Flowers, Canals, and Van Gogh: Amsterdam.
Another great city in Europe that I would not mind going back again and again is Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
The Dutch people are very welcoming plus they speak a million languages, so that’s probably why they have no trouble entertaining and communicating with all sorts of tourists.
The city has a fantastic combination of busy (always teeming with tourists, of course) vibe, but laid-back at the same time. The canal highways are filled with narrow boats and it’s bridges all decked with blooms of flowers. It almost have that Venetian character, only with cars and trees along the road. It’s a charming city with both young and old people pedalling on their push-bikes everywhere you look. The colourful and character buildings in the background are quite a sight as well. It’s always nice to see these beautifully designed and well-preserved structures. Reminds me a bit of Parisian buildings but with bolder colours.
Then, there’s the Art.
One of the most frequented art museums in Amsterdam, is the Van Gogh Museum. Fearlessly overcoming the miles and miles of people cueing was so worth it, after I’ve seen about 4 floors of Van Gogh’s original masterpieces. The paints and brushstrokes looked so fresh on each canvasses, as if the paintings were done a few hours ago. Each picture have an interesting story to tell.
My personal favourite is the controversial Wheat Fields with Crows – very emotive, thought-provoking and haunting. It is quite interesting to think how a brilliant artist like Vincent Van Gogh, was often rejected during his time, became a destitute because he couldn’t even sell any of his paintings – yet now has his works generating lots of money and venerated in a museum in the heart of Amsterdam!
Oh the irony.
Van Gogh is probably turning in his grave right now. Or really jubilant. Who knows.
As stealing wasn’t an option, I just bought myself a large print of Wheat Fields with Crows, which I was very happy about, despite it being such a pain to lug around in Europe during the rest of my trip.
More Amsterdam stories on the next posts.
Style/Fashion Notes: Hat by Stetson; Circular-Mirror-Frames Sunnies from a vintage shop in Amsterdam; Coat by Bai Peng, 798 Art Zone Beijing, China; Vintage fox fur scarf; Pants by Raf Simons x Sterling Ruby; Marni Shoes;
x War Julian x
Adventure Travel: Athens, Greece.
How do I even begin to express my fascination for this city…
There will never be a shortage of historical sites, most fabulous ruins, and ancient artifacts in Athens. Visiting THE Parthenons atop the acropolis is a no-brainer; I mean, when in Athens/Greece, right? It’s criminal if you don’t visit this world heritage site.
I loved seeing the collections in various museums (there are sooo many, to my delight), most notably in the Acropolis Museum, where the largest collection of Greek antiquities can be found. While geekily browsing at the paintings and statues; I realised that the ancient Greeks were way, WAY ahead in terms of fashion, hair and make-up, even thousands of years ago: the sumptous hair braiding, lavish accessories, theatrical make-up, etc., etc.
Even the whitish, glowing Athenian city scape is just magnificent to behold.
The city is so grand, so incredibly historic, that I’d rather let the pictures do the talking.
Fashion/Style Notes: HAT from the Greek Island of Santorini; L.G.R. SUNGLASSES; Leather/Fur CUFF from Florence, Italy; HERSCHEL BACKPACK; COAT by MORATORIUM Le Marais, Paris; Skirt-y-PANTS from Korea, Adidas x Raf Simons BOOTS;
Luxury Travel for Less: Venice, Italy.
What is your definition of luxury?
First-class air and land transport? Swanky 5 star hotel suites? Endless stocks of Beluga caviar for light snacks? The rarest KRUG pinot noir flowing from a wine fountain laid on your own private yacht’s deck on a sunny Sunday afternoon?
*Swoons. Daily intentions and affirmations to the universe SENT!*
Wishful hallucinations aside though – how many of us can afford that!?
Not many, I’m afraid.
But this doesn’t mean you and I can’t travel luxuriously too.
Venice is a great city to be associated with the word – Luxury.
As you step into this jaw-droppingly beautiful city you’ll see fine examples of pure sophistication and wealth in abundance.
You be like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz; Slowly entering munchkin land with great wonder and amazement in your eyes.
In the distance you see shiny, romantic gondolas; elegantly swaying in the waves, manoeuvred by an Italian gentleman greeting you upon arrival. And if you’re lucky, they belt out some Italian Aria for you too.You scan your eyes on those pastel-coloured venetian palazzos and admire their intricate and artistic window designs and balconies.Fall in love with the iconic, centuries-old bridges, historic churches, quaint coffee shops, local bread and pasta corners, pizzerias, and an atmosphere that just breathes – fine living.
Luxury for me is personal. It’s how I view it.
It’s a feeeeling. You do not need to spend a lot of money to have a fun, unforgettable, and luxurious travel. Work with what you’ve got and what you can afford. If you DO have extra cash, good for you. Either way, the important thing is you enjoy the place, all by yourself or with your loved ones. Pay attention and fully admire the sceneries , learn something new from the museums, enjoy the arts, parks, monuments, buskers, and celebrate just being there and the now-ness of it all.
Although, beluga caviar and champagne aboard my private yacht would suit me just as well – No doubt about that!The point remains:Enjoy and live the moment.
For me, happiness equates luxury.
Style/Fashion Notes: One important thing to remember (dare I say, practical) when exploring a pedestrian-friendly city like Venice is by getting good quality, comfortable walking shoes. And there’s no other pair of shoes that would deliver such comfort than my Adidas x Raf Simons sneakers. Practicality and style all in one package. White-hooded t-shirt, custom-made DAN DVRAN Pants, and SAINT LAURENT dark glasses complete my comfy, mysterious-esque tourist realness look for the day.
x War Julian x
Art and History Walk: Berlin, Germany.
Berlin has got something for everyone. If you fancy modernity and colourful city lights, there is the West side. In post-communist East Berlin; you see remnants of Stalinist structures – once a symbol of austerity and power; now a backdrop for the hip, young, unrestrained, and artistic East Berlin community.
The peculiar and the spectacular.
Quirky posters and various artistic works can be seen all around East and West Berlin. Towering monuments, relics of past and recent history, remind visitors just how prosperous and influential Berlin was, and still is today. The museums here are world-renowned and definitely worth a visit.
If you like to go to a museum, indie cinema, cafe, bookstore, art store, art gallery, and everything unique and inspiring – all in one spot, then visit Haus Schwarzenberg! I think tourists often miss out on exploring this gem of a place in Berlin. I’m glad I stumbled upon it while walking around the city. I especially loved the bookstore and all the fantastic graffiti art inside and outside the building.
Haus Schwarzenberg is located at Rosenthaler Straße 39, 10178 Berlin, Germany.
Style/Fashion Notes: Stetson Hat, Vintage round sunglasses/LGR dark sunglasses, B/W floral shirt, Raf Simons x Sterling Ruby pants, Marni Shoes, Herschel Backpack;
x War Julian x
The Loire Valley, France: Chateau de Chaumont.
The Loire Valley in central France is home to the most splendid, well-preserved castles in the world. One of my personal favourites – Chateau de Chaumont, resembles that elegant castle in my fairytale books as a child.
The chateau was founded in the 10th Century. From its long and colourful history, the one that fascinates me the most is the notorious resident Queen in the 1500’s – Catherine de Medici. The intelligent and cunning ruler of France; planning her every move with the help of her astrologers, most notably – Nostradamus. Sorry to get my geek on but – freakin’ Nostradamus lived here!LOL
Treasures can also be found inside the chateau from the well-curated items such as paintings, furniture, and other decorative pieces.
Castle basics: a chapel inside the chateau.
I’m fascinated by the different personalities that once resided or visited the chateau. Chaumont, was once a playground for musicians, actors, nobilities, and even foreign monarchs and their exotic gifts, e.g. a baby elephant.
This mega real estate boasts a vast courtyard, complete with impressive stables for horses and a wide garden area. In fact, a Garden Festival is held every year in the summer, where gardeners/artists come and display their works on modern gardening and landscaping.
Living for this mirrors-in-the-garden situation happening around me.
Adding to Chateau de Chaumont’s charm is its majestic location – perched on top of a hill, surrounded by bushes and trees, with a fine view of the Loire river.
Chateau Chaumont at dusk. Too beautiful for words.
Fashion/Style Notes: Floppy felt hat, Saint Laurent Sunglasses, Necklace by Chanel, White hooded-shirt, Hand-painted pants by Denis Gagnon, Marni Boots.
x War Julian x
At home with the Medicis: Florence, Italy.
A trip in Italy wouldn’t be complete without visiting the city of Florence. I am super intrigued by this city as a child. It’s long and often turbulent history, has always been a fascination of mine. One cannot help but be enthralled by its regal buildings, towering cathedrals and quaint cobbled streets; reminiscent of the great Italian renaissance.
The Medicis – the once powerful rulers of Italy, not to mention, the family responsible for the flourishing of the culture and the arts in Italy (and ultimately – the world). They are what the historians believe, as the family that sparked the birth of the Age of Renaissance in Europe. In effect, the world owes the Medicis for their patronage of the great masters, such as: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, Dante, Giotto, among others. How different the world must be today, if these geniuses weren’t supported, and nourished to express their ideas in art, literature, mathematics, and architecture.
I find florentine art to be quite bold and dramatic (I mean – statue of David, anyone?). But more than its naked statues and rich colourful paintings, the city is a living and breathing embodiment of the renaissance period. In fact, Florence holds a quarter of the world’s UNESCO heritage sites. Coming here and wanting to see everything is a bit of a challenge, if not, impossible if you’re pressed for time. Enhanced by its spectacular skyline, sensational sunsets, and terracotta roofs – Florence or Firenze is an image maker’s heaven. Every snap of your camera is undoubtedly a postcard picture; every scenery, an inspiration; a fond memory to treasure forever.
Florence aroused me to dream, and fantasise. In this post, I juxtaposed the pictures from Palazzo Vecchio and a florentine apartment. I thought it would make a story; as if, channeling Niccolo Macchiaveli’s the Prince. Warjulian as a Medici, for a day.
Fashion/Style Notes: Caped Ensemble by DAN DVRAN couture, Sunglasses by Saint Laurent, Python bracelet from Florence leather market, Medusa Versace necklace, Vivienne Westwood shoes.
x War Julian x
Massaro x Laurence Dacade: Ultimate Cinderella Shoes
I am a huge fan of Parisian arts and couture. I am one of those people who keeps on obsessing and dreaming about the fabulous ateliers and the incredible creations they make – be it clothes, jewelries, or shoes. This obsessive quest for fine craftsmanship, passed down through centuries by skilled artisans are endangered of being lost. Fortunately, there are still original French ateliers in business (e.g. Chanel’s Metiers d’Art) and producing exquisite pieces that are really worth an investment.
Enter – Massaro shoes. I learned about this famed family of shoemakers while watching Loic Prigent’s documentary called Signe Chanel a long time ago. I promised myself to visit Monsieur Massaro’s atelier when I visit Paris.
For the uninitiated, a few facts about Maison Massaro:
- Massaro was founded in 1894 in Rue de la Paix ( a very unassuming building near the Place Vendome) and still remains today.
- Crafted shoes for legendary celebrities like Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Elizabeth Taylor, and even the Duchess of Windsor and Pope John Paul II.
- Also made accessories for couture houses like Mugler and Gaultier.
- Crafted the original two-tone sandals for Coco Chanel.
- Collaborates with Karl Lagerfeld to produce the dreamiest haute couture shoes and sandals for the house of Chanel.
- Maison Massaro is currently headed by Philippe Atienza (since 2008) and collaborated with Laurence Dacade to continue Massaro’s legacy and propel the brand forward for today’s fashionable and discerning clientele.
About Laurence Dacade:
- Parisian accessories designer who launched her own label in 2003.
- Style philosophy: Shoes must be sexy, elegant, chic but never boring.
- Aside from her namesake brand, she also designs for the fashion industry’s most luxurious houses.
- Her shoes are really chic and NOT boring I would wear them myself!
I was fortunate enough to see for myself the shoe collection by Dacade and Massaro in a pop-up store in Paris. Located at 19 Rue Cambon, this temporary store looked classy and modern at the same time. The shoes, adorning the two-level building, were a delight to see!
The collection was inspired by fairy tale heroines, and is a fine example of a mini-work of art yet never sacrificing functionality. I admired the golden baroque heels with exquisite details, aged and hammered leathers in black and silver, and the most luxurious laced pant boot in existence. Not to mention, a collection of really chic and modern men’s shoes were also on display.
The Massaro pop-up store is open until September 2015! (NOT January 2015, as politely pointed out by the store management, when this post was first published)
Picture below: Laurence Dacade, Raymond Massaro, and shoes by Laurence Dacade.
At the Massaro pop-up store in Paris:
Fashion/Style Notes: Visit the Massaro pop-up store at 19 Rue Cambon, 1 Arrondisement in Paris. Also, you can buy Laurence Dacades amazing shoes here.
x War Julian x