Je t’aime Paname: One Year Later

Cher Paris,

It all started one lazy afternoon, sitting at the back end of my high school classroom, pondering on the possibilities of my university choices. Time felt incredibly long, the classroom walls started to close in, and the sound of my teacher’s lecture faded into thin air. In a swift second, I was lost in my own daydream.

I pulled out a ragged old filler and on the cover page wrote a quote I stumbled on from a Tumblr site: “If dreams don’t scare you, then they’re not big enough.” I started doodling mes rêves, from colleges across the globe to meeting my favorite bands or even simply owning a Chanel. But on the very first page, I drew an Eiffel tower with macaroons, baguettes, and chocolates. Written beneath “One day, Someday.”

The mystery of not knowing you lured me in. My parents have seen you in their thirties, twice. My brothers once lived in this city in their youth. But for me, I was a stranger.  You were a shallow existence birth from my cinematic fascination.

 

For the most part, that notebook was tucked in the dark and gathered dust while life went on.  Once in a while, I would pull it out and cross out the dreams that turned into reality. If I told my sixteen years old self that the same Eiffel Tower she once randomly drew would one day be at the foot of her yard, she would call it a bluff. But here we are six years later.

Dreaming was my perfect escape to the pressures of reality. After a brief downward spiral in early 2017, I decided to take a leap of faith. My chance to chase one of my million desires. To be brutally honest, you were not my first choice. But it was one of those “what if” moments I could not run away from.

Is it possible to love a stranger you have never met? Or understand each other even when you don’t speak the same language? I knew an ounce of you, but fate had it always written in the stars. And any self-obsessed le rêveur knows no limitation. This, you, us, was something I was ready to fight for.

IMG_2254
Paname, you aged me with wisdom and knowledge of myself and the world around me. You gave me a sense of clarity and the courage to face my personal demons. You bruised my ego but healed my wounds. Scars then turned into a reminder of being broken can be okay. We’re here to live and to learn.

Although it took me three months before I fell at your feet, broke myself to pieces, surrendered my soul to uncertainty, I have proudly regained my freedom emotionally and mentally.

I found a home in you. At times you challenged my womanhood, my morale, and even my sanity, but taught me to trust in a higher power greater than my self-existence. I no longer felt chained by the impossible standards I use to create to make myself feel alive. Your artistic soul charged my curiosity, and since then I could not stop feeding on it. You encouraged me to chase my passion when it was something I used to hide from. When the winter days made me grey, you warmth me with the strangers you introduced who I now call family.  And most of all I discovered the value of simplicity.

Some say my youth was robbed for choosing independence over comfort and a chance of wealth. I say I chose education, experience, travel, and self-discovery amongst others. But It doesn’t matter whatever path you decide to take. As long as it is authentically yours.

Paris you were never the end goal. You are my beginning.

Cheers, mon amour. Twenty-two set the bar so high, I can’t wait what the next 365 days have in store.

 

An Odyssey to the Greek Islands

The night was fast approaching, the city was calm and the summer breeze from the Aegean sea blew in full speed. It was our first night in Santorini, the blue hues on the pool lights appeared from a distance while I laid quietly on the sunbed of my hostel. I was half-way through my book “Go Set A Watchman”, the sequel to “To Kill A Mockingbird” when a gleaming ball of light captivated me. I squinted my eyes, analyzing the orb figure tucked in between the low rise buildings. “Oh la, la! It’s the Strawberry Moon!” I exclaimed with excitement. Though no one was there to hear me squeal like a little girl. I scurried back to my room and grabbed my camera to snap the fleeting moment. The auto setting just produced a small dot. I changed it to manual, but I could not get the ISO right. For a moment, all I could think was that no one is going to believe me when I tell them how majestic this looks. What the magic my eyes witnessed could not be translated to the lenses of my device. I decided to tuck my camera underneath my towel and once again sat on the edge of the chair. A few breaths in and I drowned myself in imagination. As the moon slowly rose to take its place in the sky, I dreamt of a Greek goddess ascending back to Olympus. 

IMG_1719

This was no ten-year Odyssey like Homers, but it was an epic that brought about new friendships and memories that I will carry deeply as I venture into new heights. Somehow three strangers from various parts of the globe found their way to each other and set sail to the Greek Islands (except with a car and not a yacht). We hiked up into steep mountains, laid on rocky red sand, discovered the remnants of Atlantis, chased sunsets and devoured the Mediterranean meals. Like Homer, we faced the unknown and was sometimes thrown into chaos (but nothing we couldn’t handle), but those are the stories that make the journey meaningful. The most beautiful part of seeing the world is being around people of different cultures with different perspectives but with the same love for life. 

IMG_1518“Take it easy with me, please / Touch me gently / Like a summer evening breeze / Take your time, make it slow / Andante, Andante / Just let the feeling Grow”.  IMG_1623

We arrived and the sun was at its peak. My eyes started to well up due to my photophobia and my skin turned bronze but we were eager to get that postcard photo of Oia’s sultry sunset. The crowd came in, the sitting dock felt cramped but we took our spot two hours before. The guy next to me had his phone out, streaming the Worldcup semi-finals and I asked if I could check the score. Time slowed down, my sweat started to roll down, hair on a bun but the conversations with these football enthusiasts entertained my friends and I.  Cue in a Mamma Mia soundtrack “Take your time, make it slow / Andante, Andante / Just let the feeling Grow”. The sky turned into sheets of orange, green and a hint purple. Snap 1, 2, 3 and then maybe 20 more and I had to pinch myself, I made it to Santorini and wow this world is absolutely beautiful. 

IMG_1421

The last year tested my independence. I was far from the comforts of traveling with my family and often taking a chance on adventures with acquaintances. But trip after trip, I learned to stop apologizing for who I am and for who I am not. I was always the one who adjusts for people because it was easier for my ego. But sometimes that can be detrimental to oneself. And for the first time in a long time or maybe even never, I felt at ease in knowing I am more than happy with where I stand. It wasn’t a eureka moment or anything negative that happened, it was simply allowing myself to enjoy the things I am truly passionate about, say no whenever moments felt uncomfortable and loudly saying yes to adventure. And when I did that, my odyssey in Greece became the perfect adventure to start off my summer. 

IMG_1693

TIPS FOR YOUR FIRST GREEK ISLAND ADVENTURE! 

I was shocked to learn how affordable Mykonos and Santorini can be. I always had it on my travel bucket list but I figured it would take a few more years before I would plan just cause it seemed costly. Hold and behold, the accommodations, car rental, and food fit perfectly on my tight budget. I even got to shop for some of their local goods. If anything, it was only the flight that cost the most because the Greek Islands are a tourist destination. 

If you’re traveling independently (without a tour group), you should either rent an ATV, a motorbike or a car. Public transportations within the island are not the most convenient and way overpriced. The car rental was 30 euros a day, perfect if you’re planning to split it with two or more people. Also, most of the touristic spots have free parking spaces. Be mindful, this was prior to peak season. I loved chasing the sunsets every night, having our very own carpool karaoke with the windows down and the smell of summer breeze. 

IMG_1707

I m a sucker for Greek food. Anything with Tzakitzi sauce is heaven. The Baklava was perfection. The Feta and Haloumi cheeses were my staples. And that Greek honey and olive oil were divine. I had to bring home a few to stash up in my own cupboard. 

 

If you’re in Oia, waiting for the famous Santorini sunset, check out Atlantis bookshop. It was my favorite place to splurge in. They have a vast selection of both vintage and new books for a reasonable price. I always try to get one with a local author or one with a significant story. Think philosophy or mythology maybe even sports if you’re into the history of Olympics. 

IMG_1636

Photo Diary:
IMG_1402
IMG_1413
IMG_1417
IMG_1465
IMG_1467
IMG_1469
IMG_1488
IMG_1504
IMG_1508
IMG_1499
IMG_1524
IMG_1531
IMG_1551
IMG_1491
IMG_1552
IMG_1559
IMG_1568
IMG_1597
IMG_1596
IMG_1576
IMG_1593
IMG_1600
IMG_1605
IMG_1618
IMG_1614
IMG_1617
IMG_1667
IMG_1668
IMG_1669
IMG_1699IMG_1697IMG_1509
 

 

 

LVMH enters a new phase: Streetwear Luxe

LVMH’s men of the hour solidified the rise of streetwear luxe during the S/S19 Paris Men’s Fashion Week. Both newly appointed creative directors Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton and his personal mentor Kim Jones for Dior Homme showcased a collection that fully integrates both worlds. 

 

00.jpg
Source: https://www.grailed.com/drycleanonly/virgil-abloh-fashion-history
Prior to Jones’ move, he had already successfully produced collaborations with streetwear brands such as Supreme x Louis Vuitton. The positive response for the fashion designer and heritage brand immediately increased. Thus, LVMH had the potential to delve deeper into this untapped territory, at least for luxury.
 
Early 2018, LVMH announced yet another reshuffling of creative directors within the men’s category. Kim Jones was set to succeed Kris Van Assche for Dior Homme. I thank the fashion gods for this decision. In the farewell show of Kris Van Assche for, I felt a certain disconnect and disappointment with the creative direction or therefore the lack of it. The stereotypical powerhouse suits that graced the runway looked overwhelmingly lazy. It did, however, give Kim Jones a clean slate to simply create. And must I just laud this guy for proving himself, not that he has anything to prove, to be called one of the most respected and revered designers of this generation. It was as if Dior was brought back to life through texture and color – far from the more subtle and monochromatic collections of his predecessors. Kim Jones features more daring key pieces such as sheer, floral and kimono inspired garments in bomber jackets, double-breasted suits, and lightly lined trousers. And of course with a mix of streetwear luxury.  Dior doesn’t have to be dull and boring despite critics arguing that Jones’ collection is a far outcry from the brand identity. But only a fashion forward-thinking brand will survive the ever-evolving market and that is exactly what Jones did. 
 
While Jones prepared for his debut show with Dior, the off-white creator was set to take over his reign at LV Homme. Oh, what big shoes to fill for a newcomer. The announcement startled the industry and everyone went into a complete chaos. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggerated statement, but my fellow fashion peers and I had a long and in-depth debate on his role and representation within the industry plus questioning what it means for luxury to integrate with a designer that did not climb the typical fashion ladder. Not to mention who thrives in “Hypebeast” fashion, the total opposite of the spectrum.  But Virgil Abloh’s appointment to one of the world’s most luxurious brands signifies that change is coming and we’re all in it for the long haul. 
 
Stepping foot into Palais Royal for Abloh’s show entitled “We are the World” felt like witnessing history, or at least fashion history. For decades, this dynamic was rejected by the industry and now we are paving a new path and redefining the terms of luxury. His show represented unity in nation, race, gender and in culture. A man who values inclusivity and humility used a powerful platform to share a message. And for the first time in a long time luxury feels as if it has a purpose. When streetwear was frowned upon on, given negative connotations and left out in influential fashion conversations, Abloh made sure to redefine street for what it truly represents, a unity of the community. 
 
And yes, I will be frank in saying that I personally am not a fan of streetwear but I genuinely respect it for what it represents and contributes to art, culture, music, and fashion. But what I truly appreciate about this phenomena is the creativity it brings out to other designers and brands all over the world. It’s pushing luxury out of its comfort zone and allowing brands to adapt and socially listen to their consumers. Maybe this time around luxury won’t be as boring anymore as it was in the last five years. 
xx.
A
**Photos are not mine.
Featured Image Source: https://noizz.de/fashion/virgil-abloh-hat-seine-erste-louis-vuitton-kollektion-in-paris-gezeigt/6jc5b66

Coco Game Club x Paris

chanel_coco_game_6446.jpeg

 

Coco Game Club makes its way to Paris for a four-day event in Gallerie Lafayette. The pop-up exhibition offered make-up lounges for a free makeover, arcade games in pixelated Chanel products, live bands and day-long DJ sets all overlooking the Haussmanian architecture.

IMG_1353

IMG_1366

It was a nostalgic experience for those who were born in the 80s and 90s who grew up on arcade games and feast for the eyes of young newcomers who have not seen these technologies in their life.

It seems like cosmetic brands have been using technology to their advantage and creating more experiential environments for their consumers to interact with. The family-owned Chanel keeps its doors quite tight so I am just happy to see my favorite heritage house learning to adapt and becoming more visible to the market.

IMG_1367

IMG_1364

IMG_1362

 

Namacheko SS19: Recapturing Identity

Let’s talk about Namacheko for a minute. To be honest, this brand flew under my radar in the last year but seeing the show first hand this season and understanding how they were able to bridge their heritage into an appropriate representation through a collection reminded me of why I love fashion in the first place.

Namacheko opened the second day of Paris Men’s Fashion Week at the Palais Galliera. The sun’s rays beamed through the pillars to create shapes and shadows that highlighted the runaway. The collection or what I prefer to call another episode of Dilan and Lezan Surr’s discovery of their personal identity magnified the themes around culture, heritage, and customs. Slightly oversized boxy tops with diamond-geometric shapes as accents, sharp collared polos underneath, monochromatic thigh-high shorts, calf-length socks and brogue shoes reminded me of a prep-school uniform for young men. It was a classic and most definitely a wearable collection that could easily elevate a curated wardrobe. Dilan recalls watching the film “Solaris” by Andrei Tarkovsky and used this as an inspiration for playing with colors. It was unique enough to stand on its own without falling into the trend trap of streetwear luxe seen in other brands for the Spring/Summer 19 collections.

 

But let’s go past the aesthetic and into the story of the brother-sister duo behind the brand. The Surr siblings were born in Kirkuk, Iraq before moving to Sweden in the late 90s. Despite Sweden being home most of their lives, their deep-seated roots and connection to their homeland became a part of their quest in unraveling their personal identity. The duo wanted to embrace that part of themselves and in doing so initially created a short-film, a photo-book and a collection as part of a passion project where their family who still resides in the autonomous region of Iraq starred in.

The industry immediately took notice of their minimalistic and fashion-forward pieces. The unprecedented rise and acknowledgment put them on-schedule in Paris Fashion Week – unusual, especially for menswear. Though this is solely a brand for men, women graced the runaway dressed in the same outfit.

The designs of each are not just for aesthetic purposes. Everything from the shapes used, the textiles and the color combination are references to their personal story, the tale of two cities. In a previous interview posted on Kodd Magazine, the designers say that the colors used such as red, black and green are representations of the different ethnic communities present in Kirkuk, all of which live in the same city but are not necessarily allies.

Despite leaving a country that has been politically and socially torn, they are far from forgetting the past behind. In a way, they are proclaiming their truth and fighting the war against Islamic State through fashion and art. No guns, no bombs, but a powerful message on identity, community, and freedom of expression. Some would argue but how is this making a change? Through a culture of conversation.

No doubt the fashion industry can be stubborn at times. But it is continuing to be a platform where expression on the catwalk, on the streets, on print and etc is a revolution not just for people in the forefront but those who are struggling with displacement and belonging in their new “homelands”.

A few more photos of the collection below from Vogue:

04

03

01

00

_DSC1201

Afrobytes 2018: Branding a nation through Fashion

I never doubted the power of communication. But prior to moving to Paris, my definition of PR was merely event management, artist relations, lavish soirees and free giveaways.  There’s nothing wrong with that yet as I immersed my self more as a practitioner focused on the fashion industry, I understood the capacity of PR and what it can do to shape a narrative.

On occasion, I  find myself in a conversation where people let off snarky remarks upon learning I work in the fashion industry. Comments such as “oh, isn’t fashion shallow and only for the bourgeoisie?” or “What can fashion really do for  the world on a grand scale if its just for show?” I simply give a smile despite a built-up angst within me. Maybe it’s me not wanting to sound defensive or I am just used to all the criticisms.

To those who don’t seem to believe in the industry I am deeply passionate about and its role in today’s world, just proves why PR needs to exist now more than ever. The challenge for us is to continuously educate and use these tools to get our message across. And believe it or not, the fashion has more to say than what it lets off on the surface.

I recently attended Afrobytes, a conference on the African technology Industry held last June 07-08 in MEDEF France. Sissi Johnson, brand strategist and someone I personally look up to was the moderator for the panel “Exploring the intersection of Fashion and Technology and contributing to more representative stories of contemporary Africa”. With her were three speakers namely  Amina Belghiti, head of partnerships for Instagram France, Tania Habimana, entrepreneur and public speaker from South Africa and lastly Isabelle Faggianelli, LVMH digital transformation director.

 

 

With the African continent burgeoning, no doubt they will be the next fashion and cultural hub. Fashion weeks are taking place in cities such as Lagos and Cape Town;  The local luxury market is slowly gaining momentum and recognition from across the globe; emerging designers are making their mark within the industry and so on and so forth.

Sissi opened the conversation by stating “Fashion has the power to tell stories and brand a nation.” This statement led to an interesting and fruitful discussion on why and how fashion can become a catalyst for change. Not only do artists come together and showcase their work with pride but they too become part of a community that shapes the narrative.  And in doing so, the availability of technology and numerous platforms provide an avenue for these talented individuals to create a name for themselves and give Africa the voice they deserve. Their stories should not be dictated, white-washed or manipulated by anyone but rather let them speak their truth with their art. We already know the value of technology and the role it played in history, politics, and society now we move the conversation even further.

According to Isabelle, even heritage houses such as LVMH take part in social listening ensuring they grasp the needs and wants of their audience. This allows esteemed labels to adapt and move with culture.  Amina adds “The youth will listen more to fashion designers than they do to political figures”. And I believe this to be true to a certain extent because art speaks volumes and with no boundaries.

So if I find myself in another awkward scenario with judgemental stares and rude critics about the role of fashion, I would confidently say that no, fashion is not simply all about luxury or perfection neither is it exclusive to class, race or identity. but fashion is part of a wider dialogue that fosters innovation and creativity beyond imaginable.

And One day, I dream of doing the same for my country. I truly believe that the Philippines has a robust fashion industry deserving to be acknowledged on a global scale. For now, I’ll continue to learn the ropes of the fashion industry and the ever-evolving PR industry.

 

Dans Les Champs de Chanel: Paris

Down South of France in a small town of Grasse lies the origins of Chanel no.5. But for a weekend, Paris was treated with the same flowers that make up the classic scent. Rows of Jasmine, May rose, Iris Pallida, Tuberose, and Bourbon Geranium delighted our senses, for us to feel, smell and touch. The moment you step foot into the gates of the gardens you get a quick lesson on the variety of flora used and the unique distillation process. This was a treat for the market since the original gardens are not open to the public.

IMG_1240

IMG_1229

IMG_1227

Chanel no.5 continues to be a staple in every French woman’s essentials but with growing competition, the brand faces challenges in keeping their iconic scent relevant to today’s market. Two years prior, Chanel released “Chanel no. 5 L’Eau” with Lily-Rose Depp as the face of the fragrance. This is said to be a more modern take on the classic perfume.  She is a second generation Chanel muse taking after her mother Vanessa Paradis. The then 17-year old was a good way to tap into the younger generation that has yet to understand the legacy of Chanel no.5.

IMG_1224

IMG_1225

IMG_1222

IMG_1230

Though personally I am not a perfume connoisseur and have a limited lexicon for describing and distinguishing the aroma of every flower, I was curious to learn the dexterity of this artistry.  Plus Chanel is still one of my favorite luxury brands to date, so this was something I could not miss.

 

 

IMG_1212

IMG_1210