Style And The City | Verve Magazine
India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
May 25, 2013

Style And The City

Illustrations by Farzana Cooper

So, you are done with shopping in the merchandise Meccas of London, Dubai and New York. You are looking to fill your cupboards and closets with the enticingly different. You are craving new sights, smells and tastes as well…. Four fashion designers share their experiences in Cannes, Siem Reap, Buenos Aires and Berlin, offering their own take on these less-frequented destinations….

Of stars and beaches
Cannes, as a destination, marks an extremely important point for us in our lives – the launch of our brand. When we planned to start off the brand’s journey, Cannes became the perfect setting for its inception with Europe’s biggest swimwear trade show being held there. But beyond the aspect of the business, it is the seductive charm of the city that made the whole experience worth a lifetime. This is the most elegant spot on the Cote d’Azur with a stunning bay, framed by mountains, sandy beaches, great weather and a port that makes it the perfect cruise holiday destination. Luxury villas and gardens are set in the hills and the famous La Croisette is the site of many festivals.

Walk down in two directions to get a good impression of this city. One should be in the Old Town (Le Suquet), on and around Mont Chevalier and the ruins of the castle of the Lerin-munks. The other goes along the Boulevard de la Croisette and sees the median side of Cannes – that of movie stars and the beach life. A trip to Cannes isn’t justified without a trip to its Casinos. Two worth mentioning are Casino de la Croisette, next to Palais des Festivals et des Congress and the Palm Beach Casino on the other end of the Boulevard de la Croisette.

Cannes has a three-sun classification from Michelin, which makes it a superb place to enjoy a day at the beach. The beaches along Boulevard de la Croisette are great but very busy, for calmer beaches you would have to go towards the west where Plage du Midi turned out to be surprisingly our best bath in Cannes.

Palais des Festivals on the Boulevard de la Croisette is one landmark that is hard to miss. I find the architecture rather unpleasant to look at but this is where the film festival takes place. It also happens to be where Shivan & Narresh was launched in November 2008 by Mare di Moda. All major festivals happen in and around this venue. One of the touristy things to do here, although downright cheesy is to get clicked walking down the stairs like a Hollywood star.

Post this, stroll to the beautiful rustic pier besides this building to view the sleek yachts and private liners harboured a stone’s throw away. This is the best reminder that you’re at the hottest holiday destination on the southern coast of France. Right outside the Palais des Festivals is the Allées des Stars, a parting gift from visiting actors, who have left famous imprints of their hands on the pavement. This is where you’re reminded of the splendid Cannes cinema heritage. Don’t forget to wake up the touristy spirit yet again; this time by bending over and trying to match your hands with that of the actors.

For shopping, the street you must be at is Rue d’Antibes which is just two blocks away from La Croisette so you can simply walk down from Palais des Festivals. This 10-minute walk is priceless if you wish to breathe in the real experience of Cannes, the searing sun playing hide-and-seek through the signature palm trees. Once you reach Rue d’Antibes you realise that you have entered a shopping heaven with every luxury brand lining up here. What was great about this street in comparison to any of the other luxury streets in Europe is the staff. Almost all the in-store personnel of luxury brands here are extremely warm and in sync with your holiday spirit making them a lot less intimidating than walking into the same brands on a street like Via Condotti in Rome or on Champs-Elysees in Paris. These small things made our personal shopping experience here one of the best of all the countries we have travelled to in Europe.

It’s time to give your taste buds some equally important treatment. Just start walking behind Rue d’Antibes down from Galleries Lafayette to Rue Houche where you will find the cafés. Volupté, makes the best creamy cappuccino ever! While you would find lots of confiseries, chocolatiers and delicatessens here, you must visit Chez Bruno simply for their mouthwatering chocolates.

To try something rustic, you have to be on Rue Meynadier, a street that we stumbled upon by chance while exploring the city. The whole street had a bustling market atmosphere which felt extremely warm, non-fussy, easy and not to mention, effortlessly Mediterranean. This lively shopping district is lined with affordable clothing shops and artisan food stores. Our best find was our discovery of the finest cheeses in Cannes at Ceneri, 22 Rue Meynadier.


Spoilt for choice
Buenos Aires enticed me with its charm, when I presented my collection at the Buenos Aires Fashion Week! Established by the Spanish in 1536, Buenos Aires has grown as a city and cultural centre through the centuries. A bustling port, Argentina’s sprawling capital is notable for its art, literature, tango and incredible parrilla (Argentinean barbeque). Overcoming a dictatorial regime in the 1970s, 1976’s Dirty War and 2002’s currency crash, Argentina endures and its hip and chic capital is alive with new boutiques, galleries and cafés all the while celebrating its past.

Buenos Aires is called the ‘Paris of Latin America’ and it truly is a magical destination if you are seeking a shot of the new! The Grand Dame of Latin America has all the elements to delight thrill seekers across different tastes and types. Buenos Aires is made up of 48 different neighbourhoods, known locally as barrios. Barrios with old world charm blend into modern neighbourhoods with cutting edge aesthetics, fashion, antiques, amazing food and bustling nightlife…. Buenos Aires offers it all. Exquisite leathers, beautiful textiles, impeccably crafted accessories, crafty artisanal curios. One is truly spoilt for choice!

Palermo is the young and trendy part of Buenos Aires, with many low-rise buildings, Bohemian bars, nightclubs and hip restaurants. This is a shopping paradise.

Recoleta is arguably the most affluent and attractive district with beautiful old buildings, designer shops and home to the famous cemetery around which it is based. Worth checking out are the eclectic shops that line Avenida Alvear.

Puerto Madero, the modern port area is the location of some of the most prime real estate with its towering new buildings, smart restaurants and clubs. A modern waterfront neighbourhood with great food!

San Telmo is the classic old part of the city with its regal low-rise buildings and houses; this is a fashionable hotspot for nightlife, with flocks of bars and restaurants opening up here. It has an amazing antiques market on Sundays with street performers, artists and cobbled streets! The streets of Defensa are filled with different kinds of antique shops where finding a hidden treasure is not that hard. San Telmo also has a good amount of clothing stores that cater to the Bohemian vibe of the neighbourhood.

Villa Crespo Calle Murillo in Villa Crespo is the leather district of Buenos Aires, with quality leather jackets, belts and home accessories to pick from. El Centro, the downtown of Buenos Aires is filled with all kinds of different stores, but nothing too specific. It is worth it to take a stroll down Calle Florida, a walking street catering to shopping. Visit Patio Bullrich for local design stores and hop into La Martina which is inspired by the Polo tradition of Argentina.


Spirituality and symmetry
I feel that if I have to travel, I would definitely go to places I have never been, and Cambodia is a country I had always wanted to travel to. Our holidays are family vacations with two small children. We stay away from Disneyland, malls and cities. It’s the adventure of Bohemian trails, forests, beaches, diving and simply being away from humans that draws us.

As a country, Cambodia is extremely poor compared to all its neighbours, yet I discovered that there is something spectacular that fuses spirituality, symbolism and symmetry. It has a lot to offer with its rich cultural heritage. The ancient Khmer arts and crafts, which to date contribute to the livelihood of local artisans, are a must buy. There are also many galleries with reprints of famous Cambodian art, statues and artifacts inspired by the Angkor temples.

The exotic temples in Angkor are an architectural haven inspired by Dravidian architecture. The sunsets are pink, set against these magnificently beautiful backdrops. A guide is a must to understand the history of the art, sculptures and scriptures. There are over a thousand temples in Cambodia, inspired by Buddhism and Dravidian architecture.

In Siem Reap, the night market is a must-visit. With silk textiles, clothing items, paintings, traditional handicraft items and wood and stone carvings on sale, the biggest plus point is that a majority of the items that I come across here cannot be seen elsewhere. If you’re a promoter of green living, then Angkor Recycled, within the night market, will interest you, with an extensive range of bags, wallets, purses and pouches made from recycled materials.

Cambodian cuisine is extremely delicate.There is a vast choice of restaurants; one of my favourites is the exquisite fine-dining restaurant at the Raffles hotel. Another popular restaurant is L’Escale des Artes & des Sens. The Angkor Cafe is another must, especially since this is a café-gallery and a great place for French cuisine.

Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia, is a cross between Asia’s past and present. With the old colonial architecture, the Royal Palace and the restaurants by the riverfront Sisowath Quay, it is charming and small, anything but fast paced. Raffles is one of the most charming properties to stay at.

Getting away from Phnom Penh, to the islands of Cambodia that are untouched and spectacular, is a five-hour drive to Sihanoukville, wending through plantations where I spot Cambodian farmers busy at work. Sihanoukville is a port and does not boast of scenic beauty, which is why one must get into a boat and sail through the river by the Ream National Park until you hit the islands. Day trips with children are best as accommodation on these islands is really basic. But if you want a Robinson Crusoe kind of experience then these islands of Cambodia are a must. Crystal clear blue sea, white sand and no people, it is truly a dream.


Party Central
My connection to Berlin has been through Commando comics that brought WW11 alive through vigour and valour with the Germans mostly ending up on the losing side. Black and white imagery and all the cloak and dagger stuff. Over the past decade though all this has changed. Berlin is back to its old glory but in a more hip manner. The cabarets of yore have been replaced by music factories, clubs and bars. Legend has it that one can continuously party here for the entire weekend, the weekend beginning Thursday night.

It’s with this sense of anticipation that I landed in Berlin at Tegel Airport not knowing what to expect. What I was greeted with was a wonderful retro journey; it felt as though I had landed in the ’60s. Being a fan of architecture, it was a great sight to behold the work of Modern Minimalist Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The hotel where I was staying though was quite the opposite – a trendy grey structure called the Titanic at Spittelmarket. It was well located with great tube connections; and through my stay there I realised the best way to get around was by the tube.

My exploration of Berlin started at Alexanderplatz, located in the Mitte district. Here is located one of the city’s most famous malls Alexa, a shopper’s paradise with innumerable brands mostly international ones. The area though was where the Socialist era parliament was located, now converted into a shopping district with a central plaza area meant only for pedestrians, surrounded by clothing and electronic stores, with the spindled Fernsehturm TV tower piercing through the quadrangle.

While Alexanderplatz was about the brands, Berlin was for me about discovering the Berliners. Hackescher Markt is where I headed to. Based in the heart of Berlin, it embodies the spirit of holidaying in Europe. Garden bars, live music, varied choices of great food, concept designer stores, how much more could one take in, in an afternoon. This is where I discovered One Green Elephant, a cool new denim brand that is inspired by the art, eco music and fashion scenes across the globe.

Next I headed to Schlobstrabe in Steglitz for two milllion square feet of shopping bliss. I had gone hunting for one of my favourite brands, Hollister, (the coolest undergarments for men; I’m sure the women’s are as good) and ended up discovering a hot spot for all kinds of products – home, beauty, clothing, furniture, electronics….

Spend an afternoon drinking wine at a moat-side restaurant marvelling at the museum and its wonderful surroundings. There is much to see here but some of my high points were The Holocaust Memorial, a grim reminder of what men can do to others. CheckPoint Charlie, another favourite of mine where one is reminded of the days of the Cold War was the setting for some of the greatest espionage stories of the period. The Berlin Wall along with the Brandenburg Gate, a symbol of the great divide between the East and West are other places of tourist interest that are a must on your first trip


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