I’m going “Gaga,” over cheetah and leopard print. There, I said it. If the runways didn’t confirm it for the glitterati of this world (Michael Kors and Lanvin to name a couple), then singer and actress extraordinaire, Lady Gaga has the past few weeks of the House of Gucci press tour: Animal print, specifically leopard and cheetah, are all the rage these days. Mama Monster looked like the queen of the concrete jungle in a metallic cheetah print Lanvin trench coat. And she was the Maven in Milan in a turtleneck mid-length dress showing that when you’re a megastar, it’s not about earning your stripes, but sporting your spots.
Lady Gaga has already gotten Oscar buzz around her latest role as Patricia Reggiani, Italian socialite and ex-wife to the emperor of the Gucci empire, Maurizio Gucci (played by Adam Driver). Seeing snippets of the film, it’s easy to be lured by the vintage wedding videos, the heavenly fashion, and the incredible way Gaga and Jared Leto have been able to transform into these figures. Coming up later this week, I will have blog post about the film and some other Gucci-related festivities (between the Gucci Love Parade I attended, and what’s to come this week, November has truly been the Golden Age of Gucci here on Keeping it Krischic. No, this is not sponsored. I’m just an ardent aficionado). For now, here are some snapshots of how I personally have been channeling the Leopard and Cheetah print trends in my own wardrobe.
From street style to the on-screen style (for me, that means on-camera as a TV News reporter and fill-in anchor and weather anchor), I have the been wearing ‘wild’ trend on repeat.
This Ganni wrap dress is an ensemble designed for the main character. From the balloon sleeves, to the shiny leopard fabric that shimmers in the sunlight, it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s the dress you wear when you realize it’s a jungle out there, and you will conquer it while being well-dressed. I was operating by the Italian fashion mantra that more is more here: the vintage Chanel chain necklace and polka slingback heels make me feel like I’m about to traipse through the Townhouse Galleria in Milan in between sips of espresso and fashion shows.
Leopard print is already a little loud, so I thought I might as well go all out. I decided to sport this accordion midi-skirt in the feline fabric, with a punchy blazer. Pairing this double-breasted green one from Vince Camuto with a red turtleneck from Zara is the perfect combination. The rich color scheme is complimentary, and with that interlocked “G” belt to match, it’s definitely House of Gucci-approved. This fuchsia one is also a favorite. I belted it since it’s a little oversized, and didn’t wan to swim in fabric. By adding some suede over-the-knee boots under the skirt, this look screams luxury! Plus these vibrant hues pop on-camera during my live hits.
Hollywood Boulevard, a sidewalk with stars that line a street of dreams. These are the aspirations, realized, cemented into the ground iconizing actors and musicians who have “made it.”
The Walk of Fame also represents the hopes of aspiring creatives and legends in the making. As Creative Director of Gucci, Alessandro Michele points out in his show notes, “Hollywood is nine letters dripping with desire.” Gucci’s Love Parade,” Tuesday along that infamous pink-and-black star walk, was like drinking in that fantasy after a parched season. In Southern California, style aficionados like myself were thirsting for high fashion. Meanwhile, a design dignitary like Michele hankering for Hollywood.
Lights, Camera, Fashion:
Michele’s mother worked as production assistant when he was younger and had dreams of his own. Regal Reveries of Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe, he explained in his show notes, expanded his world beyond his “squat in the outskirts of Rome.” While I am unsure if the hopes in his boyhood were to eventually be the new guard at Gucci, which has been around almost as long as Hollywood, he himself has become a famous figure in his own right. He is standing in the monogrammed loafer shoes that Guccio Gucci did exactly 100 years ago when he birthed the fashion house as a luxury travel brand. No doubt, canvas luggage not too far removed from the original Gucci designs were what Michele packed his belongings in to head to the City of Angels this past week. For Gucci’s centennial celebration, Michele wrote a love Letter to Hollywood. Instead of ink, he dictated it through needle and thread. In place of parchment, he employed fabrics lined with fur and sequins. Envelopes sealed in interlocked ‘G’s for Gucci, and hand delivered.
The aforementioned love letter was sonnet to the onscreen icons of 20th century: Models glided down the walk of fame looking like cinematic sirens—from ‘70s tweed suits topped with cowboy hats echoing the industry’s iconic westerns to a champagne dress accompanied by a feather boa reminiscent of film noir, but then accessorized with a punk-rock version of a Cleopatra headpiece, black latex opera gloves, and oversized shades. The runway was like a film strip in real time, each look adding to the eclectic plot of the show. Needless to say, Michele brought with him a whole entourage for a procession, to make sure Hollywood was aware that she was indeed his beloved and held a special place in his and mother’s hearts.
A Deleted Scene:
And it was to be a grand gesture to proclaim this admiration. Gucci shut down the entire Hollywood boulevard that evening, marking its presence with the El Capitan marquis spelling out “Gucci Love Parade.” The endless constellational curb normally dotted with the footprints of tourists and celebrity impersonators, now lined with the larger-than-life beings that flood our Instagram feed. In addition to three rows of glitterati made up of A-listers (Miley, Cyrus, Dakota Johnson, Billie Eilish, and Gwyneth Paltrow to name a few), Influencers (Chriselle Lim, Aimee Song, and Bryan Boy), and fashion journalists alike, the show welcomed spectators who made the pilgrimage specifically for this show, or simply stumbled upon it in wonder.
And I can tell you that the democratization of this stylish spectacle was intentional, from the runway’s open-air concept (normally the Oscars red carpet and film premieres at El Capitan I’ve attended are closed off to the public by a tent) to the series of “trailers” for the upcoming featurette on social media. Sure, the who’s who got to sit in the Gucci canvas director’s chairs embroiderd with names of Greek Myth, but Michele did not turn away his fellow dreamers, who would no doubt be inspired by the over a hundred thoughtfully designed garments in the way that the golden age of Hollywood inspired him.
And perhaps those behind the velvet rope had a special advantage. Earning prime real estate at the show meant getting there a couple hours before it started. In that time, models were in their off-duty attire. For some, that meant a white robe with heels. For others, a velvet burnt orange suit with bell bottom trousers and Gucci loafers. They strutted down the runway receiving direction from men in black masks and headsets, waving their hands incessantly if models were falling behind or walking too quickly. Even the Jared Leto, who doesn’t seem to age, wasn’t above this instruction. Between their stage direction, he kindly smiled in acknowledgement of the crowd forming and cheering for him. And guess what? Leto, who will be starring in House of Gucci just weeks from now, was not the only celebrity cameo in the love parade. St. Vincent (whose “Los Ageless” now seems to have been a foreshadowing), Phoebe Bridgers, Macaulay Culkin (clad in garb straight out of Once Upon Time in Hollywood) were some those cast in starring roles. It was hard not fangirl a little as they stepped down the runway to the beat of Bjork’s “All is Full of Love” and “Big Time Sensuality.”
Attending this show was my own fantasy realized. It took me and my mother hours, and various wardrobe combinations to find the right outfit that whimsically whispered “Gucci.” We looked retro and recent Gucci campaigns and decided to fashion something mismatched that still made sense. The foundation for this look was a cheetah print dress in pistachio green, complete with shoulder pads and a cutout on the torso. As if the dress wasn’t wild enough, I paired it with some wine-colored tights and tinselly shoes as an on-the-nose reference (or should I say on the toes) reference to the “silver screen.” I filled in the plot holes between the mix-and-matched lines of this look with some tassel earrings that picked up on the burgundy legwear and the rhinestones, the green frock. What truly tied it all together: my vintage paisley Oscar De La Renta silk scarf which I donned as a headband. To really go the extra Gucci mile, top-framed ‘60s glasses and a fur-lined plaid Staud jacket picking up on the ‘70s suits in the show (coincidentally) were a must.
The fact that it’s Halloween tomorrow is ‘S’wonderful, S’marvelous!’
That is, unless you’re still scratching your head and scouring every costume store in your city that is overcrowded with fellow procrastinators for props and garments that will transform you into another person for the night. In my case, that other person is someone that I have long admired and who made me fall in amour with all things Paris: Jo Stockton from Funny Face. And of course, the fashion-forward, bookish girl who wows all of the France fashion elite, with her unique or ‘funny’ features is played by Audrey Hepburn herself.
This costume came together in a chorus of shopping trips in my and my mother’s closets. If you’re a vintage fashion lover like myself, dressing as any of leading ladies Audrey plays should be second nature. You most likely have a red dress of some sort buried in the back of your closet. Even if you don’t, your mom or cool aunt does. Even a thrift store nearby might. In my case, I did rent this dress, which was extremely cost effective and expanded my options. This crimson mid-length number has the same straight across neckline as Jo’s in the film.
While it’s the star of the show, the right accessories are what take the look to the next level. While cascading down the stairs of the old Bakersfield California building in my pointed red pumps and opera gloves, I felt like Jo flying her shawl before the Winged Victory of Samothrace in the Louvre. The footwear is straight from my own shoe collection. I admit, the gloves are new, but only because I misplaced identical ones I already had from a previous Halloween when I was Holly Gollightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Pro-tip: keep all your costume pieces in a special bodx or chest so you don’t have to repurchase them! Also, skip Party City. You can find similar ones at a thrift store. They normally sell costumes this time of year.
Then there’s the crown jewels of Jo’s ensemble: the jewelry. These are both courtesy of my mother’s to-die-for antique accessory collection she keeps in a special box. She was kind enough to let me borrow this necklace with layers of rhinestones, chains and geometric gems that cinch the strands like a brooch. The clip-on earrings with a cluster of pearls and rhinestones may not originally be a set with the neckwear, but it certainly marries well.
Who are you planning to be for Halloween this year?
As wanderers, we have two things we yearn for: a sense of adventure that comes with the winds of change while drive with the windows down toward a destination. The second thing is a sense of home when we’re away from where we dwell.
Well, there are two things for me, in particular that can be both comforting and exciting when I go on a trip: where I stay and what I eat! My family can attest to the digital quest I go on to find the aesthetically and palette-pleasing restaurants in the city we’re visiting.
Where We Ate: Born and Raised
I had seen rave reviews from bloggers online about Born and Raised. This upscale steakhouse nestled in San Diego’s Little Italy is a draw for anyone with a hankering for food that is basically visual and performance art. We started with a Caesar Salad, and the server made it and plated it with such finesse. As he was fashioning the Caesar dressing from scratch, the smell of lemon, capers and spices traveled from the wooden bowl into our nostrils. It tasted just as delicious! In between bites of salad, I smothered the warm brioche in salted butter and washed it down with a glass of red zinfandel wine, rich in notes of blackberry and black pepper. Then our dinner came. My brother, parents and I all tend to order pretty much the same exact thing: an eight-ounce filet mignon. The one at Born and Raised was so tender it practically melted in my mouth. We also ordered a plate of legumes, crisp to perfection on the outside, and cloud-like on the inside. With every mirthful mouthful of food, we took in the grandeur of the art deco style space. Wooden columns shaped like trumpets flanked a fringy, crystal chandelier reminiscent of a flapper dress. The shimmering light bounced off the green marble tables and butterscotch leather chairs we sat on. It reminded us of San Diego’s version of London’s Sketch restaurant, which the four of us dined at when my parents and brother visited me in my old British abode years ago. My family’s love language is quality time and food, especially if it’s in a place like this that helps us time travel.
We decided to cap the night by sharing meringue and carrot cakes on the rooftop, which boasted its own beauty. You know that the interior designer of the restaurant did their job when the main draw of a rooftop bar is not the skyline of the city. A concrete jungle beyond softens with bubblegum and cotton-colored floral arrangements throughout the exterior. The floral lace pattern on my black bustier dress echoes the flower arrangements around me, unintentionally I assure you. After finishing up the gigantic cake slices while sitting in faux fur white leopard chairs, I decide to explore the space more. Each step I took in my my criss-cross gold chain heels, I find myself in a new corner with another fascinating detail. I delight in how my Burberry clutch matches the Scottish Tartan booths overlooking the cityscape. I revel in how the bar top’s golden finish is is a repercussion of my golden earrings with a pearl center and vintage Chanel chain necklace to match.
Where We Stayed: The U.S. Grant Hotel
After being fed, stomach and soul, my family saunters back to the U.S. Grant Hotel. The hotel built during the Edwardian period and commissioned in the name of a president during the Victorian period, is a luxury haven of eclectic history. Like it’s not-to-distant neighbor Born and Raised, the hotel’s lavished in the art deco style, all crown molding-topped columns, black and gold finishings, and chandeliers. I plop on the bed of white sheets and a mountain of marshmallow pillows after my belated birthday dinner with my family, still in quite effervescent spirits. It’s our final night in San Diego, after two days of wandering the Gaslamp quarter, Balboa Park, exploring the caves of La Jolla Cove, and traipsing the seascape of Coronado fueled by gelato and seafood tapas. I’m going to miss waking up to the sunlight peeking through gaps in the gold velvet curtains first thing in the morning, beckoning me to stare out the window as the skyscrapers whisper good morning. Most of all, I’m going to forever cherish each memory with my brother and parents, because it was our first weekend trip as a family in over a year. It’s the moments of laughter while eating two eggs and bacon breakfast in the wood paneled Grant Grill, or the more serious conversations about our hopes for the future while walking the beach that I’ll miss most.
Two belfries in the plateresque style reflect in a liquid looking glass, as I walk past the outstretched pond in San Diego’s Balboa Park. It’s a deliciously sunny day, and the sky is a vibrant blue.
My Georgian dress is just as bright, the color of the goldfish in the lagoon (thanks, Mari for introducing me to Georgian fashion!).
If you look up the dress’ pantone name, you’ll find “international orange,” How fitting, that I’d buy a dress in this culturally transcendent shade: I learned that the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco was originally garnished in this hue. The cutouts in this Dots Tbilisi number reminded me of the iconic bridges’ stencils. Plus, the name is on theme, for the sheer fact that I purchased and had it shipped to me from the other side of the world. In one dress, in one place, I’ve traveled across California and the world.
As I take in the Spanish Renaissance architecture before me, I swing my Louis Vuitton bag that my grandmother gave me, to and for. I long to capture this moment and mail that memorial postcard to my brain. I’d like to store it next to the black and white photo of two women dressed in Edwardian finery, walking the same grounds my mother and I are right now. Much of the elaborate architecture we’re beholding, was built during 1915-1916 Panama California Exposition. According to the Balboa Park website, it was one of the first times such “ornamented flamboyant architectural style” had ever been used in the United States.
But it’s not just the arcadian aesthetic that makes these 1200 acres such a wonder. It’s the wooden botanical gardens building (apparently one of the largest pieces of lath architecture in the world) filled with 2100 tropical plants and palms. It’s the troubadours dotted around the park in an unplanned orchestra that create a score for your already visually cinematic experience. It’s the San Diego Zoo and the array of museums. I walked around in my jacquard shoes, reminiscent of a garden itself. Perhaps wearing them was a foreshadow through footwear, being surrounded by such fantastical nature from flowers, to water, to sunlight.
Where should I wander next and what trend would you like me to wear?
Here in Southern California, the weather is gradually catching up to other fall customs like pumpkin spice everything, the beginnings of the 2021 award season, and fashion week.
The fall runways tend to inform trends of the season with an autumn in New York state of mind: Meanwhile on a late-summer getaway to San Diego a few weeks ago, I was determined to make La Jolla Cove my fall fashion runway—and since September in SoCal is still soaking up the sun of late-summer, especially at the beach, here’s how to be a fall fashion girl in that sort of setting.
One fall 2021 catwalk trend that I had to try while wandering the hidden caves of the cove with shoes in hand: hues that pack a punch. In 2021, what you considered an autumnal color palette is left in the pre-pandemic past. This citrus-colored knit top would normally be a summer pick, but vestments with vibrance are the talk of fall fashion trend reports.
Here’s why: Tangerine and bright colors in general, give the soul a dose of vitamin-C and serotonin boost necessary to brighten one’s world after a heavy year and a half-of the pandemic. While we’re not quite out of the woods yet, there is something to be said about improving morale in the midst of your circumstances, and one way to do that, is with what you wear (disclaimer: I’m not saying it’s going to be the end all, be all of solving your problems). You don’t even need to take my word for it. According to fashion psychologist, Dawnn Karen, “Mood enhancement dressing, aka dopamine dressing, simply means selecting clothes that increase your happiness, raise your spirits, and make you feel better, stronger, safer, or more empowered.” In Karen’s book, Dress for Your Best Life, she writes that western cultures associate orange with “freshness, fun, humor and sunshine.” In eastern cultures, “happiness and spirituality,” or even “wisdom.” Personally, I have felt all those things when dawning this orangesicle garment (you can’t see it, but the bottom part has a white ombre affect like one)—whether wearing it oceanside like in La Jolla or out in the field on-camera reporting. And when it does cool down, I have a matching tangerine jacket to add over it for a chic, monochromatic look.
Leopard print is always a go-to for me when I want to feel lively and fun, so I opted for an accordion-pleated skirt in the pattern. Sure, it’s a wildcard, when my top is already pretty loud. Hear me out: leopard print continues to be considered a neutral in the fashion world, according to a comment CEO of Who What Wear, Hillary Kerr said in an episode of the podcast she hosts with the same namesake, so perhaps it’s not as out there as one may think. I added some tortoise-shell cat-eye sunglasses to match, and a fuchsia lip for those final touches.
The cubic white façade looks like a modern Mount Olympus from the 101 Freeway. But it’s not a haven for the gods—even though much of the European art within the Getty Museum’s wings do depict the Grecian and Roman deities in the brushstrokes of the Renaissance masters.
When I lived in LA, The Getty Museum was my safe haven after a long day of classes in grad school. I’d venture there at least twice a month on days off from Entertainment Weekly of ABC7 LA. If the well of inspiration drained, one look at resplendent tapestries, embroidered with scenes of royalty in gondolas would conjure creativity. A study of a medieval manuscript covered in calligraphy and an illumination of the Goddess of Fortune would bring light to all of the unwritten stories in my head.
When the pandemic hit, it was the first time since I’d been a frequent visitor of the pearly white museum with travertine floors more iconic than the yellow brick road, closed its paradise for over a year. Within that time, I moved out of Los Angeles, going into the city mid-week, AKA my weekend from on-camera reporting, but I hadn’t taken the chance to visit my old favorite, the Getty since they reopened a few months ago. Getting back to the Getty was a homecoming in a way, and I was beyond homesick. That’s why when my blogger bestie Mari suggested the museum for our next visit, I was elated, excited, but apparently, not expeditious… The plan was to arrive to Mari’s place early enough to pick her up after work and make our 3:00 p.m. ticket reservation (during this pandemic, ticket reservations for visiting the Getty are now a thing) Alas, we arrived at the fashionably late hour of 4:00 p.m., I in a fitted Zara jumpsuit the color of a brook with a buttery brown belt and sandals to match.
Despite going through an entire day at work, Mari was ready, 2:30 p.m. on-the-dot in her monogrammed shirt, Gucci belt and flared jeans. I arrived at 3:30 p.m. In my defense, I had a two-hour drive ahead of me with a stop to make along the way, and perhaps I had not properly calculated how long it would take to curl my hair into place, fill Maximus (my white steed of a car) up with fuel, and wade through traffic along the Grapevine. Thankfully, Mari was completely understanding, and said we’d make the most of whatever time we’d have at the artsy oasis, which was only an hour. So without further ado, here is how we made the most of our sixty minutes at the Getty, and how you can too, if your trip is a mere pitstop.
Why Arriving at 4:00 p.m. May Not Be As Bad as You Think: Yes, arriving shortly before the close at a museum with eight extensive exhibitions may seem like poor planning on your part. Especially out-of-towners may think this isn’t the best idea, but hear me out: When you come to Los Angeles for a day trip, you may want to get a sample of as many places as you can before heading home, so after spending a day window-shopping in Beverly Hills’ Taschen bookstore and dining at Croft Alley (A personal favorite of mine for a cuppuccino and avocado toast) you can dip into the Getty for about an hour, rather than spending the entire day at a place with not as many dining options. Granted, I have spent an entire day at the Getty before and am a nerd like that, but most days, I’ll go to a museum for a couple hours at most anyway. Plus, going as late as we did, Mari and I experienced something we never had before: a practically private tram ride. We lounged across multiple seats, unused to the quiet on the Getty’s crucial transportation device, allowing us to spread out and get lost in the Tram’s benevolent tunes reminiscent of Disneyland’s Monorail. The music became the soundtrack of our ride as the panoramic windows showcased the 101 freeway from a bird’s eye view. Perhaps that’s why the winged wanderers do not tire of their flights: it’s extremely peaceful up there. When this metal dragon arrived at its sky-high perch around 4:10 p.m., that’s when most museum goers made their mass exodus to the descending tram. We beat the rush of tourists, most art rooms quite empty on the latter half of a Tuesday. Plus there was a point where the Getty actually offered half-priced parking (ten instead of 20 dollars!) if you came at 4:00 p.m., but they have discontinued that since reopening. When and if it comes back though, your pocket is going to thank you for showing up late too!
We Knew Our Favorite Spots Ahead of Time: Mari and I are art buffs, to be sure so we navigated those rooms like pros. She has an extensive background of technique and art history, an interest fueled by a mother who is an artist. My love for art also ingrained in me from childhood flourished after studying abroad in London and taking humanities classes in the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, and British Museum. My professor was an art historian who frequently lent her expertise to the BBC. In a transportive British accent, she taught us about European painting techniques like hierarchy of size, linear perspective, intentionality of light and how the literal anatomy of human depicted in the art could tell you when it was composed, and which master painted it. Mari and I are both fans of European art from 1600-1800, whether the Italian and British Renaissance or British Enlightenment (Peter Paul Reubens and Joseph Mallord William Turner, anyone?).
Another personal favorite of mine is the wing with all the French Rococo paintings. It’s the most unique part of the whole museum (which is saying a lot, because these rooms house priceless, one-of-a-kind pieces), because rather than art mounted to stark white walls, they’re extra ornaments to elaborately decorated rooms with colored damask wallpaper, gaudily gilded furniture with splashy gold reminders that King Louis XIV was the sun king, and elaborate china. If you are not familiar with the Getty, it may be helpful to browse their current exhibitions online so you have a game plan for what you want to see in the short visit.
We Dressed the Part: I’ve made the mistake once before of sporting Gucci loafer heels with pearl detailing to the museum because they were “quite comfortable,” only to realize that a certain amount of time going up and down the Getty’s travertine steps and eventually missing the last tram and having to physically walk downhill to my car, can make them otherwise. That’s when I was still pretty green at the Getty. By now, I knew better: wear something chic yet comfortable. Polished leather sandals were the way to go, as was this jumpsuit made of cotton. With it’s puffy princess sleeve and a ruched neckline, was incredibly flattering to my natural curves yet felt like sleepwear. Paired with my go-to pearl earrings with a gold rim, a red lip and my Louis Vuitton purse with an Italian silks scarf tied onto It, I had achieved the off-duty look I was hoping to.
We concluded the night with a tacos and beer at Mari and Anton’s favorite place in Ventura. You see, that’s why we’re close: we can do refined artsy things the early part of the day, and conclude with a no-fuss meal. My kind of perfect day, even with a late start.
The ocean breeze and sun blew a combination of mist and sand in my thick raven tresses. With hair of my texture it tangled, but I didn’t care in the least. I welcome it. The grains might as well have been glitter. The ocean spray was a christening. Because Malibu brings out a glow in me that cannot be duplicated anywhere else.
It’s a place I used to call home —a place where I received my education, first became an adult, and learned to soar. The seagulls fly Above my head, their wingspan a salutation, a welcome home. They know my admiration for their kind. How their instinct is to wander and travel far and wide, yet they still find solace on the beach. One perches itself on the roof of a blue lifeguard shack. He’s peaceful. He’s a messenger from the divine to enjoy this slow pace before the rush continues. As I write this, it’s August 3. Time stops the eve before my 25th birthday. I’m on the cusp of the beginning of the second quarter of life, and it’s thrilling. Thank you God for these moments of serenity, and the moments of saturation.
Now, I pick this entry up as the sun sets on my birthday. Year twenty-five marks a quarter of a century of life. It’s been a full one, it’s been beautiful, joyous, sometimes heartbreaking, full of hope, and full of lots of love. I used to be under this delusion as a teenager that at 25, my life would be wrapped up into this beautiful bow, that I’d have everything figured out. I’d be married to the man of my dreams, settled in my career, and the rest of life would be the “ever after” of my hero’s journey. I was in for an awakening I am extremely grateful for: Twenty-five is the genesis of the rest of my very abundant life. I haven’t figured it all out, and as I’ve learned from mentors and friends I look up to that are older, you’re constantly learning and evolving.
This past year alone, I’ve excelled leaps and bounds as a human being. There’s a fire and strength within me that has always been there since I first opened my mouth. It’s been there since I sang at the top of my lungs as I swung on my backyard swing at five years old and proclaimed, “I will fly on my father’s wings, to places I have never been,” (if you understand this reference, I have the utmost respect for you).
That song was always a lion’s roar. It was always the crescendo of the waves of the ocean. But the strength and fire within me have ignited like no other as of late. Fear has cowered before the woman looking at me in the mirror, (thanks be to God who is responsible for that). And yet that woman is still the little girl who watched Disney movies and dreamed fiercely. She didn’t quite fantasize about being a princess, although she always wanted to have a royal’s grace while having the strength of a lady knight like Kaylie in the “Quest from Camelot.” When Beauty and the Beast’s Belle said, “I want adventure in the great wide somewhere,” that girl with the thick raven hair and wide brown eyes said, “me too.” When Hercules said, “I will go the distance,” she whispered, “me too.” That girl is still me, even as my features have sharpened and my voice has deepened into that of a woman.
This year alone, not even thinking back to the last 25 years, my becoming is evident. It’s been forged in tears, in laughter, and smiles. This year alone, I’ve lived in three time zones while living in the same place (more on that in a future blog post about my on-camera reporter anniversary).
That girl is still me as I’ve seen the best and worst of humanity as a reporter. I’ve covered a hostage situation, shootings, and I’ve braved the snow of the Grapevine. I’ve not only experienced but had to report about a pandemic. But I’ve also attended and covered the Oscars. The American Music Awards, interviewed the former Secretary of State and current House Minority Leader, and introduced myself to both of them with the utmost confidence. I’ve realized my worth, even when it’s been tested. I’ve aced that test. I’ve been studying 25 years for it and was never going to fail.
Quarter two is just around the corner. I plan to make it even more interesting than the past 25 years of traveling to 12 countries, studying abroad, attending London fashion week, countless award shows, interviewing A-list celebrities, world leaders, dealing with a pandemic, promising to fulfill my family’s legacy, getting a bachelor’s and master’s degree at world renowned universities, starting my own talk show, recording my own original music, dating, sitting on the edge of my seat as my parents and grandparents have orate their beautiful life stories, crying on my loved one’s shoulders and gladly returning that shoulder, serving and receiving, loving and being loved, accepting God personally into my heart and receiving his blessings while hoping I can help carry out his blessings to others, being on television every single day, singing and writing songs, writing and finishing two novels, blogging, exploring new cities with delicious cuisine, breathtaking historical architecture, watching lots of movies, devouring hundreds of books, collecting pieces of clothing with their own stories to tell while creating my own in them.
You bet I’ll continue to be well dressed while blogging about all of it along the way.
There’s power in patterns. They are like roadmaps to who we are—whether that’s a recurring behavior or an echoed motif throughout an article of clothing. As a forward thinker with a vintage soul, I embrace change like an old friend. Meanwhile, I tend to make a tradition of what works. I’ve always been a repeat offender in wearing silk scarves, to the point where I found myself yearning for one in the form of a dress.
This quarter-sleeve button-down number is a canvas for mix-and-match patterns. Printed on the satin: a green and black chevron that seems to imitate snakeskin and contrasts bag-chain imagery, patterned on a blue and orange backsplash. Perhaps it’s because the scarf print is a head nod to luxury, like Hermes or Versace, that pulled me to this garment. Weaved into that is a modernity and sense of legacy at the same time from both brands that embody the scarf print. In the sunlight, the colors become more vibrant. In the slight breeze on a hot day in Bakersfield (these were taken back in April, so not the unbearable triple digits yet), they dance. Thus, steps taken toward Luigi’s, an Italian eatery in town that has been there since 1910, became more of a strut. Trust me when I say it was a fast one at that, because I was extremely hungry, and that Wild Mushroom Agnolotti was calling my name with a warm Italian accent!
Fueled by that delectable half-moon ravioli dripping in brown butter, sage & parmiagiano reggiano (yes, the flavors were ambrosial), my dear friends Mari, Anton and I continued to explore Bakersfield’s old charms. Surprise, surprise, I’m also a creature of habit when it comes to a love for historic architecture. That’s why no matter what city I’m exploring, whether it’s one I’m visiting, or the one I call home, I gravitate toward stuccoed columns like a moth to a flame, and so does Mari. She’s actually the one that discovered the architectural splendor that is the Baker Branch Library: a building coated in baby blue and fashioned with Grecian pearl columns. The aesthetic harkened me back to the library of Kenwood House in London’s Hampstead Heath. Baker Branch Library appeared to be Kenwood House’s Edwardian sister clothed in the neoclassical style who decided to settle down in Kern County. It was a déjà vu moment taking photos there, to be sure: it was a comfort in the familiarity of one home (London) echoed in another (Bakersfield).
But here’s the thing about patterns: we also need to be unafraid of breaking them, to be willing to try new things, because change is good for us. Moving to Bakersfield was a change for me after living in Los Angeles the past few years. But in a way, it feels like home, because I’m from Central Valley originally. Moving here has helped me grow so much as a person, things I plan to detail in a future blog post. Stay tuned!
As we were snaking the path of the pearl white Rosewood Miramar Hotel, the grounds laced with well-manicured green shrubs, my blogger bestie, Mari and I realized we were lost.
That’s when we came across a petite woman with black kitten heels, the words, “Dior” printed on the white ribbon bow. They were like Dorothy’s red slippers, but rather than clicking them together and chanting “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home” I imagined one clicking this high fashion footwear together and exclaiming the words, “j’adore Dior! j’adore Dior!” Another fairytale rather, came to mind when the woman with the coveted shoes and kind eyes told us that she worked at the Dior pop-up at the hotel and could guide us to it. She introduced herself as “Alice, like Alice in Wonderland,” when we asked for her name.
Mari and I followed Alice down the path, and I cracked the joke, “Nice to meet you Alice. Thank you for leading us right to the fashionable wonderland we’ve been looking for! We were so lost.” We finally arrived to it fashionably later than expected. Before Mari and I was a white-paneled haven identical to the rest of the hotel, save for being outfitted in hot pink Dioriviera toile window panels that matched the rest of the ready-to-wear pieces inside. Ever since Mari sent me the link announcing this Dior pop-up, I knew it had to be our next adventure together, even if it would be a trek all the way to Montecito from our respective corners of Southern California to do so.
Montecito truly is a West Coast Wonderland: The Santa Barbara community is home to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, Oprah and many other mega figures, for good reason. It’s widely known as the American Riviera, its coastline a U.S. equivalent to that of the French Riviera, another famed haunt for movie stars during the Cannes Film Festival. Perhaps that is why I subconsciously embodied Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco and an Old Hollywood style icon, in my look for the day:
I dawned a crisp-white dress with golden-rimmed tortoise-shell buttons, cinched at the waist with a buttery brown leather belt, with strapped sandals to match. I finished the look with a red lip, lush curls that danced in the ocean breeze and my grandmother’s Louis Vuitton bag, with an Italian silk scarf tied on the handle. In this outfit, I truly felt like a movie star, and Mari and I arriving to this Dior pop-up was a key plot point to our day. We enjoyed perusing the ready-to-wear Dior collection, curated in the form of an art exhibition and taking photos on the Dior hammock surrounded by spring blooms. Online shopping has changed the brick and mortar experience in that way: Since it’s more convenient to window shop online and build a weightless cart, the in-person shopping experience has to offer something extra: it has to well-curated and become an experience for the shopper. After a year of barely doing anything in person, a luxury pop-up like this one was a breath of fresh coastal air.
We took a turn wandering the Rosewood, marveling in its beachfront calm and classic beauty. “It has kind of a Hampton’s feel, doesn’t it?” Mari said to me while I enjoyed my vegan chocolate gelato by the pool under an Orangesicle-evoking canopy. “I was literally about to say that!” I exclaimed excitedly, the two of us soul sisters ever in sync. “It really is like the West Coast’s version of the Hamptons!” We concluded the day at Mari and Anton’s house over homemade gnocchi, chilled Lambrusco and a Paul Rudd film. For one day, I felt like the entire world was far away.