This Ramadan marks my 12th year in the UAE and yet again I am reminded of how much I enjoy this time of the year. Dubai life is known for being fast paced and these spiritually significant days allow for everyone to slow down, reflect and rediscover our fair city.
Iftars are a must to experience – thoroughly curated, culinary vibrant they are a beautiful way to connect with friends and family. Whilst simple in nature the dishes traditionally served are something I reminiscent for months and months that follow. Being somewhat of a fitness / wellness advocate I normally don’t include kunafe in my weekly meal plans. During Ramadan however this glutinous gooey cheesy treat is like the proverbial bucket of gold at the end of the mythical rainbow.
Ramadan dressing revolves around modesty and good taste. Kaftans are a fool proof way of ensuring that you’re comfortable, culturally appropriate and on trend. With its nudge towards folklore through intricate beading work and embroidery, they are my preferred item of clothing that later during the year gets reinvented as resort wear. As homes get adorned with lights in anticipation of Eid Al Fitr, I invite sequins and cracked golden leather into my wardrobe. The N° 21 mules are the Holy Grail of Instagram footwear, frequently seen on street style icons all over the globe.
Aquazurra can do no wrong and these brocade pumps, with their homage towards ethic footwear, work wonderfully well with a monochrome ensemble but would also stand their ground when matched with geometrical patterns – after all dis the season to embrace minimalism with open arms. Lastly – our very own Dubai made All Things Mochi has launched a collection of handmade espadrilles exclusively for Level. They are as comfortable as they are fun.
All the footwear can be found on Level Shoe District – website and the physical store at The Dubai Mall.
As you may have seen on Instagram I recently came back from a trip to Paris. During that time I did a fair amount fashion week related activities but I also had heaps of “me time” to do exploring and wanderlusting and creating Instagram content.
I will only be mentioning names of venues (anything else would take me a week haha). They’re all tried and road – tested by me personally so when you google them they take you to the Google Map pin. Don’t you just love technology the days *she said sounding like a really old person.
Right – first things first.
Accommodation: I used Trivago.com to book my hotel (it was a self sponsored trip so I looked for something cheap(ish)). I looked for something that was new, had good reviews and was walking distance to the central parts of the city. I ended up at Hotel Le Malown in the 8th arr. (right next door to Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. (http://www.lemalown.com/en/).
The hotel turned out to be a GREAT find! The rooms were tiny but I was’t really going to be spending any time in the room apart from the zzzz. Crisp white sheets and beige walls (none of the dated plush velour nonsence many hotels in Paris insist on), little balcony, friendly staff, bargain rate of under 500 aed / night and a location that allowed me to walk everywhere plus take the metro from the Opera station which connects all the metro lines going through the city. Score!
This leads me to the next discovery:
Could this be the best (free) rooftop for aerial views?
Both these shots are taken at the rooftop floor of Printemps – free for public access as a little lunch cafeteria / coffee house is located up there.
Save your calories for ground floor however: thats where Cafe Pushkin is located. Hands down prettiest cakes in Paris if you ask me.
Walking distance from the hotel, opposite the Opera is Cafe De La Paix – excellent for a Parisian croissant / espresso breakfast.
As you can see I threw all gluten caution to the wind. Parisian bread is just the tastiest though!
Another breakfast place often voted the best bakery in town is Du Pain et Des Idée (easily allocated on google maps as is everything else I mentioned). Noone speaks english and there are no tourists and it’s just warm, authentic and wonderful.
For more restaurant options I recommend:
Miss Ko – Nearby the Champs Elysée on Avenue George V. Very hip crowd, the the affordable sushi is AMAZING, and at night the music is great. The decor with Japanese murals is photo friendly bonus.
Alcazar Restaurant – This restaurant just re-opened after a major refurbishment and is one of the most popular places in Paris at the moment. Très Instagram friendly.
Les Bain Paris – It’s a bar/restaurant with amazing truffle popcorn accompanying the drinks. The interiors are incredible, and the staff actually isn’t arrogant (very rare for a trendy place in Paris). Dior hosted their perfume launch party here last season, and in general, it attracts a fashion-forward crowd. Downstairs turns into a nightclub in the late hours for Parisian style debauchery (there is even a small pool in the middle, a’la a 1970s Saint Laurent party)
Hotel Costes: It’s expensive and smoky and yet all kinds of wonderful. Crammed with good looking / influential people, with the worlds most instagrammed french fries and every single dish on the menu is a taste experience. I would know, I ate there daily for a week and tried one of everything in a tres indulgent manner.
Nearby (3 minutes walk) is the infamous Colette department store where you dive into a world of all things eclectic and edgy. I get my fix of newly released sneakers, Byredo and Diptyque products in limited editions and cute electronic gadgets from there.
Otherwise my shopping go to district is Le Marais – brimming with vintage stores, cheap eats, French designers like Sandro, Maje and Zadie & Voltaire (with selections far better to the Dubai ones sadly) as well as the newly opened Anine Bing store.
How about the beautifully taupe Aesop store with pump flask testers on the street? Or mixing your own Le Labo scent with a customized label – all these can found on the streets of Marais. In general: if you’re looking for anything specific there are plenty of Time Out style articles that provide deep insight in the topic (such as vintage shopping which many might be into). I myself am not (strangely enough as it’s kinda expected from a fashion blogger). I like my things brand spanking new and still smelling of the fancy box they came in. 😀
On the topic of shopping and fancy boxes: the worlds only Louboutin beauty store (with the lipsticks and the nail polishes and oh the lipsticks, I am so in love with them all) is located in a covered passage close to Palais Royal. It’s called Galerie Vero-Dodat and is a beautiful old space with black and white floors. The Louboutin head office is located there so many ladies with red soles will swish past you when you’re around.
Across the road is my favorite breakfast place in the whole wide world called Claus (also on google maps like everything else). I was told that Claus himself was an ex high fashion PR executive that got tired of the fashion PR-ing game and launched the finest fanciest breakfast joint of them all. The male waiters will charm the crap out of you and you can have all day breakfast with a side of bubbly. Booking is essential or else there is a 45 min waiting list. Daily.
For a morning of indulgence treat yourself to a one time breakfast at The Peninsula Hotel. It oozes luxury, serves the best Raspberry Brioche in town and has unparalleled Instagram values. It’s simply exquisite.
I could go on and on and on and if there is anything else you need to know just drop a comment below!
In the meantime: don’t overplan. Make time to do nothing – Parisian style. One of the nicest things about Paris to me is the sitting outside in a bistro (with none imposing a minimum spend or forcing you to commit to dining whilst there) and breathing in the atmosphere.
Skincare is one of my favorite topics – I try to (more or less successfully) aspire to have skin so good that make up is a fun bonus and not a daily necessity.
Now to be very honest with you (I like being able to be honest with you); a few things have to be mentioned before I venture out onto the ”product territory”.
No product will work if used half heartedly. No matter the price tag. If you (like me) occasionally forget to cleanse before going to bed (and don’t get me started on the instant wipes that do very little else but move the dirt around); no miracle cream will work to it’s full potential. It’s only when I became religiously strike on the good old daily cleanse / tone / moisturize that I noticed a positive difference.
The cliches are cliches for a reason – in other words sleep matters. Drinking sufficient amounts of water matters. (I personally also find that Bikram yoga gives me a long lasting glow. There are no scientific reports that I can wisearsedly quote here (neither do I want to), but all the sweating and the moving and the hydrating afterwards always makes me feel ”pure” skin-wise.)
I use Botox twice a year. It obviously prevents the wrinkles from appearing (I started with Botox at the age of 32 as a preventative measure) but it doesn’t mean it secures a good complexion. I still feel obliged to mention it as I don’t want to be “selling you” creams when in fact I also use the heavier ammo.
The proverbial ‘eat your greens’; is a big one – every time I go on a cleanse I bathe in compliments on the clarity of my skin. I don’t really believe in cleanses to the extent that they’ve been declared a magical cure of illnesses, obesity and fatique BUT they do mean that for whatever period you’re on them you stay away from nasties and get a fruit and veggie fix that many of us are in deficit of. If you apply that into your daily habits the results should mimic the one of a cleanse.
Now let’s talk lotions and potions and creams.
I am currently using a lot os Shiseido. Yes – they were gifted to me in exchange for a review but so are many many other products (and I am being transparent, not Braggy McBrag here). I have chosen to stick to theirs because I like that they are not overly fragrant (why add ingredients that have no purpose but may end up irritating your skin); that the brand invests in a lot of scientific research and really goes deep on a cellular level with their products. They agree with my skin and if I stick to the: A.) Gentle Cleansing Cream B.) Future Solution Softener C.) Future Solution Radiance Serum and D.) Bio Performance eye and face cream my skin is balanced, moisturized without feeling oily and radiant with or without make up.
I treat myself to weekly face masks – when pottering around the house or listening to music. Aesop makes a GREAT cleaning Primrose / white clay one and NUXE has a lovely soothing balm called Creme Fraiche De Beaute.
For night I love Kiehls Midnight Recovery Concentrate and I know other bloggers have raved about it too.
Since I recently discovered that I have pigmentation spots (and I have never suffered from those before but I am taking a lot of hormones related to female troublezzzz) I also added a Dark Spot Solution from Kiehls into the mix.
Household ingredients like Kefir and Coconut Oil make for great moisturizers – our mums were onto something with the unknowingly holistic approach to beauty.
Last but not least – SPF is essential but surely you knew that already? I seriously see a big difference between myself and my sun worshiping friends who are a lot younger. I don’t want my décolletage to look like a leather purse when I am 50!
Feel free to recommend a good / non greasy facial SPF inn the comments below or on social media; I am currently on the lookout for one. Big hugs X
Latest purchases – knit from APC and Liberty London in the perfect camel hue as well as flow pants from Faithfull The Brand. XXX P.S I am trying to add shopping links but slow internet won’t let me so I’ll update the page tomorrow.
GQ magazine once wrote an article called: “”What’s the fuss about Ferrari”‘ (referring to a trip to Maranello in Italy where the car is manufactured). Anyhow; the article starts with the following words: ”People stare at Ferraris”….
I won’t even try to bore with technical details about the car; after all I am not a car blogger and merely a girl who loves beautiful things. (Although in case the previous sentence makes me sound a bit flakey I do need to defend my honor by stating that I have a pilots license).
Nonetheless: what I was aiming to say here is that when it comes to the test-drive all I cared about was that my outfit would match the car. In true fashion blogger style.
And people did stare. At the end of the day I was driving one of the sexiest cars on the road. See that’s the thing about luxury items. Your attitude transcends with them and suddenly you feel slightly more empowered and a lot more sexy.
I availed the Ferrari California T test drive opportunity for a mere 8 hours but it sure left me wanting more. X