Mary Quant Exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum

 

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In full honesty, my truest hope for London’s Victoria & Albert Museum visit was to somehow get a ticket into the sold out Christian Dior exhibit. That did not happen for me, but as a well prepared back-up plan, I wore my best mod floral shift mini dress to be ready for Mary Quant. While her ginger brown drop-waisted, Peter Pan collared dresses can’t hold a candle to Dior’s New Look in my personal opinion, I still had an enjoyable time browsing the collection. She is a fashion icon after all!

Mary Quant was a British fashion designer in the 1960’s, and she was paramount in giving teenagers their own voice through fashion. It used to be that mothers would commission seamstresses to sew their young ladies proper pretty dresses, not unlike the style they themselves were wearing. However Mary Quant came onto the scene with her cute daisy logo, mass production mini dresses, licensing deals , and an ever mod-tastic vibe. The teen scene in retail changed forever. Teen girls could find a new identity with these fun looks, a vibe different than their mothers. A PVC wet-look rain coat and bright pink tights maybe? And don’t forget the make up; Mary Quant drew up comic book style instructions, to show the youth how to apply that classic mod look : think Twiggy.

While I would never cut my hair into a Vidal Sassoon 5 point bob, or wear half her designs, I like Mary Quant because she clearly had a vibrant spirit of innovation, a cohesive look in mind that was her signature style, and she had an excellent grasp on branding, licensing, and supply chain in a time when this was not happening. I admire her career, and I am glad I was able to enjoy learning about her at the V&A.

 

 

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Below are some of my favorite looks. The leopard coat is certainly adorable.

 

 

Afternoon Tea at The Wallace Collection – Manolo Blahnik Exhibit

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One of my favorite memories we made, on my recent trip to London, was having afternoon tea in the pink courtyard at The Wallace Collection. Not only was the chic tea party presentation exceptionally fun, tasty, and feminine, but the museum itself was completely awe inspiring for those who like the allure of fanciful 18th and 19th century decor and art. I felt like I was inside Sophia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette”. All of the elements of this beloved aesthetic of mine were there to behold: pastel colors (especially pink!), ostrich feathers, satin bows, shiny white pearls, portraits of pretty ladies in opulent gowns, flocked velvet, brocade gold, and even painted kittens.

If my delight of the ambiance inside The Wallace Collection has not impressed upon you enough, let’s just take a look below at the fact in 2008 I sewed myself a Marie Antoinette Halloween costume, complete with some over the top Irregular Choice rose shoes, and a 10″ wig which I hot-glue-gunned birds, bows, and other adornments onto:

 

I’m sure you can imagine my enthusiasm, but wait, there’s more!

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Monolo Blahnik’s exquisite shoes, dripping with elegance were on display alongside the collection, as the designer himself has always been inspired by The Wallace Collection. I can see why! This entire experience was certainly a moment in time I will cherish. It’s not every day you get a feminine trifecta of pink tea party, fancy 18th century art, and Manolo Blahnik. For more information : The Wallace Collection

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Cunard’s Queen Mary 2- Transatlantic Fashion Week- Part 4: My Adventure

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Where do I begin? Crossing the Atlantic from New York City to Southampton, England on the Cunard Queen Mary 2 ocean liner was in one word… EPIC! Not only did it live up to and surpass my dreamy expectations of fabulous-ness (read my other blogs here, here, and here) , I have to proclaim it as one of the best times of my life!

It was basically the personification of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar inside a maritime Ritz Carlton, with a vintage twist. I can’t say enough good about the Queen Mary 2. I am completely enamored with ocean liner life.

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Top 10 Experiences on the Voyage

10.) The nightly entertainment in the Royal Court Theater– We had singers, dancers, a comedian, orchestra with female soprano, violinists, all top notch quality. I can’t stress enough the caliber of talent they acquire to entertain the guests. We enjoyed these shows starting about 10:30 pm most evenings. We had full days indeed.

9.) All of the lectures in general – I have highlighted a few special ones below, but I must say I thoroughly enjoyed every single lecture I attended. Everything from the top 10 shoe moments, a stylist, who on board did a Louis Vuitton campaign photo shoot,  to the new Bill Cunningham documentary screening, to a history lesson on the original Cunard Queen Mary. I was never bored! Each evening we were excited to get the next day’s schedule of events.

8.) The Library – The QM2 library is refined, and old world, and quiet, and you can sit in chairs that look out over the ocean. The book selection is phenomenal. I enjoyed the fashion books, and Joe checked out an autobiography by Phil Collins of Genesis that you could often find him reading when he needed a break from the lectures and activities.

7.) The Promenade Deck – When it was warm, you would see many guests reading in the sun, or walking laps around the wood promenade deck. Joe and I would go both in the day, and in the night when nobody else was out, and we would look at the powerful Ocean. It demands respect! Being out in the middle of the Atlantic at night and in the fog, we’d hear those bellowing haunting fog horns sounded by the captain. There is nothing like that! (Additionally, I loved the Qm2’s gym too!)

6.) The food! All of the food is included as part of your package, and it is exquisite. Though there are several dining options, Joe and I preferred the Britannia Restaurant because it was elegant and the gourmet meals were served with white glove service. Our Waiters Marvin and Paul, and our Sommelier Dussan were charming and made our trip all the more joyful.

5.) Meeting a friend named Patrick who is a frequent Cunard guest. He is even doing the World Cruise for over 40 days! Believe it or not, there are many people who pretty much live on the QM2. I met several of them over tea, or at fashion events. Several times we had breakfast, dinner, or drinks at the Commedore Club with Patrick. He even helped me try to dance a proper waltz! (By the way, one surprise to me was that at the gala balls, seemingly half the ship knows how to properly dance the Fox Trot, Waltz, and Rumba. For those of us less skilled, there was a separate disco dance room!)

4.) The Dress Code – It feels so great to dress up for balls. I was the girl in High School who, and this was before Pinterest, would make an inspiration mood board for prom! So you can imagine how fun it was to get dolled up for 3 balls, and every day for the fashion events, and “smart attire” dinner nights. Everyone looked so marvelous! Everyone made effort. You hardly saw jeans even in the day, and never sweatpants with slogan tees.

3.) Lindy Woodhead– Wow, what a career! I was fascinated with her lecture covering 30 years in the fashion industry (high end brand public relations). She is also the author of 2 books. One, on Mr. Selfridge which was adapted into a TV series that I have watched. The other, War Paint, is about the feud between Beaauty Industry innovators, Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein. This book of hers, was made into a Broadway show! Afterwards she signed my copy of War Paint. I have been reading it, and it is quite entertaining and informative.

2.) Getting asked “Would you two like to sit in the front row?” of Stephen Jone’s millinery fashion show. What a treat that was! I just adore his eccentric glamorous hats. It was a pleasantly lengthy and delightful show. He autographed my program for me too.

1.)  Stuart Weitzman – His lecture was engaging, and he is such an down to Earth , gregarious man, and a business genius with equal parts business sense and creativity. He took time to take a photo with me before the lecture, and later in the hall, Joe was able to speak with him for a while. I will be a fan for life!

 

 

 

And one more thing – I totally loved the fact almost nobody had internet or cell phone service! Do you know how nice it is when everyone is engaged in the moment with books, or peaceful quietness, or each other? I was so pleased!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 – Transatlantic Fashion Week -Part 3: My Capsule Wardrobe

While some travelers despise the act of packing for a vacation, for me it is one of the joys of the journey! I find it quite appealing to coordinate a mini capsule wardrobe that will fit my every need, and level of formality, or lack thereof. I even watched Gentleman Prefer Blondes, Titanic, Ship of Fools, and The Crown tv series among many other Ocean and British movies, for inspiration!

 

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In my previous post about the Cunard Transatlantic Fashion Week, I detailed some of the rich history of Cunard ocean liners. It is fun for me to think that one time even Elizabeth Taylor herself (or perhaps her assistant?) had to pack for a Cunard crossing! So did all of these fantastically dressed guests of the past. I also posted about the Fashion Week Lineup, and does that ever inspire me!

 

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Elizabeth Taylor on board the original Cunard Queen Mary vessel, 1947

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Mae West on the Original Queen Mary vessel, September 1947

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American Actress Carol Baker on board the original Queen Mary vessel in 1964

On any Queen Mary 2 ocean crossing, a guest will have to keep in mind the variety of activities they will need to pack for; everything from fencing lessons, to swim attire, to what you might wear during the day to a lecture, or to dinner when denim is not welcome after 6pm in most areas of the vessel. Add that it’s fashion week, and we have upped the fashion quotation a bit, in a way that inspires the imagination!

 

 

My packing strategy revolved around

Versatility of color palette & wear-ability (a great deal of black, and much of it can be casual or formal)

Staying true to my personal style

Taking temperature variations into account ( Even though it is late July/ early August, it can be chilly at sea and much cooler in England than in the States.)

Dresses – I packed a variety of dresses that can pass from attending fashion lectures in the day, to dining at night under the “smart dressing” suggestion of attire. The bold floral print dress reminds me of Mary Quant style (famous 60’s flower power Brit designer), and therefore is quite fitting for a British owned ship! Three dresses qualify as formal evening wear for the dances at night.

 

Tops – I have 7 black tops in different sleeve length and silhouettes, 1 navy, 1 white, and a striped classic Briton top. I feel like all of these tops (apart from the very basic black v neck tee) have the elegant feminine styling features that make the look a notch up from basic.

 

 

Bottoms

My black circle skirt with pockets is a staple in my wardrobe, as are my black pants, and my checkered black and white pants. These go with all my tops! Then, I have a vintage nautical looking skirt that I adore. I have packed a beautiful knit red and pink skirt to wear once I am in London because it is such a fun pretty thing! Finally, the black wrap sarong skirt is the perfect bottom to wear with my swimsuit and still look classy. It can be worn with the casual v neck tee and be the equivalent to where some people would wear sweats or leggings.

 

 

Outerwear & Swim

A classic trench coat, and a minimalist Speedo that is lovely for the fact is is so basic.

 

 

Accessories

Scarf to wear over hair when it is windy, vintage eyeglasses filled with my RX, a vintage pink floral hat, and long white gloves to wear for formals, cat eye sunglasses, a straw hat, and my very useful every day leather purse. Also two options of what I can wear over dresses if it is chilly.

 

Jewelry

A variety of feminine retro choices as usual (and yes, maybe one necklace inspired by the Titanic movie :) )

 

Shoes

Black, and leopard pointed toe flats, gym type shoes (not pictured), and black and tan sandals.

 

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Fashion Week– Part 2: Fashion Week Lineup

 

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Photo credit: Cunard Instagram

I am simply delighted to be looking forward to being on board the famous Queen Mary 2 for her 4th annual Transatlantic Fashion Week! As a fashionista, and a bonafide “old soul”  this Cunard Crossing is a form of escapism I will be happy to take part in! What a fine scene! Please read my previous blog post about the History of Cunard’s Glamour at Sea.

 

Photo credit: Cunard Instagram

In this community at sea, we have a dreamlike world where guests must not wear denim after 6 pm if they want to dine in the main dining area, and there are THREE formal nights (tux/ dark suit and ball gowns), and 4 nights of “smart attire” (meaning men must wear a suit jacket but can omit a tie, and women don’t need a ball gown)! While some people may not like the formality or lengthy old world tradition of a fancy maritime crossing from New York to South Hampton, England, to me there could be nothing more appealing!

Add to all of this that it is Fashion Week on board, and you know I am on cloud 9! Read my other post about what I am packing for my Cunard Transatlantic trip.

 

photos: Cunard instagram

About Cunard’s Transatlantic Fashion Week

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One of the fashion guests during Cunard Fashion week 2019 is the Royal Milliner himself, Stephen Jones.  Stephan Jones has designed some of the most fantastical and glamorous hats in the world (see his workroom). He designs many hats for the Royal Family! Celebrities such as Amal Clooney, Cardi B, Emily Blunt, Victoria Beckham,Tiffany Haddish, (the list goes on and on)  wear his designs to formal events, and fashion events, such as the Met Gala.  He is a vibrant creative force in the fashion world, and in a fashion profession that I find quite intriguing! I look forward to learning more about his life and craft while on the Atlantic crossing.

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All photos from Stephen Jone Millinery instagram

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Adele Mildred (see here and here, and her instagram) , a fashion inspiration of mine, is the head of atelier at Stephan Jones!

My fashion  icon Dita Von Teese is a fan!

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Another guest I am excited to see on board the Queen Mary 2, is American shoe designer Stuart Weitzman!

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Photos from Stuart Weitzman website

 

American fashion model Pat Cleveland will be giving a talk about her 5 decades in fashion!

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Other leading names taking part during next year’s Transatlantic Fashion Week include:

  • Colin McDowell MBE: The highly respected fashion historian and style commentator, returns for the fourth time and will host interactive talks and workshops.
  • Lindy Woodhead: Lindy, who worked in international fashion for over twenty-five years will be giving a talk on her career, participating in a Q&A and doing book signings.
  • Rosemarie Bravo CBE: During her career, Rosemarie has occupied leadership positions in several major fashion businesses and is now vice chairman at Burberry. Rosemarie will be participating in a Q&A.
  • Stanley Tucker: With over forty years experience in the luxury menswear business, Stanley joined Burberry in 1997 as Senior Vice President of Menswear Worldwide. In addition to a Q&A covering his career, Stanley will also host a men’s styling workshop.
  • Gail Sackloff OBE: International Fashion Consultant Gail, will return for a fourth year to co-curate Cunard’s Transatlantic Fashion Week with Colin McDowell MBE.
  • STORM model agency: One of London’s revolutionary modelling agencies, STORM will also be returning to Transatlantic Fashion Week.

I look forward to taking notes and letting you in on what it is like!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Fashion Week– Part 1: A History of Unrivaled Glamour at Sea!

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Flipping through Harper’s Bazaar , I turned the glossy page to an advertisement for the world’s last remaining ocean liner, Cunard’s Queen Mary 2.

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The sheer scale of the vessel is something to behold. It towers 23 stories, is longer than the Eiffel tower is high, and weighs 3 times that of the Titanic. Her engines produce enough force to power all of South Hampton, England. The Queen Mary 2 is so spectacular an engineering feat, that Modern Marvels did a feature on the building of her. She is one of the grandest ocean liners in maritime history! (and here is another documentary about the QM2)

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Photo above : Cunard celebrated the company’s 175th Anniversary (25 May 2015) with the Thee Queens sailing together : Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth, and the newest most grand ever built, Queen Mary 2.

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photos: Cunard instagram

In an age where ocean liner travel has become nearly extinct, few believed another ocean liner would have ever been built after the retirement of Cunard’s previous vessel, the Queen Elizabeth 2. Yet, in was the late 1990’s a billionaire, Micky Arison, with a romantic view of the Cunard history of transatlantic crossings, couldn’t bare the idea of the end of the traditional fine ocean liner crossings.

Arison tapped into the zeitgeist of the time…the movie Titanic had just come out, and a renaissance of interest was pulling for the building of another grand ocean liner. The largest, tallest, broadest, and most expensive ( at over 900 million dollars) ocean liner EVER conceived, was built!

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1997 movie, Titanic spurred an interest in luxury ocean liner travel, helping to make the building of QM2 a possible notion

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Micky Arison, and Queen Elizabeth at the dedication of the QM2. Eight Cunard liners have been named by senior members of the Royal Family,  4 of which by Queen Elizabeth.

 

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photos: Cunard instagram

My fiance is a maritime man, and he had decided quite a while ago, that crossing the Atlantic on the QM2 was something he had to do.

Let me get to the point! I am taking this adventure along with him!

If you know me at all, you know I am a bonafide “Old Soul”, so the QM2 speaks to my love of vintage, tradition, and old world luxury. But there is something else about this particular voyage. It is not only fine transportation from New York City to South Hampton, England, it so happens to be Cunard’s 4th annual Transatlantic Fashion Week! I am sure you can imagine my thrill!

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photos Cunard Instagram

I feel like this is an unusual chance to, somewhat, time travel to a vintage classy world that exists only in my imagination. A bit of escapism.  A world where denim is not welcome after 6 pm, and ballroom dancing in frothy gowns and debonair men in suits happens three nights out of seven. A week of afternoon tea served in the “Queen’s Room”, planetarium shows at sea, and fencing lessons. I will report more on the experience after I return, but based on what I already know about it, I am certain it will be a little slice of heaven for this walking anachronism of a lady!

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photos: Cunard instagram

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A Brief History of Cunard

 

 

Cunard was the first ocean liner company to provide regularly scheduled transatlantic service, since the year 1840. 

Essentially, Samual Cunard applied for, and was able to obtain a Royal Mail contract for delivering mail between America and Europe, and began the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. From there is where the company took off and grew, officially starting in 1840.

Prior to the official start of the Cunard line, passengers would voyage on mail packet ships. A 32 year old female writer named Harriet Martineau, wrote a forgiving and full account of her experience on an 1834 packet voyage (forgiving, because many others complained a great deal more of the adventure than she).

Here is a list she made of her aggravations, and how to in turn deal with them. (Source, p.14-15)

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However in these early days, people such as Martineau, were more or less “catching a ride” across the ocean. Soon the demand for passenger travel opened the world to Cunard to develop an ocean liner empire!

In 1881, the Servia was the first steel ship to shine electric light at sea. Around this time we see the beggining of 5.2 million immigrants embark aboard Cunard ships to start a new life.

In 1901, the first wireless transmission at sea happened on a Cunard vessel.

In 1907 The Mauretania came onto the scene, setting new standards in luxury and speed for transatlantic service. The goal, according to tv travel personality, Burt Wolf,  “was to make guests feel as if they were living the life of luxury in the home of a wealthy British relative“. ( See photos of inside the Mauretania, and many other historic Cunard photos here).

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Guests disembarking the Mauritania in 1938 — photo Uk Daily Mail

In 1912 The Cunard Carpathia rescued the survivors of the White Star line’s famous Titanic. Captain Arthur Rostron, was the captain of the 9 year old ship that night, and managed 19 knots that night, far surpassing her quoted speed ( the current Queen Mary 2 does 30 knots/ 35 mph). As soon as he received the distress call, the crew began setting up first aid stations, got ready to deploy life boats, and prepared hot beverages to aid in the rescue of the survivors. The Captain only had the last known coordinates of the Titanic to work with, but upon arrival to his dismay, there was no sign of the Titanic. He then ordered the Carpathia’s engines to be shut off and they desperately looked for a sign, finally seeing a flare from a Titanic life boat. 705 lives were saved that night from the icy water. Captain Rostron received many high honors for his bravery, including, he was knighted by King George V in 1926 for his service. Later Cunard and White Star merged. (Cunard-White Star Ld 1934- 1947), and turned back into simply the Cunard line (1947 – present).

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   During WWI 20 ships were lost in service. (1914-1918). In 1922 the Cunard Laconia provided the first “Around the World cruise.

In 1936 Queen Mary’s maiden voyage took place. This is the ship, along with Queen Elizabeth ( launched in 1938), which many “Old Hollywood” stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Calrk Gable and Rita Hayworth took, along with Winston Churchill, Jessie Owens, a young JFk, Frank Sinatra, Walt Disney, etc. For a good amount of the time of the Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth, ocean travel was the only option for traveling to Europe. It was a golden age until airplanes slowly took over.

26D7E22100000578-3000444-image-a-26_1426871608503Elizabeth Taylor  on board the original Cunard Queen Mary vessel in 1947

My own grandfather on my Lee side returned from WWII on the original Queen Mary.

In 1969 the Cunard Queen Elizabeth 2 was launched, and that brings us up to…

2004 the Queen Mary 2 took the torch over from the QE2.

 

all of the following vintage photos from UK Daily Mail unless otherwise stated

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I have been so excited about my trip, I have been reading some books including Transatlantic:  Samual Cunard, Isambard Brunel, and the Great Atlantic Steamships, and also Queen Mary 2 : The Birth of a Legend

I look forward to being able to share my adventure with you! I will reporting in several posts, this being the first in a series. Track the Queen Mary 2’s location here!

 

 

 

New Fabric / Surface Pattern Designs

Here is a new shabby chic, romantic feminine design I created in Adobe Illustrator. Available very soon in my Pattern Bank portfolio for purchase!

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A bold feminine floral!

 

Here is a Boho chic design I did by layering watercolors and line drawings!

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Here is a selection of colorways in my pattern inspired by a 1960’s summer…

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Journey to Paradisios – Macy’s Chicago Flower Show 2019

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Journey to Paradisios

On my recent trip to Chicago, I unexpectedly stumbled upon quite the site to behold at Macy’s! Their talented Visual Merchandising team upped the ante of a typical fashion retail experience, with 5000 types of flowers and plants, all cohesively embodying a psychedelic outer-space floral theme of “Journey to Paradisios”.

According to WorldLoveFlowers.com, “The show brings to life the cosmic tale of Space Flight Director Lucy Ryder and her discovery of the planet Paradisios – a pristine exoplanet, untouched by human technology and filled with resplendent plant life.”

I was impressed by the sheer EXCESS that delighted the senses, both visually but also the scents of the flowers filled the 7 story department store. Every one of those 7 floors featured a floral extravaganza with a nod to that floor’s merchandise (such as home, men’s wear, kids wear, etc). If that wasn’t enough, the 7th floor dining area offered free cooking classes. I attended a class that showed how to make “Cosmic Noodles” (they were hot pink and purple in color, with the use of red cabbage, baking soda, and lemon juice.). As strange at it sounds, it was also very fine dining with a Thai based recipe.

Several of the days during the event, a company called Floracracy, offered free flower bouquets to all shoppers. These were not just any floral bouquets, they were personalized to the individual based on a short quiz of your horoscope, Chinese year of birth, and element gravitation.  Trippy? Yes. But oh so delightful! This entire experience was, indeed, out of this world!

 

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Chicago Trip! March 27-30

Here are some photos from my trip to Chicago. Joe had arrived there a bit ahead of me for a business conference, which gave me the opportunity to travel alone in the early hours via train. There is something very romantic about enjoying a cup of coffee looking out of the window as the train passes through the darkness. The sounds of trains have always been comforting to me, and it is an enjoyable way to travel to Chicago from Toledo.

One of my favorite aspects of this trip was the fact that Joe’s conference was held in the beautiful and historical Hilton Palmer House. What an opulent place it is. We attended several lovely musical performances in the Empire Ballroom, sponsored by his conference.

While he was in lectures, I took to exploring the city. I walked along Lakeshore Drive, I checked out the famous Esther Williams swimming pool inside the InterContinental Hotel, and found a beautiful Marc Chagall mural. Joe and I ate lunch at an adorable French cafe called Toni Patisserie . One of the highlights was the Macy’s Floral Show, which I have covered in a separate blog post. All in all, it was a wonderful getaway in the Windy City.

 

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