25 September 2012

How To Steal A Million

While reading interviews with people I admire or find interesting, I always make a note to watch a movie they mention as a favorite, or look up an artist they find inspiring and anything like that. I was reading a Vanity Fair interview with Peter and Harry Brant and one of them mentioned that his favorite movie was How To Steal A Million with Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole. Sometimes I don't have much patience for older classics like this, and although I didn't love it, it was enjoyable and the fashion was sublime. Audrey Hepburn is always exquisite, even though I had a hard time with her '60s pouf-hair. She wears mostly Givenchy, of course, and my favorite scene was with her in a light pink slip, and she throws on a beautiful fuschia coat and a pair of shiny black rubber rain boots. The other great fashion moment was when she's meeting Peter O'Toole in a restaurant and is trying to be incognito, but she dresses in head-to-toe black lace. She has silver glitter on her eyelids and a black lace mask over her eyes. It was stunning! And of course no one but Audrey Hepburn could ever pull that off, especially in modern times.

07 March 2011


I pretty much just wrote an entire blog post about how disappointing the Fall 2011 collections were, but after seeing The Sartorialist's photos of Haider Ackermann's show, my faith in the magic of fashion has been restored. Honestly I didn't know him or his work before I'd seen it on The Sartorialist last fall, but he's very intriguing. He's a Columbian designer who graduated from the Antwerp Fashion Academy of Fine Arts in Belgium, along with Dries Van Noten and Ann D. Their work is consistently intelligent, impeccable, and stunning. Dries Van Noten has been one of my very favorite designers for awhile now (and who has a cooler name than Dries Van Noten?! No one!) and Ann Demeulemeester is just amazing. DVN and Haider Ackermann's latest collection, and his Spring 2011, is everything that I really love in fashion- perfect minimalism, edgy but feminine, and just so beautiful. Here are some pictures from the collection; The Sartorialist's shots are spectacular, but these will have to do. I was more and more excited with each photo, and am really happy whenever I see that there are still innovative designers out there with new visions. These looks are other-worldly and etherial, feminine, sexy, minimalist but still surprising!! Oh man. It's like what the elven royalty from The Lord of the Rings would wear if they were hanging out in downtown New York. Or probably Antwerp, but I've never been there so I can't be sure about that one.

Hyperbole and a Half

I haven't visited the Hyperbole and a Half blog in awhile, but tonight I was reading it and crying from laughing so hard!! I can't get enough. The drawings are so wonderful and hilarious, and her stories are just... amazing. I wish I could story-tell like this!

01 March 2011

Fall 2011

I finally started checking out the collections going on right now, and honestly didn't love any of them. There were a few looks that I liked, but in general I thought they were mostly lacking in any real inspiration or originality. As usual, Prada had the most looks that showed real thought and intelligence behind them, but I still couldn't get too excited about most of the colors and prints. Gucci is the show getting the most attention so far, that I can tell anyways, and it certainly was beautiful but I found it too costume-y for the most part. I don't like to admit it, but I do love all the fur I've seen and I like the elegance of the three-quarter-length sleeves with long gloves. There were also a lot of really beautiful shoes- Alexander Wang's silver booties, Jil Sander's flower printed booties and the T-strapped shoes at Bottega Veneta. It was nice to see somewhat of a return to the lovely, simple shoes that just make women look great instead of all the dominatrix dinosaur shoes we've seen a lot lately.

Here's a few looks that I would really love to wear:

Dolce & Gabbana

Jil Sander
Jil Sander





Bottega Veneta

Alexander Wang

And Christopher Bailey at Burberry did some really gorgeous coats, as usual:

27 February 2011

Carine Roitfeld

There was a great interview on style.com with the former French Vogue editor-in-chief, Carine Roitfeld. It was really fascinating to me because she's had the kind of life and career that I really desire, and so I liked reading about it from her perspective looking back. I can only hope that someday I'll just be in the 'right place right time' kinds of situations that she's been in that has led to to be who she is today. I don't want to be an editor-in-chief of something as big as Vogue, but I'd love to work at a magazine and generally just have as many experiences as she's had in the fashion world.


I haven't ever been interested in the issue of immigration until now, during the last year and a half of living in Italy. I'm currently job-searching in Rome because I'd like to live there, maybe not forever, but for awhile. I don't know if that makes me an immigrant. I don't feel like one; I once offended my ex-boyfriend in Florence who was Albanian by saying that I felt uncomfortable waiting in line at the Questura for my Study Permit with all the people there because I didn't feel like I was like them. Maybe that is offensive. They were certainly in more dire situations for the most part than me; coming from war zones and escaping conflict while I just wanted to study in Italian and experience a new culture. They came from all over the world, but mostly North Africa, Turkey, Greece and also Eastern Europe. I'm still struggling to understand fully why I would mentally place myself in a different category as them, when I was waiting in the same lines. But I've been following with interest the immigration issues of Sweden and Denmark, Partly because I'm intrigued by those places and would like to visit, and have considered living there someday. They've always been known as some of the most liberal and tolerant countries in the world, if not the most, and I really admire that. But lately there's been a lot of issues about their immigration policies, and so I feel as though I'd be almost personally affected if they tightened their securities about this issue. I feel it'd be pretty tragic if a hard-working and sincere person like me who would really contribute to the country wouldn't be allowed to live there. Of course I don't know that it'd ever be like that, but it seems like most countries are making it so difficult, expensive and time-consuming to even consider moving to a foreign country. I understand the problems of course; areas filled with immigrants and refugees are often overcrowded, dangerous and dirty, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's the immigrants' faults, does it? I also don't know that it's a countries job to pay for immigrants to get settled in their cities or rehabilitate refugees from conflict zones, but then who will?

I was just reading this article about Sweden dealing with these issues, and find it very interesting. I think with all the radical changes in the world right now countries are really struggling to define how they handle these sensitive and important issues. Italy is currently having an immigrant crisis of it's own as well, with people from Tunisia, Egypt and Libya coming by the boatloads to the Southern islands. I just wish there could be enough room and money to go around for everyone, but it seems there is not most of the time.

Mike Birbiglia

"My favorite thing about Manhattan is walking everywhere; too bad we’re moving to Brooklyn because the lease is up and all the nice Manhattan apartments are taken up by the bankers who bankrupted America."

26 February 2011

Sicily, Day Four: Catania Fish Market

For our last day in Sicily, me and Francesco decided to drive to the famous fish market in Catania before heading back to Naples. We'd heard it was really the sight to see, and after reading about it in my trusty guidebook, I decided it was a must-see.

"The best show in town, however, is the bustling La Pescheria and adjoining food market where carcasses of meat, silvery fish, skinned sheep's heads, rolls of sausages, huge wheels of cheese and piles of luscious vegetables are all rolled together in a few noisy, jam-packed alleyways."

That sums it up pretty well! After seeing my photos my mom commented how odd it was to see the vast contrasts of the bloody lamb bodies and hoofs and brains and then in the stall next to it piles of beautiful, colorful vegetables. Pretty much what the book said, but it really is an incredible sight. I had a spectacular time wandering through the market, watching the people interacting, listening to the chaos and yells of prices and friendly calls, and seeing the general scene. There was a strange lack of women; most of the people there were simply older Sicilian men, out doing their business. I certainly stuck out! But I had a marvelous time taking photographs of all the action and talking to the vendors. I had some great and lively conversations with the men selling fish, and one insisted we try some of his clams!! I'm surprisingly squeamish about seafood considering I come from Alaska, but we tried some of the little clams that were only as big as my thumbnail, so I could handle it. It was a brilliantly sunny and beautiful day, and one of the coolest experiences I've ever had. The people were so fascinating and wonderful; exuberant and full of life.

After a few hours of wandering around, and seeing Catania in the daylight, we knew it was time to start the eight hour drive back. It was truly a trip of a lifetime, and I dream of going back as soon as I can!!

25 February 2011

From Garance Doré:

"...oh my god, I love Italy so much… Well, except for the taxi driver that I was just yelling insults at in Italian earlier today (but he started it!) and actually seeing as it’s quite delicious to yell insults in Italian, even that put me in a pretty good mood."

ha! :)

24 February 2011

Sicily, Day Three: Palermo and Taormina

Our last full day in Sicily finally meant: Palermo! The capital city of Sicilia, which I'd been fascinated by forever, and have been dying to explore. Here's how my guidebook describes it, which sums it up pretty well:

"Palermo is a city of decay and of splendour and, provided you can handle it's raw energy, deranged driving and chaos, has plenty of appeal. Unlike Florence or Rome, many of the city's treasures are hidden, rather than scrubbed up for endless streams of tourists... This giant treasure trove of palaces, castles and churches has a unique architectural fusion of Byzantine, Arab, Norman, Renaissance and baroque gems. Palermitans themselves have interited the intriguing looks and social rituals of their multicultural past. Life here is full on: a very public, warm-hearted and noisy affair."

Alive is certainly the word I would use to describe this city. It's still certainly Italian, with it's crumbling and beautiful buildings and the disorganized charm but Sicily is so uniquely it's own at the same time. The Sicilian dialect, like all the other dialects of the different Italian regions, is impossible for anyone else to understand, but the people were wonderful to speak to in standard Italian and seemed curious about me when I struck up conversations with them. A lot of Palermo still has visible damage from the Second World War, which somehow adds to the foreign-ness of the place; it both takes the view back in time and is a reminder of the modern curruption of the region that doesn't put funds back into repair of the city. The driving is complete chaos, but comparable to Naples and other southern towns, and the people are both hearty and of-the-earth but also jaded after so many years of instability in the government, which constantly makes promises to them but doesn't follow through. They've got a toughness about them from learning that the only way to make sure them and their loved ones get what they need is to take it! For these reasons, the Sicilians, particularly the Paermites, were the most beautiful and deeply fascinating people I've ever experienced- many were warm and so exuberant in their expressions and explanations, but some were just worn-down and tired of life and seemed justly angry at their poverty-stricken day-to-day survival.

These are from the Palermo cathedral:

Thankfully Sicily isn't experiencing the trash crisis that Naples has been living with for the past years; it was clean but there were stray dogs everywhere. Luckily the dogs we saw looked relatively healthy, and were always and only seen in pairs, sleeping in the sun. Another thing about Sicily that I haven't seen elsewhere in Italy is all the streets just full of open-air markets. We'd be walking along, and turn a corner and find ourselves in the midst of a loud and smelly fish market, or a clothing bazaar with blasting dance beats, or an entire tiny street covered in furniture and housewears. Many of the tiny side streets that I felt most connected to were quiet and peaceful; some had severely crumbling and damaged buildings living in between the other apartment buildings, sometimes covered in either moss or graffiti, and there's always the iconic laundry dangling in the breeze overhead. It's really a city like nothing I've seen before, and a part of me just felt like I had been there before. Something about it really resonated with me, and it remains the most evocative and wonderful place I've been.

My guidebook accurately describes Sicily, and Palermo in particular, as a place of contrasts, which is completely accurate. It describes Palermo's countless tiny alleyways with markets that feel Middle Eastern, but then open up into wide, tree-lined boulevards that resemble Paris. It was an exhausting but deeply satisfying experience to spend just a day in this marvelous city! I felt like all my senses were on overload every minute, and I wanted to take in everything I saw and heard and smelled.

We saw most of the main sights, but my favorites were simply the streets winding all over the city that did not contain any kind of tourist attractions. The craziest thing of all though was the catacombs!!! Oh man. I would recommend people to go there if they're interested but I would never go back! The Catacombe dei Cappuccini is an underground tunnel/chamber thing that houses hundreds of mummified corpses that are still clothes and hanging on the walls. AHHHHH!!! I can try to describe it, but I knew I could never make anyone even understand how scary and deeply disturbing this place was unless me and Francesco took some illegal photos inside:

There was even a seperate room for dead children and babies. Possibly the most traumatizing thing I've ever seen. We both left feeling giddy and creeped-out and at the same time maybe a little bit sick to our stomachs. The air was thankfully stench-free, but it was very old and musty, and left us feeling not so good. Oh man. That's all I have to say about that.

I mentioned that Palermo was such a sensory overload that it was quite exhausting; to prove that, about halfway through the afternoon me and Francesco pulled over into a large park near the water and promptly fell asleep in the car for about 45 minutes. This was right after going to the catacombs, and I think that after seeing all the sights and then seeing all those dead bodies just plain knocked us out! The people jogging and walking through the park seemed to think it was a pretty funny sight, these two tuckered-out tourists asleep in their rental car and some called out to us Buona notte!! but it was all good. After our nap, we had been planning to drive even further south on the Sicilian island to see some ancient Greek temples, but we were honestly so tired that we drove home. It had been the most full, crazy, and amazing day I've had here in Italy and we had a long drive ahead of us back to Catania.

After hot showers and freshening up at the Navy Lodge on base, me and Francesco were ready to meet one of Francesco's good friends for dinner. We'll call him Holden, and he was a young American guy who has been stationed in Sigonella for awhile and who Francesco has known for a few years but sees only occasionally. He was a great guy, and had thought we should drive up to Taormini for dinner. It was about an hour's drive, and at the time I was really hungry and getting annoyed that we had to go so far for dinner, but it ended up being more than worth it.

On the drive up Francesco fell asleep (I told you Palermo was exhausting!!) and so I had a really great time chatting with Holden. He'd been in the military a number of years, and had really fantastic insights and answers to questions I had. I've always had pretty set ideas about the US military and what it does, but he really opened my eyes a lot. A boyfriend of mine that I'd had in Florence had come from Albania, and so I'd heard many stories about Albania from his point of view. Holden had been stationed there a few years ago and had a completely different view of the country and the people that was so immensely satisfying to listen to. He told me about being stationed in Spain the first time he was deployed somewhere, when he was still only 18 or 19, and how he was assigned to the worst of jobs since he was just starting out. He said he'd have to spend hours peeling potatoes or jobs like that, but he had decided from the get-go that was was going to have a great attitude and do a stellar job, even if it just meant peeling two potatoes for everyone else's one. I liked Holden from the start! He said that after a short time of working in this manner, he got himself noticed and that's when he'd been sent to Albania on a special mission. He's also spent lots of time in Africa building schools for the military, and had fantastic stories about that time there. I wish I could remember them more clearly, but I really loved what he had to say and we got into great discussions on Somalian pirates, the fall of communism in Albania and other interesting topics. There wasn't a romantic interest between us, but this was really a prime example in my eyes of always being able to learn something from others, because I really did this evening.

So Taormina is way up on a mountain terrace, and is an "almost perfectly preserved Medieval town" with spectacular views over the countryside and Mt. Etna, which happened to be erupting during the week we were in Sicily. Taormina is famous for hosting many famous writers, artists and royalty throughout it's history, for the arts festival during the summer and for being a wealthy resort-type town. It's especially wealthy compared to the rest of Sicily and is small, and magically beautiful and inviting. It was lightly sprinkling when we reached the top of the steep climb in the car, parked in the mandatory car garage and continued on foot up the steep streets to the town center. I only snapped one very low-quality photo from Taormina, but here it is:

We walked for just a few minutes through the romantic street, lined with shops and warm, pretty lights to a restaurant with a spectacular view and citrus trees growing right in the restarant. We sat out on the terrace, which was covered now, but opened up in the summer. Holden was great company, easy to talk to and very hilarious! But the best kind of hilarious, because he was funny without meaning to be. He'd been in Sicily for years but still didn't speak Italian. Kind of like Francesco!! So me and Francesco ordered some of the local red wine, and some prosciutto e melone to start with. Holden had never seen this dish before, and asked if I'd made it up!! Oh, man that was funny. Melon served with prosciutto is a typical Italian dish, and one of my favorites. He tried it but I don't think he liked it that much. We all ordered, and I had a really lovely time speaking with our waitress in Italian. She was a fun young woman who'd come to Sicily from Romania. She liked hearing about my fashion schools and we talked about what it's like learning Italian and trying to communicate and being a foreigner. She was wonderful though, so friendly and loved to laugh. She asked Holden, Parli Italiano? (Do you speak Italian?) to which he replied, Pollo. He had meant to say 'poco' which means 'just a little,' but 'pollo' means 'chicken!!' Oh we all had a great laugh about that. Luckily Holden was a fantastic sport and loved his mistake as much as we did. We all ordered delicious pasta dishes, and in addition to the waitress there was an older Sicilian man (the owner, I think) with a big belly who also came and joined in the conversation I was having with the waitress. As the night wore on, we kept eating and drinking, and he brought us a big plate of Sicilian clementine oranges that he grew right there in the reataurant. Then he brought us a traditional Sicilian apple liquor that is drunk after a meal. Yummy! Italians are so wonderful and accomodating when you make an effort, and they're so generous.

The best part about the meal though was when the Sicilian man came and was talking to me about his childhood. I asked if he'd grown up in Taormina, which he had, and he began telling me a long story about his days as a young child here in Sicily, filled with gesturing, some Siciliano dialect, and singing! It was truly one of the most special moments of my life, and for a minute I felt as though I were invited in to see this tiny glimpse of a Sicilian life that probably most people were not invited to share. I'm sure I was one of only a few tourists going through Taormina who could speak with him and understand what he was saying, and he seemed to really want to share and make me understand this gem of his life. He told me that for New Years in Sicily, in the old days, the women and children were given gifts by the men, maybe a clementine or a handful of almonds. He compared it to the American's Halloween, but said that this tradition has since died out and is no longer practiced. He told me that the children would go around and sing a song, and in return they would get their gift. He told me about him and his brother as small children, going around, his brother playing a guitar and singing. He then sang the song to me! I felt so privileged that he was singing me this lost song of Sicily's past. It was in the Sicilian dialect and he stood there, right at our table, and sung it to me! Francesco and Holden totally didn't know what was going on this entire time, but I understood everything that this man was sharing with me, except of course the part he spoke in dialect, but he then translated it for me. Oh, I wish I could remember the translation, because I don't! It was a really special thing for me, not in the least because I was surprised that I really did understand everything he was telling me about and was able to respond.

After the meal, I stayed and talked more with the waitress, and we talked too with Francesco and Holden, occasionally translating pieces of our conversation. She asked me with a smile to send her something when I became a famous designer. Then we left, and walked back to the car. I was just buzzing with happiness and just felt so blessed to be able to do all these things and meet these wonderful people.

On the drive down the mountain I was quiet and listened to Francesco and Holen catching up. At one point, Holden missed the exit we were supposed to take, and so he did what any Italian would do: put the car in reverse and reversed back up the road! We took the exit, only to discover it was a pull-off that led right back around onto the same road! Oh, so funny. Holden dropped us off, and we all said good night.

Possibly the best day of my life.