December 11, 2015

The Road Ahead

I keep coming, and then I go. I would not disagree that in recent times I have become quite adept at the disappearing act. As you may have noticed, particularly so if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, my most recent jaunt across the seas was only a few weeks ago and in just two weeks I will be taking off once again. Unequivocally, I am enormously fortunate to traipse between two continents as I do (though not done anywhere near on the whim as some think – it’s actually a very well orchestrated mission) however that doesn’t negate how somewhat disruptive it is to my life here in Perth. This pattern of travel is going to continue into the first half of next year and it’s something that will require me to figure out the best way to navigate so that I can keep up with all that I do here and want to do. Not at all a whine or a whinge though, let’s be real now. New York every couple of months ain’t nothing to sneeze at, even if it does mean half a week of catching up on sleep and hundreds of emails in the work inbox to sift through. 

What I have been wanting to share with you all for a little while now was the Volvo Blogger Drive (hashtag #volvobloggerdrive on IG, y’all) I was a lucky little duck to be part of. For three weeks I got to vroom vroom around town in my own Volvo, kindly provided by Barbagallo Volvo in Cannington. Given the choice of the Volvo XC60 SUV or the V40 sporty hatch, I went with the sleek lines of the V40. My everyday ride is a Lexus IS250 and it being a full size sedan, I wanted the opportunity to drive a smaller car as I am in fact considering my next car to be something smaller. 

Upon picking it up and getting acquainted with all the features of the car, looked after wonderfully by Anthony at the dealership who most importantly synced my iPhone up with the car, I drove on out of the dealership and made the short journey home. While a car is first and foremost a means of transportation, it's undeniable that most people seek to make their travel as enjoyable and comfortable as possible. With so many of us spending a fair amount of time in our cars, especially making our daily treks to and from work and contending with sometimes horrendous traffic, an enjoyable ride can make all the difference. So in that regard, the V40 definitely ticked all the boxes. The seats were super comfy; ergonomically designed so were well moulded and sculpted allowing me to really sit back in comfort. Being on the smaller and shorter side, sometimes I do find it difficult to get comfortable in car seats particularly in adjusting the seat to accommodate being able to both see over the dash and still reach the pedals! The power controlled seats (with memory function) could be adjusted to a significant extent that I could find the best position for me. My biggest gripe is when I can't tilt or lift the seat enough, but no problems with the V40. 

The best way to really get a feel of a car and how it drives is to take it out of the city. The short trips around the metro area and the stop-start motion of city driving don't give you the best idea of how a car can perform and if it's really got the goods that will keep you satisfied over a couple hours of driving. So of course, out of the city I had to go and took my pal (and ever suffering photographer) Shu with me on a weekend away to York. Both of us were keen to see the fields of canola and wildflowers, which at that time were just coming into bloom and found that they were in abundance in the charming little town of York. We stayed at Laurelville Manor, which was a classic country house that was beautifully designed and styled, retaining little touches of the old mixed in with all the modern conveniences. The hosts welcomed us with afternoon tea (all the delicious morsels were baked in house) and breakfast the next morning was superb. 

Back to the Volvo though. The drive from Perth to York is neither overly long nor arduous but is different enough from city driving to feel how the car handles itself at longer distances and greater speeds. One thing to point out - though a smaller car it may be, do not understand its power and ability. The V40 T5 R-design, which is the particular variant I was driving, is fitted with a 2.5 litre turbo engine which means there is no struggle at all which sometimes can be the case with smaller cars. The V40 is definitely the not-so-little engine that could. 

The large display meant I could keep an eye on my speeds, which to be honest is a must when it comes to me as I'm known for the ease at which I tend to go over the speed limit. When using the navigation function, the information on upcoming road signs or fixed red light and speed cameras is another nifty feature. The factory fitted sound system delivers an awesome sound quality and this is important for me as tunes are a must even if it's a two minute drive.

I know that the popular belief tends to be that Volvos are family cars. That's not without good reason, as Volvos come with standout safety features and of course, when having children in cars you want to know they are travelling safe. However for me, as a professional woman in my early 30s who does not have children, I was highly impressed with both the aesthetics of the V40 and also all the little luxurious and premium features that I have become accustomed to having with my own car. Priced at $50,400 (the drive away price is $59,296) it fits into a segment of the market which I personally feel people such as myself would looking at purchasing in if they were shopping for a new car. The V40 offers exceptional comfort, performance and safety and is not at all short on features that allow for it to be considered a higher end hatchback.

While I was furnished with the use of this car by Barbagallo Volvo, my experience with the V40 is entirely my honest opinion and there is not really anything that I found fault with but if I was to be asked if there was anything that I felt could be improved upon or would increase my enjoyment of it, it would be that I found it somewhat strange the car did not have keyless entry. Whilst it is fitted with push start ignition (however, you still need to insert the key fob), there is no keyless entry which is something I am used to having and while you'll certainly survive without it, it's great to be able to just walk up to your car and have it unlock for you especially when you already have your hands full.


Despite that, I was a very happy and satisfied Volvo driver for those three weeks. If you're considering a new car and if it’s essential that your new car both looks good and drives good and if quality is important to you, I highly recommend you give the team at Barbagallo Volvo a call and take one of these little beauties out for a spin.


Volvo V40 T5 R-Design provided by Barbagallo Volvo
All photography by SOUL of SHU

September 28, 2015

Double Duty. Telstra Perth Fashion Festival


More than the spectacular runway performances, the parties and the glorious goodies in the gift bags (though they were so very glorious this year), what I actually love most about Telstra Perth Fashion Festival is how, since its inception in 1999, it has always nurtured our local fashion industry and supported the many and varied creative folk who come together to make the Festival what it is.

The last week in Perth brought the fashion caravan into town and while it's certainly a hectic few days, there's enough energy and excitement that comes with each day of the program to keep you going. I simply did not have the time to attend as many shows as I would have liked to. In between it being my last week at work before leaving for NYC and all those pesky tasks to take care of on the home front, it really left very little time for my fashion fix. Despite this, I was able to rush off early from work on Wednesday so that I could attend the Empire Rose and the WA Designer Runway #1 shows.

Walking into Fashion Paramount at the Perth Concert Hall, the theatrical scene was set for Empire Rose's collection with the darkened mood lighting and grand chandeliers suspended along the runway. As the show started, the models came out two by two wearing not only the effortlessly cool and casual looks by Empire Rose but also lingerie produced by recent graduate Rosemaree White, whose graduate collection I had the pleasure of seeing last year was absolutely amazing. Just as Perth Fashion Festival has always fostered the growth of the local industry and designers, it was wonderful that a long established brand as Empire Rose would give Rosemaree such a great opportunity. Her lace and sequinned lingerie paired beautifully with Empire Rose's sport luxe looks.

The runway debut of Rorie and Scarlett Ledger, nieces of Heath Ledger, elicited many delighted oohs and aahs from the audience and they looked nothing short of sweet in their tutu skirts and jacquard kimono jackets. Well known for their uniquely produced runway shows, having the DJ jump from behind his decks and join the models also set the audience off with laughter and applause.

Off the back of that show, I was well primed and ready for the WA Designer Runway collection. Comprising of collections from eight different WA designers, Ange Lang, Catini Designs, CDQ Designs, Intimates by Monique, Jomay Cao Clothing, Karolina Couture, Sab Five Five and Tokay Boutique, this was an eclectic mix of stunning evening wear, glamourous lingerie and very cool street style looks.In short, there was something for everyone which is the perfect way to describe the Festival as a whole.

September 13, 2015

Prolonged Pauses and the Joy of Missing Out

So, it has been awhile. Three months actually. When I decided to take a short hiatus from blogging I had not intended to hit the pause button for such a prolonged time. During this time I had a number of people ask of my plans and intentions for the blog, and most importantly if everything was okay. The fact is everything was, and is, okay and even more than just okay. With life swimming along so lovely for me, I was caught up in living it and enjoying it that I found myself devoid of the time I needed to produce the type of content for the blog that I wanted to. Being a firm believer in quality over quantity, I didn't want to churn out content for the sake of it and just to keep the blog constantly active and I can't deny that the distractions in life that kept me away from the blog were not of the welcome variety.

I do thank everyone who asked about me and the blog; despite all the statistics and analytics that provide me with the quantifiable data on the readers and visitors to the site it's always wonderful when I do hear from readers and they reach out to me.

If you have been keeping up with my movements through Instagram and Facebook you may have noticed a couple of exciting projects that I have been involved in, which I will feature here over the coming weeks. I was very fortunate to work with Barbagallo Volvo Cannington as part of their Volvo Blogger Drive campaign and I have also teamed up with my friends at Perth Life and Soul of Shu to bring you a little something later in the year. I can't spill too many details on that yet but we were finally about to let the cat out of the bag and make the announcement late last week.

On top of all that, I return to New York City in a little over a week! I have to say that I'm glad the summer seemed to start late as the fall weather in the city has been very nice with temperatures still somewhat high so I will be much more comfortable than I was during my time there earlier this year in January and February. Given the more pleasant conditions this time around I will also be bringing you a couple of little projects from NYC, and if there's anything you would like me to consider covering while I am there please do get in touch.

Until then I'll be keeping myself occupied with Telstra Perth Fashion Festival with opening night this coming Tuesday. I always look forward to the festival every year and this time around, in addition to attending a couple of shows, I have also been invited to do a special takeover of the Perth Life Instagram account. This is a thrill and honour especially as this will be the first time a takeover of the account has happened. Be sure to tag your shots during the festival with the #perthlife and #TPFF2015 hashtags for your chance to have your pic featured during the takeover.

June 11, 2015

Tale of Two Cities. Edition HK.

There's an often quoted saying, once a year go somewhere you haven't been before. I'm guilty of revisiting my favourite places in the world. I think it's understandable and easily done. It's like the much adored piece of clothing you wear over and over until it becomes threadbare and a shell of its former self.


In the same way that I have to remind myself to not get stuck wearing the same outfit over and over again just because I dig it so much, I also have to remind myself that there is still the whole wide world out there for me to see. That something like this is even a concern in my mind is something that I'm extremely cognizant and grateful of. There are people who will never have the privilege of seeing the world beyond the small radius of their home. I may detest the long haul flights and the accompanying tiredness and jet lag, but all that means is I have the ability to book a flight whenever my feet should start to get itchy. For this privilege, I am exceptionally and eternally thankful.

Coming off my extremely special and memorable time in New York, I adjusted myself back to real life with a few days in Hong Kong. Being on the same time zone as Perth, it meant I could get my body and mind back to existing on a different day and time. Though I have travelled extensively through Asia, this was my first time in Hong Kong and I was excited to discover a new city.

In hindsight it would have served me well to be better prepared and have a clearer idea in my mind of what I wanted to see and do. My few days there were definitely experienced on the seat of my pants and making plans for each day as it came, but sometimes having no plans or schedules isn't always so bad.

From starting out in one beautiful boutique hotel and ending up in another on the other side of Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong was a symphonic blend of cultures and the old and new. Glimmering rows of designer stores sat alongside traditional Chinese herbalists. One thing that stuck in my mind was the proliferation of MCM backpacks adorning the back of almost every second man, woman and even child! Having eyed a mini MCM studded backpack in New York's The Plaza Hotel but deciding against the purchase, I was unable to resist its pull when seeing some variation of the highly recognizable MCM backpacks everywhere I looked in Hong Kong. I always say that when travelling, if you find something you love, buy it!

Staying at first The Luxe Manor and later the Mira Moon Hotel allowed myself and the travel buddy Shu to take in two very different experiences which made for amazing images. The Luxe Manor was vibrantly decorated with a whimsical tone and whilst little bits of whimsy peeked through in the styling of Mira Moon, each hotel was like day and night. The rich and bold colours of The Luxe Manor with its themed rooms contrasted against our very modern room at the Mira Moon, with its sleek and polished surfaces and ceiling to floor windows which gave me heart stopping amounts of natural light. I absolutely adored the grandeur of the Luxe Manor's lobby and the beautifully tiled bathroom at the Mira Moon with its huge window by the tub which overlooked the city with its blocks upon blocks of towers and skyscrapers.

It's about rest and play when I'm staying in hotels. Though some look at hotels as a mere place to lay their head at the end of the day, I look for hotels that are not only going to satisfy me in that regard but also leave me in awe and appreciation. I only appreciate not only good design and aesthetics but also the little things that make my stay more comfortable and enjoyable, such as complimentary use of the mini bar! Both hotels provided us with the free use of a smartphone which was invaluable in navigating our way through an unknown city.

It's fitting that this theme of rest and play found itself in the last two looks we shot for PET. and the Clique Arcade, with an evening-out-on-the-town appropriate look featuring PET's "Ace Motel" leopard print crop top and then something for the subsequent sleep in the next day in the very soft,cozy and infamous PET.Jamas.

Hong Kong, it was an enchanting introduction. Your food, your energy, your bustling streets, the hidden corners of tranquility and the way you offer up elements of both the east and west in perfect proportions. I hope to see you again soon.

Photography by SOUL of SHU.
Shot on location at The Luxe Manor and Mira Moon Hotel, Hong Kong.
Outfit details: 'Ace Motel' top by PET available from Clique Arcade, skirt by Bruug
'PET.Jamas' PJs also by PET

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.