A visit to Cape Town, South Africa, home of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, The Table Bay Hotel and designated World Design Capital for 2014.
Thought I would share my photographic moments at Primrose Organic Centre in the Powys (Wales). The place was manned by this amazing character named Paul. I believe he was English and he was wholeheartedly committed to permaculture and growing veggies the natural way. After he proudly displayed his solar panel, I told him he’d have to pay a visit to California as there are loads of people who share his sentiments.
Of course, I got the vibe that this part of Wales–Brecon Beacons–was a place where many non-Welsh (or perhaps English) tune in, turn on and drop out of their fast-paced city lives. Like the Cowichan Valley (in British Columbia) it seems to attract both yuppie entrepreneurs ready to cash out and set up farm-related businesses (vineyards and apple orchards) or die-hard old hippies still living the dream of living off the land.
By Shana Ting Lipton
[originally published on Huffington Post | Travel]
…Any externalization of emotion — through sighs, furrowed brows, and general visual signs of frustration, sadness, anger, etc. — seems to be frowned upon, figuratively if not literally…
Anyone who has ever lived in Manhattan is familiar with the term “personal bubble.” Although invisible, it is the nucleus of a New Yorker’s life. It promises — in a city of 8.2 million — a safe zone, not to be penetrated by the masses.
You may be centimeters away from four sweaty people in a crowded space, so close you can smell what they ate for lunch — yet, despite this proximity, eyes shall not meet, actions shall not be acknowledged and personal space shall not be violated. Such unwritten codes keep urban denizens from going mad via overwhelm and confrontation in such overpopulated milieus.
So, masses of Manhattanites grumble to themselves, exhale after a long day, roll their eyes when seeing something irritating and so on, with little fear that their private expressions shall be viewed and then confirmed by another humanoid. Quite simply put: They are ignored.
I’m quickly learning that although there are crossovers between London and New York living, the rules are essentially different in the former. Actually, when I first moved to London, I found the cultural learning curve quite flat — compared to my move to Amsterdam. London, like New York, is highly populated (7.8 million, I believe) and of course a very sophisticated, international city. Londoners are busy, busy, busy and that’s a good thing.
People are generally not too needy but rather independent. There’s a group social dynamic, but because everyone is preoccupied with juggling the many facets of London life, adjustment (for a international city-dweller like myself) is fluid…save for one social no-no I have inadvertently engaged in time and again.
Although stiff upper lips abound around these parts, I have found the aforementioned “personal bubble” to be, generally speaking, absent (save for during Rush Hours on the Tube). However, any externalization of emotion — through sighs, furrowed brows, and general visual signs of frustration, sadness, anger, etc. — seems to be frowned upon, figuratively if not literally, as that would be engaging in said no-no. Such gestures are also called out.
Sometimes this can be heart-warming. You’re having ‘one of those days’. Soaking wet from a windy rain. You have an asthma attack whilst chasing a bus. Its doors close in your face, the driver grins wickedly and peels out. You’re soaking wet, have ripped your stockings and finally, wheezing like an old man, you manage to hobble onto another bus when an ornery driver berates you for swiping your Oyster card when the machine is broken.
That final straw, along with hormones, drive you to tears. Then, a kind stranger leans in and says, “The bus driver was quite rude. Are you ok?” You have no desire to engage as the combination of your tears and mascara have transformed you into ‘The Crow’ but you’re thankful for his concern, nevertheless.
On other days, the lack of ‘bubble’ feels intrusive. Your computer has randomly sent out multiple emails to the same people transforming you into a spammer in the eyes of esteemed colleagues. It crashes. You spend three hours waiting in the Apple store only to hear ‘iCan’t’ (fix your laptop). Downtrodden, you shuffle home, slumped over, exhaling as you think of ways to erase the day’s events when a complete stranger looks you in the eyes and blurts out, “Cheer up mate, it might never happen.” He means no harm but his scant few words have externalised and validated your internal worries.
Then there are the times when someone has shoved you and stepped on your foot, without so much as an ‘excuse me.’ A verbal, “ouch!” is your regrettable knee-jerk reaction. At that point, you’ve invited someone to step inside your bubble and proverbially stomp around with careless abandon in Doctor Martin boots. You will be confronted, and firmly reprimanded, as I discovered: ‘What are you complaining about? It was as much your fault as it was mine’!
Curious and perplexed by these and other confrontations in such a mannered albeit highly populated metropolitan centre, I asked some of my English friends for illumination. They all seemed to concur that this behaviour relates to the ubiquitous ‘stiff upper lip’ philosophy. The idea of expressing displeasure through facial gestures would be the opposite of holding it together, I learned. What was easily ignorable in New York, displays as a neon light festooned billboard in London–especially for someone like me whose face betrays her emotions.
As someone who was born in London but has moved about from Hong Kong to LA to New York to Amsterdam, I’ve spent my life studying cultures and analysing how my behaviours are received in them. I try to adapt as much as I can without being dishonest about my quirks and God-given flaws.
So, I wouldn’t say that this essay amounts to a gripe or a public complaint, but rather an attempt to understand it for myself. But I suppose it’s quite the opposite of keeping a stiff upper lip. Instead, mass-blogging about my take on such social mores is quite simply the literary equivalent of furrowing my brow and expelling air.
I have to admit that private two-seater jets usually give me a bit of a fright…but not the Lisa Akoya, perhaps because it’s so aesthetically engaging and its specs make me go gadget-gaga.
Like so many stylish things before it, it was born in France. While other mere mortal commercial airplanes travel 500 mph, this one goes a whopping 1300 mph! It’s super-lightweight as is visually evidenced by its positioning on the yacht below with Seafoil tech and folding wings.
The price tag is a decadent 300,000 EURO (approxiately $390,000). But that gets you the turnkey special, including maintenance and so on.
It’s being introduced to North America later this summer at the EAA Air Venture (the largest air show on the planet), and is apparently predicted to become the new international standard in its class.
And yes, it’s often rented out to eccentric James Bond villains… Did I mention it has two seats? One for you and one for your fabulous hairless cat.
Is it a coincidence that the first four letters of the tirelessly cool Virgin founder’s surname are the same as the first four letters of the word ‘branding.’ Branson and branding go hand in hand. And apparently they also go ‘ice cube in glass.’
Now Richard Branson, maestro of marketing has fashioned an ice cube in his image to be placed in drinks on Virgin Atlantic flights. Yes, it’s also a wee bit disturbing. The details go right down to his Cheshire Cat-like toothy grin. But it’s also kind of brilliant.
Apparently, Sir Rich wants passengers to feel as though he’s flying with them or at least finding a way to melt in their mouths… eeuww!
The cubes do look pretty state-of-the-art fantastic and that’s because they are just that. Virgin enlisted four designers to work on the degradable works of portrait art. It took them six weeks to create the crafty cubes using detailed photographic techniques and laser scanning tech.
Snapshots of sights, sounds and the biennale, from my first trip to Marrakech. I got the chance to stay in a palatial 19th century suite at Angsana Riads Collection in the heart of the Médina. The three-day trip was a whirlwind, but I managed to capture some initial impressions of the fantastical North African city whose crimson and ochre hues and purple haze inspired the likes of Yves Saint Laurent, The Rolling Stones and, more recently, Sofia Coppola.
I’ve recently had Miami Beach on the brain as I was contemplating heading out West for Art Basel Miami. That’s of course a long time from now, December 6-9–but with airfares so high and airports so hectic, it’s never too early to start planning.
If I haven’t mentioned it before on Chic Trek, I am a big fan of hotel private membership programs. A while back I participated in one at the Chamberlain West Hollywood.
Sometimes you don’t want to make the expenditure (and commitment) to a private club like Jonathan or SoHo, but you fancy getting far from the madding crowd for a little bit of privacy and exclusivity. What better non-commital luxury of which to partake?
In the case of Collins, you pay a flat annual fee, and the membership gives you access to resort facilities and activities, as well as a preferred pricing plan all over the property.
There are two tiers of membership there: Eden–which includes 15% off select spa and salon treatments (at their ELLE spa), 10% off floral arrangements and 15% off food, drinks and retail purchases; and Roc–which includes six gratis spa and salon treatments per month and a 25% discount for Camp Roc (for kids 5-12)
So, next time you find yourself on Millionaire’s Row during a stint at Art Basel Miami, on a business trip or just a private sojourn, pop in and ask them about the program.
When the places you stay at are pivotal to your travel experience–be it by virtue of a uniquely artistic design, a special location, in-house events or unusual services that offer extra insight into the city or town you’re visiting
Contemporary Glamour Meets Hollywood’s Golden Age
By Jacqueline Fitzgerald
Just steps away from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Zorro and Johnny Depp impersonators, tour bus operators and camera-wielding out-of-towners, the Roosevelt Hotel’s lobby provides breezy respite from the hubbub of Hollywood Boulevard. Since 1927, guests have appreciated its Moorish-influenced design (monumental walls, airy arcades, muraled ceilings) and atmosphere of glamorous tranquility.
A favorite of powerbrokers and stars, such as Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, the hotel was built to cater to East Coast movie-makers working in Los Angeles. Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Louis B. Mayer were among its backers.
The first Oscars ceremony took place in the Blossom Room on May 16, 1929. Additionally, the Roosevelt has been a location for many films including Charlie’s Angels II (2003), Catch Me If You Can (2002), Internal Affairs (1990) and Beverly Hills Cop II (1987).
In 2005, the 300-room hotel became part of the Thompson Hotels Group and underwent renovation by designer Dodd Mitchell. The results managed to preserve the property’s Spanish Colonial Revival character while enticing the Hollywood in crowd and other offshoots of the Beautiful People tribe, whether for overnight stays or an evening’s entertainment.
This isn’t to say that everyone you see is strategically evading the paparazzi. There’s much potential for people-watching of all sorts and plenty of places to explore.
Teddy’s nightclub, for example, bills itself as a celebrity haunt hideaway. At the 1920s-inspired Spare Room, a gaming parlor and drinks lounge, you can bowl, play games or just relax. The Library Bar offers handcrafted cocktails. Public Kitchen & Bar is a casual dining room, and 25 Degrees puts a creative twist on burgers, fries and milkshakes. Outside, at the Tropicana bar, you can cool off with a beverage or a dip in the water and see David Hockney’s work on the bottom of the pool.
On a recent visit, I stayed in one of the cabana rooms, which were refurbished in 2011. Clean lines, neutral colors (white, beige, grey) and a blend of textures (brick, blonde wood, glass and leather) catch the eye and create a mellow mood. The room wasn’t huge, but this is almost always the case in older hotels. If poolside lounging followed by a peaceful night is a priority, a cabana is the ideal place to stay.
All rooms and suites feature temperature-control units, two phone lines with speaker and conference capabilities, and in-room pantries. I enjoyed the oversized terry-cloth robe provided as well as the magnifying mirror and blowdryer in the bathroom. Bath products by C.O. Bigelow included conditioner, which is always a nice touch.
Checking in was easy. The pot of Lamill coffee I ordered in the morning arrived promptly and, when the room phone wasn’t working, a technician came quickly to fix it.
Rates vary but you can expect to pay about $290 in the main building and about $350 for a cabana room. My only quibble is that wi-fi/ internet access is an extra $15/day.
Otherwise, my stay allowed me to enjoy the high energy of Hollywood, knowing I could later escape to quiet comfort.
Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
7000 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
More Hotel Experiences:
By Shana Ting Lipton
I’m lounging in my spacious, three-room Bahia royal suite at the Angsana Riads Collection in Marrakech. My private confines are so serene that only the beatifically haunting call to prayer punctuates the quiet. Still, raucous reveries fill my head…
There, in my vibrantly-hued salon, through a haze of orange blossom incense, Keith Richards strums a guitar beside Anita Pallenberg, surrounded by cushions on a low sofa. Yves Saint Laurent pours a glass of Château Lafite Rothschild for Lord Patrick Lichfield in a reception room punctuated by 19th century objéts. Mick Jagger and David Bowie have unfortunately taken a liking to the four-poster bed in the master quarters; time to break up this fête.
It’s tempting to engage in such offbeat daydreams in Marrakech. The colourful, fantastical Moroccan city dates back to the 11th century but was re-imagined and reinvigorated in the ‘60s and ‘70s by rock stars, fashion arbiters and rich hippies. Post-millennial Marrakech has continued to draw the bling and branché – everyone from Colin Farrell to P. Diddy, Daman Albarn to Vanessa Branson.
The latter founded the Marrakech Biennale in 2005. Its 2012 edition (the fourth to date), pulled together local and international authors like Ben Okri, filmmakers like Gabriel Range and artists like Luca Pozzi for citywide exhibits and talks. The 2012 Biennale’s central Higher Atlas exhibition continues through June 3rd. From the looks of its opening soirée at the dimly lit La Salama (a trendy new restaurant / lounge just off the Place Jemaa el Fna), attendees are continuing to carry the torch first lit by the bobo jet-set of the Morroc’n Roll era.
It’s easy to understand why such artistic torches continue to burn brightly here in Marrakech, a city whose namesake is believed to emanate from a Berber phrase meaning ‘land of God’. The air is rife with a piquant kind of divine inspiration. Mysterious creative catalysts operate via different senses here: sweet oil infusions wafting through the air, equally aromatic and rich-tasting chicken tagine; and woven fabrics, rugs and building materials brought to life by bleeding shades of ochre.
Similarly enlivened by crimson tones is the Si Said riad that houses my suite. The restored 19th century structure is the oldest of Angsana’s collection of six riads (lavish courtyard homes once owned by wealthy families). The 5 star Angsana Riads Collection consists of 41 rooms and suites, located in the Riad Zitoun district of Marrakech’s fortified historic city centre of the Médina. Five of the hotel’s riads are clustered together near the La Bahia palace and Dar Si Said museum. The sixth is located a short walk away in Kasbah, by the most famous of the 19 gates that lead into the Médina: Bab Agnaou.
I could have easily spent all of my Marrakech sojourn in the Angsana Riads – with my famous eccentric imaginary friends to entertain me, of course. A stay offers access to facilities in all six riads: a Thai restaurant, a Moroccan restaurant, a library, plunge pools, and rooftop terraces with views of the city. You can even take an al fresco cooking class atop one of the latter.
However, perhaps the most tantalizing sybaritic in-house pleasure is the Oriental Spa managed by the world renowned Banyan Tree. It is located in the Riad Bab Firdaus (which appropriately translates into ‘gateway to heaven’). Perhaps inspiration for Jimmy Page and Robert Plant who first visited Marrakech in the ‘70s? In this paradisiacal spot, such indulgences as aromatherapy treatments and Thai fusion massage await. Angsana’s hammams – perfume-scented steam rooms – transport guests even further back in time, centuries past.
Although the thought of sequestering myself in the beautiful hospice with its tadelakt plasterwork, giant palm plants and lavish rugs, was tempting, a footnote from my highly informative tour guide Youssef Rharrab helped motivate my extracurricular explorations. He explained that the reason riads are open-air is that, in the past, women in Morocco were rarely permitted to leave their residences; so it gave them the illusion of being outside.
That was the perfect excuse for this princess to go beyond the riad’s confines and northbound to the souks where tranquility was replaced by a lively scene of beeping mopeds, donkey drawn carts and entrepreneurial marketeers eagerly hocking their wares.
This at times overwhelming uber-market atmosphere is the central, pulsating force that drives many retail-inclined visitors to Marrakech in the first place. This is where the art of haggling is practiced and perfected. Admittedly, this isn’t one of my areas of expertise and excellence. So I just sit back and watch the more worthy players do their verbal dance in the name of inexpensive throws, rugs, dishes, jewellery, artwork and musical instruments.
Respite from this labyrinthine land of wares can be found beyond the Médina’s high terra cotta walls, around the modern quarter of Guéliz where the Jardin Majorelle is situated. In 1980, the lush and chic 12-acre garden was acquired and restored by Marrakech residents Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé. It not only offers a verdant respite from the ‘souk and the city’ hustle-bustle but also plenty of fashion shoot worthy backdrops punctuated by walls and pots in eye-catching yellow and Yves Klein blue.
I can just see a young Veruschka flexing and posing in the jardin for some avant garde shutterbug. Or quite recently, Sofia Coppola using the evocative and mysterious backdrop of Marrakech as the location for her Marni commercial. The city always has and always will be like a living lab for Bohemian creatives around the globe.
London becomes another city when it’s sunny out. All the grim, pale facades that once were, in the overcast light become sanguine, hopeful, and full of new life. That could be said of any city but I feel that London–and England for that matter as well– is particularly prone to pulling a meteorologically-induced Jekyll and Hyde of the positive variety.
Few creators have been able to accurately capture Britain’s ‘other side’ as well as David Hockney. Perhaps this is due to the fact that he spent all those years in sunny LA. I have often imagined a hybrid city London-LA (or LoLA) and how perfect it would be with its uplifting, balmy weather, magnificent architecture and cultural contributions.
As a LoLA denizen myself, I was particularly looking forward to seeing the David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. It’s sold out and I’ve heard nothing but stellar reviews.
Hoards of slow ambling salt and pepper headed visitors filled up the galleries on my visit–Hockney is, after all, their generational emblem of creativity. Yet, even though the space was cramped and packed, the exhibit delivered on its inherent promise to depict both the scale and depth of Hockney’s work–largely his country lane and tree paintings.
Truthfully, I was really only familiar with the vintage LA stuff–the pools, Hollywood Hills homes, etc. So experiencing (and that is the word when you’re dealing with pieces of this scale) the work was phenomenal.
The best view in the space beckons as you enter the first sparsely populated, modest exhibition hall of open-space tree paintings. If you peer through to one of the back galleries you get a perfectly pulled-back vista of one of the largest tree paintings that occupies an entire massive wall.
The rustic country lane paintings made me nostalgic for California road trips. They were rich in vibrant colours and promise (as a road trip is). I read a placard that named some of the works including a piece called ‘Nichols Canyon’ (which is just a stone’s throw away from my LA home). So of course I felt a sense of nostalgia and closeness to the work. Imagine my surprise when I inched closer to a particular piece that recalled Central California and saw that it was not California or the States but the English countryside.
Sense of place, memory, seasonal shifts, geographic markers–all of these things seem to blur in the works of the show–into the realm of the universal.
Some of my favourite paintings were small and hung side by side (clusters of many) on a massive wall. More ‘tree tunnels,’ country lanes and such. In all of them, a common thread: that distant point that he’s manoeuvring your eye towards. It’s very Jungian, archetypal and profoundly magical.
Despite the fact that most of the show was centred on these natural pieces, towards the end of the exhibition there were a few paintings of ‘The Sermon on the Mount’ that had a dreamlike feeling to them…Something archetypal, a shared memory in the consciousness of all, a past life becoming present…
[The exhibition runs through the 9th of April]