Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Adios New York


Last day, last post. I took myself out to a luxe dinner at a porterhouse last night and now am totally broke but still have presents to buy. There is a bookstore nearby called Printed Matter I am going to check out this morning, and then I will get my last Peppermint Mocha from the Starbuck's around the corner. Pick up my bags and then make a dodgy trek to the train. Have I mentioned I now have a garment back with 7 coats and 2 dresses, 6 pairs of shoes, 8 books, a MAC parcel worth over $400 and 2 suitcases to lug home? Wah!

Anyway, I fucking love this place. I don't want to leave. Well, I do. It has been a good length of stay. But I'll see it again soon. It has a piece of my heart.

See you all at home in approximately 2 days!

P.s can someone, who is reading this, actually pick me up from the airport on Friday morning at around 8am? If I have to carry this all on a train home, I will actually commit suicide.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Finally, a slice of decent cake

So by the end of your trip, you kind of realize that you barely have any money left, and you feel like you haven't seen everything in perspective. This is me on my second last day, literally rationing out the dimes trying to find another way to see Manhattan. It is an obscure experience.

Anyway, something that was on my list of things to do, but then kind of got discarded in the flurry of shopping was to catch a boat (ferry) out to Staten Island, which is off the east coast. It only takes 25mins or so to get there, and is free. It feels a bit dodgy at first, because the boat is seemingly as big as the Titanic and it doesn't feel safe cramming 1000 people on it. But it isn't so bad. The journey takes you out over the eastern ocean so you can see the Statue of Liberty, and also has a really cool view of the three islands aligned: Brooklyn, Manhattan and New Jersey. Statan Island itself is a bit of a shithole, there is nothing there to see and the cafeteria staff are impossible (one girl had to explain to me why their coffee machine wasn't switched on at 1 in the afternoon. HELLO? Beyond any kind of comprehension as to why). But there are some nice fish tanks in the terminal I suppose.

So on safe ground in Manhattan again, I ventured to find Margiela. It was my duty to friends back home to step foot in that magical place, and after a couple of cab rides and wrong street turns, I eventually found it at some non-descript address on Greenwhich St. Excuse me for being smug, but I did actually have the pleasure of a delightful sales assistant who allowed me to try on every piece from the new Spring Summer collection, and yes, it was gorg. I was curious to see how that collection would translate into something wearable, considering everything on the catwalk had a piece of cardboard behind it. I couldn't break the trust by taking photos of the store, but trust me, it was a wicked experience (also, the change rooms have heated carpet on the floors...).

I came home and the boys had bought a cheesecake. I don't normally like cheesecake, but Junior's is actually the most amazing thing you could ever put in your mouth. Like eating a slightly warm, ice-creamy textured cloud of happiness. That is Junior's Cheesecake. Best way to end the trip.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Balthazar's/Tziporah Salamon/SNOW!

Anyone who knows anyone who knows anything knows that Balthazar's French Restaurant on Spring St in SoHo is the place to be for brunch on a Sunday morning.But becuase Marc was preoccupied with being a film star all weekend, thus ruining perfect Sunday brunch plans(they usually book out up to 3months ahead), we were able to secure a table for Monday breakfast. Balthazar's, if you haven't heard of it, is a French bistro de Patissiere on Spring St in SoHo. The interior decor of Belle Epoque in the Emporium back home is somewhat reminiscent, but it doesn't quite retain the same air of French eloquence. Although the waitstaff were, perhaps, a little overly attentive...the general organisation of management is commendable. Balthazar's served the best coffee I've had in New York (justifying the hefty $5.20 price per cup), and my dish was like heaven had betrothed me a miracle. Hazlenut Waffle delicately baked to crispy perfection pf crust, served with a light sour cream and warm berries marinated in juices. Food envy? Jealousy would explain why Marc was in bitterness over his eggs benedict. I make all the right decisions in life.
While M&M took tours of cultural buildings...I mosied around SoHo a while longer to see what I could find. I found the scientific artstore Evolution on Spring st which specialises in taxidermy and skeletal accessories. They even sell raccoon willy bones. Delicious. Despite connecting to his WiFi around the same area...I couldn't find Marc Jacobs which was tres poo. I then went on a mission to the Issey Miyake Concept Store...which literally was a mission walk from SoHo to Tribeca. On the way I found Rick Owens and needed to kill time so I sampled some of his winter collection sale. He has these weird bagged out leather collars which are a bit uncomfortable to wear, and aside from the shoes, there wasn't much left that was impressive. Keep trekking down to N Moore st and you will come across a building which catches your eye because of its sophisticated design and utilization of desolate industrial space. Displayed on suspended mannequins in the windows are pieces from his stunning 1.3.2 collection which is inspired by chrystalisation and origami. And from there his store falls short of nothing less than amazing. I was surprised that they didn't have the APOC concept instore...where you could cut your own garments from rolls of fabric. But forgivable.

I couldn't shop for long as Marc and I were fortunate enough to be granted some of Tziporah Salamon's time to film one of her dress up shows and talk to her about the essence of style. The woman is an eccentric but entirely lovable doll. We were fortunate enough to spend some time with her in her apartment on Upper West, where we filmed a really great interview and she showed us some of her amazing clothing collection. I can't say much more on it, except that my cheek temples literally ache from smiling so much (you can't help but smile when you talk to her). Keep your eyes open for an article on RaraCurio's Latest Cry by the end of Janurary.

To top off a near perfect day, it actually legit started snowing when we left Tziporah's late in the evening. It was so beautiful, you can't even imagine how amazing it felt to see snow for the first time in your life, IN New York, after that interview. Luxe.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Da Bronx G

Sunday was a really miserable day in NYC, drizzly and cold…I was going to sit around and mope all day until I decided I could do that on a train to somewhere as far out of Manhattan as possible. So I gathered some Radiohead and took the first train out to nowhere. 45mins later, I could get as far north as the Bronx and got off at Van Cortland Park at the end of the line. I hadn’t properly thought my plans through, and probably should have braced myself a bit better, but I was in a mellow state of mind and didn’t particularly care where I was. Besides, I was always curious about the Bronx…I have something of an interest in experiencing the best and worst of everything when I travel. And I had dispositions of the area, of course…but it wasn’t as bad as anticipated. The build up of the area is very much like what we rode through in suburban Brooklyn; built up housing commisionaries in dull, brown blocks hundreds at a time…ghostly streets and desolate parks. The poverty was a lot more confronting…walking out of the station there was a homeless community and one single mother was trying to change her baby’s nappy on the street in the cold. But what I did notice was different to Brooklyn was a sense of community despite the low-income social ratio. It was a little more old-worldly, and you could tell people looked out and cared for each other a lot more in the Bronx. Which was slightly uplifting.

Van Cortland Park is a massive baseball park that took me ½ an hour to wander around. It was empty, which was REALLY strange…it was the first time I’d actually been alone in a situation and place in New York with no one around. The paths were littered in fallen autumn leaves and I have never seen such a squirrel population! So that was actually really, really nice to sit in and mull over the atmosphere.

I have no stereotypical thoughts of New York now, because there is such a diversity of people and cultures. And everyone unites. It is really inspiring.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I love being pretentious.

So Marc went off today to be a film/art star for Mark the artist, leaving M and I at home (holy shiznizzle I can't deal with knowing any more Mark/c's in my life right now). It was pretty gloomy and cold, but we thought it would be a good idea to go back to Barney's to analyse the technical details of the clothes on 5th,6th and 7th levels of the store.
To do this inconspicuously, you need to either 1) look like a total tourist or 2) act pretentious as if you were a potential buyer. I did the latter, it is way funner, and then that way you can sample the clothes because you look half decent. Anyway, while I couldn't take photos of anything in-store discreetly, I can tell you exactly what trends in details I have noticed across my two trips for winter next year:

1) cut out armholes under sleeves
2) seam welt pockets
3) pocket shapes fused on the outside of a garment
4) embossed fibres and woven textures into fabrics
5) cardigans being worn upside down for a drapy look around the neck
6) hems and edges left raw with fabrics that don't fray

And my highlight collections are Alaia, Margiela, Prada, Marc Jacobs and Balenciaga.
What I also love about Barney's is the AMEX commodity. Much like my Prada experience, you can't actually tell who is a celebrity or not, but they're loaaaaded. And SO much plastic surgery.

These are some photos of the Barney's

Friday, December 10, 2010


A really sneaky tip we have learned from trusty Lonely Planet is to go to galleries closer to the closing hour for cheaper prices. On Friday nights, the MOMA is open until late (8pm), and cheaper tickets start from 4pm. To our great delight, we actually were lucky enough to score free tickets anyway from a Target initative...however, if you really are interested in the Modern Art I would suggest allowing a little more than 4 hours to explore the place.

MOMA is...amazingly overwhelmingly filled with goodness. Its vast collection expands across an impressive archive of arts in various forms of media, including design and architecture, photography, prints and illustrations, film, performative installation and painting and sculpture. They have artefacts by all the big art figures: Dali, Miro, Cezanne, Monet, Pollack, Warhol, Chase, Klimt, well as the continuous pursuit of some of art's more recent icons like Alex Prager. Considering I couldn't stand within 2m of Gough's Starry Night because of the swarm of people surrounding it, I put my favourites down to 2 exhibitions at the gallery.

One of the installations as part of MOMA's Performance Exhibition Series, was a piece by artists Jennifer Allora (b. 1974) and Guillermo Calzadilla (b. 1971) present Stop, Repair, Prepare: Variations on Ode to Joy for a Prepared Piano (2008). For this piece, the artists carved a hole in the center of a grand piano, through which a pianist plays the famous Fourth Movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, usually referred to as “Ode to Joy.” The performer leans over the keyboard and plays upside down and backwards, while moving with the piano across the vast atrium. Becuase I have studied prepared piano, this was particularly cool to me. But it was the kind of thing anyone could be amused by.

The second exhibition which I took particular liking to was On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century on the gallery's sixth floor. The exhibtion explores the radical transformation of the medium of drawing throughout the twentieth century, displaying a transition where artists instead pushed line across the plane into real space and installation. It features probably around a couple hundred pieces of work that connect drawing with selections of painting, sculpture, photography, film, and dance (represented by film and documentation), by artists such as both Aleksandr Rodchenko, Karel Malich, Eva Hesse, Anna Maria Maiolino, Richard Tuttle, and Monika Grzymala. I have a tendancy to use lines in graphics and texture of my own work, so I can see this as being as source of inspiration at some point.

All in all, a wonderfully colourful and cultural evening. On the train home, it slightly snowed. Not enough. But winter is coming :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I was in the mood for another lonesome adventure, so I thought, considering I was so intrigued, to check out hipsterville in Brooklyn for market research. Williamsbourg is Hipster Capital, I literally had to walk 20m from the station to find my first example. They were a cute couple who pointed me in the direction of the central hub, Belgrave Avenue. One of their biggest tips for people watching was to head to a cafe called Oslo, which is run by some attractive young lads. The experience is comparable to Cup in West End I suppose...loyal regulars and connoisseurs in coffee, and then the passers by who know of the place and their clientele.
The suburb honestly disappointed me on the whole. I found every aspect pretentious and overwhelming. Williamsbourg style is nothing to fuss about; granted everyone is pretty chilled, but I think I would be pretty chilled too if I spent my weekly income on Cheap Mondays and some green.

So in curing my frustration, I headed on the first train to Manhattan, and retail therapy hit the spot in SoHo. I headed straight to my favourite vintage store, What Goes Around Comes Around (351 West Broadway) to organise some opera attire with a $300 budget challenge. Not sure if I mentioned it in earlier posts, but I struck up friendship with the lovely vintage collector Colby who works at the store, who has been fantastic in supporting my shopping obligations (for educational purposes of course) while in New York. We had originally planned to spend the day out at the store's garment and textile archive in New Jersey; however, work commitments restricted us in SoHo. Never fear, readers, I spent as much time as possible doing what I do best: scouring every rack and knook for possible and excitable treasures. Downstairs from the street level (and generally closed to the public except by appointment) is a whole other room dedicated to periodical womenswear by era and designer, where I found some extravagant pieces by Pucci, original Hubert de Givenchy, and Azzedine Alaia among others. Collections by era included everything from Victorian through to 1980s without missing a single defining moment in fashion... I even found braided edging on jeans by Vivienne Westwood. Unfortunately I could only be permitted a couple of store photos, and even then I felt a bit dodgy taking the time to capture good ones. But if you're ever in town, place this store high on your shopping hotspots for vintage because you'll want to spend every penny you have left there.
By the way, I ended up purchasing a 1960s pleated kaftan with a deep keyhole back opening. It reminds me of a sunrise, so now I need to find some Marni blue shoes to wear it to Carmen at the Met Opera tonight.