I love London; it always leaves me wanting more. The fashion is next level, the pubs super fun, and the people are genuinely enthusiastic about America and Americans. As a history fan, London does not disappoint and there is always something in view to remind you that Britain is great for a reason. I was there last month to see Eric Clapton’s final night at The Royal Albert Hall and brought an almost empty suitcase that I filled past capacity for my return home, British pound vs. American Dollar conversion rate be damned. Pick your poison fashion fans, or pick them all as I did. Whoops.
MAYFAIR / BOND STREET: HARRODS & SELFRIDGES
Want it ultra posh, upscale, and pricey? Heading to Mayfair and Bond Street are musts but be sure to go to Harrods and Selfridges. These London retailers are considered national treasures for a reason. Teeming with shoppers keeping the cash boxes ringing, the conspicuous consumption of the most exclusive brands and logomania makes for excellent people watching and will suck you in as well. I dare you to visit Harrods and not walk out swinging one of their hunter green shopping bags. Sticker shock got you down when in Harrods or Selfridges? Head to the food halls and prepare to be amazed by the cornucopia of culinary choices. Harrods is the more incredible of the two, pretty sure I ruptured an optic nerve trying to take it all in. There is nothing like these food halls in America and nothing like these two very British institutions.
Like your fashion fast, served up easy peasy, and budget friendly? Then Oxford Street / Oxford Circus is for you. Try not to go on the weekend when the immense crowds will slow you down. Send your bloke to the pub and wear comfortable shoes and clothes easy to change in and out of, you are going to want to move like a fashion ninja to experience the insane amount of choices. Get your fleek on at the Primark store, which is a playground of must haves at incredibly reasonable prices. I can’t wait for the Primark to open in Downtown Crossing this fall; that’s right Boston we are going to have our own Primark, which will be the first one to open in the USA. Topshop’s flagship store is like the hot boyfriend you can never really get over because its just so good, why aren’t the Topshops in America this yummy? Given my obsession perhaps it’s for the best.
Rihanna’s favorite River Island exceeded my expectations especially as a source for interesting accessories and custom jewelry, how I wish there were stores stateside. There is a Zara on every other corner yet the mix of merchandise varies slightly by store making it necessary for me to visit each one. Damn you and thank you Zara, European Zaras trump their sister stores in America every time. Even H&M seems to have upped their game offering merchandise I have never seen on this side of the pond. Festival fashion is currently THE theme in all of these stores so rock on fast fashion groupies.
My favorite places to shop in London are the vintage areas and markets. You’ll love it too if you are all about the hunt for the truly unique and original. Leave the tony neighborhoods of the West End and the madness of the main shopping streets and head to gritty Brick Lane for some of the best fashion vintage shopping on the globe. It’s not posh or pretty, but Brick Lane has a great assortment of vintage stores that offer their wares categorized with British military precision. Prices are in the reasonable range and in the individually owned stores you can feel free to haggle a bit. Blitz was the star store; the assortment and quality of their vintage merchandise blew me away. Expertly curated, make sure you visit the basement for their clearance area where I scored some fringed pieces that are totally on trend, leather and furs, and classic capes that I know will be standouts come the fall. Once you’ve made your way down Brick Lane, be sure to hit nearby Spitafields Market where you can find independent purveyors of fashion both vintage and current. It was love at first site for me when I walked in Collectif. This retro rockabilly boutique was all 40’s and 50’s sex symbol with a new age edge stray cat strut that just won’t quit. Shopping making you thirsty and working a Jack The Ripper fascination? Be sure to stop by The Ten Bells for a pint (or two) before heading back to modern day reality.
THE SCENE — Broadway. (Nomad, Midtown, Times Square) A theater extravaganza.
THE MUSTS — Ultimate destinations — within 20 walking blocks
[ezcol_1half]THE STAY — The Nomad Hotel (stands for ‘North of Madison Square Park’- the newly hyped triangle), at 28th and Broadway- A Beaux Arts masterpiece, dark and romantic with belle epoque décor; celebrating its three-year anniversary; a secret ‘locals’ getaway. It is touted as the Ace Hotel for Adults. The service? Just right; hip, attentive, engaging- with a youthful exuberance. Rainforest shower heads deliver a soothing spa experience; Frette linens and down feather beds for the ultimate ZZZzzzzzs. Furnishings are a mix of high and low, historic and contemporary. And the push and pull hits the right mix in a neighborhood of the same.
THE EATS — DAY ONE: The Parlour at the Nomad- Brunch – Featuring the ‘ne plus ultra’ of chicken sandwiches masterfully crafted by chef/owner Daniel Humm with buttery brioche, fois gras and black truffle. Pair it with a glass of Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Bourgogne blanc from Burgundy France 2011. (One of the many fine wines by the glass sourced from around the world). For dessert: Milk & Honey- a deconstructed sweet with shortbread, brittle and ice cream. Finish with a glass of Sauterne and a white Peony tea. Truly a flawless dining experience. Ask for Rudy – a dedicated artist in customer service.
Aldo Sohm Wine Bar— Dinner: at 51st and 7th (located across the Galleria from Le Bernadin)- This restrained and discreet Wine Bar is the casual love child of star Sommelier Aldo Sohm and renowned Le Bernadin Chef/Owner Eric Ripert. It is a marriage of fine small plates and some of the best sourced wines of the world. Like Le Bernadin, the professional staff hits the right note in service. Unlike Le Bernadin, no reservations are needed. In fact, they are not taken at all. Musts are the Truffle Pasta with aged Parmesan – a decadent delight – both delicate and dynamic, the roasted, spiced carrots and the grilled chorizo manchego Panini. Wines by the glass never tasted better than in their super fine crystal stemware from Zalto (a collaboration with Mr. Sohm). Try the 2013 Vouvray Domaine Huet by Le Mont, and the 2012 Cotes de Nuits-Villages Les Essards by Antoine Lienhardt. Perfection.
DAY TWO: Stumptown Coffee OutPost at The Ace Hotel – a neighborhood favorite. A simple, smooth cup of java. Authentic Doppio Macchiato. Get it to go and be a ‘flaneur’.
Eataly–Lunch:at 23rd and 5th Avenue- Mario Batali’s– Authentic Italian Mecca delivers sensory overload. A Harrods food court for Italian foodies. With a curated Alessi outpost to satisfy the discerning designer. La pizza & la pasta served in an insalata de Finocchio – arugula, fennel, shaved parmigiano with lemon vinaigrette and a chewy/ crispy pizza with prosciutto & mozzarella. Molto bene. Simply satisfying.[/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end]THE COCKTAIL — Night Cap at The Elephant Bar – the Nomad – craft cocktail heaven. The menu is divided into 3 categories -The Dark Spirited -The Start me Up (for Bourbon Lovers)-Bourbon Rum, Strega, Honey Ginger, Lemon and Orange Bitters; The Light Spirited – The Red Light-Niguraguan Rum, Aquavit, Campari, velvet falernum, vanilla, grapefruit, lime, wormwood bitters, and the Soft Cocktail –the Basil Fennel Soda. Something to satisfy every whim and palate for a creative local crowd.
THE SHOPPING — MOMA Design Store at 5th AV and 53Rd – get your artistic culture on. This is curated like the Museum with some hi -lo design objects heavy on the functional luxury. Some perennial favorites include the Sky Umbrella and the Yanagi flatwear.
Fishes Eddy—889 BROADWAY, Purveyor of American Sturdy ware. Hotel ware reimagined – Many items with humorous anecdotes. Dare you NOT to leave with a smile
THE SHOWS — “The Audience”: (Matinee) Starring the incomparable Helen Mirren at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre at west 45th St. A transformative tete a tete with the Queen and her successive Prime Ministers. Intelligent, witty and touching glimpse of the royal weekly behind the scenes meetings. This restrained and elegant production is directed by Stephan Daldry (“An Inspector Calls,” “Billy Elliot”) and designed by Bob Crowley (“Once,” “Glass Menagerie”).
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre at West 47th St. A mystery (it’s title is taken from a Sherlock Holmes quote) with brilliant perspective from the eyes of 15-year-old protagonist Christopher Boone—who describes himself as a mathematician with behavioral difficulties (identified as Asperger’s Syndrome). If anything, the play is about being an outsider, about differences. It is based on a novel by Mark Haddon, winner of 17 literary awards. The playwright is Simon Stephens (“A Doll’s House,” “The Cherry Orchard”). Alex Sharp, a 2014 Julliard graduate makes his extraordinary Broadway debut.
Honeymoon in Vegas: (Matinee) Starring Tony Danza at the Nederlander Theater at West 41st St. – Based on a screenplay by Andrew Bergman, with a rousing score by Jason Robert Brown- (a fine story teller like Stephen Sondheim – only funny, with the angst of Woody Allen). This has everything a Broadway musical needs – a splashy opening number with a catchy tune (Betsy), humor, shtick, romance, and flying Elvis’. And, yet, it has a surprising restraint, due in part because of a charming performance by Mr. Danza.[/ezcol_1half_end]
THE SCENE The Upper East Side. A luxury streamlined visit.
THE MUSTS: Ultimate destinations – all within 10 blocks.
[ezcol_1half]THE STAY: The Pierre, A Taj Hotel at 61st and 5th on Central Park- Old World Elegance – Recently underwent a $100 million renovation. Sublime – the quintessential hotel team- (including elevator operators –true PR agents) no request too big; no detail too small; Frette linens and robes; grohe fixtures in the marble baths.
THE EATS – Day One: Rev your engine with – Ralph’s coffee at the Polo Store 5th & 55th – THE best cup in the city – An exclusive blend of Nicaraguan, Peruvian, and Columbian beans. Pair it with a cured salmon sandwich on country bread with watercress and preserved lemons, and an all American chocolate walnut brownie (A secret recipe from Mr. Lauren’s mother-in-law.)
Day Two: Breakfast- La Viand Coffee Shop at 61st & Madison – real authentic diner for locals – can’t beat the eggs over easy, bacon, rye toast and hash browns – in and out in 20 minutes!
Dinner- Le Bilbouquet at 61st between Madison & Park – chic neighborhood spot –order the signature endive salad with granny apple, candied walnuts and Roquefort and the Branzino –practice your French with the uber charming maître d’s.
THE COCKTAIL – Sirios at the Pierre – sip the “PEAR SE” –grey goose pear, alchemia ginger vodka, pear puree, solerno, lemon juice or the “Bitter Love” – a potion of Greenhook Ginsmith gin, Campari, strawberry puree, lime juice.[/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end]THE SWEETS – Laduree at Madison – The original Macaron from Paris – drool over the rose water, pistachio and salted caramel flavors.
THE SHOPPING – Bergdorf’s on 5th Ave for Old world experience, Barney’s on Madison Ave for New world experience, and Ralph Lauren Women’s store on Madison for a combination of the two– The Beaux Art Hotel Particular Style Building is a recent addition to the street – All three are a part of the true luxury retail fabric of New York.
THE SHOW – “The River” – Starring the charismatic Hugh Jackman at the Circle in the Square at 50th –get “hooked” on this darkly romantic tale about a fisherman in a remote cabin and the 2 women he entertains there. 1 hour 25 minutes with no intermission.[/ezcol_1half_end]
Confession: I’ve never wanted to be a personal shopper. There, I said it. I love to shop and am all about finding the perfect fashion solution but with the majority of personal shopping services tied to a single store, it didn’t seem like a good fit. I’m an independent fashion stylist who craves the creative freedom to be able to mix brands and price points to serve a customer’s needs. I also had reservations about the customer wondering if the advice and guidance they received was somehow influenced by personal shoppers, whose compensation is tied to how much the customer spends. All that changed when Copley Place started a new personal shopping program that allows their personal shopper to bring customers to any retailer within the mall. And it’s free to customers! With the focus 100% on finding the right options for customers, let’s just say I was “all in.”
“Fashion is what you buy. Style is what you do with it” – unknown. Great style has the power to transform and change not only how you feel, but how others view you. Gender, age, body type, or even budget are irrelevant because ultimately, confidence is the goal. When you feel like you’re presenting your best self you stand taller, you’re happier, and you feel ready for success. I’m obsessed with finding the dress that will flatter your figure perfectly, the jeans that make you want to strut, the suit you will reach for when you need super powers. I have created thousands of looks for the fashion shows I produce, the photo shoots I contribute to, and the clients I serve. Dressing models is big fun and I love it, but being able to help real people with their fashion needs is tremendously rewarding.
Whether shopping for gifts, special occasion outfits, or adding key pieces to your wardrobe, I will show you options that fit your unique individual style and budget. Some retailers will even extend special unpublished discounts and benefits to guests when shopping with me – sweet! No sales pressure – this is all about providing you with an exceptional personal styling and shopping experience.
See you soon!
I have a confession: I owe my first glimpse of the northern lights to my terrible smoking habit. Pacing around in blast-freezer conditions, I was puffing away on my after-dinner cigarette (my face and hands progressing from cold, through stinging, to completely numb) when I happened to glance to the skies. There it was. A faint beam of eerie green light snaked overhead, curling and intensifying, then slowly unfurling into a delicate, shimmering curtain. As I watched, a second swathe of rosy pink light began to materialise. I was mesmerised. Eventually I snapped out of my trance and burst into the restaurant to share the news. A stampede for the door ensued.
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Alexander Wang announced during his resort presentation today he’ll be opening a second retail store location in Beijing. Having just opened his first store in Manhattan earlier this year he’s clearly gunning for world domination, not dissimilar from Tom Ford whose beauty line drops soon.
Perhaps there’s a cosmetics line in Wang’s future? A girl can dream…
EDITOR AT LARGE
CHIEF FASHION CORRESPONDENT
Anna Paula Goncalves
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