compare them side by side. Check out their website for a bit of fun!

I'm going to do some more research but would love suggestions if you have any! I am just looking for an affordable option for now seeing as my hair is also stubborn and tends not to take to curling irons well so I definitely want to try a cheaper one first and then upgrade later once I've gained more skills also. What is your favourite curling iron/tool?

Monday, June 11, 2012

CFDA 2012

I know I'm a little late on this, but last week the prestigious CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) awards were announced and gee whiz I couldn't believe it when I heard Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen won Womenswear Designer of the Year for their label The Row.

Now I love the Olsen twins and their collections are definitely wearable, always classic and simple with a slight twist making them on-trend, but their prices are so exorbitant so mere mortals like myself unfortunately could never afford to wear it all. I suppose my surprise comes mostly from the fact their designs are arguably not the most unique on the market, but all the same a huge congratulations to them on such a prestigious award!

Phillip Lim also won for Emerging Talent, though I'm not sure I would really call him 'emerging' anymore!

Here's the full list of winners in case you were wondering:
Womenswear Designer of the Year: Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen of The Row
Menswear Designer of the Year: Billy Reid
Accessories Designer of the Year: Reed Krakoff
Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent in Womenswear: Joseph Altuzarra
Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent in Womenswear: Phillip Lim
Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent in Accessories: Tabitha Simmons
Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award: Tommy Hilfiger
International Award: Rei Kawakubo
Founders Award, in honour of Eleanor Lambert: Andrew Rosen
Media Award, in honour of Eugenia Sheppard: Scott Schuman and Garance Dore
Fashion Icon Award: Johnny Depp

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Paris: L'Astrance

So my visit to Paris this time round was very food centric, which works well when you're in one of the food capitals of the world. In my books, only NYC compares though Paris would probably win out in my heart, if only because of Pierre Herme. Actually my whole trip was quite the food adventure but Paris particularly because I was enjoying the week as a blissful relaxation week. Of course that meant visiting some of the many 3 michelin star restaurants including L'Astrance.

It is notoriously difficult to get a reservation at L'Astrance - they close randomly for long stretches of time and only serve a handful of tables each day. My reservation attempts were made all the more difficult due to my lack of French beyond fashion terms and popular tourist words. At the time I was calling, they were on one of their hiatuses and had a lengthy, quickly spoken answering machine message so I called in my friend who is fortunately fluent in French who easily managed to get me a table. As I would discover throughout my trip, travelling early in peak season definitely has its perks!

The restaurant is quaint but modern, without that overly pretentious feeling that is common with other fine dining restaurants despite a spot on the coveted San Pellegrino Best Restaurants list (ranked #18 this year, down from #13 in 2011).

I loved the tableware they used too - I feel its modern elegance matched the food story that chef Pascal Barbot (one of the most innovative chefs in France) presented for us.

Anyway, enough rabble, onto the food! You'll have to forgive me for being a bit forgetful and brief with my descriptions. After visiting so many countries and dining at so many amazing places, you start to forget exactly all the elements on the plate. I tried to write down as much as possible, but of course you want to enjoy and savour the food and the experience. Actually when I was there, the lady at the next table was madly writing down all the elements of the dishes presented to her and the waiters wanted to take her notebook away from her! The waiters were also careful to let each guest taste and experience the flavours of the dishes before revealing what marvels we were tasting.

This was a little bread + spread kind of concoction pre-menu reading.

We decided to go for the smallest menu - 5 courses - simply because we are small eaters. It of course was still hugely decadent with plate after plate arriving at our table resulting in us practically rolling out of the restaurant after some 3+ hours of eating! At 70 euros per person all inclusive, it was also an extremely affordable menu when you consider the culinary status L'Astrance has gained over the years.

First an amuse bouche of asparagus veloute. Delicious, fresh and served cold, if I remember correctly.

Next came sea scallops with a yuzu dressing and bone marrow. We started a conversation with an American couple dining next to us and we decided the black bean type paste (see left) was an interesting salty addition to the otherwise quite purely seafood flavoured dish. I have written down in my notes that there was something oyster related in this as well but I can't for the life of me remember! I remember the flavours of this dish being quite light, however the yuzu of course gave it a bit of zing.

The next dish was again seafood - John Dory with yuzu miso butter. The French-Japanese asian fusion has for the past few years gained a lot of appreciation and I noticed the strong asian inspiration in many of the fine dining restaurants I visited in Paris. It makes sense that the world is waking up to Asian cooking, especially Japanese, after all Japan has the most michelin starred restaurants after France! Again this was a well balanced dish without any overriding flavours, allowing the perfectly cooked fish to be the hero of the dish.

This was a cute side-dish that came with the Dory - I believe these are razor clams.

Onto the 'main' course I suppose you call it - a quintessentially French style hearty dish of duck with liver and black cherry. I remember being so full by this stage that I could barely eat anymore but I powered through the duck because despite its appearance it wasn't at all heavy or overdone. I'm not a huge fan of liver, but the beauty of this dish was that you could eat a carefully measured spoonful of everything and no one aspect would overwhelm the others. You would expect the strong flavour of liver to override but more than anything it was the texture you would notice first.

In between there was of course a palate cleanser - an amazingly zingy chilli spice sorbet which perfectly prepared our tastebuds for the dessert smorgasbord to come!  Now this, this is what I call dessert! Excuse the hand in the way :)

Being the dessert fanatic that I am, I of course have photos of each of the individual aspects. First up, a lychee sorbet with pistachios and other edible decorations. I loved the domed glassware presentation too :) Tasty and fruity would be how I remember this, exactly the kind of dessert I like!

Then the mille feuille - how French! Between the layers of tuile there were flavours of passionfruit and ginger, with the base being a much needed boost of chocolate flavour to balance out the potent cream fillings.

Then another almond tuile, this time with a pineapple foam with a surprise at the bottom of the bowl! I don't remember liking this too much (I remember there being a flavour I distinctly don't like but it was a creative, well concocted dish).

And just as we thought we were done, out came fruit, chocolate and a creamy drinkable creation which I unfortunately can't remember anything about.

I have to say, this was a truly amazing meal perhaps mostly because of the desserts. Those who have followed my blog would remember I often mention my love for desserts and my belief that it truly makes or breaks a meal. Service was impeccable without being over the top, and friendly in a homely local restaurant kind of way. I would definitely recommend a visit here if you are lucky enough to score a reservation, especially given it is decent value when compared to other Parisian restaurants and even other three michelin star-ers across the world.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Books Books Books

Finding the time to read is a bit of a luxury for me in my busy life, but when I was travelling there were quite a few long travel days when I would spend hours on a bus. I also spent a few luxurious days sitting by the pool or on beautiful beaches (hello, Greece!) so I found myself finally finding some time to read.

And can you believe in 2 months travelling, I managed to read 4 novels plus loads of time reading trashy magazines and keeping myself updated on Flipboard on the iPad! Now, 4 novels might not sound a lot but when I barely find time to read one book every few months that was quite a rare luxury!

These are the (ahem...trashy) books I read:
The original novel on which the TV show is based - Belle De Jour. Not a bad book...but the TV shows are almost better because more happens?

The prequel to the famous Sex and The City TV series - Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell. I was excited to read this because this is soon to become a TV series (replacement for Gossip Girl, anyone?)

Now I'm a huge fan of Lauren Conrad and turns out I had forgotten that I'd read this book before. But seeing as I couldn't remember what happened I read it less than one day! Only for true lovers of her many reality TV series :)

Now I had to add a 'serious' book in the mix - this divisive book has caused controversy so I suppose is a book I would suggest is read with an open mind. I loved it, and am in the midst of flipping through it again quickly to take down the quotable quotes which I just loved and rung so true. I got so into this book I read it practically in one sitting on a long bus ride (stopping only for lunch and rest breaks) as it is humorously written in an easy storytelling style.

The great thing about all my reading was that I got really into e-books on my iPad, meaning that I ditched the one hardcopy book I had brought with me in favour for a plethora of online books all at my disposal! When I don't get 'into' a book I'll just swap to another and it was so easy to just download more books as and when I needed them.

So now that I've read through all those books, I need some new reading recommendations! You might be able to tell I love my easy read novels but anything and everything is open to suggestion. Do you like to read in your spare time?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

London: Louboutin Anniversary Exhibition

So my travel posts are all going to be a bit out of order since I can't help myself but excitedly share some of the highlights!

As a shoe lover, it was of course hugely exciting to end my travels with a trip to the Christian Louboutin 20th Anniversary Exhibition at the London Design Museum. It was a bit disappointing that we missed meeting the man himself - he was presenting a talk a mere 18 hours earlier(!) - but we literally jetted into London and spent our last moments there viewing shoe porn, eating Pinkberry and enjoying Pierre Herme macarons (my favourite!).

The exhibition is compact, but beautifully presented, taking visitors on a bit of a visual journey through the mastermind's creative shoe journey. You're not meant to take photos in the exhibition but I just had to capture the breathtaking beauty in some way so snuck in some sneaky (albeit slightly dodgily shot) iPhone photos to share with you!
Shoe trapeze at the entrance

Shoe carousel!
 The shoes are presented in a rough chronological order, but also separated by 'themes' such as the Fetish room (more on that later), original early designs and special one-off pieces.

One of the 'highlights' is a Dita Von Teese hologram performance which playfully appears to be taking place right before your eyes on an elevated stage, with a staircase of beautiful 'performance' type shoes cascading before it.

This pair is one of those beauties and just so happens to be one of my sisters' favourite pairs in her collection!

The famous Anemone <3
Earlier I mentioned the 'Fetish' Room - this was a display setup solely for the David LaChapelle photographic collaboration from 2007. For those that don't recall, Louboutin made a series of purely exhibitionist non-wearable shoes which were provocatively photographed by LaChapelle, a style he is most well known for.

And of course I couldn't resist a shot of the famous patent black Pigalle 120s! I am yet to wear mine, but reading the blurb expresses exactly what this cult shoe is about - beauty and art in something wearable (or perhaps not so wearable, depending on who you ask).

And finally, Dita's very own cabaret strasses. These are amazing in real life - she has such tiny feet - and you can even see where the perspex sections are ripping from wear. Amazing!

So while this may not have been the best fashion exhibition I've been to, it was still beautiful to see a mock setup of his workroom, see videos and understand his long journey to Shoe God. I have a theory that perhaps this exhibition didn't seem so 'WOW" because shoes are so accessible - every season we see these shoes in real life in our local stores and even if we can't afford to buy them we can still for a moment try them on and fantasise over when we might be able to wear them. With other couture exhibitions I've been to (Jean Paul Gaultier, Yves Saint Laurent and Valentino are the few I've been to), you're seeing true Haute Couture pieces worth hundreds of thousands which would never normally leave the atelier so they perhaps have a greater sense of allure.

Even so, if you're in London, I suggest you get your hot little heels down to the exhibition for a squiz. It's well worth it if you're a Louboutin fan and shoe lover!

Visit the exhibition at London's Design Museum until 9 July.