rrres

One of this week’s Five Things was to look at the Miss Moss blog. Diane Moss is a designer and blogger from Cape Town, in South Africa. She writes about her travels and documents the ‘visual treasures’ she sees. As soon as I followed the link, I knew from the blog title that the content would both be personal and arty; the font used appears handwritten with flowing flourishes.

In one post, Moss celebrates rrres which is based in Oaxaca and Barcelona and currently work with local artisans in Mexico to make amazing one of a kind handmade rugs. rrres is a project made of places, people, traditions and culture, all of which can be seen in the rugs.

Each piece is unique: simple silhouette forms stand out from plain matt backgrounds. The term ‘minimal’ describes the rugs perfectly and there is a clear link to the modern minimalism trend. There appears to be a need for embellishment but not busy chaotic pieces. I think that the minimalistic style brings a sense a calm and peace; the simple forma are soothing and not a sensory explosion.

It is obvious that nature plays a large role in creative inspiration with trees, stars and moons being a re-occurring theme. I also think the wavy lines could represent rivers that sustain life or the surrounding land. Similarly, heritage is heavily incorporated in the designs especially with the eye symbol which I think is related to their belief system and means protection. Each form could be viewed as a symbol and hold a different meaning for each viewer and is therefore in my opinion what makes them even more special.

Furthermore, I think the rugs fill the demand for quality and longevity and therefore support sustainability that appears to be another re-occuring theme.

I aim to use this as a cultural reference for our secondary trend research. I want to look for inspiration similarities between brands’ imagery.

Rachel

Places to Visit in Berlin

Alexa Shopping Mall

Located in Alexanderplatz, this shopping centre was huge with a food court, large supermarket and lots of fashion and beauty stores. We found this very useful when we wanted to buy fruit and snacks to take away with us.

Berliner Fersehturm

We paid to go up to the top of the Fersehturm and I would recommend this to anyone. We got to see a 360 degree view of Berlin which was breathtaking. There was plenty of space to look around and take photos and also read the information around the outside describing all of the landmarks that are evident at that section of the observation deck. It was rather peaceful up there and I enjoyed looking out over Berlin, identifying all of the places we had already explored.

East Side Gallery

Although it was freezing walking the Berlin Wall, the longest open-air gallery, it was stunning. I loved seeing all of the different interpretations of art and the unique perspectives of the world. In more than a hundred paintings artists commented on the political changes in 1989/90. I enjoyed seeing Dmitri Vrubel’s Fraternal Kiss which to me today promotes acceptance of love in any shape or form and the love locks on the gate inside the ball were also effective.

Molecule Man

The Molecule Men are positioned on the Spree River near the Oberbaum Bridge. I was amazed at the size of the sculptures: thirty metres high. They represent the intersection of the then three districts Treptow, Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain. I felt that this represented finding wholeness and unity within the world, which is still questionable today.

Berlin Cathedral

The Dome was only €5 for students and allowed us access to the cathedral and viewing dome. The cathedral interior was breathtaking, especially the ceiling of the dome with its grand gold decorative designs. After climbing the 270 narrow steps, we were able to enjoy the 360° panoramic view. We spotted the ‘Rotes Rathaus’ city hall, the Humboldt Forum, Museum Island, the synagogue and the television tower. The River Spree could also be seen. It was great to take some time to take in the surroundings from a new perspective.

Reishstag Building

The roof terrace and dome were stunning, so open and light. We were amazed that this experience was free; however make sure you book online at least a couple of days in advance. We were given a headset guided tour as we walked up the spiral staircase in the dome, as well as taking in the spectacular views of the parliamentary and government district and Berlin’s sights. The mirrored centre piece of the dome was beautiful, acting not only as a reflector to avoid bright glaring light, but also a statement.

Brandenburg Gate

I love that the gate is now a symbol of peace and unity. Although there were quite a few people enjoying the landmark, we were still able to get photos in front of the gate and appreciate the historic architecture.

Checkpoint Charlie

I was surprised that this location was in the middle of the road on a small island; however it is worth seeing to appreciate the history. The wooden barrack was guarded by a couple of US Army representatives and a copy of the original border sign is positioned a couple of metres in front of this.

Mall of Berlin

Mall of Berlin is another shopping mall that is modern and bright. There are so many shops that it almost becomes a maze inside. The architecture is also beautiful with very high ceilings.

Bikini Berlin

Although Bikini Berlin is located in a heritage-listed building complex at Berlin’s Zoo, it is modern and forward thinking inside. The exclusive shops and pop-ups located down the centre are pushing innovation and offer a personal approach. The food court is no different. There were stands for pancakes, curries, salad, noodles, burgers, etc. The food court at Bikini Berlin which had been designed with the Instagram generation in mind; everything is photo ready with greenery and interesting seating throughout.

Kaufhaus Des Westens

I wanted to go to at least one department store while I was in Berlin. This one was particularly for luxury goods, however they did also have some more affordable brands. The floors featured beauty, fashion, food, home and technology. I enjoyed looking at the KaDeWe & Vogue Vote for Fashion which showcased work from emerging talent. I also liked to see the different interpretations and different individuals’ styles. The designs ranged from minimal to extravagant, but each looked as if it required a very precise skill to make. In the technology section, I noticed the world’s first temperature control mug where the temperature of a hot drink can be controlled by your phone. I was amazed by this; customising temperature of a tea or coffee wasn’t something I expected to see for a while. There were also glasses that took untra HD photographs and videos which also showed me that the future of technology is in our clothes as well as technology.

Rachel

St John’s Cathedral: Caravaggio

Whilst my family and I were in the capital of Malta, Valletta, we visited the cathedral and took a headset tour around the whole space.

St John’s Co-Cathedral was built between 1573 and 1577 and contains two masterpieces by Caravaggio. The cathedral was beautiful and is a gem of Baroque art and architecture.

This church today still remains an important shrine and a sacred place of worship. The construction was commissioned in 1572 by Grand Master Jean de la Cassière to serve as the conventual church of the Knights of Malta and designed by the Maltese military architect Gerolamo Cassar. The church was dedicated to St John the Baptist, the patron saint of the Order.

If you love culture, art, religion and history, this would be such a special place to visit. As soon as you walk into the Cathedral it is breathtaking! The artistry and grandeur of the place is so inspiring with the beautiful sparkling gold leaf, marble and painted scenes.

I would describe the interior as ornate with very elaborate ceiling patterns and golden tones throughout the architecture. The dawn of the seventeenth century ushered in the new Baroque style, as a consequence of the Catholic Reformation when the churches were embellished with the new artistic language. I really do think that the design reflects the era’s flamboyant and demonstrative character with the use of ample material.

Grand Masters and Knights were said to have donated gifts of high artistic value and made enormous contributions to enrich it with only the best works of art by leading artists available to them. The Calabrian artist Mattia Preti, who was commissioned to decorate the vault, transformed the interior into a celebration of Baroque art.

I was definitely surprised when I walked in. There is a stark contrast between the minimal, stone and somewhat strict architecture of the façade and the richness of the interior; it is unique to say the least!

Myself and my mum were fascinated by the pillars that surrounded some of the painting in the wings of the cathedral. One was marble with hints of gold running through them and others had a more intricate gold leaf design at the bottom with a spiral gold design running up to the top. Both were magnificent and certainly showed off and framed the pictures perfectly; they are definitely a show piece. Both paintings were also positioned behind a row of elaborate gold candle sticks that covered at least a quarter of the painting; in some cases half.

The element of the whole space that I enjoyed viewing the most was the oratory that holds the biggest and only signed masterpiece by Caravaggio.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571 – 1610), ranks amongst the most influential painters in the history of art. His paintings combined a new form of realistic observation of the human state, both physical and emotional with a theatrical use of light infusing. I really feel that it is this aspect that gives his works a dramatic character.

I knew that he was a rebellious artist, however I didn’t realise that in May 1606 whilst working successfully in Rome, one of his many brawls resulted in Caravaggio killing a man named Ranuccio Tomassoni during a duel. The pope hastily issued a bando capitale against him. Caravaggio fled to Naples and then left for Malta, the headquarters of the Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem on 12 July 1607. After a year on the island, Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt, accepted Caravaggio in the folds of the Order as a Knight of Obedience.The Grand Master had obtained a unique papal permission to accept the artist within the Order. Therefore, whilst in Malta, Caravaggio painted ‘The Beheading of St John the Baptist’ and ‘St Jerome Writing,’ both of which are preserved in St John’s Co-Cathedral.

‘Beheading of St. John the Baptist’ is the work that was once described as, ‘the painting of the 17th century’. Death and human cruelty are laid bare by this masterpiece, as its scale and shadow daunt and possess the mind.

‘St Jerome Writing’ composition and subject-matter really do strongly reinforce each other: the aging saint feverishly concentrating on what he has written, absent-mindedly stretches out a sinewy arm to the ink well on the far side of the table. In doing so he indicates the skull, a reminder of death which observes him, mirroring his very struggle to overcome it.

The church is amazing and the view over the entire space on the balcony was stunning. However, I found it quite difficult to describe because the decoration was so overwhelming. Seeing the Caravaggio painting of John the Baptist was my highlight; it was truly amazing in scale, surrounded again by the exaggerated golden designs.

Rachel

Art installation celebrating Maltese proverbs

Whilst my family and I were in Malta, we made sure that we took a day trip to Valletta, the capital city. What stood out to me the most were the statues dotted around the stone streets. These statues depict and celebrate Maltese proverbs. This temporary art installation includes 13 statues and many of them are definitely thought provoking.

The pop-up statues are said to symbolise old Maltese sayings which I found really interesting. They are erected in Triton Square and Castle Square as part of the Valletta 2018 celebrations. The innovative statues include an outstretched hand holding a bird, a man with his head stuck in an onion, a pig swallowing a snake, and three cows standing on top of each other.

The ‘Kif Jghid Il-Malti’ project is the work of Maltese artists Joel Saliba and Margaret Pace from Ikona Artworks, assisted by Sara-Lee Zammit, Chris Galea and Perry Scenic Ltd. The aim of the art is to encourage people to reflect on the Maltese language. Although I do not know any Maltese, the statues really showed me the culture of not only the capital, but also Malta as a whole.

Some of the statues puzzled me and visually took me a while to decide what the sculpture was of. One in particular that did this was the one of a prickly pear-headed figure looking at their watch. I can only imagine all of the creative selfies that have been taken next to some of the installations.

Below are some of my favourite finds around the capital.

‘Minn widna jidhol u mill-ohra johrog’

‘In from one ear and out the other’ – this is said of people who choose to ignore whatever other try to tell them.

‘L-ewwel ma tiekol l-ghajn’

‘It’s the eye that eats first’ – people tend to judge things by first impressions so outward appearances count, just as food must be presented attractively.

‘Min jidhol bejn il-basla u quoxritha jibqa b’rigitha’

‘Those who insert themselves between the onion and its skin will be marked by its odour.’ – those who poke their noses in other people’s affairs are asking for trouble.

‘Il-baqra kollha tinbiegh’

‘The whole cow sells’ – different people have different tastes; what one person may like another might not.

‘Il-hanzir taqtaghlu denbu hanzir jibqa’

‘Cut off a pig’s tail and he will still remain a pig.’ – people set in their ways will not change no matter what.’

‘Tghoddx il-flieles qabel ifaqqsu’

‘Do not count your chickens before they hatch.’ – don’t make future plans based on wishful thinking.

‘Is-zmien isajru l-bajtar’

‘Time ripens the prickly pears.’ – people acquire experience and wisdom with the passage of time.

‘Ahjar ghasfur f’idejk milli mija fl-ajru.’

‘Better a bird in your hand than a hundred in the air.’ – what we already own is certainly ours whereas the same cannot be said of the things we can only dream of having.

They were definitely all unique and interesting and made wandering the streets of Valletta even more enjoyable, wondering what statue we would come across next. I liked how the majority of the sayings were centred on respect for others and ourselves.

Rachel

Rockefeller Center’s Top Of The Rock

During my trip to New York, we took a trip to the Rockefeller Center’s Top of the Rock. The 70th-floor Observation Deck has astonishing views of Manhattan and beyond. I had experienced this once before with my family, however this was in the summer season; this time it was the depths of winter in NY. I found it interesting seeing how the same landscape could look so different at two contrasting times on the year. This time, everything was a lot cooler toned and the view had a crisp edge to it.

The RCA building opened in 1933 and the observation deck was the first attraction to open to the public. The deck was closed in 1986, and after extensive refurbishing inside and out, reopened as Top of the Rock on November 1, 2005. The building attracts three million visitors a year!

The viewing platforms occupy the 67th, 69th and 70th floors and offers stunning 360-degree views: the Empire State Building and Central Park, all the way north to the Tappan Zee Bridge.

Before we went to the site, we had a look at the Top of the Rock app. The Viewfinder allowed us to guide our way around the NYC skyline, and the Wayfinder, pointed the way to shops, eateries and amenities all around the Rock.

Having also been up the top of the Empire State Building with my family, I personally feel that the Rock offers the best view of Manhattan. It was my friend’s first time going up to the viewing platform; I loved watching her taking in the sites all around us! If you ever get the chance to visit NY, I would definitely recommend taking a trip to the Top of the Rock.

I was so surprised by how quiet it was at the landmark. When I went with my family a couple of summers back, there was a massive queue just to get to the top and then people were fighting for the photo opportunity spots. However this time, we were extremely lucky in the fact that we could take as many photos as we wanted, wherever we wanted. It was a so much more relaxed environment and more enjoyable. We also picked a wonderful day to do it; although it was cold, it was sunny and bright.

These are some of the many photographs that I took of the beautiful view from the top.

Rachel

New York – Day 5 and 6

Saturday 13th and 14th January 2017

Considering this was our last day in New York, we seemed to fit in more things than on any other day during our stay! It was also the most relaxed day. We had from around 9am to 4.45pm to continue exploring before we had to be back at the hotel to get ready to leave for the airport.

The first stop on our agenda was returning to FIT to visit the FIT Museum. We got to the building just before opening so we were the first ones in. This made the experience really chilled as we could spend as much time as we liked looking at all of the pieces and reading the plaques to go with each. The exhibition that was on was called The Body: Fashion and Physique. I will do a whole blog post on my observations and findings from the exhibition, but in summary Fashion and Physique explored the complex history of the ‘perfect’ body in fashion. I particularly enjoyed seeing the relationship between the fashion industry and body politics from the nineteenth century to the present.

Once we had seen the entire exhibition, we headed for the High Line. When I went to New York with my family a couple of summers ago, we didn’t get the chance to do this so this was the one thing that I said I definitely wanted to explore. The High Line is a 1.45-mile-long elevated linear park, greenway and rail trail. It was created on a former New York Central Railroad spur on the west side of Manhattan in New York City.  We spent around 40 minutes up there, walking and taking photos, however the temperature was in minus numbers and therefore we were struggling with the freezing winds. We all wanted to spend longer walking the length, however we opted to go and find a Starbucks to get warm instead! I can imagine that this would be a beautiful walk when it was warmer weather. The New York landscapes that can be seen is so picturesque and it gives a real full view of different parts of the city, from roads to the river. The walkway is surrounded by plants and art work.

We then headed to hunt for one of my friends’ stores that her current uni project is based around. Similar to me and Dr. Martens, she wanted to visit to gather some primary source research and photographs. We were looking for the luxury lingerie brand, Agent Provocateur. We eventually found it and while she went into the store, I went into &OtherStories just up the road. The store is located in a beautiful building with white steep stairs to get to the main entrance. Once I entered through the large white doors, I soon realised that the store layout and items on sale were very similar to that of the UK. I had a wander round, looking at the jewellery and clothing and came across the sale stands. I tried on a shirt and a plain basic grey t-shirt. Unfortunately they were too big for me so I didn’t make a purchase.

To get to our next location, we had to walk through Greenwich Village, New York’s neighbourhood of artists which is in some ways very bohemian. This was one of my favourite walks and is located on the west side of Lower Manhattan. I really loved strolling past all of the fitness centres, gym clothing stores and small independent healthy cafes and restaurants. The area was so relaxed compared to the centre of Manhattan. It is also home to Washington Square Park which I imagine would be such a lovely walk to do and place to visit in the spring/summer.

After our walk, we eventually found the Glossier Showroom. This wasn’t on our original plan of things to do on the trip; however we saw some of our course mates’ photos from the day before so we decided that we had to go. The space is located on Lafayette Street, between Howard and Canal. The showroom was at the top of a building so we had to get the lift up to the space. It was quite a small room but was laid out so stunningly. The whole thing was so Instagramable; I was constantly taking photos. The space is Glossier’s way of allowing consumers to view the products in a physical location, allowing them to come and shop their entire lineup of skincare and makeup products. I loved the natural, baby pink and floral motif that ran throughout the decor and display stands. I enjoyed the pop of colour too; light blue and a darker pink/purple shade. This reflects Glossier’s website aesthetic and gave the whole place such a clean and glossy feel.

On our walk to the showroom, we spotted a market located near China Town and Soho; Canal Street Market. My two friends wanted to go in here for lunch. Earlier in the day, I had been to Wholefoods in Chelsea to pick up a box that I filled up from the salad bar. While my friends were eating their wraps and fries from one of the stalls in the market, I ate my pre-bought lunch. Once we had finished eating we realised that adjacent to the food hall was a market of beauty and jewellery stands. I really enjoyed walking round as it was almost like a lifestyle experience. Canal Street Market’s tenants represent top retail/design concepts and showcases up-and-coming players in the downtown NYC community. The layout of each of the stands was so picturesque with Pinterest lights wherever you looked. From one of the arty retail booths, my friend picked up a pair of earrings.

On the way back to the hotel, we walked past another Sephora so we quickly popped in as my friend wanted to pick up one last product, a Becca powder Highlighter. My other friend also brought a lip mask. This is because it was so cold and her lips were staring to crack and split! Once we finally made it back to the hotel, we had just enough time to open our cases and grab the things we needed for the plane.

We got the coach back to the airport and went through the bag check in which was so unorganised! We were doing a group check in and boarding passes were being shouted out and handed to the individual all over the place. The luggage hand in was also just on a machine unlike the UK desks. I was so surprised as to how small the terminal was; there was hardly any food and drink places to choose from. The few stores that were there were really expensive, even for a couple of bottles of water. When we eventually got on the plane, someone was sat in my seat which was rather unsettling. I had to find an empty seat so luckily I found a vacant one. I didn’t feel as sick as I did on the flight going but because of it being an overnight flight, I tried to sleep but I just couldn’t find a comfortable position! Someone fainted on the plane and the turbulence from the wind was very strong so the overall experience wasn’t as smooth as I would have hoped for but we did land 45 minutes earlier than expected.

I picked up a porridge pot at cafe Nero to eat on the coach back to the uni. Once I got back to my flat, the next job was food shopping to stock up my fridge for the next week. I went almost straight away as the shops would have been soon closing for Sunday closing hours. When I got back, the next task was unpacking which I always dread when I return from any trip.

I really enjoyed the trip overall. It was amazing exploring all new different areas of New York and I enjoyed walking to each place, taking in the city sites on the way. Having said this, I was exhausted by the end of the trip; I don’t think I’ve ever done so much walking in such as small amount of days before! This is the approximate number of steps that we did each day: Tuesday 19,500, Wednesday 23,600, Thursday 24,000, Friday 22,200 and Saturday 25,600.

Rachel

New York – Day 4

Friday 12th January 2017

Day four was another day of a lot of walking! The first stop on our agenda was the MET Museum. We didn’t quite realise before we set off just how far the walk was; it took just over 50 minutes in the end, down Fifth Avenue and past Central Park. This walk wouldn’t have been too bad; in fact it would have been really quite pretty, if it wasn’t for all of the rain and wind being thrown at us.

On the way, we passed the Plaza Hotel so we took a small detour to the other side of the walkway to have a closer look. The building is stunning and the architecture has so much history to it. We wanted to have a look inside to see just how fancy it is, however we weren’t sure whether this would be allowed so we took some photos from the outside and continued our walk.

We had initially wanted to get some photos of the three of us on the steps in front of the famous museum, however because it was raining, we just took a quick selfie before heading straight inside. Like the MoMA Museum, we knew that we didn’t have time to look round much of the massive building. This meant we selected one exhibition that we were all the most interested in. One of the girls that I shared a room with had studied the artist at GCSE so we decided on this one. The exhibition was on the second floor and was larger than I expected; I will be posting a whole other blog post on this if you are interested in some of my favourite pieces in the viewing space. Walking through the building was beautiful, the architecture is just stunning. We even walked past The Thinker by Auguste Rodin.

When we left the building it was unfortunately still raining so we decided to head to Starbucks for lunch and then spent the rest of the day shopping. I popped into Uniqlo to have a look as I had never been in before. I was amazed by the innovative displays and visual merchandising; the whole thing was almost futuristic. I then went to meet the others in Zara, a couple of stores down Fifth Avenue. I was very surprised by how many sale rails and stands there were; I would say that over 75% of the whole massive multi-floor store contained reduced items. The sales were so much better than ones in the UK. I tried on two dresses, a shirt and a t-shirt, but none of them fitted quite right. The others tried on pieces too; however they wanted to save their money for the next two shops.

Next was Victoria’s Secret. The store is massive, spread over four floors, with Pink on the bottom level. We spent over an hour in there, all trying on different items. I was drawn to an offer of a pair of gym leggings and a sports bra for $40. I spent a while matching different pieces together, selecting the colour of leggings I liked best and picking the styles of sports bra that I liked best.

We then went to try on our baskets of clothing. The lady in the changing room was super helpful and asked us to press a button so she could come and double check our sizing was correct. Once I had on the leggings and bra, I called her to look. I had the right size of sports bra; it was just the straps that were too tight which was making it feel awkward. I didn’t end up buying anything as I felt that the leggings were too long for my petite legs; there was a lot of buildup of material at my ankles.

We also had a little look on the top floor where the Balmain x Victoria’s Secret collaboration exhibition was held. The runway garments were displayed and we were able to go right up got them. The wings were the most impressive piece in my opinion! One of my friends purchased five bras and five matching pairs of pants and the other one bought a similar sport set to that I tried on, as well as a lacy bra. As a result of the large purchases, we had to run back to the hotel for them to pick up some more money. This was the first time that we headed back to the hotel before we stayed there for the evening so it felt a little weird.

The last shop of the day was Sephora. Again, we almost spent an hour in here! My friends had a long list of items that they wanted to pick up and so spent a lot of time deciding which to get and swatching all different things until they selected their desired ones. Whilst they were doing this, I had a chance to swatch and test some of the products for myself. I have been after a subtle highlighter for a while now but have struggled to find a natural looking one with little amounts of shimmer. I was recommended Shimmering Skin Perfector Poured Crème Highlighter by Becca by my friends. I was excited when I found the colour I was after, Champagne Pop, however they were out of stock. This is because the item was on sale and so was popular. I will keep a look out for it in the UK and get a full-priced one at some point.

After an expensive day for my friends, they each spent over $100 on makeup, we headed to Hu Kitchen for food. This was quite a walk away down to the bottom of Fifth Avenue, however it was very worth the trek, the food was delicious! I have done a whole post of the restaurant if you want to hear more about it.

Rachel

New York – Day 3

Thursday 11th January 2017

Today was the day that we ventured furthest away from the hotel. We met a couple of our tutors in the hotel lobby and some of the other students on the trip and all walked down to the ferry port together. Once we were on the ferry, it took around 10-15 minutes to get to the other side. We went to the back of the boat as that was an outside section to look out to Manhattan behind us. The scenery was beautiful, however it was very windy!

Williamsburg is a fashionable neighborhood in Brooklyn that draws young people to its chic boutiques, trendy cafes and restaurants. Street art brightens residential walls and empty surfaces, while the waterfront provides stunning views of Manhattan. Whilst walking down a couple of the streets, looking at all of the window displays and vintage shops, we spotted a small boutique selling jewellery and clothes called Dearest. It was very sweet inside and had such a perfect minimalistic layout. We spent quite a long time looking at the jewellery in particular; it was all the jewellery I love, petite and minimal. It turned out the some of the jewellery was on sale and so we each purchased an item. I brought a petite rose gold plated simple ring that is just a plain round band. The store had this style in gold and silver plated also, however I opted for rose to match my watch.

We then found a coffee shop called the Bean. It was a very modern cafe that seemed to attract Millennials who brought their laptops to work on while they enjoyed a hot drink or food. My two friends each picked up a hot chocolate and shared a very large chocolate muffin!

After a long walk through Williamsburg’s neighbourhoods, we found a studio space that was recommended to us by one of our tutors. The space belonged to CB I hate Perfume, an innovative perfume brand that aims to create experiences with their fragrances and attempts to create tangible scents that are relatable, bringing back individual memories to the wearer. I have done a whole post on the space if you want to hear more, however it was a small beautiful workshop like room, with lines of perfume bottles and packaging on the back wall.

We were planning to work from the studio to the Brooklyn Bridge area. However, one of my friend’s feet were tired after all of the steps we had already done; this meant we had to get the subway. This was definitely the most stressful part of the trip. It took us at least 15 minutes trying to work out what lines and trains we needed to get on and where we needed to end up. The man in the booth was a very rude man and not helpful in the slightest. We eventually got our tickets and had to get on three separate trains to get to our required destination.

After we found lunch, we walked past rows and rows of beautiful houses, all different colours, until we got to Brooklyn promenade. We stopped here for a few minutes to take in the view of Manhattan; we could even see the Statue of Liberty in the far distance. We made a slow walk along the water’s edge to find the entrance to the pedestrian part of Brooklyn Bridge. After making a couple of wrong turns, we found the steps that lead us up.

Walking the length of the bridge was possibly my favourite part of the whole trip. Although there were quite a few people, I found it quite calming in some ways. Because we had spent the whole day out in Williamsburg and Brooklyn, by the time we got to the bridge the sun was setting. This was so beautiful; the golden sky made for perfect photo opportunities and also created a stunning backdrop for the Statue of Liberty. The bridge was longer than I anticipated and I took quite of lot of photos over the whole length.

Although it was getting late, my friend wanted to look for Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment featured in Sex in the City. Every exterior scene was filmed in front of 64 Perry Street so that’s where we headed. Once we found the street, I knew instantly which building it was; the one with the ‘do not stand on the steps’ sign on. I was also happy when I saw that outside the house, at the bottom of the steps, was a charity box to help a homeless charity.

After my friend had got all of the photos that she wanted, we headed back to the hotel through the Soho area. It was quite a long walk back up all of the streets, however I enjoyed looking at all of the buildings and store fronts along the way.

Rachel

New York – Day 2

Wednesday 10th January 2018

After breakfast, the first thing on our agenda for day two was to visit MoMa, the Museum of Modern Art. I had wanted to visit this the last time I came to New York, however, with it being the height of summer, there was always massive queues to enter the building. We knew that we would not have time to visit many of the exhibitions so we opted for the one that was most related to our course; Items: Is Fashion Modern?

The exhibition was larger than I expected and was spread over several joining rooms. Items: Is Fashion Modern? explores the present, past and in some cases the future of 111 items of clothing and accessories that have had a strong impact on the world in the 20th and 21st centuries, and which continue to hold currency today. I saw some of the classic pieces of clothing including: the Levi’s 501s, the Breton shirt, and the Little Black Dress as well as ancient and cultural pieces such as the sari, the pearl necklace, the kippah, and the keffiyeh. I was similarly interested seeing items with pioneering materials, approaches, and techniques including a biofabricated leather and cotton t-shirt. This to me this extends the conversation of modern fashion into the near and distant futures. It was insightful seeing the history of these garments and allowed me to connect this with their present recombination and use. The exhibition considers the many relationships between fashion and functionality, culture, aesthetics, politics, labor, identity, economy, and technology.

Next stop was the Rockefeller Centre; the Top of the Rock. The view from the top is just magnificent! I loved just standing and looking out, taking in the sites all around us. I was so surprised by how quiet it was; we were extremely lucky in the fact that we could take as many photos as we wanted, wherever we wanted and not jostle with other tourists. It was such a relaxed environment and more enjoyable. We also picked a wonderful day to do it; although it was cold, it was sunny and bright.

After seeing Central Park from the Rockefeller viewing platform, we took a walk to famous park. I had been before with my family and we hired bikes to go around on. This was my favourite part of that holiday and so I was more than happy to return. This time drastically contrasted the weather from before, the full sun to cold and snow. It was beautiful to see the settled snow all over the park and we stopped to take photos on the bridge. The water underneath however was frozen solid with the ducks having to find the only available patch of water to swim in. We also had a look at the ice rink in the centre; we had planned to go on it, however it was getting dark and we still had places to visit.

We chose to go to Times Square in the evening as we wanted to see all of the lights and lit-up billboards. The square was very busy with tourists all doing the same thing as us, taking phots and taking in the bright colours and animations everywhere you looked. Once we had all of the photos we wanted, we headed to M&M World to have a look around at all of the M&M related products. I have been to the Leister Square store many times and this store had the same sweet smell that hits you as soon as you walk in! Continuing with the chocolate theme, we popped into the Hershey’s store and we got a free taster of their classic bar. Next stop was Sephora and Inglot, two makeup shops. None of us brought anything as we had planned our shopping days to be later in the week. Having said this, I was tempted by the make your own pallets in Inglot; I had never seen this before.

On the way back to grab some food to take back to the hotel, I spotted a Dr. Martens Store across the road on Broadway. I quickly popped in to take some photos for my current uni project brief so that I could compare the UK stores with the New York one. It turns out the layout is pretty similar and the products are identical.

Rachel

New York – Day 1

Tuesday 9th January 2017

On our first morning of our New York trip, myself and my two friends who I was sharing a room with headed to the Fashion Institute of Technology. FIT is an internationally recognised college for design, fashion, art, communications, and business. We signed up for a fragrance talk and a lab tour. A tutor at the collage, Virginia, gave the talk which was very engaging as she let us smell all of the scents, notes and branded perfumes that she was talking about in the presentation. She also gave us industry facts and figures and spoke about the latest perfume trends, including unisex fragrances and the extension of scents on the skin: increasing the duration throughout the day. I enjoyed listening about all of the different groups of fragrance, such as Floral, Oriental, Woods, Fresh. I will do a whole blog post dedicated to this talk if you are interested in hearing what I discovered and learnt.

After the talk, we were all quite hungry and one of my friends recommended Chelsea Market as a main lunch location. Chelsea Market is an indoor market with shops, cafes and restaurants everywhere you look. There really is so much choice of food! It is essentially a massive food hall. It is a block long and a block wide and is situated in the Meatpacking District. The market has over thirty-five vendors with everything from soup to nuts, wine to coffee, cheese to cheesecake. I have done a whole separate post on what I ate in New York so check that out to find out, but before we left, my two friends stopped off at the crepes stand to pick up a sweet treat. They each had a Nutella filled sweet crepe with different fruit and toppings inside. They were very happy with their purchases.

One of my friends has a love for all things candles, body sprays and fragrant body washes and lotions. Therefore we walked to find Bath & Body Works. The store is possibly America’s favourite for body, hand and home. The store was very bright and also fairly busy. There were so many scents lined up on the walls and on the tables; I found it quite hard to decide what to look at. Having said this, I can see why some people love the store; they create the scents that make people smile. There wasn’t enough choice for my friend in this store so we headed on another hike in search of a larger flagship store. This store had hundreds of products including fragrant body care and 3-wick candles. Eventually my friend ended up buying NINE mini hand sanitisers!

After our trek to the second Bath & Body works, we ended up opposite Grand Central Station so we decided to pop in to have a look at the stunning architecture inside. I hadn’t been to this destination when I went to New York with my family a couple of years ago and was smaller than I expected, but beautiful. We headed up to the Apple store, up the large stone steps, in attempt to get a better view of the whole building. We took some photographs at the top and looked at the view for a couple of minutes. The chandelier was stunning and was the main focal point for me; the larger arched windows were also very eye catching.

By the time we got out of the station, it had become dark. We decided to have a slow walk back to Fifth Avenue to have a look at Bergdorf Goodman. However, it took us longer to get to the store as on the way we were almost stopping at each designer store window to have a look at and photograph their window displays and visual merchandising. Each was as extravagant and beautiful as the next! My favourite was the Coach store; in the windows, passersby can see a revolving clothing rail with clothes spinning round, each taking it in turns to be at the front of the window and in full view.

When we finally got to Bergdorf Goodman, it was just over an hour before closing time. We were in there for all that time just staring in awe at all of the magnificent displays and pieces on sale. I have wanted to go to the store ever since watching Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s last year. The store is a New York landmark since 1901 and represents the global pinnacle of style, service and modern luxury. The store showcases leading and emerging designers. The interior was equally as beautiful; however we only made it up to level three out of nine. This is just the women’s store; we didn’t even get to the men’s. If we had more time, we definitely would have wanted to look at the bridal suit as no doubt this would have been a stunning sight!

Rachel

Travelling to New York

Monday 8th January 2017

I got up quite early, 6:30am, got ready and finished packing. I was off to New York!

This was a trip with my course at University, over 100 students in our party. My dad very kindly offered to take me on the train and the underground to Heathrow Airport to meet the others, who had got the bus from Nottingham. We waited at the airport until I knew the rest of my course had arrived, and then dad left me to go and check in and go through security.

It is just my luck that every time I go to an airport, things go wrong! Firstly the check in lady couldn’t find my booking for the flight. I had to wait about two minutes or so before it came up. I was very relieved when everything was sorted! Almost every time I go to an airport, the security body scanner beeps at me and I have to be taken to one side to stand in a booth to be scanned and sure enough it happened again!

There was a lot of waiting in the airport for the flight, but this gave me time to eat my lunch, pick up some water and snacks for the flight, as well as find the others. Once our gate showed up on the boards, we made our way there and boarded the plane.

We were just allocated seats in alphabetical order so I wasn’t sat next to my group, but in some ways I didn’t mind as this gave me a chance to watch a film and try to sleep. The flight was over seven hours and was quite turbulent at times. I did feel quite sick the whole time which wasn’t very pleasant. The landing was also very bumpy.

Once we got to Newark airport, we had to wait in the plane until our number spot was free so the plane could park. There were huge delays at the airport because of the bad weather New York had had previously. One of the terminals at JKF, the main airport in NY, was closed due to the power being down as everything had frozen, therefore flights to here were being directed into Newark.

Once we finally got off the plane, we had a massive, unwelcoming wait go through passport control and immigration. We were waiting in the queue for three hours! When I did finally make it o the desk, my finger prints were not showing up on the machine and therefore I had to be transferred to another booth to have my finger prints done and my retina scanned.

Because we had waited so long in the line, by the time we got to the luggage claim, the suitcases were just thrown everywhere and mine was already off the conveyor belt. One girl even lost her case.

Once we all had our cases, we made our way to our coaches and I found the two girls I was going to be sharing a room with, Poppy and Eleanor. There was still snow everywhere and it was definitely cold outside. We were sat on the coaches for around half an hour before making it to The Walcott Hotel which is located on 31st Street, between 5th Avenue and Broadway.

We were allocated our keys and we made our way up to the room. It was around 1am New York time and 5am UK time by this time so it had been a very long day. The room was quite old fashioned and old, however it was quite spacious.

I was very happy when we were finally sorted in the room and I was eventually in bed. I was definitely ready for the next few days exploring New York.

Rachel

Day Trip To London

I always look forward to a day trip to London with my family. We only go a couple of times a year, but it gives me time to spend time with my parents, doing something different from our everyday routine. We got the train at 8.45am to ensure that we got to London in plenty of time so we could make the most of the day.

The first thing on our agenda was to hop on the tube to Oxford Street. I still haven’t mastered the whole tubing map; I would be very lost without my dad’s instructions of which lines to take! We stopped off in Costa so we could grab a drink before heading off to visit everything on our list.

When we were walking down Oxford Street, we stopped off in a few shops to have a browse: Pull & Bear and & Other Stories were just two on my list of stores to visit. I do not have either of these in my home town or university city so I always make sure I take a quick look while in London. The shops and streets were very busy, filled with people who looked to be tourists and people doing their Christmas shopping. We had to constantly weave in and out of people when walking down the pavements, however in a weird way I feel that this adds to the London experience. I did really enjoy looking at all of the Christmassy window displays when I walked past each store and I often found myself gazing at all of the decorations sporadically hung in the street.

Every time I visit London, I make sure I take a visit to Deliciously Ella’s deli on Weighhouse Street which is just off Oxford Street. My mum and I love it in there! We always go in to grab some of the most delicious indulgent treats to take home with us; this is definitely the best part of any trip to London. This time me and mum picked up a ginger cookie, a peanut fudge slice and my mum’s favourite, the fudge brownie. I was slightly disappointed that they didn’t have the peanut cookie on the menu this time; this one is definitely one of my favourites. However I was very satisfied with the choices we opted for; I couldn’t wait to get home and share them.

For lunch, me and mum went into Whole Foods in Piccadilly Circus. We opted for the self-service lunch box service, helping ourselves to a desired selection of hot cooked or cold foods. They have a great choice of all sorts of tasty meals in a takeaway buffet and also have excellent salads at the salad bar with multiple mixed platters. They have a bakery similarly filled with fresh sandwiches, pizzas and pastries for example. I really like how all of the dishes are paired with a clear sign that shows all of the ingredients, helping people with dietary requirements. The boxes are weighed at the counter and so I feel that the food is not overpriced, you pay for exactly what you put in your box. In mine, I opted for a selection of maple roasted veg, falafel, tofu, veg, tomato rice, boiled eggs, etc. We sat upstairs in the store to eat; they have bar stools overlooking the shop. The food was very delicious and I would definitely recommend grabbing lunch from here if you are in hurry or looking for a more nutritious option with lots of variety.

I always like to have a wonder round Whole Foods looking at all of the delicious snacks and nut butter selves in particular. The store offers so much more variety of the snacks that I love so I enjoy walking up and down the isles admiring the selections on offer. My parents kindly brought me a couple of my favourite snacks and also a few that I wanted to try out. These included: Rude Health Brown Rice milk, Kookie Kat cookies, Livia’s Kitchen Biccy Bombs and Pip & Nut cocoa hazelnut butter.

When we came out of the Somerset House North: Fashioning Identity exhibition, (I shared my experience of this in my previous post) it was getting dark in London so we headed to see the Christmas lights, first heading to Covent Garden. I have never witnessed London at night at this time of the year so it was enjoyable seeing London and its inhabitants getting ready for the festive season. The streets sparkled with magical-looking Christmas lights and decorations. There were colours and bright lights everywhere we looked and I loved seeing each passer-by admiring the displays above them. I took a few photos of the lights that we saw, however they don’t do them justice, I would definitely say go and take a trip into the city to experience the sights for yourselves.

We got the train back home in the evening. It was a long day, we were constantly walking around the streets of London in the rain, but in my opinion it was definitely worth it. I had such a lovely day with my family doing a bit of Christmas shopping and visiting the exhibition. The trip definitely made me feel very Christmassy and festive, seeing all of the lights, store displays, decoration and especially the huge ice rink outside Somerset House.

What is your favourite thing to do in London?

Rachel