Saturday, January 26, 2013

The sexy book club

One of the best articles I recently read is A Reading's Man Guide to Dirty Books, by  GQ's Tom Bissell. Well written and wittily built, this piece of passionate literary masturbation attacks the silly "50 Shades of Grey" frenzy and brings back to memory other, more deserving, books about erotica love and sex. Some of them I've never heard of before, but Bissell's descriptions are so inviting, I immediately added the suggested books to my wish list (speaking of, I do WISH I had more time to read). Not only was I inspired to get my sexy reading on, the article also made me think of some sexy page turners in my own library. Plus, loyal to this blog's premise, I also thought of things you might want to wear in bed while reading them. While the winter's still here, and Valentine's Day nearing, this combination feels very timely.
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The book: Dance, Dance, Dance by Haruki Murakami

The wibe: femme fatal meets librarian

1.Dress, Bebe 2. Glasses, Anne Fontain 3 and 5. Hand cream and perfume inWilde Rose by L'Occitane
4. Sweater, H&M  6. Socks, Intima

I remember the blessed time when me and everyone around were consumed in a Murakami dream, then in the peak of his stardom. The Japanese wizard's books, mystical and deeply sensual, tend to wrap you in images, sounds and fantasies, until you start wishing you'd lived in them. "Dance" is the first part of a trilogy - what about, hard to say exactly. Sheep, sexy women, empty hotels and elevators, it's all a part of something larger then you, and although sex scenes are scarce, the intensity of them surprised me.

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The book: The Unknown Terrorist by Richard Flanagan

The wibe: naughty but nice

1.Shirt, Numph 2. Nail Polish in Leading Lady, Essie 3. Sweatshirt, My Closet
4. Bra and panties, Leya London 5.Hand warmers, Hello Kitty

Don't be fooled by the cover - this is a pretty serious novel by a brilliant Australian author. Oh yes, there's a stripper named Doll, but the plot is far from trashy, as Flanagan makes a good point about fame, paranoia and social class. And yet the atmosphere of the book is dark, dirty and so very sexy, mixing up Doll's steamy adventures with gloomy realities.    

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The book: Intimacy by Hanif Kureishi

The wibe: loose nonchalant

1.Tank top, Laline 2. Nail Polish in Oil Slick, Ciate 3.Hoodie, Splendid
4. Sweatpants, SACKS 6. Cozy, Hello Kitty

Some of you may have seen the movie - explicit nudity and all, but this small book deserves the time the acclaimed British author asks for. Intimacy - the elusive sentiment lurking at the bottom of "fucking", is the main interest of this book, filled with descriptions of random sex encounters between two complete strangers moving towards love.  

Monday, January 21, 2013

Chicago guide: Part 2

In part 1 we maybe have discussed mostly food, but this time, due to the blog's original purposes, it's time to attend some fashion business! For your pleasure, I divided my input into two busy paragraphs – one about shopping and fashion brands, another – about a fun day of hair and culture. Enjoy!

The shopping triangle

As you may already know, I was lucky enough to live in Wicker Par, where the intersection of Damen, North Avenue and Milwakee await the shopper with an abundance of cute spending joints. Second hand and design prevail, plus some Portland-like touches: a soap shop with a manicure station, Mojo Spa, offers pampering with locally made creams. Myopic Books is a second-hand book heaven. Quimby's has all the magazines you can imagine. Plus, here are some brands discovered courtesy of the area:

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From top left clockwise: curiocities, Obey sweater, Myopic Books, great shoes

Obey: An American bran that's been around for a while, specializing in cozy knitwear, printed t-shirts and the rest of this great looking nonchalant style that looks so good in street fashion blogs.

DV Shoes: Also carry clothes, but the shoes are especially awesome.

Eskell: Local Chicago pride, this brand has delicately printed dresses and shirts begging to be worn. Don't let the gloomy model on the website confuse you – the clothes are divine.

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Hot dogs, coffee, graffiti and hair - Chicago mix

Hair and culture day

This is a very girly, well-heated recommendation for a fun day in the city. One of Chicago's more "alternative" (read: foreign movies) theaters, the Landmark, is conveniently located at a half-deserted shopping mall, also the home of a very large Victoria's Secret store and the Aveda Institute, where you can famously get a haircut, highlights, and general pampering, at pretty funny prices compared to the rest of the market. Finally, you can watch a good movie, get your hair into shape and shop for lingerie at one spot, without ever having to leave the warm space. The film I saw was Rust and Bone, and it's a must even if you aren't super-cold and dying for shelter.

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I'll leave you with the picture of the house that was my home for those cold, yet memorable weeks. See you next time back in California!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Chicago guide: Part 1

So, as promised, Chicago! I arrived here at the coldest season of all, and right upon arrival the "windy city" made its intentions clear – to make my nose fall off. With that being said, once you stock up on gloves, hoodies, a big coat and some patience, things start looking up.

Unlike the "up and coming" Portland, Chicago doesn't have anything to prove – it's an established myth-maker and society-shaker, and its food has a country-wide fame. Haven't been? Then you must have seen it on the American version of "Shameless". But if you arrive here fresh-faced and unassuming, this is what you may find out:

From top lef, clockwise: The L "subway", the local Christmas market
the famous Paradise Pup, the graffiti

 The queen of neighborhoods

Although the downtown features an impressive skyline (see, New York, you don't have to cram all the buildings so close), and is the home of the very excellent Art Institute museum, Chicago famously prides itself on the little cozy neighborhoods. The attributes of a cool neighborhood? Graffiti, local hipsters (I know this word is not great anymore – but they're here and they're still hipsters) and cute little fashion shops (coming next week) and eateries. I stayed in Wicker Park and enjoyed it immensely – the amount of good second hand fashion is second to none, but also fun, from what I had time to check out, are Lakeview and Wrigleyville. Three busy streets, hours of browsing: Milwakee (Wicker park), Armitage (Lakeview) and Broadway (Wrigleyville).

Urban jungle

When they say a place is "urban", whatever do they mean? After visiting Chicago, I got the point. Something about the architecture, all brick and panels, combined with the winding, minimal streets and the subway, which is not a subway at all – it all results in a tough, rugged (yet charming) "concrete jungle" feel. They say come summertime, and Chicago turns into a bike-ridden, sidewalk-boasting resort, but during the winter I find it kinda hard to believe.

From top left, clockwise: Butcher and the Burger hamburger
Violet Hour cocktails, octopus Gyro and the deep dish

Elevated street food

Chicago-native "classic" grub is heavy, fatty and very often lacking nuances, the kind of food some people may enjoy through the cold weeks. This is not New York or San Francisco, although seeds of creativity constantly break through the asphalt in recent years. Some of you may be familiar with the most famous Chicago gimmick – the deep dish pizza, a concoction where the tomato sauce hides a (thick) layer of cheese and a (thicker) layer of baked dough. Yummy, but not as tasty as it's entertaining. If you look harder though, you may notice the more successful attempts of playing with street-food. I stumbled on three of them, completely by accident.

Smart hamburger: At the very root of Armitage street, there's a little smoky corner place named Butcher and the Burger. Inside, couples and individuals sit submissively and chew of a very good hamburger, made from fresh beef. At the register, you choose your meat, your seasoning and you toppings, and if your eyes wander, there's a shrimpburger and some kind of complicated Japanese-inspired creation. Then you sit and wait, until a relatively small (a big plus for me!) and a very juicy hamburger arrives. Then you join the chewing folk.

Twisted taco: The taco is an acclaimed star of the Mexican cuisine, and if you like it big, meaty and filling, Chicago has a lot to offer. But an especially yummy taco was located, the horror, at the very center of hipsterdom, right on Milwakee avenue, at a new and sophisticated looking spot called, ironically, Antique Taco. I had a light, flavorful fish taco, filled with tempura cod, smoky red cabbage and siracha mayo, and every bite threw me back to California. Also worth noting: the yummy banana Horchata and the stylish crowd, trying not to drip salsa on their Urban Outfitters sweaters.

Surprising Gyro: on a rainy day, I ran into The Peasantry, a hidden little place that has "elevated street food" for a slogan. The menu is filled with scary-sounding sausages, duck confit hamburgers and three clever versions of Gyro, the Greek shawarma best known as a late-night drinking crave. I had the octopus Gyro, and my eyebrows jumped up with surprise at every bite. The food is not very expensive, but the portions are not huge, so plan accordingly. Or bring your sugar daddy. Just kidding.

And one more thing: An ex-local friend (and the girl that did my highlights!) independent of one another suggested The Violet Hour as a good cocktail spot. I took their advice, brought some local girlfriends, and what can I say – this is the ultimate "local in the city" experience. No sign on the building, a line at the entrance, an atmosphere of hyped-up glamour and secrecy – of course you feel awkward and silly, but I think the occasional standing-in-line-excited-for-something-unknown ritual keeps you young, you know? Inside, there's no standing with your cocktail, only sitting in huge armchairs or by the bar, the lighting is dim and the music is seductive. Not a "sexy" place of the sweaty, pick-up kind, but a classy hangout worthy of a new dress. Also not allowed: smoking and playing with your cellphone. Allowed: making out with the date from OK Cupid or chatting the night away with your new friends. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Golden Globes Red Carpet: 10 Wishful Gowns

Red carpet coverage often resembles getting back with the ex – you know it was boring and uninspiring before, and you know deep inside it's going to be just the same all over again, yet a fake, squeaky voice inside you cheers: "Oh, no! THIS TIME it's going to be magical!". Yeah right. Year after year, with almost no exceptions, the media looks up, excited and adrenaline-pumped, to the award season, and the award season repays it with another volume of dull columns dresses, tedious full skirts and unjustified cleavages.

Why does everything on the red carpet look so blah, in 90% of the cases? Can't the actresses do a better job choosing a gown? And why picking "color" over another black snooze-fest became just about enough for the critics to praise the "brave" star? I don't know. I do know this - that with a little help from the 10 following creations, found quite easily on, the Golden Globes red carpet could be redeemed. Fingers crossed.


If you want to be quirky: Ulyana Sergiyenko Couture Fall 2012

Why: Half expensive milkmaid, half Les Miserables extra, this dress is just so hillarious. Trust a Russian designer to do so deliciously overboard.

Who should wear it: Hell, why not Zooey Deshanel? This would be awesome.


If you must wear nude: Chanel Couture Fall 2012

Why: This is an especially sedative choice. Drape it, ruffle it, make it strapless – a nude gown is most likely to underperform anyways. But not if it has little pumpkins on it! Or is it roses?

Who should wear it: Redhead Jessica Chastain.


If you must wear black: Givenchy Couture Fall 2012

Why: How far can a black sheath go? Pretty far, if it's done right. Unfortunately, most black numbers on the red carpet are tulle-infused or lace-overdosed, and a big yawn. Not this one.

Who should wear it: Based on her last escapades, none other than Anne Hathaway.


If you insist on sparkles: Dolce & Gabanna Fall 2012

Why: Oh, those sequins! Not every dress that sparkles also shines, and a whole lot of forgettable sequined gowns can prove it. This is an artistic, bold alternative.

Who should wear it: I'm torn. Marion Cotillard could be great this. Less obvious options: Sienna Miller or Hayden Panettiere.


If you are a print kind of gal: Jenny Packham Spring 2013

Why: Usually, a printed gown ends up being a disaster. Why? Because everyone's after the cheapest print of all – flowers. How about some totally adorable (yet sexy) polka dots instead?

Who should wear it: Nicole Kidman.


If you can't resist a cleavage: Gucci Spring 2013

Why: Cleavages tend to photograph horribly, and it's a known fact. This otherwise conservative dress turns the sneak peek into a delightful surprise.

Who should wear it: Julianne Moore.


If you opt for short and sweet: Holly Fulton Spring 2013

Why: Every award show, there's a young actress that chooses to go midi. Sometimes it works, sometimes it fails – but it rarely lives to its full potential. Holly Fulton, one of my all-time favorites, provides us with an example for a whimsical, sexy, sharp choice.

Who should wear it: Jenifer Laurens has the body for it. Does she have the guts?


If you go for lady-like glamour: Christian Ciriano Spring 2013

Why: Granted, lady-like is unbearably boring. But boring doesn't have to be ugly, folks! This elegant gown is Kate Middleton-worthy, and even kind of exciting.

Who should wear it: Julianna Margulies.


If you are Tilda Swinton or Kate Blanchet: Mary Katranzou Spring 2013

Why: Only true mavens of style, or might it be aliens who descended upon us for the award season, can carry out shapeless stuff. But shapeless can be fun, too, as this dress proves.

Who should wear it: You know who. But since they're not invited, here's a wild card: Lena Dunham! You go girl!


If you want to keep things simple (and virginal): Suno Spring 2013

Why: Awards shows sometimes serve as initiation ceremonies for younger starlets. The younger starlets in question often opt for bedspread-like horrors. This gown is a refreshing step forward.

Who should wear it: Elle Fanning, Chloe Moretz, you got the point. 
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