Archive for February, 2012
Tori’s fashion show is at 9 am at the Alice Tully Hall on 65th street. It probably started already and I missed the people who were getting in. It’s the first show of the day and people are more relaxed. That will change within an hour or so. Guaranteed.
9:15 am: I walk back to Lincoln Center’s plaza, on time to catch the J.Crew fashion show at 9:30 am. My God! So much color! Then I see a glittery green skirt walking towards me. One of the photographers tells me it is Kelly Killoren from Real Housewives of New York City. I don’t really care. All I see is that glittery sequined green skirt with a matching green bag.
At 9:30 am all the late comers start racing towards the fashion hall. On heels!
The J. Crew show is till 10:30 but 10:00 am is the Badgley Mischka show. Another party of people is coming while the J. Crew crowd is getting out for a cigarette break and to have their pictures taken.
All of a sudden I notice a group of tall people and among them a familiar blonde figure. But who is she for God’s sake? I must admit that for a second I thought it was Georgina May Jagger, the daughter of Jerry Hall and Mick Jagger, but one of the photographers next to me whisperes in my ear ‘It’s Lara Stone, can’t you tell?’. They are all so look alike.
Around 10:30 more people are coming out of the J. Crew show and I can catch some more color splashes with my camera. So beautiful.
Note to self: Check out the J.Crew catalogue I got in the mail and mark some new items to buy. A must!
Then I spot Maria Duenas Jacobs, the Accessories editor at Glamour magazine. And she is wearing jeans. But she is so beautiful, so it is forgiven
Talking about colors, then out of the Mercedes Benz halls I could spot a fuchsia coat walking on two skinny legs and all photographers are running toward it. Og my God, it is Anna Dello Russo. I decide to also run after this coat with its two skinny legs and photograph Anna. And she is so slim….and she is so happy to be photographed with well, almost everyone by everyone. Some girl from a European TV network asks her what was her favorite show and the fuchsia coat said it was very impressed by Prabal Gurung‘s latest collection.
Then the fuchsia coat hurries to the next show, and we , the photographers, take advantage of the brief break in between the shows to take more pictures of the people outside.
Disclosure: As we, the photographers, want to shoot, the people who come to the shows want to be photographed. They wear their best clothes (and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them are hiring a stylist just for this day) and they pose in front of our cameras, like, if not as, some of the professional models in the shows. Every one wants to find himself/herself the next day on one of the fashion blogs or websites. Speaking of which, I just recognized Scott Schuman, who is The Sartorilaist. Oy, I never thought he is so short and compact.
So if he is here, I thought to myself, then his French girlfriend, Garance Dore, or whatever her name is, should be here as well. And indeed, few feet away I saw Garance taking pictures of some girl for her blog. I’m a bit disappointed by what she is wearing, no need to say more. One can sense the excitement in the crowd when Scott and Garance are around. Who doesn’t want to find himself at the Sartorialist as a good dresser?
11:00 am: I’m having another coffee break at Starbucks, same place. same people. Who need caffeine as well. Everyone with their iPads, iPhone, Blackberries, and I can already imagine the graph of Twitter sky rocking. After my coffee break, I decide to change my location and head down to Bryant Park. If I time it right, I might get there on time when people are leaving Vera Wang’s.
13:00 pm: So if I am already at the park, I should go and say hi to a friend of mine who is a make up artist at one of the shows. No way I can get an entrance to behind the scenes so my friend is coming outside, we grab lunch, breath some ‘normal’ air and I head downtown to Chelsea. A friend who is having a gallery there is renting it out for a fashion display and invited me over.
15:00 pm: I am meeting with my Amsterdam friend, Elyne, She has decided to focus on photographing mostly shoes. While waiting to get in the Chelsea gallery, I show her my shoe collection I got on my camera. The hand bags collection, I should show her later.
The Chelsea gallery display was packed with a different type of crowd than the one in Lincoln Center. The Chelseas are more daring, less trendy than the Upper West Siders. The Fashion show was of Viktor Luna, a Mexican-born designer, who grew up in Los Angeles and works in New York and his style is more of Punk Rock and Pulse. Except for one pair of pants I could see myself wearing, the rest of his clothes were not really my style.
I looked at the models who were looking at us. None of them moved. Well, maybe only one moved, or someone moved her, I don’t know. They were standing there. Frozen.
I got bored of looking at people who are looking back at me, so I’ve decided to take some pictures of the audience. At least the audience was more ‘alive’ and interesting. Then I notice two drag Queens. Was Pricilla Queen of the Desert making a comeback?
It took me twenty minutes to view the show to decide to take a taxi uptown back to Lincoln Center, to make it on time to my favorite, Diane von Furstenberg. Another round of shoots to catch more of the people who come late. Elisa Sednaoui, the model who DVF hosted on the first fashion week was fashionably late. She was wearing all Pink. Well, she can do it.
17:00 pm: I am going home to edit some of my shots, recharge the batteries (and the camera’s as well), changing clothes and off to the Meat Packing area.
20:00 pm: The Meat Packing District is packed. The French Purple magazine is giving a party at the Standard. Among the party guests I could spot some fashion bloggers, fashion assistants, fashion wanna bees and of course, fashion victims.
22:00 pm: I’m running out of subjects for small talks. I’m getting bored. I’m going back home.
Tomorrow is another day.
Living only 5 minutes walk from Harajuku train station, and luckily only 4 minutes away from Starbucks. Walking back and forth along Omotesando every day and finding some really cute boutiques in the alleys near by. Prada building in Aoyama, Comme des Garcons near by and Tod’s building by Toyo Ito. 2 Silver light coats, 2 grey heat-tech undershirts in Uniqlo Shibuya. The massive crowds in Shibuya and miraculously not getting lost in Shibuya train station. Special Tea seminar in Ippodo Tea place in Ginza. Not understanding a word, but enjoying myself to the fullest. Meeting a friend at the Meiji Jingu Harajuku Shrine, just to realize there is a religious ceremony going on. Throwing few coins to ask for a good luck, writing my wishes on a special paper and buying two lucky charms. Sushi for breakfast, Soba noodle soup for Dinner, snacking mochi all the time. Visiting a store for Kimonos only, Window shopping in Ginza. Stationary made of Japanese special paper after looking for the certain store for hours. Harajuku Girls, Harajuku Girls Malls, Harajuku Girls Culture. A must! Having a behind the scenes and a private tour at HP France company; The trendiest clothing company in Tokyo. Meeting new people and turning them into friends. Fish soup, sticky rice, mint chocolate and sweet crepes. Looking up all the time just to be amazed by the beautiful architecture. JR line, Shinjuku station, Quico boutique and tons of beauty salons. Walking in a city of 13 million people and experiencing serendipity quite often. Sleeping only 4 hours a night, just because there is so much to see. Feel like in the movie ‘Lost in Translation’ so many times during the day but still, always finding my way back. Seeing so many places, so many people and squeezing so many great experiences and surprises into 72 hours….Priceless!
It took me only one day in Vietnam to realize the Vietnamese mothers are actually like the Jewish mothers; They like feeding people. It took me only one day to realize the Vietnamese are also like Israelis; Food is at the very heart of their culture. Almost every aspect of social, spiritual, and family life, revolves around food.
In Vietnam, food is everywhere in sight. In every street corner, a woman pulls out plastic stalls around a a dish, or a huge pot of soup. At each train stop, vendors rush up to the passengers, offering homemade treats such as shrimp cakes, sticky rice, grilled corn, mango or pineapple covered with sweet red chilly flakes, sun dried squid, dried fish, dried fruits, little black dotted eggs or French baguette. The Vietnamese cooking is fresh, healthy and light, and more over, colorful and beautiful to behold; Yellow corn, pinkish-orange shrimps, deep orange crabs, red hot chilly peppers, vivid greens, pearl-color glassy noodles.
In Ho Chi Minn I was drawn immediately to Ben Thanh Market, a popular and touristy destination, watching the women washing, peeling, cutting, cooking and serving food. And in Hanoi, I visited particular street vendors who were located in the alleys around the hotel I was staying in. I learned to recognize the specific type of food for every hour of the day; pork sausages on skews served as a morning snack for kids before they go to school, grilled pork in a marinade of sweetened fish sauce with a side of rice vermicelli for their parents, airy baguettes, then throughout the day one can find pork and mushroom dumplings, spicy Pho noodle soup, white porridge soup served with crunchy croutons, grilled seafood on skews, rice noodles in so many variations, and of course, the Vietnamese coffee; thick, rich with a sweetened condensed milk, that makes it all worth it.
Quick tip: If a place is busy, it’s almost certainly fine to eat there. Don’t eat anywhere with slow turnover (this includes fancy-yet empty restaurants) and make sure to drink a lot of water.
“One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you’d be stricken blind”
Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam February 2012
As a photographer, I love taking pictures of others who take pictures. There is something very special in being in the moment, looking at the viewpoint and click. When I take a picture, I always feel as the world around me freezes for the second I click the camera bottom. After I hear the sound of the shutter released, it’s like the world can get back to normal again. I was planning to take a picture of Hoan Kiem Lake on a misty morning for a long time. In fact, that was one of the reasons I wanted to go there. It was a fine misty morning on February when I just started my walk and passed through the lake, as I used to do every morning. And then I saw this young woman with her camera, pointing at d Ngoc Son Temple in the middle of the lake and the two teenager boys sitting on the right. I love the green and red color combination, both of her bag, the guy’s coat and the green of the lake and the tree.
When I took the picture, the world around me DID freeze for a second.
Drinking so many Vietnamese sweet coffees with condense milk I can even count on one hand, trying to cross to the other side of the street when so many motor bikes are zooming around, Overlooking Ho Chi Minn city at night from the Rex hotel’s rooftop, helium balloons, street food vendors, walking to Ben Thanh Market and having Pho noodle soup for breakfast, squeezing lime into the soup, adding red hot chili peppers, The Notre Damn Church outside of Paris, Cu Chi Tunnels, walking barefoot into the Cao Dai Temple exactly at noon time, Spring rolls and Shrimps at the night market. Sitting on a stool among the locals while having dinner and experiencing all the cheers and celebrations of the Tet Holiday. Staying at the old French Quarter in Hanoi, right next to the St. Joseph Cathedral. Waking up every morning to the sound of bells of the Cathedral and heading for a run along the Hoan Kiem lake, Tai Chi in front of the red Tortoise Tower, walking around the ’36 streets’, looking all day long for a steam Bao and finding it at the bakery next door. Sofitel Metropole Hotel almost every night to get a fast internet connection, passing through the Opera house on my way back. Mango and Pineapple on a stick covered with sweet chili, Halong Bay in the fog, Taking the night train to Sapa and walking almost half day inside a foggy cloud, Baguette and chocolate for breakfast at the Austrian coffee shop, Kit Kat Village, taking the night train back to Hanoi at the same day. Hoa Lo Prison, Tran Quac Pagoda, and giving some fake money to the Gods. Temple of Literature, Ho Chi Minn Mausoleum and walking back through the Ba Dinh Square. Drinking lemon tea and eating sunflowers seeds like the locals do. Getting to Hoian just on time for the Full Moon Lantern Festival, floating a paper lantern on the Thu Bon River on that very special night and praying for some good luck. Sweet potato and coconut green bean cake almost every day. Condense Milk out of the can almost every morning, Grilled corn with chili lime sauce. Waking up at 4 am in the morning just to see the sunrise in a fishermen market. Speaking in English but have no one actually understands you, but still making your way around in a smooth way….Priceless!
One of my favorite books as a kid was ‘Alice in Wonderland’. I remember how I used to imagine that every glass of orange juice my mom asked me to drink, was actually the bottle that read ‘Drink Me’, enabling me to shrink or grow, like Alice. My favorite character in the story was, with no doubt, the Cheshire cat. His ability to disappear when ever he wanted, leaving behind him only his smile, always amazed me. Through the years, I’ve watched all the movies about ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and saw different variations of the musicals. As time passed by and I grew up, Alice’s stories were replaced by other stories and she slowly slipped away.
Until one winter afternoon in Manhattan, when I got into a magical store near Union Square and I felt as though I was in one of those places that Alice used to visit. I was in ABC Carpet and Home. One of the most beautiful furniture and home-accessory store in Manhattan, or in any other place I’ve been till then. A store I wish I could call it Home.
ABC Home is a synonymous name for good taste and great style in anything that has to do with urban furniture and home accessories. It feels as though one can find almost everything for the home and for his/her needs. Beside furnish your apartment, you can also ‘furnish’ your own look by buying make up, clothes, jewelry, perfumes, you name it.
If you are related to the Design world (with a capital D) or if you just love looking at beautiful things, ABC Home is the right place. If you have any fantasy of getting lost in one of the best stores in Manhattan, losing any sense of time while indulging your eyes in aesthetics and beauty, then add to your busy calendar a stop over at that place.
But what I like the most about this furnished chic labyrinth, is the order and structure of things. It seems as though there is an internal aesthetic logic behind all this sort of abundance of furnitures and items. Wether it is organized by shades of colors, by a season or by some exotic destination in the world, everything is so neat and seemed as it is in the right place it should be.
For me, ABC Home is like a microcosmos of New York City and its essence. As New York is a combination and a mix of different ethnic groups and immigrants who all live in (sort of) harmony, same as the mix of styles, trends, colors and items at the ABC Home. The store is a collection of various small shops, all under one roof. Different styles are all integrated together; From Vintage to Antique to Tribal to Oriental style. Heavy sturdy furnitures from the Great Britain, alongside exotic items and home accessories from India, Cambodia, Dali, you name it. Materials such as glass, ceramic, wood, porcelain, paper, plastic and tiles.
I can easily go on and on, dreaming about the leather sofa from England, the silky bedding from South of France or the huge pillows from Indonesia, but I think you got my point. ABC Home is definitely a store where fantasies and dreams can come true, and a place that at least for a minute, you can feel like Alice in Wonderland.
“Never allow yourself to become one of those people who, when they are old, tell you how they missed their chance”
Hanoi, Vietnam, February 2012
This picture was taken in one of my latest days in Hanoi. I spent almost six full days in this city and I walked its streets and alleys thoroughly, despite the massive traffic. I had an urge to eat bao buns, these delicious steamed buns filled with either pork or sweet beans, as a vegi-version alternative, for vegis like me. But even though Hanoi is filled with Boulangeries, thanks to the shades of a French past, it took me a while to find what I wanted. But eventually I did!
To make a long story short…in one of my searches for French Boulangerie, I came across this guy, who was sitting on a chair trying to have a nap. His eyes were closed before and he was semi-napping I think, but he has just opened them and looked at me when I took that shot. He didn’t say a word. He just stared back.
As a travel photographer, I often find myself juggling locations, running around and skipping some cities and places just so I can be in the right place at the right moment.
This is actually what I did on February, while visiting Vietnam after Tet Holiday, the New year of the Vietnamese people, as I was touring the country from south to north, and back to the center, just to make it on time for the Full Moon Festival in Hoi An, on February 5. It was well worth it.
Hoi An is an ancient town in central Vietnam, located only 15 miles southeast of Danang (where there is a great new airport) and occupies a scenic location along the banks of the Thu Bon River. For several centuries Hoi An was one of the most important trading ports in Southeast Asia and an important center of cultural exchange between Europe and the Orient. On 1999 it received the status of World Heritage site by UNESCO, who took the initiative to restore and safeguard Hoi An’s Old Quarter and historic monuments.
The town is a mix of Japanese, Chinese and French cultures. The Old Quarter is divided to West-Japanese Quarter, where you can walk along the Japanese Covered Bridge (from the late 16th century) and the East-French Quarter, where you can walk beneath the colorful market and street-side shops.
For me, Hoi An was the Vietnamese version of Venice, but without the gondolas on the canals. There was something very magical to walk along the narrow streets of this town, with its yellow-colored walls of the old buildings and the colorful lanterns, which are the trademark of this town.
It was a very magical night for me both as a photographer and a tourist to experience the Full Moon Festival, which is held on every 14th day of the lunar month. The old town is completely transformed into something else. There is no access to motor vehicles but only to pedestrians (locals and tourists) who are holding these brightly colored lanterns to sail them on the river and ask for the gods for prosperity and good luck for the New Year.
If you plan a trip to Vietnam, I encourage you to visit Hoi An and not to skip its Lantern-Full moon-Festival.