Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Giles at the V&A

He has been one of the hottest tickets in London's Fashion Week season after season, with supermodels, celebrities and other admirers hopping on jets and flocking to see his newest creations; and yet, somehow, I was able to snag a second row seat to a brilliant fashion show of Giles Deacon last Friday.

I had the great opportunity to experience a catwalk show featuring a collection of Giles Deacon's favorite pieces in a very prestigious venue, the Raphael Gallery of the Victoria & Albert Museum. In the stately room which holds some of the most important remaining works of Renaissance art, hundreds gathered to take in the show, which was a part of the V&A Fashion in Motion Catwalk series. Deacon has worked in notable fashion houses including Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Bottega Veneta, and in this show he artfully mixed pac man heads, thick felt, spikes, and vibrant colors with flawless craftsmanship and elegant silhouettes.

The 30 minute show was not only interesting to watch, but also emblematic of Deacon's wide range since beginning his eponymous label, 'Giles', five years ago.

(Check out this blog for a video of the show and an interview with Giles!)

Deacon, who's known for his unique perspective which at times include candid pop culture references and bold prints, held true to his style and presented a unique range of pieces mixing elegance, edginess, fun and wearability. I had a great time at the show (in fact, it inspired me to keep up with Giles Deacon and his line in the future) and am so grateful to have had yet another wonderful experience in London!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Harrods' Food Hall: Gastronomical Bliss

A few days after settling down in my new home for much of the summer, I found myself wandering around Knightsbridge. During my wandering, I stumbled upon the renowned Harrods department store (it's not difficult to stumble upon the a store which occupies an entire square block of the city). Shockingly to me, on a Tuesday afternoon the over one million square feet uber-luxury retailer was swarming with people speaking foreign languages, those in tour groups taking pictures outside the London institution owned by Egyptian businessman Mohamed Al Fayed. I was surprised that, given the worldwide economic climate, the store that specializes in material extravagance of every conceivable kind was teeming…until I saw the huge signs in the windows, reading in bold black font on a stark white background: “THERE IS ONLY ONE SALE”. It all suddenly made sense, who doesn’t love a good sale? Especially one that affirms its’ eminence so wantonly. It’s summer, everyone’s on holiday, and now you can get that Theo Fennell necklace you (and Mischa Barton) have been eyeing for a mere £19,000, down from £30,000!

I squeezed my way into one of the entrances with a group of twenty-something women in their immaculate this season Christian Louboutins, and found my way into the Food Hall. Here’s where the fun for me (although I’m sure irritation for those around me) began. For the next hour or so, I did, admittedly, move at a slug-like pace, stopping every minute or so to further investigate a bag of dragĂ©ed nuts, or remember a brand to Google later or a dish I wanted to recreate. In my own little gastronomical bliss, I was unaware (or rather, unabashed) by the haste of the throngs of tourists.

(This blog post makes an interesting comparison of England's Harrods' Food Hall to America's Wegmans, a store I used to love exploring and taste-testing everything for hours on end with my best friend Jessie. Although Wegmans is not nearly up to par with the London food mecca, it would be wonderful if it evolved into an American Harrods!)

After hearing a few grumbles coming from my stomach, I knew I needed to stop looking and commit to something to keep my blood sugar stable enough until I could make some mushroom and leek soup at the flat. After some more contemplation and exploration of the Mediterranean antipasti section, I decided on a few hundred grams of kalamata olives and some vibrant sun-dried Roma tomatoes in extra virgin olive oil, and headed out the way I came.
Fueled by a few olives (and the excitement of all the esculent items I encountered), I made it westbound on the Piccadilly Line and back to the flat with my Harrod’s bag of treats and a reaffirmation of my love for fine food.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

A Breed Above the Rest

The most wonderful, intelligent, charming, affectionate breed of dog, the West Highland White Terrier (aka Westie), has been spotted all over the place along my trip thus far.

From Ladies' View lookout point in the Ring of Kerry... a newspaper and magazine kiosk in London... the Chelsea Embankment walking its' owner along the Thames (and not surprisingly getting attention from everyone around)...

not to mention a bunch I saw today (granted, they're stuffed) at Harrods... matter where I see a Westie (real or stuffed), I can't help but smile and think about Spencer: the smartest, most loving and affectionate Westie there ever was!

Saturday, 11 July 2009

My Birthday - 8/7/09

When I started thinking a few days prior about how I wanted to spend my 20th birthday, it was a little overwhelming. Although I didn't have the opportunity to celebrate with friends or family, I do have the entire city of London at my disposal (barring my very tight budget) and to think about how to make July 8th special seemed silly, considering every day I've been here has been just that...

I decided to first take a stadium tour of Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea Football Club, which happens to be about a 10 minute walk from my flat in Chelsea Harbour (how convenient!). Although I was planning on walking to my 11am tour, I (not surprisingly) was running late getting ready, so after grabbing a cappuccino and delicious raspberry pistachio tart from the Design Centre, the doorman outside grabbed me a cab and I was able to get to the stadium at 11 on the dot. The tour was great; very informative, and our guide (nicknamed Elvis) gave the inside guide to all the players, from Frank Lampard's penchant for pre-game massages to Ashley Cole's routine 30 minutes of keepie uppie (yes, that's a technical term) to prepare him for game time. Funny story - after skimming the wikipedia article on keepie uppie, I saw that the record for longest keepie uppie took place in London's Covent Garden about two months ago...Covent Garden is (thusfar) one of my favorite spots in London!

Anyway, back to Stamford Bridge...the stadium far surpassed my expectations. Seeing a Chelsea home game on TV is completely different than standing feet from the lush green pitch. The only thing missing about my trip to Stamford Bridge was a meet and greet with Roman Abramovich (I was hoping he'd give me one of his old yachts for my birthday), not to mention the rest of the team...but all in all, it was a great experience and I plan to go back to Stamford Bridge at some point to see a game. After the tour, I stopped in the huge store filled with Chelsea memorabilia and swarms of little kids emulating their idols, dressed in head-to-toe Chelsea gear (the cutest was a boy about 5 years old with spiked hair decked out in a Joe Cole jersey and shorts, high yellow Chelsea socks and tiny little Adidas cleats). I bought a Chelsea FC keychain, a few pairs of Chelsea socks as gifts and two t-shirts for myself and headed back to the flat to drop off my purchases.

Then I walked from the flat up Lots Road and down King's Road, stopping by boutiques and having a snack in a little park. I stopped into Paul, a wonderful bakery that after many times passing by (and wondering why there was always a line out the door) I decided to stop in and have a look. Of course, I wanted to try everything, from the chocolate croissants to the hearty rustic breads to the meticulously finished lattice-topped tarts. By the time it was my time to order, I had settled on a macaroon, thanks to their ambrosial presentation and the accompanying description: "Our soft Valencia almond biscuits are sandwiched with smooth butter cream filling and come in five mouth-watering versions: Chocolate, Coffee, Praline, Vanilla and Pistachio." (I chose the Praline, or hazelnut, and what a choice that was!! I have a new addiction, which I will elaborate upon later!). Then, I stopped in a few more boutiques, trying on a few things at Ted Baker. There were great sales, but unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for my budget) they were out of my size in the dress I loved. Then I started getting hungry again (after all, it was probably 3 hours since my last meal!), so i stopped into a beautiful fine food store in Sloane Square called Partridges. It reminded me of a more diversified Joe Leone's with amazing foods from all over the world. I bought some spicy pumpkin chutney, my new favorite yogurt (Rachel's Organic rhubarb yogurt), some more pastries, and some more fine groceries before heading back down King's Road toward Chelsea Harbour. Realizing I forgot to get champagne and a few other things, I stopped at Marks and Spencer and picked up some prosecco, strawberries, milk (for my Wheetabix in the morning), and more snacks and treats.

When I got back to the flat, I put on some music, put together my smorgasbord and had a great, relaxing start to what I hope will be a happy, healthy, exciting, incredible year...

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Chelsea Harbour

After planning out a few things for the next few days, including a visit to LSE, Covent Garden to the London Bead Shop and to do some hotel searching for my mom, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Oxford Street (among many other things), I decided to take advantage of the beatiful sunny day. I first went for a run along the Thames Path and then onto Lot Street, where I turned down a side street which led me to a beautiful park with dozens of children playing and running through a sprinkler, and people of all ages lounging on the grass. I think I will go back there soon to read (at dinner the other night Sharon recommended a book by Oliver James called Affluenza that I think I'll get on my Kindle), sunbathe, and plan more adventures for my coming weeks here. After my run, I went food shopping, because although I have lots of delicious Indian leftovers from last night (Sharon and I ordered in from a great restaurant in Imperial Wharf and everything was fantastic and in huge portions, hence the leftovers) I figured I'd want a change of taste eventually. So I walked out of Chelsea Harbour and ended up at Marks & Spencer on King Street, which is my new favorite food store...anyway I'm getting tired of writing, I think I'm going to play some tennis on the Wii and relax. x

Saturday, 4 July 2009

July in London

Waking up this morning, I was pleased, but not surprised, to see the sun shining and feel a warm breeze through the big open windows. Since I've gotten here (on Wednesday afternoon), the weather has been similar to July at the Jersey Shore (around 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the afternoon; very uncharacteristic for England). However, Londoners don't seem to be embracing the weather as much as I have been. The other day as I was walking down King Road, a newspaper headline caught my eye, reading, "Tube Too Hot for Cattle". While I do love the Atlantic Ocean adn the Manasquan beaches, I have quickly come to love the Thames River and the quirky houseboats that line it. From the flat I'm living in in Chelsea Harbor, the view of the Thames and surrounding city is incredible.