Wednesday, October 15, 2014

One Night Abroad: My Dream Trip to Paris, France

Every fashion enthusiast dreams of visiting the world's fashion capitals and see all the beautiful sights where all the best creations happen and the most inspiring views can be found - the rock and roll edge and glamorous vibe of New York, the diverse and eclectic fashionscape of London and the combination of high fashion and hard business in Milan.

I had the pleasure of witnessing the vibrant and, at times, chaotic fashion scene in Tokyo, and although the trip was, unfortunately, not in line with fashion week, I still managed to personally see and enjoy the dynamic fashion streets of the city. Men and women alike paid really close attention to every piece of fashion item they have on, expressing their unique individual styles. And as an avid follower of Japanese fashion, looking at photos in magazines was great, but seeing real people effortlessly pull off stylish pieces as they go about their everyday routine was a completely different experience.

Getting the chance to visit all of these places and truly experience why they top the list of the most fashionable cities in the world will be beyond a dream come true. It won't come cheap, of course, but it's still possible, one place at a time. So, for my next fashion destination after Tokyo (off my bucket list you go!), the one place I would be truly ecstatic to see is Paris - the center of all things couture!
No discussion of anything chic and sophisticated is possible without mentioning the mecca of the fashion world. While many other equally fashionable cities have tried to snatch the throne, Paris has never lost its luster. The city still remains a must-visit destination for anyone who lives and breathes fashion.

I've made a personal pledge to visit the city on my 30th birthday (I need to start saving soon; I only have a few more years left. Haha!), so here's a glimpse into my working itinerary:

What to Wear

My birth month is August, so if everything goes as planned, I'll be welcoming the big 3-0 in the middle of Parisian summer. From what I've read, the city becomes a true paradise for travelers around this time of the year. As the locals leave the city in favor of the beaches, visitors will have plenty of time to fully enjoy the place all to themselves.

Unlike other cities where summer means wearing cute tank tops, denim shorts, and comfy flip-flops, Parisiennes manage to still look chic despite the rising temperatures with fun and flirty summer dresses. According to some travel blogs I've visited, wearing shorts is actually considered a taboo. This isn't that surprising, though. After all, it's the city of eternal elegance. But, there's a much more logical explanation to this: experiencing the true beauty of Paris isn't complete without visiting cathedrals and museums. So, wearing outfits that bare too much skin, no matter how comfortable they may be, will only send the wrong signals.

I put together some outfits I think may fit the whole summer vibe in Paris:
A Bit Edgy
Clean and Simple
I can wear boots in summer, right? No? lol.

Where to Go Shopping

What's a trip to any fashion capital without splurging on some “investment pieces?”

Okay, so shopping in Paris may seem both exciting and intimidating,seeing the shops and boutiques of the most renowned names in the fashion industry all lined up in one busy street. Fortunately, Paris straddles on both high and low, so there's always something for everyone, even for fashionistas on a shoestring budget.

A day or two of (window) shopping in Paris means visiting Champs Elysées, the most talked-about shopping street in Paris, if not all of Europe. Upscale boutiques such as Gucci, Fendi, Christian Dior, Valentino, and Hugo Boss and other luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Cartier, and Guerlain consider this street their home. Retail brands such as H&M, Zara, GAP, and Sephora also occupy major spaces for frugal shoppers.
Champs Elysées

Another shopping street I would love to see is Rue de Rivoli. As one of the most famous  shopping destinations in Paris, this commercial street is known for having some of the most tourist-friendly shops for buying souvenir items.
Rue de Rivoli

Where to Eat

Enjoying authentic Parisian cuisine even on a limited budget may require a bit of research, but it's certainly doable. Tourists have this notion that dining in Paris means having croissants for breakfast, enjoying two-hour bistro lunches, and visiting wine bars. But, the locals have long become practical eaters, going for fast gourmet street food and Anglo breakfasts instead of anything fancy. Cheap eats, of course, don't mean compromising on the quality of food.

The online list of recommendations on the best dining spots in Paris was completely overwhelming, so I had to narrow down my choices — I need to find the best meat place. Browsing through a few reviews here and there introduced me to Les Tantes Jeanne. This dining place located on the side street off the trendy rue Lepic has an impressive selection of meats available — Argentine Steaks, Angus beef from the US, and of course, Wagyu beef from Kobe. This place will most probably be my first stop, but it's surely just the beginning of my food pilgrimage. After satisfying my meat cravings, it'll be fun to visit some holes-in-the-wall for a clandestine lunch, dinner and other meals in-between.
Photos from the Official Website

Doing my research on the best places to eat in Paris was a bit challenging because although there were some pages with reviews written in English, most of the main websites were written in French. I never had any “Lost in Translation” moments in Tokyo (thanks to my years of Nihongo self-learning), but my knowledge of French is next to zero. So, if this trip ever happens, apart from brushing up on my sign language skills, I need to get the help of reliable translation service companies like Smartling. these types of service solutions have made it easier to transcend language boundaries and make communications, especially for global travelers, a lot less challenging.

I may be getting ahead of myself with all this planning but, who knows? I never thought those Tokyo trips would happen that soon either.

But I seriously need to start saving first.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Makeup Monday: Zawachin's Monomane Makeup Book - "Make Magic"

The other day,  while I was sorting out all the fashion and photo books I hoarded during my last Tokyo trip, I found my copy of Zawachin's makeup book tucked neatly among my growing collection. I wasn't originally planning to buy one, but I got really intrigued when I saw how many bookstores had it among their bestsellers.
For those of you who don't follow Japanese pop culture, Zawachin, whose real name is Ozawa Kaori, started off as a regular blogger who would constantly post photos of her different makeup looks on her personal blog. Among the various looks she created, she gained the most prominence for her makeup impersonation (monomane) of former AKB48 member Itano Tomomi. Then, as she continued making really impressive makeup impersonations of different celebrities, she became well-known for her seikeikyuu meiku (cosmetic surgery-level makeup) techniques.
"Itano Tomomi"

Here are some of my favorite makeup monomane looks from her book:
"Cara Delevingne"
"Masuwaka Tsubasa"
"Kato Miliyah"
"Kiritani Mirei"
"Fujii Lena"
"Hamasaki Ayumi"

The instructions on her book on how to copy the looks are pretty simple, and she doesn't use any special makeup product at all ̶ just the regular neutral colored eyeshadows you can buy in any drugstore. So, instead of a how-to book, I'd say it's more a collection of some of her best works. It's like a printed, better-quality version of the photos on her blog. I wouldn't say she has mad makeup skills, but she does know how to maximize her resources (proper lighting, right camera angle, and even the way she covers her mouth or positions her famous pink mask) to make the resemblance as close as possible, regardless of gender and ethnicity.

According to some of the interviews I've seen of her, she would take about a thousand photos just to get one shot with the right angle. Some have expressed doubts about her skills, saying that she probably edits her photos heavily. But, she's appeared on television so many times wearing several of her monomane looks, so I'm pretty convinced that she does know her stuff.

She recently announced her plans of pursuing a career as a tarento, hoping that the audience would appreciate her more beyond the makeup transformations. I wish her luck on her new venture, and I'm looking forward to whom she's going to copy next. :)

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