Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Amy's Bread

I have always loved window displays as they are such an inspiration. It gives the shop a personality and it should be beautiful enough to beckon you in. One of my favourites is cake/ pastries/ pies displays. They always look so inviting when you are strolling by.

I had to drop by at Amy's bread at 9th Avenue near Hell's Kitchen in New York. They are famous for their bread especially their sweet golden semolina with raisins and fennel. But I decided to go for an orange cookie instead with coffee.

There is a stretch of nice cafes and eateries along 9th Avenue, especially Thai food. I was pretty tired of eating deli food at Times Square and would prefer to walk quite a distant from 6th avenue where my hotel was located just to have dinner.

Soho in New York

Loft living, cast iron architecture and it hip reputation as a haven for artistes give SoHo New York its special appeal. Not to mention swanky boutiques and restaurants clustered in the northern area of the neighborhood, along Broadway, Prince and Spring streets. SoHo is known for its eclectic mix of different boutiques for shopping, including Bloomingdale's, Marc Jacobs, Urban Outfitters, Banana Republic, Club Monaco and Uniqlo.

Summer sales time is happy time ! I had only one and a half hours to shop which wasn't much so I had to be quick. My favourite shops here include CB2 , the younger version of Crate and Barrel, Dean and Deluca, a gourmet grocery place and the Pearl RiverMart which sells the most kitsch versions of Chinese goods. Their best sellers include electric Chinese lanterns on a string and authentic tin toys from China.

I did a quick dash in and out. Kiehl's lip balm and gloss at Bloomingdale's - check, 2 skirts on sale at Banana Republic - check, tin toys and recycled shopping bags at Pearl River -check and a vase at CB2. Then time to catch the subway and check out of the hotel . Whew !

Monday, June 22, 2009


I’ve often come across the store name Anthropologie in style and design blogs and constantly mentioned is their fabulous range of dresses and housewares.

And just a few blocks away from my hotel at the Rockefellar Plaza in New York is Anthropologie. It is simply one of the most beautiful stores I have come across, in my opinion at least. From the window displays to the interiors, it is as charming as a cupcake with colourful frosting and this visual shopping experience is enhanced by the acoustic soul / folk music that they play (think Colbie Caillat and her contemporaries). Definitely more up market boho chic compared to Urban outfitters. Prices were on the steep side, but at least it had a sale corner and I managed to make the most of it.

What I loved most was the household section where there were alphabets wrapped in colorful textiles, tea towels with gorgeous motifs of birds, butterflies and crockery and something that I have never come across in stores. Shelves of knobs and handles for cupboards in the prettiest designs. If you were bored with your chest of drawers, updating the knobs would make a difference.

And also making a difference to the shopping experience was the in-house styling . Written on a huge chalkboard in the store “ If I had known you were coming, I would have baked a cake.” It is part of the chorus of Ernie’s little ditty from Sesame Street. Not as famous as his song “Rubber Duckie” but just as catchy.

I was there only during summer but I did come across some of their nicest winter theme showcases on the web - an igloo made from saline drip plastic containers and hanging mash mallows. I wish I were there to see it for real.

A Chinese artist in New York

All over Times Square, you can find Chinese artistes offering to draw your picture and in most cases, they are quite good.

There are also many street vendors selling framed pictures of cover illustrations of the New Yorker as well as photographs of iconic NY scenes. Most of them offered the same things and they were really no different after a while.

But in my trip to New York last year, I met Jane Dong, a Chinese artist who migrated to New York from Shanghai in the 80s. Both she and her husband were graduates from the Shanghai Art College and while she loved to paint women in the most stunning colors, her husband was into landscapes and still art.

I bought some prints of her original works and enjoyed them so much that I was hoping to see her again. Her stall was situated just outside MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art which was near my hotel but somehow, there was no sign of her for the first few days. But just hours before my trip back home to Singapore, I saw her again.

We chatted like old friends, about the present crop of overpriced Chinese artistes to the sad state of the American economy. She was lamenting that she hasn’t got the inspiration to paint anymore as tastes have changed. Back in the good days, she was even commissioned to paint huge works of art for some Americans but tastes of the present generation have changed.

Old school or not, I love how she blends her colors and how the women in her works have that lovely languid feel.I hope Jane finds the inspiration to paint again.

Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market

I love vintage for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it goes with the three principles of being green. Reduce, recycle and reuse. And I would like to add reinvent as well. Mixing and matching vintage fashion and accessories is so much fun and it reinvents the concept of fashion.

Secondly, you never know what you will find, in terms of decade and history. Vintage stuff has lots of character and keeps you guessing.

Thirdly, things from the past are made to last. They don’t self destruct or wear and tear that easily. A year back, I found a couple of boxy vintage bags with the “made in USA” tag, faded but still obvious. They were very well made and the previous owners obviously took care of it well.

And once, I found a beautiful baby blue Samsonite hand luggage that looks like it could go on for a few more decades. I wonder how many can still recall the old Samsonite ad that had a herd of bulls running over their luggage. The luggage was still intact and sturdy. If there is any ad that promises what it delivers, it had to be that classic Samsonite one.

Fourthly, a vintage piece is truly of its kind. The possibility of finding a similar version is very slim. And vintage clothes will never make it to the celebrity section of “ Who wore it better ? “ For all the money that celebrities have, they still run the risk of running into another celebrity wearing the same designer togs.

In New York, my favourite vintage salvaging place is Hell’s Kitchen flea market. Located near the Port Authority Bus Terminal way (39th street at 9th Avenue), it is held only on Saturdays and Sundays. It is not named after the infamous Gordon Ramsey and his restaurant, though there is a little cafĂ© called Hell’s Kitchen next to it. On a good day, there are around 20 stalls here and over at one of the bigger stalls are Tony and his wife. He is boisterous in his Italian ways and his wife Janet is charming in a very Cher (Do you believe in Love) way. This couple has the most extensive selection of vintage bags, shoes, hats and brooches and I have found quite a number of treasures here.

Heard that there is a much bigger flea market at Los Angeles near Rose Bowl. If I do get the chance to visit LA, I would like to check that out.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Carrie Chau's Wun Ying collection

I adore the works of Hong Kong artist Carrie Chau . Her Wun Ying collection which literally means flies in Chinese consists of artwork and lifestyle products. She became an overnight sensation in Hong Kong when her painting, Black Sheep, received a standing ovation at a public exhibition in Times Square , Causeway Bay in Hong Kong

There are now t-shirts, books, postcards and slingbags with the Black Sheep motif in the Wun Ying Collection. Ever since I received a tote bag and a beautiful pink T shirt as presents from friends, I have been looking out for her works.

Her flagship store in Hong Kong is at

G/F, 7 Gough Street, Central, Hong Kong
Opening Hours: 12:00-20:00 (Closes on Sunday and Public holiday)

The shop Forest + Trees at The Cathay in Singapore ( Handy Road ) carries some of her collection .

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The LaSalle Show

Visited the Lasalle exhibition today which showcases the works of final year students

It was my first time at Lasalle , one of Singapore's premiere arts school housed in an impressive building . It had a sleek, black and streamlined exterior silhouette and a wavy, cool interior with vast spaces for galleries and exhibitions.

More impressive were the works of the students and I wished I had more time to look at all the categories of work. There were some impressive claymation video accompanied by storyboarding and characterisation . Also exhibited were the actual clay figurines used. I liked the one by Cindy Neo entitled Dreaming Awake. Her claymation video tells the story of 12 year old Amy, blind from the age of 3 who lives with her overprotective mother and her cat.

Other claymodels displayed there were also very interesting, ranging from cute and quirky to dark and disturbing