Côte d’Azur Part II

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Summer breeze in your hair, blue sky above your head, happy sunlight on your face, soft sand between your toes and ocean of azure waters ahead of you. Piece of heaven to dream away these last days of August.

Come along with me on this new Côte d’Azur adventure! No tickets required, just a dash of imagination.

Oh, and don’t forget to grab something blue!

To accompany my Kate Spade Pool Party clutch, I picked a Dressbarn Asymmetrical Animal Print dress (similar, similar, similar) and Vince Camuto Adrien sandals.

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I love the asymmetrical cut of the dress (similar, similar), light, breezy feel and striking blue print. The unexpected azure color of the mixed animal patterns astonishes and makes this dress a head-turner. Leopard and snake blue print deceives the eye and becomes an abstract water representation of foamy waves washing over the rocks. It’s amazing how the print transitions seamlessly from the dress onto the purse. A perfect fusion of wild animal nature and wild water element made through the splash of startling azure, the color of the Mediterranean Sea.

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The Vince Camuto Adrien leather sandals stay in the same aquatic color palette that reflects the resplendent blue hues of the surrounding. The remarkable woven pattern of the shoes surprisingly matches the exotic scale-like print of the dress and the gorgeous texture of the straps offers a perfect bridge between the daytime casual and evening glamour of these splendid shoes. They create a beautiful, azure harmony with the dress, purse and the marvelous seascape.

However magnificent the sea scenery is, our Côte d’Azur experience wouldn’t be complete without a couple of macaroons, azure ones of course.

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Almond or coconut? The first macaroons were almond meringue but now you can get different variety of these world known cookies depending on the country and recipe. Some historic sources claim that macaroons were first found in an Italian monastery around 9th century where they were shaped after monks’ belly buttons. Imagine? Ok, better don’t!

The macaroon’s recipe came to France together with the monks and the pastry chefs of Catherine de Medici. Later, two Benedictine nuns fleeing to Nancy to escape the French Revolution started baking and selling macaroons to pay for their accommodation and became known as the ‘Macaroons Sisters’. And, here we are today- from monk’s belly button to the luxury sweet treat!

Personally, I would say they were shaped after Michael Kors Gold Channing Turquoise Dial watch, or the other way round.

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The watch is a true gem with the genuine radiant turquoise dial and gold tone case and bracelet. The irregular veins across the stone called “turquoise matrix” pair beautifully with the aquatic purse and dress patterns. It’s interesting to know that the name “turquoise” comes from the French for Turkish, as it was originally imported from Turkey, but its oldest evidence comes from Egypt and ancient Persia where it was believed that the hand that wears a turquoise will never see poverty. The Aztecs in Mexico decorated their ceremonial masks with this holy stone and the Indians of North America still believe turquoise to be a connection between the sky and sea.

And, it seems to me that this last may be true about turquoise as it reflects the clear blue of the sky and imitates the azure waves of the sea. Stunning!

In modern gemstone therapy, a turquoise stone is used to fight depression and its cheerful color may help boost your confidence. Even more reasons to wear turquoise jewelry! So I do! On my finger: a real gold ring (similar, similar) with a tiny genuine turquoise- a gift from my mum on my 18th birthday. I cherish it a lot.

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My necklace, earring and bracelet set (JCPenny, similar necklace, similar earrings, similar bracelet) adds a glamour factor and sophistication to the outfit. Eye-catching design, gold tone strings of chains, sparkling glass and the blue element captivate the attention and highlight all the blues around. The statement ring (Aldo) features a big, light blue glass stone in a gold tone leaves-shaped setting. When you look closer, you can see clusters of luminous gold powder crystallized under the glass, like stardust in the sky.

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The sky and the sea, so distant and so close. I love walking along the shoreline and looking at the horizon, the magic place in between two worlds where the sea and the sky meet and create the immense azure. It makes me feel like one little water drop in this ocean of blue. But, at the same time, I know I am a part of it and that brings peace to my heart and gives me strength to keep walking.

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Thank you for walking with me and being part of this azure adventure. Maybe one day we will meet again on the sand of Saint-Tropez or Antibes, or, who knows, New York City?

Keep walking.

Côte d’Azur Part I

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Are you still planning your vacation this year? If yes, the French Riviera is a hot destination to consider, with the average temperature above 85F (29C) in September. Beautiful marinas, deep azure blue of the Mediterranean waters, rich history, picturesque beaches, vivid colors and architecture of old towns are what have been attracting tourists from all over the world. Monaco, Nice, Antibes, Cannes, Saint-Tropez are only a few resorts on the Mediterranean coastline called in French- Côte d’Azur.

However, if you already used all your vacation days or France is too far away to start planning the trip this year, you can always take a plunge into the turquoise waters of your pool and enjoy the rest of the summer under the luxurious blue sky of your place.

And, that’s what I do!

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For my azure indulgence at the pool, I picked a Kate Spade Pool Party clutch. Pure summer fun! Deep blue water print and the whimsical ladder clasp that dips down into the washing waves make this clutch a conversation starter at any pool or beach party. I totally adore the imaginative, playful design, sleek leather quality and striking hardware details. It just calls: “take me to the pool”!

So I did.

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I also grabbed my Victoria’s Secret Forever Sexy Twist Bandeau in bright marine, together with a matching hipster bottom. The unusual twist on that strapless top (removable straps included) definitely attracts attention and the gold tone bars with a Victoria’s Secret logo on the bottom add a glamorous factor to this sensational swimwear. I would swear the bars flatter the silhouette! But, what truly seduced me in this bikini was the color. Amazing azure- the Mediterranean wave, the sky on a summer day, cool pool waters, the purse and… my hot Ray-Ban Aviator Flash sunglasses- iconic style and teardrop shape combined with gold matte frame and these incredibly blue flash lenses that are truly mirror-like.

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“Mirror, mirror, my dear mirror…tell me what is the most beautiful purse!”

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These reflective lenses absorb a lot of light reducing glare. Perfect for diving into some good piece of literature under the clear summer sky! “Mrs. Hemingway” by Naomi Wood will transport you to Antibes on the Côte d’Azur where the day starts with a dive into the crystal clear sea waters and it ends with a splash at the sunset. Meet irresistible Ernest, his wife Hadley and his mistress Fife who soon becomes Mrs. Hemingway herself. Later on, you get to know Martha and Mary, two last wives of the legendary writer. Through the eyes of each of them, you see the emerging silhouette of Hemingway, the man they all loved, the man who broke their hearts and slowly crashed his own. At the end, you may wonder which Mrs. Hemingway was a “true” one and what makes a woman stay with a man like Hemingway? Engrossing read that will take you away to vacation in the southern France and bring you back to where you are with a light breeze in your hair, grains of sand between your toes and desire to immerse yourself into the azure waters again.

Just like that!

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I took a plunge into the turquoise waters of the pool wearing my Ann Taylor Peacock cord necklace, earrings (similar) and a bracelet (similar). A stunning gold tone set with marbleized turquoise-like stones and sparkling crystals. I love the contrasting rope element that adds that nautical twist to this sophisticated necklace. The evocative marble appearance draws attention and pairs beautifully with the blue water print of the clutch. The ring (H&M, similar) also features a patterned turquoise-like stone in an intricate gold tone setting. The other bracelet (souvenir from vacation at the Baltic Sea, similar) is all made with real, irregular shaped turquoises.

My jewelry, bikini, sunglasses and the purse join together for the azure celebration of fun, sun and happy summer days so whatever part of the world you happen to be right now, embrace it and enjoy it!

À bientôt!

Snake Enchantress Part II

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The serpent inspired pieces make my imagination run wild to far away destinations like Morocco, Egypt or India. I see a snake charmer with a turban on his head, sitting cross-legged on a colorful carpet on the street, with his pungi and a straw basket. He starts playing entrancing notes and suddenly, as lured by the tune, a cobra emerges from the basket in a hypnotizing dance. It’s a bit disappointing to find out that a serpent actually cannot hear any music and it only follows the movements of the pungi instrument and charmer’s hands, treating them as a predator. However demystified the snake charmer’s act is, the untamed animal and its intricate skin keep seducing like in the old times of Biblical Paradise.

And I succumbed again.

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I couldn’t resist the Ann Taylor python print blouse and Lydia leather slingback heels. To accompany my Coach Madison Pinnacle satchel (similar, similar) and these delicate snakeskin pieces I picked a white pencil skirt (Worthington, JCPenny, similar, similar) and Kate Spade Skinny Pyramid Bow belt in blush color.

The Ann Taylor blouse is pure luxury. Beautiful rosy pink and beige chiffon combined with light crinkled texture, satiny trim and delicate python print make it a perfect companion for my Coach handbag. For work, you may want to wear a cami beneath as the fabric is very fine. I love delicate materials. They flow and brush softly your skin. This top almost feels like I am not wearing anything, like my second skin, snakeskin. Magical sensation!

Talking magic: in Ancient Egypt the snake charmers were high-status men and acted as magicians and healers. They knew the names of snakes, the gods to whom they were sacred and they learnt how to treat people bitten by a serpent. Today, the status of snake charmers has changed a lot. Even if there are still about one million of them remain in India, it is a dying profession and many charmers scavenge, sell amulets, magical potions or pamphlets containing magic spells to make ends meet. However, you can still see them perform in strategic tourist areas around India, Bangladesh, Tunisia or Pakistan. Maybe in a few years they will find a magic spell to help them reestablish their position? Who knows.

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Right now, I don’t want to wake from a spell that the snakeskin cast on me. It feels so soft in these Ann Taylor luxe burnished calf leather heels. Absolutely charming pointy toe shoes with elegant design, lovely neutral shade of foggy morning combined with subtle textured snakeskin pattern that reflects the hues of the bag and the blouse.

So what is burnished leather? Burnishing is one of the last procedures performed on a pair of shoes before they land in the box. It’s a process of giving a velvety finish by rubbing the surface of leather while it’s moist to achieve a glossy edge usually contrasting with the other part that hasn’t been burnished and has an unrefined look. And, these heels are a perfect example! You touch and you feel the smoothness of the burnished front and the sharp texture of the snakeskin part. Love it!

To stay in a light color palette, I picked this cocktail length white pencil skirt (Worthington, JCPenny, similar, similar) which is simple yet classy and brightens the whole outfit.

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White is also a dominant hue of my statement necklace and earrings set (TJMaxx, similar). The stunning, shiny mother of pearl set in a rose goldtone setting. Intricate design and uneven texture of the rose gold metal highlight the texture of the handbag and the rest of the colors.

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Both rings feature pearls as well. The big statement ring (JCPenny, similar) is a pearly flower and the small one (Macy’s, similar, similar, similar) – a bow with three sparkling stones in the center.

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The bow ring pairs beautifully with the Kate Spade pyramid bow belt (similar, similar) and the blush color of the belt accentuates the shades of the top and the purse.

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I wanted the whole look to be bright, classy and sophisticated, just like my Coach python-embossed satchel.

Are you going to succumb to snake temptation too? If yes, tell me what snakeskin piece you’re hunting for this season! Or, maybe you traveled to an exotic place and saw a snake charmer? I want to know that too!

Snake Enchantress Part I

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The snake – one of the most known and mysterious mythological creatures. In different cultures and religions, it has been represented as a dragon, sea monster, guardian of temples, incarnation of evil, fertility force, symbol of rebirth or sexual desire. Dangerous, mystifying, fascinating. No wonder this magnetizing animal keeps inspiring fashion designers. Each season brings new shades of snakeskin pattern. Gucci, Burberry, Jimmy Choo, Diane von Furstenberg or Michael Kors, they all seem to be “amoureux” with snake and feature it in their collections.

And I too, must confess, have a little crash on snakeskin!

When I first saw this Coach Madison Pinnacle satchel (similar, similarsimilar), I was entranced. Stunning exotic python embossed leather, exceptional delicate light pink color that smoothly transitions into neutral and lavish hardware details make this purse deluxe. The moment I touched it, I couldn’t get enough of its magnificent texture. You can feel every single scale-firm, rigid plates that constitute enchanting snakeskin. Every detail hisses “sssuperb”. The elegant design, striking barrel lock of the flap closure, beautiful lavender interior add to the top notch quality. This handbag totally deserves all the “ooh” and “aah”!

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To accompany this luxurious purse, I picked Ann Taylor Flutter Print skirt, a beige sleeveless blouse (similar, similar) and Gina Piacci patent leather heels in light beige. Neutral is a new gold: classy and sophisticated. However, to wear plain nude colors could be dull, so make your neutrals strike with print and texture. Also, avoid wearing the same shade from top to toes. Mix hues and tones. A nuance makes a striking difference!

The Ann Taylor flowy skirt is such a charm. I love the subtle snakeskin print and faint maple color that make a perfect background for the purse. The skirt is so delicate and lightweight. It flows gracefully on the wind adding that extra feminine look to your silhouette. This skirt was made to swirl and dance!

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Talking dance. The Hopi people from North America used to perform a snake dance to pray for the rain to fall on the crops, to renew fertility of Nature. During the ritual dance, the snakes were released into the fields in hope of the abundant harvest. Let’s dance then!

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Some garments just make you feel light and “easy-breezy-beautiful”. It may be a cut, material, color, fit or all of these together. This outfit certainly feels like that to me. The Ann Taylor blouse (similarsimilar) is soft with lustrous beige color that adds to perfect scenery of nudes and neutrals of the bag, skirt and shoes.

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The Gina Piacci patent leather heels are simply gorgeous and very comfortable. You should know that nude shoes make your legs appear longer and these ones have an additional attribute that elongates the leg- the middle strap going up the foot. How genius is that! The shiny beige color matches the blouse perfectly and I adore the little shoe charm attached to the buckle. So precious!

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The Silver Night pendant (similar, similar) and earrings (similar, similar) set is made with Swarovski crystals, cut with a diamond shape for an extra sparkle. Simple but stunning.

I am sure you heard about Swarovski, an Austrian luxury jewelry brand specializing in cutting crystal glass. The company started in 1895 but few years earlier they had already patented an electric cutting machine for crystal glass production. How do they make their glass sparkle so much? Swarovski coats it with special metallic chemical coatings, such as Aurora Borealis that makes light refract in a rainbow spectrum, and special cuts optimize the shine just like in my elegant, sparkly set.

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I think rose gold tone rings (Aldo, similar) and bracelets (TJMaxx, similar, similar) are delicate enough not to overshadow the beauty of the purse but at the same time add a little more sophistication and splendor to the whole outfit. The rose gold color matches perfectly the hues of the handbag and skirt. The diamond cut of the statement ring gives a brilliant shine. The glassy stone is set in a beautifully carved irregular arrangement of leaves. This is one grand ring! The other rose gold tone rings and bracelets add yet another sparkle to the look.

There is so much symbolism behind the snake that it’s hard to tell which element is a prominent factor of snakeskin pieces coming back every season. Mythological significance, the intricate beauty of snake scale or our inner mix of fear and electrifying thrill when confronted with the serpent. Whatever it is, it feeds imagination and triggers creativity, and I am sure we will see even more snake inspired pieces among new arrivals.

And you, do you feel inspired by snake trend too? Tell me all about how you wear your snakeskin!

What’s the Buzz? Part II

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Following the buzzing of the beetles, I found myself in the wild wonderland of the Adirondack Mountains in a place called Garnet Hill Lodge overlooking picturesque Thirteen Lake. A secluded retreat with a private beach where you can take a plunge into the pristine water and the only sounds you hear are the humming of dragonflies and eerie calls of a loon echoing across the lake. Mesmerizing!

The vivid beetle print of my Tory Burch Robinson Printed Middy satchel made it easy to pick this Dressbarn belted trapeze dress and Michael Antonio Kaula heels. Green, blue and white harmonize beautifully with the forest, lake and sky in this serene scenery.

The intensity of colors on the dress matches the strong hues of the scarab beetles on the bag. I like the abstract floral pattern that makes the dress blend nicely with the wild landscape. The fit & flare cut adds this feminine, subtle touch that I love. The bright blue belt is yet another pop of color on this rich painted dress. No wonder it drew insects’ attention!

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My eyes were somewhere else though. I was spellbound by the engrossing garnet-bearing rocks at the Hooper Mine. Just a short hike from the Garnet Hill Lodge and you are there, surrounded by massive, sparkling rocks, each containing garnets of various shapes and sizes. What an impressive, peculiar view! A real paradise for geologists and all sorts of bugs that kept me company buzzing around on that hot summer day. As the sun was going down, the air became denser and you could feel that something hanging high in the stratosphere. The drama of the sky didn’t leave any doubts about the storm coming closer with every cloud pushed by a northern wind. It seems my beetles like that kind of weather- a promise of rain.

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The necklace, earrings and a ring are all malachite scarabs (Impres. Art) that must have crawled from the handbag. Handmade in a silver setting, these timeless, artistic pieces are exquisite. Malachite is an amazing gemstone with such an intensive green color. It has been wildly mined in the Urals, Russia but it can be found all over the world. In the USA, Arizona is a state where you can spot malachite. The butterfly bracelet is a souvenir from the Butterfly Conservatory at Niagara Falls. The other bracelet (NY&Company) features green stones imitating malachite, and although it is not a real gemstone, it complements perfectly the rest of the green pieces. The ring on my left hand finger (JCPenny, similar, similar, similar) displays a stunning green rectangular stone with the sparkling crystals on the sides.

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Green, blue and white are the hues that dominate the panoramic vista of the Thirteen Lake from the Garnet Hill Lodge. The same as the colors on my Michael Antonio Kaula heels. Extraordinary shoes with this surprising removable ribbon around the ankle. You can wear them in two ways: with or without a ribbon. What an ingenious design- both, versatile and fun! The color spectrum reflects the exact shades of the purse and the dress, so the whole outfit is picture-perfect framed by this delightful, tranquil view of the Adirondacks. Ideal getaway to find your inner strengths, soothe your nerves and calm your feelings. So relaxing!

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But then, it comes a moment when you have to leave and coming back from the wild forest to the crazy jungle of NYC is quite an adventure in itself. So I packed my bags, collected all my scarabs and drove back home, full of new ideas, positive energy and happy thoughts! Because at the end of each journey, the best souvenirs are the ones that make you smile and give a boost to face new challenges and take an extra step to follow your dreams.

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So what is your summer escape? Are you still planning your vacation or you just returned from one? Let me hear your story!

Aussie Party at the Skylark

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Yesterday evening, The Skylark was a hot spot! Located in the Garment District in Manhattan, this glamorous 30th floor cocktail lounge with an open air rooftop terrace was Sydney in the heart of NYC! The Australian Fashion Foundation gathered all Aussies for the 6th Annual Summer Party.

If you are not from “Down Under” you might not hear about the AUSFF- the foundation that promotes and helps talented, passionate Australians open the door of the fashion industry, gain experience  and recognition on a global scale. The Australian Fashion Foundation was created in 2008 by Julie Anne Quay and Malcolm Carfrae. I had a pleasure to meet Mr. Carfrae (see the photo!) at such an important moment in his career. A few days ago, he left the position of Executive Vice President of Global Communications at Calvin Klein to join the crew of Ralph Lauren as a global head of communications, public relations and media next week. How exciting is that! Carfrae was so busy at the event that unfortunately I didn’t have a chance for an interview with him. Next time Mr. Carfrae!

I was and still am curious about the beginnings of the AUSFF, what he is proud of the most and about the key initiative of the foundation that is an internship. I know that the foundation works in partnership with The Woolmark Company that helps the AUSFF expand into Europe. Once a year, there are two scholarships offered to two winners that are selected through a competition. They receive the AUSFF Prize of $20,000 grant and an internship with a global fashion company in New York City or Europe. To check out the rules, see here. The new submissions will open in September!

It was an interesting experience for me to feel the Aussie spirit at this exclusive social event in one of the most spectacular venues in NYC. The view of the Empire State Building from the rooftop is amazing!

Thanks to Aussies for this fun summer party and see you next year!

Maika Jewelry: From Japan to NYC

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Delicate, chic and beautifully crafted, Maika Jewelry is all handmade in Japan. Created with a unique technique and unexpected materials, the Maika collection soared over the Pacific Ocean straight to NYC to win your hearts!

A few days ago on 16th July, I had the pleasure to interview Jasmine Maika Wilson, the designer behind Maika Jewelry. It was a big day for Jasmine as she launched her jewelry collection here in NYC at The Ainsworth on 26th St. in Manhattan. It was very sweet of her to take time and talk to me about her latest collections: ChicDots, Fouli and Summer Beach. 

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You are invited to watch the video interview (my first ever so please forgive all the imperfections!) to learn what special technique is used to create pieces from the ChicDots collection, what are “cotton pearls” and what inspired the Summer Beach line.

Aren’t you already in love with these elegant pieces? To purchase, visit www.bymaika.com

Many thanks to Jasmin Maika Wilson for the interview and the photos!