April 29, 2015

Tale of Two Cities. Edition NYC.

Urban playground. Concrete jungle. Bright lights. Big dreams. Methodical madness and semi-organized chaos. There are innumerable ways to wax lyrical about New York City. Undeniably it is the city, outside of Perth, that has my heart for reasons disclosed and undisclosed. For the many times I have visited, I never run out of things to see and do and in fact, never manage to tick everything off my list because something always comes up to take me by surprise and show me a piece of the city that I have yet to discover.


I find New York City to be a place that polarizes people. You either love it or you hate it. I've never spoken to anyone who plays the safe middle ground. You hate it and despise it for its sidewalks heaving with crowds of people, the lights that never seem to dim, the horns that don't ever stop honking and the speed with which time appears to move. When you love it, it's all these things that make it the mesmerizing city that it is. Unable to be replicated and crazily indecipherable. You could spend your entire life attempting to learn every block and street corner of every borough and neighbourhood. You'll never succeed and it's almost as though the city knows that but it's an adventure worth seeking out.


I never return feeling as though there's nothing new to experience. Each time is seen with almost new eyes and my trip during the final weeks of winter in January and February was in fact my first time experiencing a New York City winter. The weather was a type of cold never experienced in my entire life. There were times I lost all feeling in my ears and the tip of my nose as the freezing winds blew their way through the streets. 

 

It was a bitter cold that I cannot deny but there's also an indescribable magic in looking out from your apartment and watching the snowflakes fall from the sky as they stick to your window in a delicate formation. Walking the streets covered in a thick layer of fresh fluffy snow it was hard to resist an impromptu snow fight between friends. Attempting to get in a shot whilst ducking the handful of white stuff coming your way usually resulted in tumbles on the slippery pavement, deep belly laughs and memories that have found a place of residence in my heart.


Though I have my favourite neighbourhoods in the city, I always try to stay somewhere new even if only for a short time during my entire stay. Boutique hotels are my jam. I prefer them infinitely over bigger hotels and if I can I will avoid staying at a larger property. There's a level of personable service offered by a boutique property that I haven't been able to find at the big hotels. It's the staff remembering you by name and genuinely greeting you in the mornings. I also find that they tend to be quite creatively and uniquely designed with lots of little luxe goodies, such as gorgeous premium toiletry products. It's all these little details that can make a stay so memorable and enjoyable.



 The Refinery Hotel, found near the corner of 6th Avenue and 38th Street, couldn't have been a better place for myself and the partner-in-style SOUL of SHU to work, play and rest. Its location in the middle of the famed and historic Fashion District was appropriate given that it was New York Fashion Week and we had a handful of photo shoots organized between local New York City fashion bloggers.

 

Elegantly decorated, the style of the Refinery was infused with old world class and glamour and little touches throughout the hotel paid homage to its home within the Fashion District. Even the uniforms of the staff were adorned with little pins of miniature sewing tools! The cherry on the literal top of Refinery is their awesome rooftop space which in better weather you could enjoy a cocktail outside under the shadow of the Empire State Building. Not just adored by guests, the Refinery Rooftop is a favourite of the after-work set of Manhattan and on more than one night a week is filled with those looking to enjoy a drink under the lights of one of the world's best cities.


If heights are not your thing, Winnie's is the hotel's lobby bar which by day sees those in business attire settling into one of the oversized leather lounges and by night transforms itself into a lively jazz bar. When the sun goes down and the heavy curtains are drawn, it's like being transported back to a Probihition era Manhattan. You never know who or what you might see.


Whilst shooting some looks for PET. and the Clique Arcade, it was a pleasant surprise to see that the carpet of the hotel perfectly complemented the pattern of one of the outfits. You could be forgiven in thinking that such a match was planned but it was pure serendipity, and that to me is the beauty of New York City. 


Photography by SOUL of SHU.
Shot on location at Refinery Hotel, New York City.
Outfit details: 'Onassis' dress by PET available from Clique Arcade, 'Paris' fur jacket by Harmony and Lawson, Moschino Cheap and Chic buckle boots. 

April 15, 2015

Home

Eventually, home will always beckon us to return. It sends out the message lifted by the winds and carried across oceans that the time has come to make the journey home. Begrudgingly suitcases are packed and then unpacked, and the longing for the next adventure soon begins. Slowly as life settles back into its known routine, the familiar sights and faces that welcome you back, that know you almost as well as you know yourself, make being home exactly what it is. Home. The comfort in that familiarity reminds you exactly why you love this place called home. This place that has helped to raise and nurture you and shaped you like soft putty into the person you stand to be today.

Hayley Welsh for FORM and PUBLIC 2015. Located at Neighborhood Pizza, Mount Hawthorn.

Sometimes it takes the time away from home to appreciate everything it is and fuels the desire to make home everything that it should be. A place of belonging and inclusion. Of creativity and imagination. Fun times and pleasure with good food thrown into the mix. You want a home that supports the artists, the thinkers and the movers and the shakers. A home that looks forever forward but doesn't ever forget its roots and who it is.

The burning question that you then ask yourself is, how do you make home into this place? Who strikes forward on that path and how do you even take those first steps when the scary part is, there may be no tracks for you to follow? 

Hayley Welsh for FORM and PUBLIC 2015. Located at Neighborhood Pizza, Mount Hawthorn.

The focal point of FORM's PUBLIC 2015 program is their Symposium event, taking place over two days and featuring an impressive cast of talented, creative and progressive minds. With Australian and international speakers, the Symposium is a rare opportunity to learn from and with people who are leaders and innovators in fields such as the arts, urban development and planning and technology.


This past week, not only was I able to enjoy the official opening of FORM's PUBLIC Salon, which in itself is an amazingly curated space showcasing the artwork of one hundred all Western Australian artists - proof of the talent that is steadfastly bubbling under the surface of this city and state - but also was invited to attend a special session facilitated by Timo Santala. Part of the Symposium line up, Timo is someone who saw the potential for great things in his home city of Helsinki, and he made them happen. As co-founder of the hugely popular carnival known as Restaurant Day, Timo offered up with enthusiasm and passion the wisdom of his experiences.


It was difficult to not be inspired and energized by Timo and the love he has for his home is something we could all relate to. Amongst his many pearls of wisdom was the very simple message that if you want to do something, you should just do what you need to in order to make it happen. He reminded us that while not every venture will result in success, it will undoubtedly always lead to something else and that something else is the seed from which the place you want to live in will grow.

February 26, 2015

Of Superstars and Stripes

As I flew away to a foreign land, I went with the best of intentions. In regard to everything including blogging. My intentions were to regularly blog while I've been in New York City but that hasn't quite happened. In this city overflowing with energy and life, there's always something to do. There's always an event or a party, particularly so these last couple of weeks with the city playing host to both the NBA All Star Weekend and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. The parties can be hectic. The drinks are seemingly never ending and it has been a week or so of late nights that turn into early mornings and me navigating my way home with sore feet and a soon-to-be sore head.


I take full advantage of NYC being a pedestrian friendly city and walk as much as possible. If I'm not on my feet you'll find me on the subway, sitting in one of the carriages as they rock their way back and forth through the labyrinthine tunnels. These last few nights have been bitterly cold. I say this without any exaggeration. With temperatures dipping to minus fifteen degrees celcius, once the wind chill factor is considered this falls to an even more dramatic minus twenty four degrees! On these nights a warm cab is difficult to resist, even though traffic usually draws out the journey home. 


An event I attended only days after arriving was one for Adidas Originals. The Wooster Street store in Soho was the venue for the launch of the new Superstar collection - that classic shelltoe shoe much loved by Run DMC and which to this day remains one of the most simplistically stylish casual shoes. In the coming months this iconic shoe is being released in various colour ways and designs. Possibly the most appropriate way to mark this release was to celebrate the influence this shoe and Adidas has had on pop and music culture.


Famed photographer Ricky Powell, whose images have captured for perpetuity a special time in the music scene, had some of his photography exhibited along with fellow photographer Jamel Shabazz. 


One such photograph of Powell's was of Run DMC posing in front of the Eiffel Tower rocking  "My Adidas" on their feet, of course. You couldn't get a more classic shot of superstars who left an indelible footprint on music history wearing their superstar of a shoe.

Ricky Powell posing in front of his photograph of Run DMC.

February 06, 2015

Sky Miles and Snowflakes

In all my travels, I've never been struck down by the dreaded ailment known as "delays", or the even more serious condition of "cancellations". I've been fortunate. I've known people stranded at airports or struggling to make their way home. On one of her trips, my mother found herself the on first night in the middle of a cyclone. I was at home seeing all the news coverage of this cyclone and of course unable to reach her via telephone for days. Given the flooding caused by the cyclone she was unable to cut her holiday short and leave immediately as no flights were going in or out of the airport. Despite the inconveniences, she was safe and unaffected and unlike those who had to repair their lives, was very easily able to make her way home once flights recommenced. 


I write this sitting in my apartment in Brooklyn, having now been in New York City for a week. My original plans would have seen me arrive on January 27 but the weather had other plans and decided to schedule Blizzard Juno to visit the city that day which resulted in my flight being cancelled. I spent most of Australia Day attempting to clarify my travel plans as the airline changed their flight schedules throughout the day as they received weather updates. My flight was at first delayed by three hours and then later in the afternoon I received a phone call from Cathay Pacific advising that it had been cancelled altogether and provided me with the option of departing Perth the next day so as to save me waiting an entire day in Hong Kong for my connecting flight. For that I was grateful as my own bed is certainly much more comfortable than any seat in an airport lounge. 


Once I breezed through the gates of JFK and out into the icy air, the delay was nothing more than a minor glitch. It certainly is cliche to say, but New York City and I certainly have quite the love affair. As my cab made its way to my apartment, the snow covered streets welcomed me back like I had never left.


Ironically, I fell in love with this city at the same time that I was falling out of love with a past relationship that had spanned a number of years. Rather than the end of this relationship resulting in me developing some sort of bittersweet connection to the city, I actually feel I saw it through the eyes of a person embarking on a new journey and adventure in life and made me realize that the change wouldn't be as difficult as I thought it might be. To this day I still remember walking off after an argument on a tree lined street in the West Village with the poor fella trailing after me, and an older man sitting on his stoop laughing to himself and shaking his head in sympathy at my then-partner.


Don't get me wrong though. New York City isn't entirely a fairy tale land. Granted it is a vastly different place to only just a few years ago with more and more neighbourhoods undergoing gentrification, resulting in both positive and negative change, yet it can still be a gritty place. Life here can be tough and that comes through in the people, especially if you spend enough time in the outer boroughs. Even something as simple as the weather makes me notice how resilient the people are. With temperatures remaining on the minus side of the thermometer since I have been here, not to mention a small snow storm by the name of Linus hitting earlier this week, I am shivering even with my thermals and down filled jacket, which was in fact purchased on a previous trip here and has only ever been worn here. It's just doesn't get cold enough in Perth! I'm standing on the subway platforms shivering away while I see people walking by without gloves covering their hands and women with sheer hosiery. I just don't know how they do it.


But do it they do. In all aspects. Undoubtedly it's the people that make up the fabric up any city. A favourite aspect of travelling is meeting new people and learning just a little bit more about my global neighbours. And in the week I've been here and all who I have met and interacted with, from the Dominican ladies in the hair salon who gave me the best blow dry of my life to the older gentlemen pausing in their task of shovelling snow off the sidewalks to let me pass by to the sweet Jamaican woman at the laundromat who helped to locate my clothes which had gone home with someone else, it couldn't be more apparent that a place is nothing without its people.

Oyster & Pearl. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.