Thursday 28 January 2016

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Zanzibar Part 1: Park Hyatt

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Last month I was invited to Zanzibar to discover the new Park Hyatt Hotel. Admittedly I hesitated - the idea of packing my suitcase again after just returning from NYC and Iceland the previous weeks, seemed a little too exhausting, and then there was the 20hrs travel (door to door) for just a couple of nights, but I was sure this was going to be one of those once-in-a-lifetime trips that I couldn't bring myself to turn down. And I was not wrong. After the metro to gare du nord, RER to Charles de Gaulle airport, a 6hr flight to Doha (luckily we got the opportunity to lounge around in the business lounge ordering as many cups of tea/coffee and paninis that would could eat), followed by another 6 hour flight to Zanzibar, we finally emerged from the plane into a wonderful 30 degrees heat. 

It was my first real foray into Africa. I've been on the continent to Morocco and I was born near Dubai, but I'd never visited what in my mind was 'real' Africa. Of course Zanzibar is off the coast of Tanzania and is greener, lusher and more humid than the arid plains of the Africa in my mind, films and photos, but I wasn't complaining! Driving through the rich, green vegetation towards the hotel, I felt immediately smug with my decision, dismissed any impending yawns and couldn't wait to see more.

We arrived at the hotel and were greeted with numerous smiling staff. The hotel is old UNESCO heritage building, with Arab influence that has been beautifully and thoughtfully transformed into a hotel. It's right on the beach too, so when I woke up the next day and opened the curtains to let the sun stream in, I could see the morning light dancing on the water. Heaven. The food, the rooms, the beach were all wonderful and we were treated to a massage in the spa and a water safari, which entailed sailing on a dhow, snorkelling in the turquoise blue sea and lunch on a private island! It might have been just two nights, but I felt like I was there for a week. 

Thanks to Park Hyatt Zanzibar and Qatar Airways for making this trip possible. 


Monday 7 December 2015

I’m a minimal dresser, you might have noticed – there’s not a lot of colour or pattern that enters my wardrobe (unless it's an accessory, see scarves below!) and I believe in good wardrobe basics and essentials. They’re key to creating good foundations for any outfit. Among them is a well-crafted leather bag - the type of bag that you can match with any look from day, through to evening. When I discovered new Parisian leather brand, RSVP, I could immediately see a sense of symphony between my style and their aesthetic. They ticked the minimal box, the craft box, the ‘no huge visible logo’ box and each bag is numbered (they’re limited editions) so you’ll feel like you’re getting something truly unique! Both founders have experience in the luxury leather industry, so they manufacture the bags in the same factories as the top fashion houses – meaning the leather is of the highest quality. But unlike many of the big luxury fashion houses, the production process is also completely transparent and environmentally friendly – another aspect of the brand that I was so drawn to, as I prefer to be a conscious shopper where possible. They’re part of a new wave of brands that are putting quality and transparency at the top of the list. First they create a prototype – hence the name ‘RSVP’ (it’s like an invitation to buy! Pretty clever right?!), which must reach a certain amount of orders before it’s produced, a bit like print on demand – so they only produce a product when there’s enough demand for it, which is ultimately good for the wallet (as there are no extra hidden costs, such as paying to store products if they don't sell) and the environment. Finished products are then shipped out within three weeks. I chose to shoot their clutch (with detachable strap) in navy – I can see this style becoming a wardrobe staple and the burgundy document holder (also my favourite colour this season), which doubles up as a rather fancy laptop case. 

I'm wearing: Navy Cardigan, Lamaire x Uniqlo - Denim patch shirt, ASOS - black jeans, ASOS - lipstick, 203 Rouge Rock, YSL

When it came to shooting this style story, I couldn’t think of a better place than the newly refurbished Musée Rodin, which is the epitome of classic, yet minimal Parisian elegance – just look at those wooden doors, chequered floors and marble staircase, all crafted from the highest quality of course and essential to any Parisian building (in my opinion!)

I'm wearing: Navy coat, COS (black version here)- Scarf, Sezane
I'm wearing: Navy coast, COS (black version here) - Scarf, J.Crew 
I'm wearing: Coat, COS as before - Scarf, JCrew as before - Maje boots and document holder, RSVP, shop here
This post was created in collaboration with RSVP.

RSVP is also hosting a pop-up shop 40 rue des petits carreaux, Paris 2ème until 15th January! 

New York, New York

Friday 27 November 2015

The last time I visited New York I was a teenager. My boyfriend at the time and I had just 2 days in the city, after backpacking around South America for two months, making it a very swift stop and not enough time to get a real taste for the city. So I can't describe how excited I was to finally have the chance to visit again. I have been waiting years to see the towering skyscrapers and feel small again. New York definitely has that certain je ne sais crois. It's exciting, full of life and there's so much happening it's like the streets are literally buzzing with energy. Here's a little guide I put together - we were only there for 6 days so there's plenty more that we didn't have time for, but I picked up a few of my favourites! We were also so lucky to have such great weather - it was positively warm the first two days, and I can't get over the autumnal colours of Central Park! 

Arc de Triomphe

Friday 20 November 2015

I have a lot of posts to publish and I'm meant to be publishing three other posts before this one, but in light of the atrocities that happened on Friday night, I feel it's important to post this first. I took these photos the previous Sunday. I woke up early and joined my friend Rachelle up the Arc de Triomphe. I haven't been in years and she is sadly leaving Paris in a couple of weeks, so we both wanted to enjoy the views before the trees lost all of their beautiful autumnal rust-coloured and golden leaves. 

I'm still in shock about what happened in the city I now call home. The scary thing is it could have been me or any of my friends, as the places they targeted were bars and restaurants which I and they often go to... I've heard so many stories of near misses, of friends who were meant to be in le Petit Cambodge or Le Carillon that night for example, but by some weird twist of fate they decided not to go or were prevented from going. The one positive thing that has come out of these atrocities is the sense of community - Parisians and people around the world have rallied together in defiance. Just this week there have been various events, such as #tousaubistrot - encouraging Parisians to support and eat in their favourite restaurants and bistros as an act of defiance. I will not stop enjoying my life here, having coffee with friends in cafes, dining in restaurants, strolling the Parisian streets - I will try to be more vigilant if that is possible, but I will not let the fear seep too far into me. 

I've spent the last five days not only trying to process what's happened in my mind, but trying to educate myself as much as possible, reading about who these people are who want to spread fear and terror, and destroy our way of living. This article written for The Atlantic earlier this year does a great job at explaining who they are, where they came from and why they're doing what they're doing.. Anyway I want this blog to be a space for positivity and inspiration so I will let the rest of the photos I took on top of the Arc de Triomphe do the talking and act as a little tribute to the city I love. 

Intelligent Style

Wednesday 28 October 2015

A couple of weeks ago it seemed like Paris had suddenly skipped a season. We went from 25c one day to 15c the next. For me, anything below 20 is I immediately started searching around for warmer clothes. I may have grown up in the UK, but I do not fare well in the cold (being half Californian might have something to do with it!) When looking for clothes I always make a list and I'm one of those people who will spend hours searching online to see what's out there. I know it takes the spontaneity out of spur of the moment purchases, but I like to know that what I’m buying will fit in with what I already own. Wardrobe essentials therefore (to me) are rather ingenious - not just a ploy to keep you buying, they actually make you look good easily and effortlessly. I usually add pieces every season - clothes that I know will stand the test of time and wear; spending my money on items that are timeless, elegant and have longevity. I like to think of myself as an intelligent shopper. 

Despite now living in France, I still love British brands and ME+EM set up by Brit, Clare Hornby to offer contemporary clothing with a focus on cut, material and quality, caters to my taste perfectly. Luckily she gave me the opportunity to select my top five items from her collection that I not only consider essentials, but also the perfect foundations to a autumn/winter capsule wardrobe. I shot them around my neighbourhood (the 10th) in a few of my favourite locations. 

Scroll down for more and I hope you enjoy the post! 

I have a tendency to wear a lot of black during winter (clearly I’m subconsciously colour-coordinating with the weather), but it leaves me feeling a bit drab. While I don’t like wearing a lot of colour and pattern, I do like wearing lighter shades. This cream ribbed funnel neck jumper is the perfect compromise between cosy and stylish. Not only is it warm, but it can easily be thrown over anything from jeans to being dressed up with a skirt and heels. 

(Photographed in Liberté Patisserie.) 

When I’m not lugging my laptop and camera around with me, I like to carry a clutch i.e. the lightest bag possible – this gorgeous cream leather clutch is a perfect everyday one (and it's not black!), with different compartments (plus one central zipped) for all your small essentials for day or night. It also comes with a detachable strap so you can chose how to wear it. I personally like to carry it in my hand, but it's great to have the option. 

(Photographed on rue Legouvé.)

I’ve had my eyes on a pair of leather trousers for a while. They’re a great alternative to jeans and these black leather and garbadine stretch leggings are seriously comfy. If I didn’t think I was going to ruin them or the fact that they're just too nice to sit in for hours on end, I would happily fly in them! They also sit high enough on the waist that you can tuck tops into them. 

The 'whiskey' merino wool roll neck jumper is a great transitional item that will take you from autumn (if there is one) to winter. And if you're like me and don't wear a lot of colour, this is a great shade to ease you into brighter hues. (Take note of the colour-coordinating wall!)

And finally the Breton stripe... A Breton top might seem a little clichéd for someone living in Paris, but it’s a piece that doesn’t go out of fashion, made timeless by the original chic Parisian – Coco Chanel. This navy an white lyocell/ cotton style has even been worn by the Duchess of Cambridge no less - if it's good enough for Kate...! It's got a good stretch to it, but is tight in the right places, with a nice ruching detail towards the bottom on the sides which look great when worn over jeans. Again this is a piece that can be dressed up or down, or used to layer under a knit when the temperature starts creeping to zero. 

What are your wardrobe essentials?

This post was created in collaboration with ME+EM.

Photos by Ylenia Cuéllar, edited by me.
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