Monday, July 29, 2013

Keep Your Head Up, Keep Your Heart Strong

I was going to wait until tomorrow to blog about this but I couldn’t wait. I just have to share this experience with you all because I consider it to be a crime to not share an amazing talent such as Ben Howard. I just came home from his concert and I have to tell was magical. I’ve been to a lot of concerts this year alone and the last time I got major chills was from watching Ed Sheeran live and that was 7 months ago. While I did get chills when I watched The Xx in Berkeley last month, it wasn’t the same kind of chills I got when I watched Ed and Bon Iver, which is ironic because I find Ben Howard to be the perfect combination of Ed Sheeran and Bon Iver.

Ben Howard is one of those unappreciated and underrated artists that truly deserve more attention. His music is unlike anything we hear in the airwaves nowadays, which is sad because more people should really hear the songs he sings and writes about. You can tell they come from the heart and that they actually mean something. Just listen to Only Love and tell me if you wouldn’t want to be serenaded with the simplicity and effortless vocals of the song? The song Only Love proves that love songs (or even just songs in general) need not be complicated. When sang the right way, it’s enough to make us all starry-eyed and weak in the knees. As I say this, I am not bashing any songs out there right now (ok, maybe I am bashing some...). I love hiphop and I am obsessed with Jay Z’s newest album. However, sometimes when I need a break from all the aggression that hiphop brings, I listen to artists like Ben Howard and I feel relaxed all of a sudden.

Because his voice is exactly the type of voice that can soothe your soul, the Summerstage in Central Park provided the perfect venue to let him do just that. As the sun began to set and the breeze settled in, the concert felt like the perfect lullaby. From beginning to end, he never failed to captivate his audience. Everyone in the crowd was clinging to his every word and when he ended his set with Promise...well  I think that was just the end of everyone. While he didn’t play two of my favorites like Depth Over Distance and Gracious, I still thoroughly enjoyed the concert. It’s amazing how much better he sounds live. Much like when I watched Ed Sheeran and Bon Iver, there were times wherein I couldn’t help but close my eyes and just feel.  

In the end, I am so glad I decided to watch him live. Not to sound redundant but he is simply spectacular and I would definitely recommend watching him live. If you’re not ready to shell out cash and watch him live, at least listen to his songs on YouTube or watch videos of his live performances there. You’ll be happy that you did.

P.S. I tried uploading the videos I took from the concert but it won't let me so I'm just going to put my favorite performances of his from other places.

P.P.S. No one better use Only Love as their wedding song before I do. 

Depth Over Distance:

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Welcome Back, Dior!

If there's one fashion wish I could make, it would be to witness firsthand Christian Dior's spring/summer 1947 collection. The elegance of it all, especially during a time when fashion was used to dropped waists and monochrome colour palettes, was a feast for the senses. The feminine silhouettes and distinct softness caused a style revolution. Unfortunately, during Galliano's tenure, the essence of the Dior house was lost in all the frou frou but thankfully, with Raf Simons at the helm, it has been revived and given a modern sense.

"Simons has a way of making the minimal alluring. That was his legacy at Jil Sander, where he designed for seven years since July 2005. Before that, he launched his own menswear label in 1995. Simons was adored by the global fashion industry for bringing clean style to the forefront. Bidding farewell to Jil Sander invoked a few tears but looking at his current work for Dior, it was definitely a beautiful goodbye.

One of his goals for the house was to bring back the essence of Dior.“People these days don’t know who Christian Dior is. For them it is Galliano. I understand that very well but for me the most essential thing that should be as clear as possible is that it should not be about that. It was never that. Theatrical, unrealistic, not for wear,” he says in an interview with Vogue UK and adds, "I don't see Dior in the street. His ultimate obsession is that he wanted women to wear it in the streets. I can see Chanel but what about Dior?" “The name Dior should symbolize the ultimate in elegance and refinement,” Simon includes, and that’s what he’s trying to reimagine. 
So far, so good. Simons has pinned it to the wall with great accuracy: A-line silhouettes, full skirts, feminine colors graced the s/s 2013 couture show. Christian Dior’s designs were coming alive again. Even in his ready-to-wear collections, Simons threads the designs with the core identity of the house: fall 2013 RTW took inspiration from art, which the founder himself was passionate about, and for the fall 2013 couture show, there was a parade of "memory dresses" that explored houndstooth, peplum, and other designs Dior propelled during his 10 years at the house. Simons brought back the New Look in its purest and most unadulterated form in years.  

Simon’s strategy also includes keeping up with the cultural zeitgeist of the times. In the 21st century, we see a reaction to the frivolous fashion of the previous decades. Minimalism reigns supreme. This fashion movement shares an umbilical cord with the current social climate of the world. As women ascend, there is “a need for upper echelon career clothes” which the aesthetics and silhouette of minimalism provide. Also due to technological advances and mass production, simple pieces make the cut. Ethics and environment now have a huge impact on fashion, as well as other industries, so purchasing pieces that last seem like the more practical move. Timelessness, comfort, and simplicity have been underlined as the favorable look." 
I can't wait to see what Raf Simons has in store for us this September...

To read more, visit 

When You're in London...

Go for a pizza inspired by... Oregon? 

It does sound kind of off, doesn't it? Since when was pizza associated with a northwest state? But as it has proven over time, Yelp's reviews can never fail you. I wanted to try something new in the area so I asked my dear Yelp people for suggestions. They gave me this: Otto Pizza in Westbourne Grove. 

Half of Otto's success can be handed to the interiors. It's so hip... bordering on hipster actually. Filled with wooden tables and chairs, it's definitely not your typical pizza joint. Who else decorates their walls with posters of literary classics like The Great Gatsby? Or hangs beer cases from the ceiling? Otto is not your quaint restaurant but it is cozy in its own way.

And the other half of their success: their pizza (what else?). Pizzas are generally doughy but this one is special because its crust is exactly that... crusty. But not too crusty that it takes Herculean effort to take a bite. What makes it like that is their secret not-so-secret ingredient: cornmeal. Their crust is made from dried corn flour which makes their pizza less refined (so that means it's healthier as well. Health buffs, rejoice!). Put that as the base and fill it with toppings like spinach & artichoke, pulled pork, and fig & pancetta and there you have honest-to-goodness pizza. Quite refreshing if you want to deviate from the normalcy of pepperoni, cheese, pineapple and ham... 

Their menu is pretty straightforward: a selection of different pizza flavors, salads, and desserts. 

When I went there the second time with my boyfriend, we decided to get the Taster which is a selection of six different slices. It's the best way to get a taste of everything good on the menu. My favorites were the BBQ & Pork and Goat's Cheese & Caramelized Onions. Even though we only had three slices each, we were so full by the end of the meal! A satisfied kind of full though. Not an OMG-what-did-I-just-do-to-my-stomach full.

So if you're in the area - well, even if you're not - go get a slice or two of great American pizza. No regrets, I promise.

6 Chepstow Road 
Notting Hill

Monday, July 22, 2013

That Sartorial Crisp

While London's unusually blazing weather proves that summer is here to stay (for now, at least), the fashion industry is already looking to fall. Here's something that encapsulates the direction of the season... even though I wouldn't dare think about coats while my British tan is only getting tanner and tanner each day. -- Deanne xx

Fashion tends to be a wild, rambunctious circus. It is not certain who the ringmaster is – is it the designer? The media? The customers?  But everyone who takes part steps in the ring for ultimately one reason and that is to put on a show. A show that makes you as spectator either cock your head to the side and question the sanity of the designer, or look in perennial, magical awe, depending on your aesthetic sensibilities.

Seasons past have continually delivered oddities and fancies walking down the runway pushing street style to the frontier of surrealism. After all, isn’t this what the world of fashion is all about? A playground of all things unreal, imaginative, dreamlike? In a way, yes. But the line between artsy and messy is painstakingly thin that everyday fashion often steps over to the side of the latter.

And then autumn/winter 2013 happened. Thank the Fashion Heavens. The shift was so stark – yet so welcome - that my eyes had to adjust from the neon-colored, print-splattered designs to the subtler hues and cleaner lines. I may hear a collective sigh of boring and blah but dare to step into these collections that deliver calm and cool, simple and spare, elegant and easy.

The purveyors of chic minimalism took the reins: Céline’s Phoebe Philo with her creamy color palette and tailored silhouettes framed a warm winter season while Chloé’s Claire Waight Keller mixed British and Parisienne with pressed wools and tweeds dipped in navy blue. Of course, Jil Sander, slowly easing her way back into her own label, continues her mark of pared-down clothing with tight, elongated jackets and boxy leather shirts.  Even Carol Lim and Humberto Leon of Kenzo, known for their outrageous themes, gradually take on the aesthetic with a white blouse and a black midi-skirt pairing. Ah yes, the designers are clean-sweeping fashion for us!

Jil Sander makes yellow and black chic

Structured lines is the name of the game at Chloé

Purity reigns supreme at Céline 

Set this turn of fashion within the bigger social landscape. If anything, it’s a response to the need of the times, to the need for something more quiet, stable, and versatile in a world where the unnecessary and the noisy seem to forcibly grab our attention. We tend to bite back at the simple pieces and we do so because they’re difficult, but that’s where the mark of a true person of style lies - in knowing how to work with a neutral cotton coatdress and still manage to make heads turn. It’s easy, too easy to steal the spotlight with a ruffled paisley-printed mini-dress. With simplicity and minimalism, our style workings become fired up and the creative mind in us emerges.

With fashion’s inherent cycle, trends come and go but this one is as enduring as the law of gravity because it’s what pulls everything else together. The show may not be as dazzling, but pure luxury and understated elegance can never fail us. Ladies and Gentlemen, sit back and relax in the comfort of delightful purity. It’s going to be a great show.  

Photos from

When You're in London...

Join the British hoi polloi in whatever is grabbing the headlines for the moment. 

In my case, it was nothing less than the much anticipated labor pangs of Kate Middleton. As soon as I heard the news that she was finally brought to the hospital, I altered my plans for the day and hopped on a train to Paddington. St. Mary's Hospital was the place to be.

There were reporters, tourists and locals in every corner... all eyes towards the Lido Wing. News reports say that she's overdue so impatience was beginning to creep in. The soaring temperature didn't make the wait any easier. But you know, the royals are practically like celebrities in this country so any update about them is significant. People are going all out - decorating the walls of the hospitals, dressing in British garb, and even camping out. All I can say is... this baby better be adorable. And he/she better come out soon because if not, by the time he/she comes out, it'll be old news. 
(UPDATE: It's a boy! I wanted it to be a girl...)

Trivia: He's been waiting outside for 12 days... I couldn't even stay an hour!

Have a bite of New York with Shake Shack. 

I know, kind of ironic but hey, at least you'll be having a transatlantic experience. Go for the Shack Stack. It's a cheeseburger and 'shroom burger (a croquette of portobello mushroom and cheese) in one. Sounds deadly? It is. 770 calories to be exact. But really, who cares? If a single bite can give you a juicy patty, cheese, and mushroom, take it!

And finally, enjoy Covent Garden no matter how many times you've been there.

It's the atmosphere... the energy... the shops... the food... the crazy performers... the tourists. It sounds like a bit too much but only London can make a scene like this feel rather quaint. Because of that, it'll always pull you back in.

Deanne xx

Sunday, July 14, 2013


For the past couple of years, I've been searching for the right perfume to make it my signature. I would try some samples and roll-ons of various perfumes but nothing would really stick to me. Nothing ever made me want to get it again and keep using it. Recently, I thought I found the one but then decided against it. Even though it smelled really divine and reminded me of the beach, it just wasn’t me. Besides, Christian Dior once said, “A women’s perfume tells more about her than her handwriting.”  I want a perfume that would describe who I am without being to overpowering. I want it to compliment me and not take over. Fortunately as I was doing errands for my mother, I stumbled upon a Jo Malone store and it was there where I finally found the one.

I tried on 4 different scents before I finally found the scent that really lingered on me. At first I was a bit hesitant because it did not smell like the usual scents that I would wear. I usually wear something more spicy and woodsy. I don’t really like anything floral and citrusy. In fact, as ironic as it is, I don’t like scents that smell too.....feminine. There was even a year wherein I wore a men’s perfume! However, I figured a woodsy scent would not be as appropriate to wear during the daytime and I really wanted something light and crisp, which is exactly how I would describe the Earl Grey and Cucumber cologne in Jo Malone.

Jo Malone divides their scents into 6 different categories and I found this particular cologne under the citrus category. Even though it was in the citrus category, I could not really detect an overpowering citrus smell. Maybe my nose is not as sophisticated to detect these things but I could only smell a slight hint of vanilla, cucumber, and heavy musk. It smelled light, airy, and clean without being soapy. Even after I left the store and was walking under the hot sun, I could still smell it on my skin. I knew then and there that I had to go get it so I walked all the way to 59th street from 42nd to finally get the scent I’ve been longing for all this time.

I feel very optimistic about this scent and so I hope it doesn’t let me down. I only got the 30ml one so we’ll see if it will really last. Jo Malone has not failed me yet (I got a small candle from there last summer so my dorm room won’t smell) and so the odds are in their favor.

P.S. Sorry not sorry. I just had to say/write that last part.