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The florist at Liberty.

Oh I could wax poetic about it for hours on end. I know I haven’t seen that many places in England (not many at all!) but the flowers outside Liberty is so far my most favourite bit. Every time I go down to London, no matter where I wander off to, I always find myself back gazing down at these flowers.

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My beautiful friend Julia, during bruch at London’s Le Pain Quotidien.

I absolutely adore this girl’s style. She reminds me a Parisian free spirit. The girl who is just classically chic without even wanting to be, and without trying. In the age where fast fashion and Kardashian Kountouring (that is also, apparently, a thing) reign supreme, it is refreshing to see that effortless quality in someone so young.

The Post Dissertation Treatment

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Being a final year student has its perks. Okay before you give me the side-eye between the mountains of overdue library books in front of you…hear me out on this. Being a final year student means :

1) You made through the first two/three/ (100,if you’re a medic student) years (somewhat) unscathed. You sat through exams, pop quizzes, stage shows presentations, and if you’re like me, and take a fashion course, you clearly have survived the stresses of putting together a fashion show and the joys of watching fashion shows during your lectures.

2) You are basically gal pals with your lecturers. Though unfortunately I have only known my lecturers here in England for a year, I have observed their relationship with the rest of the girls in my class and it is a solid bond. I mean when you’ve gone to Paris AND Florence together, there’s bound to be some sort of connection between you two. Nothing brings women together quite like travelling to a beautiful city filled with designer shoes and pretty cafes.

3) Only a few months until graduation while the rest of your first/second year friends are complaining about their course work.Meanwhile you can sashay around and offer pearls of wisdom because hey, you’ve been there done that.

4) GRAD BALL !

5) Getting that intoxicating feeling of pure liberation once you send out your final document to printing. After months of hard work, spending 10 hours in uni everyday because you have developed an exclusive relationship with a Mac because you’re sucked into the marvelous  (sometimes dumbfounding. Just like every relationship…ever.)  world of inDesign, finally sending that file to print is like going into labour.

……………and hoping your (expensive) baby turns out perfect. Just like how you imagined her to be.

…………….which also means you spend the days waiting for that baby to arrive being incredibly anxious because you’re dealing with so many ‘what ifs’ in your head (but that’s another conversation for another day) .

 

To celebrate no.5 on the list, I decided to give myself a little pampering session last night with a little help from my friends on the vanity shelf. first up is a swipe of rosewater on nicely cleansed skin. I was doing research for my business plan when I came across Handmade Naturals and decided to give their rose toner a go. It has a really nice scent and the formula is all natural. I have a strong love for rosewaters. There’s something so elegant and decadent about putting on rose-infused things. Which bring us to the next product : Rose Hydrate Miracle Oil by Una Brennan. It is supposed to be a pre-cleanse treatment (yes, my doves, PRE-cleansing is a thing now) but I use it as a serum. The idea is to massage it on, inhale the gorgeous smell, exhale, and bask in the rose-scented calmness that is your face.  After that, slather on some moisturizer to seal it all in. I use Skin Blossom’s Replenishing Moisturizer. A non-greasy formula with good for you ingredients. Although sadly, I notice that the moisture doesn’t last long enough on my skin. It doesn’t cause any breakouts though, so if you’ve got complexion that is sensitive but not parched dry, this would be really good.

My feet needed some love after days being put to work walking back and forth from uni so I bought the original Astral, slather it up and put on a pair of fluffy pink socks. Here’s the thing about Astral that leaves me a little baffled. We don’t have it back home in Malaysia (or do we and I just didn’t look hard enough?) but here it’s a traditional, cult product that has been around since forever. The texture is like smooth whipped cream with a light, baby powder scent and it feels like dream to touch. But the ingredient list consist of lanolin, mineral oil, parrafin, petrolatum AND propylparaben = all the (supposed) No nos. But it does make my feet a lot softer. But the ingredients!

(Cue a major devil/angel situation…the skincare version).

 

Although I am happy to announce that as of right now, the Astral debate is my biggest dilemma. And that, my dears, is a good thing.

Now excuse me while I make some tea and hibernate for a couple of days before starting my creative package project.

Get the products : Pure Organic Bulgarian Rose Toner by Handmade Naturals, Rose Hydrate Facial Oil by Una Brennan, Skin Blossom Replenishing Moisturizer (I can no longer find it online, but this is a close second) , Astral Original Moisturizer .

Alive and Well

This blog is still well and alive, I promise!

But, as my final submission date is fast approaching, I have been going into uni almost 8 hours a day this week (10 hours yesterday, phew!) just putting everything into inDesign and I can safely say I am now a self-taught InDesign expert novice. That’s an accomplishment for someone who once thought Macs were only cool if they carried Ruby Woo. Now I’m really into using Macs (the Apple product!).

I shall now leave you with this gorgeous image from the latest Louis Vuitton campaign featuring the inimitable Michelle Williams. The simplicity of the styling really takes my breath away.

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Doesn’t it just make you want to go shopping for a crisp white shirt like, right now?

Brick by Brick

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A nice little break from all the dissertation/business plan writing and creative planning I’ve been doing this past few weeks. Sian and I decided to finally pop into Pizza Express for dinner. We’ve planned on getting Pizza Express since the first week we moved into the flat and 7 months later, we finally did! (Sadly, the salmon salad we were lusting after was no longer on the menu :( )

With our student budgets, having sit-down dinners are such a luxury! On the bright side though, it’s made us more appreciative of the times when we do get to do so. Today’s weather was also one of the best it’s been in a really long while, I mean, if I can walk out without a coat on…you know it’s warm!

I am so so soooooo excited for the #VogueFestival tomorrow , words cannot even describe my level of anticipation and excitement! Cannot wait to hear the pearls of wisdom that’ll be imparted on me by Nick Knight, Mira Duma, Pixie Geldof and the queen of prints herself, Mary Katrantzou. Will post up a special entry and lotsa photos, promise!

Have a good weekend everybody . Much love!

My Personal Thoughts on the Kimye Cover

Growing up and til this day, Vogue is more than just a mere fashion magazine to me and by that I don’t just mean the American Vogue. I felt like every country’s Vogue publication brought with it its own strength to the table. It was an institution in my eyes. US Vogue with the admirable Ms Wintour at the helm was influential and covered the politics, Alexandra Schulman’s British edition always made me feel like I was accepted for who I am and pushed me to love myself more than I do, French Vogue celebrated high fashion it its entirety with breathtaking styling in every editorial spread whilst Franca Sozzani (also one o my favourite people in fashion) made Italian Vogue provocative, sparking conversations making sure that readers don’t just peruse the pages, but instead, open up their minds and make them think.

The fashion aspect of it all was one thing, of course. The styling, photography, art direction, editorials that told me a story 5000 words could not. Through Vogue I discovered the dreamy photographs of Annie Leibovitz, the eerie fantasy-like imagery by Tim Walker, the wonderful magical makeup artistry of Pat McGrath, the styling of Carolyn Cerf de Dudzeele and of course, the many, many brilliant writers that penned down the articles accompanying the fantastic images. I know plenty of girls who are ‘obsessed’ with Vogue and tear out their favourite editorials and yet because of the lengthy articles and thickness of the issues, they don’t exactly read it cover to cover. But for me, the articles was what set Vogue apart from every other magazine. Vogue didn’t teach me the ‘Top 5 Things Guys Think About’ or tell me that I needed to ‘Get Hot Now‘ . Just as well since as a 13 year old schoolgirl, I knew that if I wanted to know those things I simply need to flip open an issue of  CosmoGirl or Seventeen. But I wanted to know what the world was talking about, I was hungry to know what the adults were discussing at dinner parties and somehow I knew that when I grow up, I wanted to be the woman in Vogue, I wanted to be a part of it and it only makes sense that in order to someday grow up and achieve that, it would serve me well to read every article in Vogue and learn all I could.

What came out of it was love for words. I loved how the articles in Vogue brought out a bevy of emotions in me whether it be happiness, joy, wonderment,envy  and everything else in between. The articles within Vogue was what made me defend it whenever someone calls it just another fashion magazine, or says it’s ‘all filled with thin girls and rich people’ . I have had to defend Vogue many times because some people just don’t bother to look beyond the shopping guides and price tags. Could I afford anything in the magazine? Of course not. But it wasn’t about what I could get at the stores, it was about what Vogue itself gave me. It gave me the drive to continuously work hard, the motivation to push myself and become the best me I could be and it made me resourceful as I read the jewelry guide and then trawl vintage markets for the similar brooches without the heavy price tag. Vogue made me dream and then pushed me out the door to work on that dream. The articles in Vogue gave the magazine real substance as it touches on politics, the economy, social issues and they were written in a way that made it feel I was getting it all from an older, more sophisticated well-travelled, well-read girlfriend .

Which is why when I saw that cover of Kim and Kanye on the most recent issue of US Vogue, literally my heart broke into a million pieces. I felt a disappointment I didn’t think any magazine could evoke. No doubt, I was flat out angry and confused. US Vogue was the publication that put Michelle Obama on the cover that one time. How did it go from the first lady to this? All biases aside, I understand and respect that both Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have made a name for themselves and have a strong, loyal following. West’s music, while I am not into it (and I still hold a grudge over the Taylor incident) , has sold a gajillion records I’m sure. And Kim’s marketing and PR team have done an astounding job in terms of getting her name everywhere and of course, the woman works hard for her money, with countless clothing lines and all the appearances she makes. But surely plastering your name on every product does not warrant a Vogue cover? After Lena Dunham, a writer / producer / actor with the instant hit show ‘ GIRLS’ covers the previous issue, putting a couple who is known for their less than admirable antics seem like an obvious downgrade. That music video Kimye did was cringe-worthy and West’s continuous comments on how they are both better than everyone else, showing lack of humility couldn’t possibly serenade well with the readers of Vogue. I wouldn’t want my 13 year old self to pick up this issue and think she should just be a celebutante, because hey, that apparently warrants a Vogue cover now.

There have been covers where I don’t particularly agree with but understood why it was published. Taylor Swift, for example. Bless her heart, if anything I am an obsessive fan of hers. But when her Vogue cover was announced, I wasn’t sure if it would sell very well considering Vogue readers may be a bit older and not in her fanbase. However, Swift was and is a record-breaking female performer surpassing even Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. That success is reason enough. Then there was Kirsten Stewart and no, I am definitely not a fan but I respected the choice. After all, Stewart was part of a movie franchise that proved to be a major success, and out of the Twilight saga, Stewart has been able to transition seamlessly into a slew of other films such as On the Road and the one film where she played Joan Jett. So all is well. As a reader, I don’t have to like every Vogue cover girl. I simply need to understand the justification behind it for myself. Of course its great to read why the magazine chose the person on the cover, but covers need to sell themselves before I even open it and while Ms Wintour writes in her editor’s letter applauding Kardashian/West ‘s influence on modern media…it just isn’t enough for me. There are plenty of people who are doing incredibly well in the modern media, with personal achievements to back it all up.

If you ask me, I was honestly hoping it was Lupita Nyong’o who would grace the cover instead. She is of the moment, current (Wintour did say that Vogue features ‘those who define the culture at any given moment, who stir things up, whose presence in the world shapes the way it looks and influences the way we see it.’ ) , has a ground-breaking, thought-provoking film under her belt, won her first Oscar fresh out of Yale Drama School, and is the darling of the fashion world , evidenced by her Miu Miu contract and the amazing designers who have dressed her for awards season.

And to be honest, I’d rather Kendall Jenner on the cover than Kimye. Kendall has made a name for herself as a bona-fide fashion model, climbing her way up from modelling for Forever 21 and designer prom dresses to walking for the likes of Marc Jacobs and covering Paris Fashion Week. Is she a supermodel? Of course not (yet.) But she is fresh, keen and with that face, only time (and endless hard work and air miles) will tell how far she’ll go. And paired with her already established fanbase and connections in the entertainment industry, I say the future looks bright if she stays on the right track.

On a more positive note (yes it’s very important to me that all my posts on this blog focus on the positive rather than the negative) , I have been buying a copy of British Vogue every month since I have been here in England and I must say that it never fails to amuse, delight, and educate me. Every choice of cover girl is an inspiration and I particularly enjoyed the look inside Calgary Avansino’s life in the last issue. I just picked up my copy for April and already I dying to read the article on the women of Lars von Trier’s film. It was only a few days ago that I caught the film Nymphomania, and of course it made me think of how these women approach the film and how Lars himself envisions them. So to open a copy of Vogue and read about it, makes me feel kind of awesome that hey, maybe Vogue thinks the way I do (hahahhahahahha yes that sounded a lot less hilarious in my head!) . Very current, indeed.

 

Oh here’s a hilarious take on the whole Kimye cover that’ll make you laugh out loud !

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Spring feels like a lover that is too afraid to commit to a stable, adult relationship. Sometimes its there, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it looks as though its about to make it last and the next day it gives us a cold shoulder. BUT! Fret not, my dears. This editorial from SI Magazine has the perfect amount of pretty and fresh that’ll cheer up any day of the week.

Makeup by : Monica Spisak
Photographed by Chris Tribelhorn

See the whole editorial here at Byrdie.

The Love/Hate Relationship

Zara is no doubt one of the major players when it comes to quality, on trend dressing at a fraction of the price (it is listed on Forbes’ World’s Most Valuable Brands list). Although I must admit that as much as the industry is enamored by the offerings of the label, I always seem to have a love hate relationship with it. For one, yes Zara’s efficient distribution channel allows it to churn out designer-inspired pieces just weeks after they’re shown on the runway but the pieces sometimes feel a little too similar to their designer counterparts and that gives me the impression that Zara is a glorified knockoff retailer. Like when Marc Jacobs designed the appliqued, pastel coloured skirts and shell tops for Louis Vuitton and BAM! a few weeks after, the exact (well, from afar at least) same thing appeared on the ZARA mannequins. Don’t get me wrong, with my budget I can only afford to look at designer pieces and take inspiration from it and it is great that discount retailers give me that option. But you know, sometimes designing something that look almost too similar just feels like copying, rather than inspired.

And secondly, ZARA’s  associations with child labour and unethical working conditions really turn me off so much so that it has made me check every label on the clothes that I buy (or wish to buy) just so I know where it comes from. I get a bit more nervous buying something that’s made in Bangladesh after reading about all the factory fires and safety issues that goes on there. And what about the working conditions in other countries? Just because there are no tragedies, does that mean that the working conditions are safe and workers are getting the right treatment? I honestly do hope so. ZARA’s parent company, Inditex, has signed an ethical agreement regarding Bangladesh factories (full list of signatories here). It’s wonderful to see your favourite retailers taking a step in the right direction (and knowing that your favourite sweater did not 20 pounds + someone’s childhood.)

But onto the good. I feel like fashion-obsessed readers and fellow fashion bloggers are going to have my head on the chopping board if I dont start talking about ZARA’s good points.

ZARA has really fantastic basic pieces and quality on trend clothing (though some may beg to differ. My principle is that if its not a designer item,then common sense says : be gentler when caring for the garments. So many people tell me how nonsense Forever 21′s quality is and yet all my Forever 21 buys have lasted me more than 4 years. Care for it properly. Don’t machine wash everything for goodness sake!) . Their organic cotton line is especially fabulous, super comfortable, great for layering and its just great paired with nearly everything.

And recently ZARA called up some of the best looking women in the industry to model for the brand and here are the incredibly gorgeous results.
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The classic, effortless styling is right on point with ZARA’s more minimal approach this season. The photo series exude a kind of quiet confidence and you can just tell how comfortable these women are in the clothes they’re wearing. Just makes me want to walk into ZARA and scoop up all the fuzzy sweaters , lacy tops and cropped trousers I can find.

 

All is Fair in Love & Hair : Chocolate Waterfalls

Lately I have been craving chocolate. Not to eat, but as a hair colour. Its not the most adventurous of colour (I mean come on, the hair dye aisle in Boots has literally the colours of the rainbow as well as the variations of browns and blondes) but there’s something so luscious about hair that’s a deep, rich shade of chocolate. Not brown, but a cascading waterfall of chocolate locks.

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Image Credits : Various Pinterests, Into The Gloss, Style.Com