Monday, January 31, 2011

Paris Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2011

Last week I experienced what it was like to photograph from the podium at Paris Haute Couture. Shooting with a 35mm prime among a sea of tripods and telephoto lenses, I fought my way into the front row and scrunched crossed legged among other amateur photographers and bloggers. I got a few great shots but more than anything enjoyed the view. You can see more on flickr and on Paris-Update.




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Monday, January 24, 2011

City Guide: Luxembourg City in October

Back in October, I spent my two weeks vacation traveling with a friend through Benelux. Our Eurail pass took us to Luxembourg City, Brussels, Brugge, Amsterdam and back to Paris. To end the trip, we took a flight to Barcelona to celebrate our birthdays.

Our first destination was by far the most picturesque leg of this trip. Luxembourg has something for everyone. Just over two hours from Paris by high-speed train, it is an ideal place for backpackers to enjoy a break from the large tourist centers and hostel parties en route to Amsterdam or Berlin. With thirteen Michelin star restaurants this county has the most per capita in the world and is perfect for a romantic getaway.

Rich in history owing to its location and national geography, Luxembourg City, otherwise known as the "Gibraltar of the North",  was for a longtime one of Europe's greatest military strongholds. The first fortifications were erected in the tenth century by Siegfried I.  For centuries it was passed between Europe's leading powers: from the Spanish and Austrian Empires to the Prussians, the French and back again. Its military history finally came to an end in 1867 with the Treaty of London which for the good of European peace required Luxembourg to demolish the fortifications, a process which took over 16 years. 

Be sure to take a walk through what is left of the (1) Bock casemates to get a feel for Luxembourg's military history. If you lack the motivation to make the steep jaunt down into the Grund hop on (2) The Petrusse Express which stops by the (3) "Gella Fra" Memorial on Boulevard F.D. Roosevelt. The mini-train will take you on an hour tour of the city while the audio guide provides an interesting narration of Luxembourg's folk history to the majestic music of regional composers. Be on the look out for the (4) Quirin chapel, a fourteenth century church built into the rock. 

Stop for a cup of the Caramel Bourbon Vanilla flavoured hot chocolate at the (5) Chocolate House which sits right across from the (6) Palace of the Grand Dukes. You might even get a chance to see the Royal Family! Not too far is the Place d'Armes which is the heart of the shopping district. 

On a monday night when most restaurants are closed and with a restricted budget, we opted for pub fare at Urban City Bar and Restaurant. The food was delicious and plentiful, the atmosphere was cozy and the beer was cheap. Equally recommended as a fun place to have drinks later in the evening. 

If you are spending the night, note that we did not have a good experience at the Fort Reinsheim. Located outside the city centre, the rooms were less than impressive and overall not a fun hostel experience. We nearly got locked out for the night! For just a few more euros opt to stay at the Hotel Parc Belle-Vue.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bottega Veneta Fall/Winter 2011

The Bottega Veneta autumn 2011 menswear line is perfect in its rich colours and luxe textures. Scott Schuman claims it was the strongest show of Milan, admitting he was less than impressed with the rest. I might even be okay with the leather on leather.  

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hey bring back the blue skies!

What a miserable day I am having. The January cold is back and it is raining Paris style: a slight mist just enough to ruin your mood and your hair. Luckily I have Caribou to look forward to tonight. And maybe we will make it in time for the DAMIR DOMA aftershow party at Le Pompon. 

Hyperbole and a Half makes me smile

as does My Sweet Lord

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hand on Heart

Walter Van Beirendonck unveiled his latest collection entitled Hand on Heart today at Espace Commines in Paris. The influential Belgian designer who is part of the Antwerp Six is known for his innovative avant garde creations and strong use of graphics and colour. For Fall/Winter 2011 the collection is based around the traditional tailored suit and oversized layers. In line with this season's trends, Van Beirendonck adds pops of bright colour and a feminin touch with Chanel inspired pieces.

Montparnasse Cemetary

Last sunday Paris was 12 degrees and sunny.  I had lunch on a park bench and took a long walk through Montparnasse cemetery.  Located in the shadow of Tour Montparnasse not far from the southern tip of Jardin du Luxembourg, this cemetery is wrongfully overlooked by tourists (Père-Lachaise gets all the attention).  Many french artists and intellectuals are buried here including Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvais as well as the most beloved Serge Gainsbourg.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Winter: Fashion's archenemy

Sorel winter boots, introduced in 1959 from Kitchener, Ontario.
The authentic winter boot has made a comeback in recent years.

Being from Toronto, I am familiar with the struggle of staying motivated to look your best throughout the winter months. Priority number one is to keep warm and dry.  This means layer upon layers under ski jackets, hats and scarves. Heels are not an option. I know from experience it is less embarrassing to be caught in clunky winter boots than to trip and fall on a patch of black ice in the middle of a road.  And let's be honest there is no such thing as stylish winter boots. As a rule the ugliest boots will be the warmest boots.  I now surrender to winter. For a few cold months fashion gives way and practicality takes precedence.

Today I was happy to discover that when faced with the obstacle of winter Anina, the original "Model Blogger",  likewise chooses warm winter over fashionable heels:

"It is Really Snowing. What to wear?

Dressing up to be stylish is one thing. But walking on ice and snow is another. Wobbling along in high heels simply makes you look like a die hard fool, not to mention the salt nipping at your manolo's. In Paris I had to make a pit-party stop to shop because these was no way to keep sliding along in my platform heels like I am too precious to fall. I am. I can not be bothered to waste time".

Monday, January 17, 2011

Wishlist: Texas Traditions custom boots

photo Misty Keasle 
Story goes the cowboy boot originated in Kansas in the 1880s when a Colorado based cowboy specified a custom shaped boot designed to fit the stirrup.  Read an article in last week's The Economist that claimed they will be in high demand post recession (if that ever happens). 
Master boot maker Lee Miller owns Texas Traditions.  He trained under the late great Charlie Dunn and makes boots for the likes of Willie Nelson.  The waiting list is three years long.  Prices  start at $2 000.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Upcoming shows I just can't wait for!

Saturday, January 22nd: Caribou dj set @ Rex Club

Being in France has made me realize the reach of Canadian music.  I have known about this show for a while but had forgotten and then a French friend sent me an invitation.  
My friends have been dying to go to the Rex Club but the line up is always too intimidating.  This provides a perfect opportunity to buy tickets in advance and trade up to the much shorter but still very real VIP line up.  In all seriousness it should be one of the very few dj sets I will ever enjoy.  I'm really excited to see Daniel Snaith, the native London-Ontarian, perform solo. 

Caribou: Odessa

Friday, February 4th: Twin Shadow @ Nouveau Casino

I stumbled across this video a couple of months back.  Twin Shadow is the solo project of George Lewis Jr., a 26 years old born in the Dominican Republic, raised in Florida and now living and recording in Brooklyn.  His first album Forget was produced by Chris Taylor from Grizzly Bear and released just last fall to rave reviews.  Lucky to have been checking out upcoming concert in Paris tonight and notice this show.  He played Toronto two nights ago so I was surprised to find he would be in Paris so soon.

Twin Shadow: Slow

Thursday, February 17th: Iron and Wine @ Alhambra

This speaks for itself.  I've had tickets for a while.  Super pumped.
Fun Facts: Samuel Beam is only thirty-six years old. He specialized in painting at university and was a professor of film and cinematography all before giving his demo tape to friend Michael Bridwell, brother of Band of Horse's lead singer, Ben Bridwell, who helped catch the attention of Sub Pop.  And Beam has 5 kids!

Iron and Wine: cover of The Postal Service's Such Great Heights

Hey I just realized all three are male solo projects! 

Bookshelf Porn: a photo collection of rooms that inspire

Photographer Unknown

I imagine my future home will be featured on Bookshelf Porn.

It will be decorated with a combination of floor to ceiling bookshelves and walls covered in photographs from this trip.  Unless I get my dream job that pays for me to travel around the world in which case the walls will be covered in photographs from many many trips.

The photo below with the horrible glare is of a piece of art hanging at CAPC, the contemporary art museum in Bordeaux.

Toronto fixed gears in snowstorms

photo Sam Javanrouh
A daily dose of imagery is my browser homepage. Every day Sam Javanrouh posts a new photo of his daily experience in Toronto. 

I really miss seeing pretty fixed gears everywhere. Biking is way more accessible in paris with les Velos but far less colourful! 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rick Danko love of my life

I have been watching Rick Danko videos on loop, especially this clip from The Last Waltz. My favourite scene from the movie is Rick's interview leading into Sip the Wine. Yea we're on a first name basis.