Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Material Girl - Yay or Nay?

Remember back in April when I was raving about the new BBC series, Material Girl which is based on the book Fashion Babylon written  by Imogen Edwards-Jones?  Well, the show which hits our screens in mid October has been given a right royal panning in this week's Grazia. According to journo, Paul Flynn, Material Girl is nothing more than a cliched one-dimensional folly. So I decided to check out the trailers to find out for myself and I am sorry but I have to disagree; because the show looks riveting and totally slick. Not only that it reeks of money and you can tell that a lot of cash has been sunk into this and it really pays off. Sorry Grazia but you have got it wrong. On another note it was great to see comments on Material Girl from fellow bloggers, DisneyRollerGirl, FredButlerStyle and Queen Michelle from Kingdom of Style. The review is on page 81 in case you want to have  a peep.

Have a look at a clip from the show and tell me what you think. You can also check out the BBC website to see the actual trailer.

My Space- Queen Michelle from Kingdom of Style


Kingdom of Style is one of those blogs that people just love. It must have something to do with the quirky charm of Queens Michelle and Marie who are the trendy fashionistas behind it. The blog is an outlet for the two ladies to show their love of fashion and has been listed in Online Fashion 100 which is a list of movers and shakers in online fashion. Well after reading about Queen Michelle's workspace on Kingdom of Style  a few weeks back, I decided that I needed to have her for the My Space section. 

Describe the concept of Kingdom of Style.
Simply a place where Marie and I share our thoughts and experiences of fashion and style. 

Where do you scribe?
In a little corner of my living room. 

Why that place?
It's the only available 
space I have in my house.



What is on your desk at the moment?
Pretty much everything! Magazines, USB sticks, perfume bottles, a feather headdress, a camera, a pantone book, a permanent market, tailors chalk, various crap like buttons, hairpins, an earring, two keyboards, two mice, a charm bag I'm putting together, a seam ripper, random bills and letters and a notebook - loads of stuff and it grows every day. 

What form of inspiration do you have on the wall or desk ie photos, magazines cuttings or extracts?
I have only a cross stitch in a frame that my boyfriends mum created for me. Other than that the walls are bare. My inspiration is in a folder on my computer and a scrapbook I keep with images cut from magazines. But the most important inspiration is in my head. 

Do you keep a tidy office or are you a messy worker?
I'm an exceptionally messy worker! My computer itself is very organised and clean but my physical space is completely chaotic. I live in utter chaos pretty much all the time.

Nora Ephron

At her best, screenwriter Nora Ephron turns out biting, sharply observed scripts that foreground strong, interesting characters. She has also, more unusually for a woman in Hollywood, made a commercially successful transition to directing, helming of comedies that includes two of the key rom-coms of the 1990s.
Samantha Cook, The Rough Guide to Chick Flicks, 2006.

Previously I promised you a post on Nora Ephron the hot shot director of Julie & Julia. Ms Ephron wears many hats; director, producer, screenwriter, novelist, journalist, author and blogger. Her beauties are rom-coms such as When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail and more recently Julie & Julia. Recently Nora has been named as one of the most successful creative women in Hollywood and is touted to be in the running for an Oscar nomination for Julie & Julia. Nora Ephron was born in New York City in 1941, the eldest of four daughters and grew up in Beverly Hills where she graduated from the glittery Beverly Hills High. Films were always in Nora’s blood as both her parents were screenwriters. Her sisters, Delia and Amy also went down the screenwriting route and her sister Hallie is a journalist, book reviewer and author. Her links to the literary world continued with her husbands ie hubby no 1 was writer, Dan Greenburg, hubby no 2 was journalist, Carl Bernstein of the Watergate scandal and current hubby is screenwriter, Nicholas Pileggi.

After graduating at Wellesley College in 1962, Nora did a stint as an intern at the White House for President John F. Kennedy. She was head hunted by the New York Post where she worked as a reporter for five years. She went onto writing a column on women’s issues in Esquire and collaborated with Bernstein on the script for All the President’s Men and although the script was not used this brought Nora’s illustrious talents to the forefront. Her first play was Silkwood which starred Meryl Streep and then she went on to write Heartburn which was based on former husband, Carl Bernstein’s affair with British politician Margaret Joy.  She hit pay dirt in 1989 with When Harry Met Sally in which she earned an associate director credit. This is My Life was her first directorial debut but it was Sleepless in Seattle that really made her in Tinsel Town, the film raked it in at the box office. Since Sleepless in Seattle, she has worked on numerous projects such as Michael starring John Travolta and Andie McDowell, Bewitched starring Nicole Kidman and of course, You've Got Mail which reunited Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. The secret of Nora Ephron's success is that she makes films that speak to women rather than at them which is a rarity in Hollywood.

Nora Ephron now resides in New York City with her husband.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Bronx Princess


I am pretty excited, I have just come across this gem of a film called Bronx Princess. It is about the life of Rocky Otoo, a feisty17 year old from the Bronx, New York who has her heart set on going to college and become an adult. Rocky’s parents are from Ghana and her father is now living back home where he is the chief of the town. This leaves Rocky in the Bronx with her mum and younger siblings; but life is far from idyllic in fact it is sometimes downright hard. Instead of spending her free time shopping with her mates or hanging out at the beach, Rocky has to work in her Mum’s hair and cosmetic shop and look after her younger brother. Plus her Mum is always telling her that she is becoming too westernised – but hey what else does she expect her to be? She was born here. Her life truly sucks and things have seriously got to get better than this. Then Rocky goes to visit her dad in Ghana where she does some rebonding with him and discovers how the other half live in Ghana. Rocky's father instils a sense of Ghanaian pride into her as well as the importance of her culture. When she returns to the USA she enrols at Dickinson college a much happier and fulfilled person who has a true sense of herself.

I really love the trailer for the film and I totally saw myself as Rocky. A young spirited lady who has her own ideas of how her life should be but having to deal with the African values that your parents place on her. Oh and having to deal with the disapproving looks from that mother of yours as well as the tuts and shakes of the head. Rocky's life was more or less my life. Bronx Princess is directed and produced by Yoni Brook and Musa Syeed. The documentary is part of an outreach campaign to improve access to educational resources for young people and bridge the educational divide in immigrant families. You can buy the film from here.

Join the Bronx Princess Facebook fan page here.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Being Erica

They had me at "You know that girl that seems to have it all, great job and great life? Well that's not me." Wow that could be me talking but it is the voice of Canadian, Erica Strange in the new series, Being Erica. Erica played by Erin Karpluk is 32, single and working in a dead end job in a call centre. Basically her life is the pits and she has to watch her sister and friends waltz about in their glamorous lives and feeling inadequate. She begins to reach her lowest ebb after she is fired from her job and blown out on a date all in one day. She begins to ponder over the bad decisions she has made in her life and how she would do things differently. When she ends up in hospital after a minor accident she meets Dr Tom played by Michael Riley, a counsellor who coaxes her to open up and discuss her life. She makes a list of all the big mistakes she has made that have majorly affected her life and then she makes a startling discovery. That Dr Tom has the power to send her back to her teenage years in order to readdress her mistakes. Each show sees Erica dealing with a different problem and being sent back to the past to rectify it. Being Erica is set in Toronto and is a really funny and heart warming dramadey. You really feel for Erica and her sense of dilemma, she is a really quirky and angsty lady who is in a place in her life that she hates and we get to see how works through it. Plus it gives me an opportunity to fawn over the shots of Toronto and remember my wonderful holiday.

Being Erica will be aired on Monday 28th September on E4 at 10.00pm.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

London Fashion Week - September 2009


As well as a brand new location at the swish Somerset House this season's London Fashion Week will be hailed as the one where bloggers were welcomed with open arms by PRs. Also what impressed me about LFW was the relaxed rules with regarding backstage access. It seemed that there was more action going on backstage than on the catwalks. Interviews with designers, models, make up artists, fashion journos and celebs; it all went on back there. Also the use of rich media in the form of videos, podcasts and audio kept fashion lovers round the world in the loop.

Here are just a few videos that I have come across about LFW September 09.

Daily Mail Online

Deborah Arthurs, from Femail goes back stage at LFW to see the preparations the likes of Alice Temperley and Jasper Conran



Very.co.uk
 

Louise Roe looks at trends for the next season that are in the shops right now.




Grazia

Katie Jacobs, fashion assistant from Grazia catches up with Caroline Charles and Sass & Bide and has a chat about their collection.


New York Times

The Grande Dame of fashion, Suzy Menkes pays homage to London and their fashion scene.


Friday, 25 September 2009

Sweet Valley High

I have been a bookworm since like forever but when I hit my teens I found that there were no fun books aimed at my age group. There were some wonderful pieces of work by Brits Honor Arundel, Enid Blyton and Jaqueline Wilson, but they were serious books. Then in 1983 a new book series was launched about twin sisters who lived in California; it was called Sweet Valley High and was developed by Francine Pascal. They focused on 16 year old Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield who were identical in every way except in their persona. Elizabeth was sensible, hard working and nice while Jessica anything but. She was manipulative, self centred, shallow and would stop at nothing to get what she wanted. However, as lousy as she was Jessica made Sweet Valley High compelling and exciting to read. Over 150 titles were published as well as spin off series. During 1983 and 1987 I think I bought every title every month. Oh how I would wait in anticipation for a new book to drop and in many ways it was like waiting for your favourite magazine to come out. In 1995 I was delighted when the show hit the TV screens in the UK, Brittany and Cynthia Daniels were perfect in the roles of the Wakefield twins. Interestingly enough the show was very much like Clueless in it's style and feel and possessed the campiness that is contained in Ugly Betty.

Earlier this week it was announced that, Sweet Valley High is about to be made into a film and the script will be written by none other than Diablo Cody. This is exciting news and has been reported on blogsphere a lot. I think Diablo's kick ass dialogue combined with edgy dark humour will be just what the series needs to take bring it into the 21st century. They have got off to a cracking start already with the major characters having twitter accounts. It feels kind of weird that a book series that I was so obsessed about when I was a teen is hitting the public foray but at the same time it is very exciting and I am curious to see what the Juno creater will bring to the table. While I was doing some googling I came across Sweet Valley Diaries which is a nostalgic look at SVH.

Here is a clip from the TV series. Have a look and tell me if it is not a dead ringer for Clueless.



Image from AP.

TGI Friday

Please find a list of links which have rocked my world this week.

The one and only Coco plays ode to Vogue's Grace Coddington, sheroe of The September Issue.

Check out this hilarious send up of stylist, Rachel Zoe and her crew, Brad and Taylor.

A list of the top ten iconic sportsmen and women of all time.

London Fashion Week came and went and Susie Bubble gave us the lowdown on the Burberry fashion show and after party.

Look at five reasons why you should never take a blogging break.

If you would like to be included in TGI Friday next week then submit your links to ondolady@googlemail.com. Please note that the links must be published between Friday 25th September to Thursday 1st October.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Hollywood is Like High School With Money

I picked up this book in a shop called Chapters in Toronto which is basically the Canadian version of Borders. There seems to be a bit of a mystery over who Zoey Dean is, according to Wikipedia, Ms Dean is actually the pseudonym of Cherie Bennett and Jeff Gottesfeld. Dean's most famous work is How to Teach Filthy Rich Girls which has been turned into the TV series Privileged. Hollywood is Like High School With Money is the tale of Taylor Henning, a 24 year old graduate who lands her dream job as an assistant at Metronome studio. Bright eyed and bushy tailed she sets out to prove herself in the world of films however she faces a barrage of backstabbing and undermining from her co-worker, Kylie. Afraid of being left on the sidelines, Taylor employs the assistance of the sassy Quinn Whitaker, the daughter of her high powered boss, Iris. Pretty soon Quinn has Taylor up to speed on ruthless tactics that are needed to get ahead in the movie business and Taylor finds herself exercising her inner mean girl antics. When a position as a creative executive comes up it looks like Kylie is a dead cert on bagging it but Taylor has other ideas and is determined to land the coveted role. She decides to raise the stakes in order to make her dreams come true.

I was hoping this would be a clever and fun read with well developed characters and I got exactly what I wished. Hollywood is Like High School With Money really gives you an insight into how the movie industry is run and I certainly learnt a lot about how ideas are pitched and the whole production process. It also shows how a person can lose their soul in the efforts to make it in a very fickle industry. I liked the main protagonist very much and found it easy to emphasise with her even when she was being down right manipulative. Her indifference to a sweet and friendly intern who saves her bacon during a rough patch really shows how far Taylor has gone to the dark side. My only griping was the ending which I found to be a bit too obvious and simplistic. Saying that this book is one of the best I have ever read.

Hollywood is Like High School With Money is available to buy from amazon here.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

My Space - Eva, The London Darling

There are some blogs that just stand out for their brilliant design and sheer prettiness. They have gorgeous pictures that is complimented with savvy writing as well as sexy plug ins. Pretty Stylish London is one of those blogs, barely a year old it has established itself as one of the leaders in fashion and beauty. Meet Eva, the London Darling who is the beauty and brains behind Pretty Stylish London.

Describe the concept of Pretty Stylish London.
I like to describe Pretty Stylish London as a yummy, sweet cupcake of a blog, with plenty of fashion, a dollop of beauty and asprinkling of dates for your diary. There's a generous helping of hotel reviews and spas. The aim is to make it 'the new Daily Candy' for Londoners and jet setters visiting the capital, with my own personal adventures thrown in for good measure.

Where do you scribe?
At home in my office, nothing fancy just a desk, chair and a couple of units. :-)

Why that place?
It's where I'm the most focused, when I come into the office, I get into work mode quicker, as long as I don't log on to twitter - big distraction!

What is on your desk at the moment?
Latest issue of Marie Claire, a couple of old issues of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar that I've kept for inspiration. A photo of myself and hubby on the big day, my trusted Blackberries and a few ciante pots of nail colours.


What form of inspiration do you have on the wall or desk ie photos, magazine cuttings or extracts?
I have a noticeboard that I pin cuttings and illustrations on, I also have a stack of magazines I keep in the bottom of my desk, some are three-four years old but I loved a particular fashion shoot or an articles so I've archived it. A lot of my inspiration is stored on my coveted apple iMac. I have folders that I drag and drop stuff from the net.

Do you keep a tidy office or are you a messy worker?
Oh I'm a bit of both, it's not so messy that I'm tripping over things, but I do have times where I'm struggling to find my keyboard!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

The Satorialist Book Signing in Liberty

Yesterday I rocked up to the book signing of The Satorialist at Liberty. I thought to myself, get there in good time so you can get a decent space as well as your book signed. Good idea right? Wrong because the whole world and his cat had the same idea and turned up in good time too. The queue was literally going round the block as hundreds of Scott Schuman fans waited patiently for him to sign their copies of his iconic book. Luckily for me I managed to get into the press event and got my book signed in no time as well as a complimentary glass of champagne too. I bumped into the lovely Leigh from Style Canteen who took this wonderful picture. Oh yes and Garance Dore was there to lend Scott some support. She looked as gorgeous as her blog. The event was held in the menswear section where a pop up store which Scott created was held and the space also held images that he has taken.

The Satorialist is available to buy from amazon here.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Countdown to Fashion Week

Well London Fashion Week kicked off today at 9.30am. The event is celebrating it's 25th year and with a brand new spanking premises of Somerset House they have a lot to shout about. LFW may only run for six days but an awful lot is crammed in with shows, presentations, launches, installations and after parties. But who are the people who run Fashion Week and what exactly are their duties? In conjunction with New York Fashion Week, US Elle created a docu-video series which features five major players behind New York Fashion Week. There is the editor, the 
publicist, the designer, and the director of programs from the CFDA. You get to see them preparing for Fashion Week, what shows to see, what to wear and which parties to attend. They also share their hopes and expectations from the shows and what impact it will have on the industry.

Katie Davidson Hudson, editor at Elle
Adam Shapiro senior publicist for KCD
Katie Campion, director of programs at CFDA
Prabal Gurung, designer

Check out the link here.

The City: Part II


The sixth series of The Hills hits the screen in the UK on 18th October and we will see how the pack are coping without Lauren Conrad. As we all know, Lauren's nemesis, Kristin Cavallari was brought in to replace her and to add some drama to the show. I never got into Laguna Beach but one thing that I noticed about Kristin was that she seemed to catch drama like some people catch a cold so it will be interesting to see what happens. Also returning is The City which stars from Whitney Port who was also in The Hills not too long ago. After major boy drama the second series sees Whitney putting her head down and concentrating on her career. She is no longer at DVF and now works for the prickly Kelly Cutrone at People's Revolution. She also has a blast from the past in the form of Roxy Olin (daughter of Ken Olin and Patricia Wettig), an old friend from way back who also works for Kelly but it seems that Roxy may not have Whitney's best interests at heart. Meanwhile Whitney's former co-worker, Olivia Palermo (who I love) has nabbed a cool job in PR at Elle magazine but she bumps heads with her colleagues. Oh it all looks so exciting. Last year it was all about The Hills with me and The City was just a show that I watched when I got a spare moment but if the trailer is anything to go by, the second series of The City looks amazing. The new series of The Hills really pales in comparison.

An Ondo Lady in New York

It was weird going back to NYC after an 11 year hiatus. I kind of have a love/hate relationship with the place. Love in that I admire that the Big Apple is full of diverse people from around the world, you can more or less be what you want here, New Yorkers are out there doing there thing and everything seems to happen here. Hate in that it is cramped, entering the subway is like going into a dark pit (Michael Bloomberg sort it out please) and you need to be a zillionaire to be able to afford a property in Manhattan.

Ground Zero
I planned to visit Ground Zero on September 11 for obvious reason but as we were staying in a hotel in Newark and the Path train took me right to the World Trade Centre I decided to do a pre-emptive and check it out earlier. Ground Zero is the right word for it because what was once the World Trade Centre is now empty space undergoing construction. There are two museums, one that commemorates those who died on that fatal day and one that goes into depth about the new plans for the site. I decided to pay my respective to the victims of 9/11 and go the Tribute WTC Visitor Centre. The venue holds videos, images and artifacts that document the events of 9/11. Visiting the centre was a truly sad occasion and really hit home what a pure and utter tragedy it was. I cried and I don’t do crying.


Williamsburg
I have heard so much about this place in magazines such as Nylon and Elle so I needed to check it out. Apparently it is the place where the young and trendy hipsters who cannot afford Manhattan now live. So I trekked down to Brooklyn to have a nosey. You could have knocked me down with a feather, it is exactly how they described it. This area is all hipsters galore and full of retro cafes that serve organic cuisine, bagel shops, trendy boutiques and indie record shops. As I browsed by I spotted various PYTs sitting in cafes tapping away on their Macbooks. Yup you got the drift.

DUMBO
Otherwise known as Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overseas; this area in Brooklyn has been touted as an urban space with exciting galleries, cafes, restaurants and boutiques. Yippee I thought to myself and headed down there on the A train in anticipation. Sadly I was left disappointed, aside from one trying to be arty bookshop and a few restaurants, DUMBO has nothing to say for itself and it is just full of warehouses. Frankly it has a long way to go before it is Hoxton. I felt like a dumbo for wasting my time.


Fashion’s Night Out
I saw the posters for this New York’s Fashion Night Out during the day while I was browsing though the shops but I had no idea how huge it was. Later that night as we wandered out for dinner, the place was manic. It looked like the whole of New York had come out to shop and party. Ok rewind and let me give you some background, Fashion’s Night Out is a global celebration of fashion with the aim of boosting the shopping experience and getting people to part with their pounds or dollars in this instance. It took place on 10th September and is put together by Vogue, the CFDA and NYC. The shops stayed open till 11pm and most of them had DJs performing and were offering complimentary wine and champagne. A whole range of celebrities and fashionistas were on board such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Anna Wintour, P Diddy, Diane von Furstenberg and Donna Karan. That night had a real buzz about it and that was the moment when I thought, yes I really am in New York.

So that was my trip to NYC, short and sweet. If I had more time I would have checked out Harlem, Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Lower East Side in Manhattan and Red Hook and Park Slope in Brooklyn. It was rainy and windy when we left NYC and as we were in the Shuttle bus heading towards La Guardia, I turned and looked at my travel buddy and said "I think we are leaving New York at the right time."

I leave you with a clip from a new film called New York, I Love You. I saw the trailer when I went to see The September Issue. It is a collection of 11 short films at 10 minutes long and stars a huge stellar cast. It made it's premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and will be released in October in the US. I have searched for a UK release date but cannot find one.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Julie & Julia


I really am on a food tip aren't I what with Magnolia Bakery and stuff. This film was being promoted heavily in the UK before I headed to the States but to be honest I never really paid much attention. All I knew was that it starred Meryl Streep and was about famous cook, Julia Childs. However, I decided to watch it on an impulse last week when I was in Atlanta. Well it was that or I Can Do Bad All By Myself but I was really not in the mood for a Tyler Perry movie; I admire the man and like his work but that night I was not feeling it. As soon as the credits started I knew I had made the right choice, for a start it was produced by Nora Ephron who I adore (more on her in another blog) and who brought us Sleepless in Seattle and You Got Mail. Ephron's films contain a magical air that makes you leave the cinema feeling all gooey inside. Julie & Julia is the story of Julie Powell played by Amy Adams, a failed writer in a dead end job who has given up on her dream. She comes across a copy of a cookbook by the famous Julia Child played by Meryl Streep and decides to set herself the task of following all 524 recipes. With the encouragement of her husband she sets up a blog to document her experiences and pretty soon gains a huge following. The film also takes us back to the 40s in Paris and shows Julia Child's journey in becoming one of the greatest cooks of her time. As both women set about reaching their goals and pushing themselves to breaking point they go through a journey that transforms their lives.

This is a really gorgeous film which not only tells the story of two remarkable women but also harbours a lot of values in it. It demonstrates that cooking is not just something that women have to do in sufferance to put food on the table but is an activity that brings a lot of joy. More importantly it teaches you that you should never ever give up on your dream and that you should always believe in yourself. I totally related to Julie Powell as a frustrated writer in a dead end job; been there done that and bought the tshirt. Amy Adams plays this feisty character with a lot of charm and zest and as for Meryl Streep, every time I see that woman in something she never fails to amaze me with her range and depth. Julie & Julia is a fantastic movie about hope and passion. Nora Ephron has made a great job of entwining the memoirs by Julia Childs, My Life in France together with the one by Julie Powell, Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously together.

You can check out Julie Powell's blog here.

The Magnolia Bakery

This honey trap gained fame from being featured in The Devil Wears Prada and Sex and the City. Magnolia Bakery is based on the uber trendy Blecker Street on the West Village in New York alongside designer stores and chic cafes. The bakery is famous for their cupcakes and tasty cakes so of course I could not leave NYC without paying them a visit. When I got there I had to wait in line because there was a queue going round the block. Yep I could not believe it myself - all this for some little cupcakes I thought. When I got in I was surprised by how small the place was, I had to squeeze myself in. The poor assistant had to navigate herself through us enthusiastic cupcake buyers to lay out more treats but as soon as the new batch of cupcakes had been laid out they were gone in 60 seconds. I began to feel a bit claustrophobic so just grabbed four cupcakes, paid for them and got out of there. Magnolia is obviously a huge attraction because people were taking snaps and looked delighted to have nabbed themselves some Magnolia treats. I heard a lady behind me say to her companion say "Yay I got me cupcakes." I wasted no time in sampling my goodies partly out of curiosity to see if they lived up to the hype and out of pure cravenness. I can honestly say to you that those cupcakes were purely yummy. The texture of the cake was really soft and springy and the cream was light and fresh. Best cakes I have tasted in a long time. They need to open up a branch in London right now and while they are at it extend the Blecker Street premises, if there was a place crying out for more space it is Magnolia Bakery. The eatery opened up for business 12 years ago by Allysa Torey and Jennifer Appel, there are three stores in New York and rumours that a branch is to open in Los Angeles.

Well I do not have Carrie's budget or a Mr Big to keep me in cupcakes so I am going to start making them. On Saturday I am off to Sainsburys to buy a sieve and a whisker so I can cook myself into cupcake heaven. For those of you who are interested, Magnolia Bakery have published a book where you can copy their recipes and you can buy it from amazon here.

Also check out this hilarious article in The Telegraph by Emma Forrest about how S&TC's descendance on Magnolia ruined her blissful life in the West Village. LOL It made me laugh.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

An Evening with Amy Sohn

One of the great things (and there are many) about being in a vibrant and exciting city like New York is the ridiculous amount of things at your disposal to do. Such as a reading with Amy Sohn, writer of Sex and the City: Kiss and Tell (the other Sex and City book) and Sex and the City: The Movie who has a new book out called, Prospect Park West. As I was making my way down to Barnes and Noble in Tribeca I saw a lady looking effortlessly stylish in a chic black dress in front of me. It was not until I got to the reading section that I realised that the lady was none other than Amy Sohn herself. "Have you come for the reading,?" She asked me in her light voice. I nodded rather writer stuck, Amy Sohn had just spoken to me. I had actually bought my copy of Prospect Park West in Borders earlier but was keen to hear what Amy had to say about the book. She started by reading two chapters of the book - I must admit that I have never attended a book reading in a bookstore before so I did not know what to expect. However Amy's reading really brought the characters to life and made me really glad that I had bought it. Funnily enough her reading reminded me of the penultimate scene of Sex and the City where Carrie reads extracts from her popular book and they even had similar dresses on. :) 

Amy Sohn is a true Brooklynite and grew up in Brooklyn Heights, she and hubby moved to Park Slope in 2004 when she was pregnant with their daughter. An acclaimed writer she has a column in the New York Press and has written for the likes of New York Magazine, Harper's Bazaar and The New York Times Book Review. Prospect Park West is the story of four yummy Mummies who find their lives a bit wanting even though they have the two big things any woman should want; marriage and kids. Prospect Park West is the story Park Slope mothers who do not think they are one. The book is largely based on Amy's life as a mother in Park Slope and the characters are based on the women she has met in that area. The event was great fun with Amy answering questions with a lot of wit and charm. Me being the total book geek I am even queued up so she could sign my copy. During our lil banter she assured me that I would polish the book off in one reading. We should have placed bets. Apparently there is to be a sequel which will feature more of the men. You heard it here first.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

The September Issue: Review

I finally got to see this last Thursday when I was in New York and it was just as captivating as I hoped it would be. The rave reviews from the critics are well deserved. The idea behind the documentary is to show life behind the closed doors of Vogue and to get into the head of Anna Wintour. The September Issue takes place during the Spring of 2007 where the editorial team of the world's glossiest glossy put together the most important issue of the year. You see, September in magland is like January to us, it is when all the new looks are unveiled and also the month when publishers drop their fatest issue. The September issue of 2007 was the biggest issue ever and has not been beaten since. This film delves onto Ms Wintour and shows the power that she wields over the fashion industry. Such as the pieces that top designers include in their collection, we see her advising a Yves Saint Laurent designer to put some more colour in his new season offering. When Gap are looking a creative consultant Anna puts forward up and coming designer called Thakoon who Michelle Obama is a big fan of.

The documentary also focuses in on Anna's relationship with her staff as well as her daughter, Bee Schaffer who she clearly adores. However key to this story is style director, Grace Coddington who is a massive player to The September Issue. Coddington and Wintour both started at Vogiue on the same day and occasionally have a clash of opinions on what goes in the magazine. Hence we see Grace pissed when 50,000 dollars worth of a fashion shoot that she directed is shelved. Wintour is very much the ice to Coddington's fire but I must point out that despite their differences the two women have the utmost respect for each other. We do hear a few barb wire comments from Anna such as "She looks pregnant" and "This tie is so big it looks pretentious and like it is for blind people." But more often than not she is just precise and to the point. Basically what Anna says goes. She does not mother her staff or act pally with them and she has the ability to make her minions quake in their Jimmy Choos but you know what? I get the impression that is the only way she knows how to be. The September Issue is a hit as far as I am concerned and extremely entertaining. I am so glad that the little indie film that I previewed back in January has received lots of media attention and is on every fashionistas to do list.

Tribal Eye

Whilst wandering around Toronto I came across this adorable shop in the hip Kensington Market. Tribal Eye is owned by Anthony Richards who has been running the store for 25 years. A few weeks ago he launched the shop in trendy Kensington Market and prior to that he was located in the funky Cabbage Town area. He decided to open the shop after falling in love with artwork from various countries in Africa. He used to display the work in a gallery and used to get people asking where they could purchase them. Anthony sources all his African art himself and can tell each customer the history of each piece of artwork in his shop. His work is bought directly from the makers.

A man of very many talents, Anthony's side shuffle is making oils, creams and candles and his clients include The Body Shop. Tribal Eye is much more than a shop that sells African crafts, it is also a gallery that hosts work by African artists. Everything is tastefully displayed and Anthony's personality is as vibrant as his shop. The man knows his stuff whether it is African crafts or organic beauty products he can in-depth about them. If you are ever in Toronto then you need to take a visit to Kensington Market and pop into this shop.

Tribal Eye, 73 Kensington Avenue, Toronto M5T 2K2

Monday, 14 September 2009

An Ondo Lady in Toronto

I have heard a lot of good things about Toronto so I came with high expectations and let me tell you, I was not disappointed. Canada's largest city is a vibrant and exciting metropolis that is also extremely cosmopolitan. In a nutshell it is similar to New York but with a much friendlier and mellow vibe. Whether you are into shopping, arts and culture, sports, food, beaches, architecture or festivals well it is all here in abundance. Akin to NYC the city is set out in blocks and it is amazingly easy to get around via the subway or the trams which run all night by the way. There are some glorious neighbourhoods in Toronto and I spent time trawling through some of them.

Kensington Market
The term funky and eclectic are apparent when describing
Kensington Market. The area has an offering of products all around the world and somewhere you go if you want to purchase that wind chime from China, some art from Nigeria and gifts from the Caribbean. Add in some vintage and second hand shops with tempting cafes and restaurants along with street artists and it is no wonder that this market is regarded as one of the best in North America.

Bloor-Yorkville
If you are into your labels and chic dining then this is your stomping ground. Designer boutiques and swish restaurants are all the range here and it is truly a gorgeous street to saunter down and I found myself experiencing lifestyle envy. Who wouldn't want to live here with the cobblestone courtyard, antique shops housed in gorge Victorian houses, wonderful clothing and home decor boutiques, cool cafes and art galleries. I can feel myself going green as I type.

Bloor West Village & High Town
Same street but totally different feel and vibe. This is the place where hippiness defines itself. Bloor is filled with hip eateries, boutiques and home decor shops. It is all Eastern European culture here and that means pastry, coffee and a whole lot of culture. The area even has it's own indie cinema.

Queen Street West
This area is not as buzzy as
Kensington and Bloor but it is still a delight to see. Lots of beautiful Victorian houses turned into exciting galleries, boutiques and cafes with colourful decor. This area is style personified what with textiles shops, antique shops and vintage shops. Don't discount Queen Street East where we stayed which also has a great collection of shops.

All in all Toronto is pretty damm fabulous!

An Ondo Lady in Ottawa and Quebec City

Ok hands up I have written this back to front, my crazy travelling schedule has meant that I had very little time to blog. However I managed to grab some me time to write about my adventures in Ottawa and Quebec. Canada is the quieter relation to the brash USA and like most undiscovered items it has turned out to be a real jewel. The country has a very rich history and is bilingual and truly multicultural. I have always been intrigued by Canada as a ice skating fan and avid watcher of the Winter Olympics, Canada always made an impression on me with the success of their athletes. It has always been an aim of mine to visit the place and once I was there I had the privilege to visit other wonderful cities such as Ottawa and Quebec.

Ottawa is the capital of Canada and located in the region of Ontario. The city has the regality that you would expect from the head state, however, Ottawa also has a quirky and off beat side to it. Fantastic historic buildings that are draculean like and wonderful monuments. There was also a great market where you can buy some arts and crafts as well as intimate galleries dotted all over the place.

Quebec City is.a stunning place which has a great view of the river. This place is the head of Quebec which is the French speaking side of Canada and comprises of cities such as Montreal and Sherbrooke. Quebec is divided into the old town and the new town. This exquisite city is shaped like a pyramid where you walk round it in twirls while making your way down to the bottom. At the top of Quebec you have magnificent views of the city and there are restaurants and shops. The city has an intimate feel which is a result of the series of villages that link it together. Quebec is probably one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. This place is truly magical. If you do decide to pay Quebec a visit then I suggest you travel there by train from Montreal (only 3 and a half hours) and stick around till the evening where the city is in it's most glorious.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Pop Tart

She was America's sweetheart until the love affair turned sour. Hmmm how many times have we come across this scenario? Young wide eyed bushy tailed singer is rocketed into stardom and becomes the media darling and then it all goes terribly wrong. Hence the tale of Brooke Parker, a 16 year old schoolgirl whose debut album catapults her into fame and becoming the world's most famous teenager. Her face is adorned on the cover of glossy magazines and on celeb blogs, she appears on numerous TV shows and is invited to every top event. A millionaire before her 18th birthday, Brooke resides in a luxury mansion in Hollywood and is decked out in designer clothes. Sounds like a dream come true right? Actually no - because behind Brooke's perfect life are a team of image makers; the people who create and define her. Her manipulative manager, bitchy stylist and no nonsense PR manager; all of which have a huge stake in Brand Brooke and will stop at nothing to see a return on their investment. Told from the view of Brooke's make-up artist, Jackie O'Reilly, Pop Tart shows how Brooke goes from being a bubbly and carefree teenager to a moody, needy one who has lost her zest for life. It demonstrates how fame and success contains a toxic element that makes those in the showbiz industry lose any sense of values and loyalty.

Interestingly enough Pop Tart is written by Kira Coplin and Julianne Kaye. Coplin is a writer, film maker and pop culture journalist who has penned for US Weekly, CosmoGirl, The New York Post and OK. Kaye has worked as a make up artist on celebrities such as Eva Mendes, Scarlett Johanesson and Britney Spears, so we can safely say that they both know what they are talking about. I thought this book was super, well written and thoroughly engaging. The characters were well developed and I really empathised with the protagonist, Jackie. I will be blunt here and state that this book is quite clearly based on Britney herself; there are too many attributes that relate to Ms Spears life for it to be a coincidence. Such as Brooke's broken relationship with boy band member, Jesse, her rivalry with fellow teen song bird, Jessica Rader and her fake friendship with socialite, Alexis 'Lexy' Young. Even the cover of the book which contains a blonde teen seductively sucking on a lollipop is very a la Britney. Remember the controversial Rolling Stone cover of Britney wearing a sexy school uniform?

I love the whole expose fiction book scene that the publishers seem to be embracing, think of the Babylon series, The Devil Wears Prada and of course The Nanny Diaries. Bring on the expose lit.

You can check out Julianne Kaye's blog here.

I also found a video on Youtube with the Julianne and Kira where they discuss the book and the concept behind it. Check it out below.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Bed and Breakfast chez Cynthia

When we booked this gorge B&B in Montreal I was expecting a basic place with modest facilities and as long as it was clean with running hot water and easy to get to I was not bothered. What I was greated with was a huge four story Victorian house with gothic features. Our quarters was in the basement and in a studio which had a scandi modern meets shabby chic look. There was also obligatory oak wooden floors with the sweetest bathroom I had seen in a very long time; slate tiles and a brill power shower added to it's charm. The studio itself was furnished with a double bed, a large sofa, arm chair, dining table with plinths and there was also a fridge to store our food. However what made chez Cynthia stand out where the little things like food in the fridge, lovely cutlery in the cupboard, fresh towels in the bathroom and other knick knacks that you take for granted at home but simply do not expect to get in a B&B or hotel. Cynthia has been running Bed and Breakfast chez Cynthia since 1988 she grew up here and raised her family here. She is a wonderful host and could not do enough for us and also gave us some tips on where to go in Montreal. Her taste is immaculate; the interior of the house is exquisite with wonderful pieces of furniture displayed artfully. Great art work and collectibles that she has gathered from countries all over the world. You know the sort of house that has influences from all over the globe where the person has brought a slice of the place they have been to? Well this house is just like that. This place really is a hone away from home. My amateurish pictures do not really do the place justice so please check out her website here.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

An Ondo Lady in Montreal

Well I am in Montreal and totally out of sync with the dates and blogging. Having spent a week in Hotlanta which failed to live up to its name on Thursday and greeted me with heavy duty rain and thunder; I took up my mate Ola from Diverse Traveller's offer to explore the land of Canada. First of all before I go any further I will rewind and give you a mini breakdown of Atlanta. I spent the time visiting Martin Luther King House and National Historic Site and World of Coca Cola, I also went to the Atlanta History Centre where I found out about the history of Atlanta and how it reinvented itself from just another Southern state to an international city and Underground Atlanta which turned out to be a complete and utter dive. I had a fantastic time particularly at MLK House where the civil rights leader was born and raised as well as the historic centre which paid homage to the legacy of Luther King. During the trip to World of Coca Cola I found out interesting facts about how the beverage is made, sold and packaged and then drank so much coke that I almost rolled out of the place.

Last Monday I took a flight to La Guardia airport in New York City where I met up with my travelling buddy and then we took the shuttle bus to Port Authority and boarded the 11pm to Montreal which got us in at 8am. What can I say about the second largest speaking French city in the world? Well first of all it is full of stunning architecture and everywhere we go we see the most gorgeous houses, the people are friendly and sweet natured and the place has a chilled vibe to it. Hell even the dogs are chilled out and trot down the road all mellow. We are staying in the most gorgeous B&B in central Montreal which is called Bed and Breakfast chez Cynthia; the house is huge and gothic-like Victorian and our hostess Cynthia is so friendly and warm. We really do not want to leave.

Check out the picture at the top with the stunning houses in Montreal, we were practically salivating over them. The one above is of a market in Old Montreal which is very popular with tourists.