Chinese inspirations

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China through the looking-glass, or fashion’s beady and greedy eyed glare at Chinese inspirations. I have a limited experience with exhibitions inspired by clothing, my strongest memories are of old V&A exhibits of the Supremes glittery gowns and later, of the japanese imperial family’s most treasured kimono, and more recently retrospectives on John Galliano and Dries Van Noten (in the Parisian Des Beaux-Arts and it was amazing) but this was something else. For starters, the sheer scale of the exhibit, three floors, each corresponding to a different element  of either chinese history or a type of garment, the entire thing was larger than Ireland’s national gallery! Then there is the range and beauty of what was on display.
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Leaving aside the obvious contributions from fashion houses such as Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Dries Van Noten, Hermes, Chanel, Valentino and many more, there was also an extensive array of artefacts. Scattered throughout were pieces of pottery, the famous indigo blue scenes of the countryside, that, no doubt, are in most grandmother’s homes. There were also intricate metal and wooden objects, laying beside garments, indicating the various designers inspirations. Later on there were walls covered in ancient calligraphy, delicate 1920’s perfume bottles and posters of the early communist China. My favourite addition was on the lowest floor, housing garments inspired by an imperial China, filled with traditional chinese dress and large screens showing films that were also inspired by this era.
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 There was even a section dedicated to chinese film, detailing what was worn, and displaying those same outfits nearby. Overall the exhibit was a masterpiece, and held just as much worth for myself (fashion obsessed) as for my mum (along for the fun of it all). If you are in New York before September 8th (exhibition closes on the seventh) I really recommend that you see it. The rest of the museum is just as amazing: sketches by Degas, paintings by Van Gough, and the most comprehensive collection of works by 20th Century artists.

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New York Syndrome

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Where the buildings seem impossibly tall and the crowds impossibly big. Coming somewhere as small as Dublin, or even most european cities, this place is so different, that continental jump is really felt. If you are in search of somewhere truly different then, well anywhere else (as far as I’m concerned), come here, the city that never sleeps? I think of it more as the city that never rests, night or day. Every corner you turn you see people working, talking and running, yes running for the subway. Back home where the trains come every twenty minutes, it is fair to run, but there all of our subways were every ten minutes.

Now that I’m back, I won’t lie, I have ran for my trains, attempted to look busy, and tried to walk with the self-importance/ confidence that every New Yorker seems to have mastered. For now I’m trying to readjust to Dublin life, but expect a follow-up soon, complete with pictures, tips and possibly some musings on the grand city.

I’m still alive!

What looms ahead

I am still here… just about. The last few months have been rather crazy, between handing off portfolios, attending interviews and suitability tests and having state exams at the beginning of next month there has been no time! Until now, in reality I should be studying but I can only learn off Bismarckian foreign policy so many times!
I feel like I’ve changed so much since I’ve last been here, I’m becoming obsessed with dancing, not in any professional sense, more of a seventies-ish strut through school corridors. Hopefully this is reflected in my newer creations, which are more attentive to this new side of my personality. And yes I have still been sewing, much more slowly and much less precisely than before. I have rediscovered my love of t-shirts (I have a feeling this will always happen to study-weary students) and I have a new, rather unhealthy, obsession with the seventies. Don’t worry I won’t be wearing flares, at least I hope not, although I have become allergic to my skinny jeans. I have a pair of Levis 501s and they are amazing, plus they make me wear fitted tops which I have far too much of an issue with doing.

In other news I’ve graduated, I’m no longer one of those annoying school kids with back-packs that are far too big (and too heavy, I swear I’m going to break my back before the year is out!) and school skirts that practically trail the floor. I’m now in this weird limbo where I still go to school but I’m an adult… I’ve been treated fairly equally all through the year but now it’s far more obvious. Another final, random note, do you know how weird it is to not wear uniform in school for the first time ever. For a child who has made her way through the fifteen year long education system in Ireland, it is immensely gratifying to never have to wear a uniform ever again! The only problem is what to wear in the mornings… and how to have anything that’s clean…I guess I’ll just have to make a new wardrobe this summer!

My top Three picks from Berlin

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Berlin is such a dynamic and unique city that it’s hard to narrow it down to any one type of place. The buildings are loaded with history and the people have a quick wit and a sharp humour. Here are my top three tips from my three day trip to Berlin.

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Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church

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A section of the wall in Potsdamerplatz

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Berlin’s flee market


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One of the most enjoyable times during the trip was our visit to Berlin’s flee markets. For a city that is so rich in history, it has a treasure trove of antiques; from old currency, to silver spoons to racks upon racks of buttons and pins. There was a really nice atmosphere around the markets as well, people are there to make deals, they work with a purpose and a list, as opposed my listless ramblings. I had a great time picking through boxes of trinkets and shuffling through tables of buttons (one stall stuffed to the gills with buttons). I also got to try currywurst at this market, a Berlin delight of sausage with paprika spices generously drizzled over the top. Very delicious.

As a lover of markets I got my fill as we also visited the Turkish markets near the U-Bahn stop Kottbusser Tor. Don’t be fooled by the fruit stalls lining the beginning of the market and scattered throughout, although the pastries and breads are rather nice, there are true treasures to be found here! Just walk in a little farther and you will find stall after stall after stall of fabrics at €3 a meter and €5 a meter, cottons, synthetics and prints. Admittedly this is not the place for the highest quality but there are soft jerseys to be found and gorgeous prints to be unveiled. Don’t just walk towards this market, run towards it!


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The exterior of the Reichstag

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The inner spiralling walkway of the Reichstag’s dome


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The Reichstag was another impressive site. One of the top sites of the city and I can see why. Getting there is a little bit of a struggle as you have to wait in line just to get a ticket but the groups are evenly spaced and once you’re in the dome you don’t feel crowded, plus its free. The view from the top of the Reichstag is also impressive, you can see Potsdamer Platz, the Brandenburg gate and all the way to the Zoo. The Dome itself is an architectural beauty, light curves of glass and steel: the glass titled at such as angle as to catch the light like a mirror. Inside there are sloping walkways which spiral towards the centre, providing 360 views of the city at the top. We visited the dome around sunset, catching the slight haze over the city, giving everything an ephemeral quality. Despite the strong, icy wind it was still well worth visiting as it was one of the most memorable moments of the trip.


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Nikolaikirche

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Cafe Konditorei


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Another highlight from the trip was Nikolaiviertel, the old district of Berlin, a little medieval haven in the centre of the city, a few minutes from Alexanderplatz and the TV tower. The cobble stone streets curved around the Nikolakirche, with the rest of the area littered withcafes, shops and teddy bears. This is the perfect place to relax and to relish in Berlin’s medieval architecture. I would also recommend a visit to Cafe Konditorei, their teas are something else (the jasmine is delicious!) and their selection of cakes, biscuits and pastries was one of the best that we saw during the trip. If nothing else will sway you their seats are deep, the type of place that you want to rest your weary feet to read a few chapters of your book (can you tell how I spent my time in this cafe?!) . You should also be sure to watch the array of christmas decorations hanging from the ceiling.


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The modern Potsdamerplatz station

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The traditional S-Bahn stop for Potsdamerplatz

In all this was an extremely enjoyable trip. The city carries this huge sense of gravity about it. There is a different kind of atmosphere here that is hard to find. You can feel how decisions made here have a weight within Europe and the world. You can feel the history of the place, as is evident in the remaining buildings before the war and the memorials and museums scattered around the city. This is a town which inspires you, which takes you in slowly until it has your heart, which makes you want to return again and again for that unique sense of being at the centre of everything. I can be sure that this will not be the last time that I will visit Berlin.

Me-made Fashion Week

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Relaxing in our hotel room

So I thought that I would share my handmade outfits from the week, since my trip overlapped with New York fashion week. Not quite in the same league I know, and my papparazi was a one man team (thanks mum!) but it was bit of fun. The first day was mainly spent in airports so I chose to go with warm layers, a new jumper and skirt, from my “new wardrobe frenzy” in the week leading up to the trip. The skirt was made a week in advance, the jumper finished the night before!

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A long day of walking later

For the next day I had a little bit more choice but it was very cold, 3 to 4 degrees centigrade with wind chill factor, so I wore another new dress, made from wool jersey, and this leather top which is surprisingly warm!

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Outside the Bauhaus archives

For day three I wore my new skirt again, it has a slight stretch so it’s super comfortable. I also wore my coat, this miracle scarf and my super cosy mittens. I wore these everyday as it was so chilly.

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Our last day in the city’s old district

For the last day I went with jeans, my tights collection had depleted, my last pair from the day before being barely better than bare legs. I combined this with my crazily warm jumper (whoever knew acrylic could be this toasty!) and a long sleeved top, the little sparkles brightening up the day.

Ich liebe Berlin

The Green Man

The iconic street lights that I got a little obsessed with, taking a picture every time we crossed the street.

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The Reichstag at sunset.

Despite appearances I am still here! I’m sorry for not being here in so long but January was the month of deadlines for me…. My technical project, which is 40% of my final mark, was in for the second week of the month, my portfolio to get me into college on the third week (my college application was also due that week) and my mock exams (I’m in my exam year) started on the 3rd of February! Not a fun time for me, I couldn’t even get near my sewing machine I had so much work to do. Thankfully most of the stress has passed now, I can finally join the online world once more and leave the other place of books and studies behind me; which is why I’m typing today! I recently went on a trip to Berlin. It was a very last-minute affair as a treat for having survived my mocks (one day was six hours and twenty minutes of exams!) and it was the best reward that I could have asked for.
The city is big in a way that I’m not used to. You can walk everywhere and there isn’t too much need for the U-Bahn unless you want to travel far, but the streets, roads and squares are all just giant expanses of space. In Dublin, even Grafton Street (the main shopping street) could only fit about ten people walking side by side, most streets barely fit two: Berlin’s main boulevards could easily fit thirty, maybe even forty people, the sheer scale of the city was slightly daunting. Then there are the buildings which are plentiful and either loaded with history (pick-pocketed by bullet holes) or are modern marvels of architecture, at least half of my photos from the trip are of buildings. And finally we have the food, pretzels and curry wurst (of which I cannot recommend enough) which saved an otherwise lost lunch several times. All in all this is a truly diverse city, between its melded cuisines, juxtaposition of architectural styles and its people. A very memorable trip indeed.

The most famous Trabi in the world?

The most flamboyant Trabi that I saw during the trip #noirberlin #trabinoir

By Poseidon's Ladies

Is it bad that I’m jealous of her plaits?