Last week, I had the opportunity to return to Italy as part of my master’s program at IFM. While it would be a gross understatement to describe our week-long sojourn as anything but a whirlwind (hello 5:30 AM call times and midnight bedtimes), it was one of the most fascinating trips I’ve ever taken. Splitting our time equally between Milan and Venice, we had a few once in a lifetime opportunities of gaining exclusive access into the production facilities of Louis Vuitton shoes, as well as ceramic and textile factories. Given the study-related nature of this trip, I didn’t have much free time (or energy) to take my DSLR camera around with me all the time, so my photos from this trip are a mash-up of DSLR photos from Venice and a few of my favourite Instagram snaps from Milan and Venice. While I typically find myself visiting southern Italy more than the north given my family’s roots, thinking about wandering the cobblestone streets around il Duomo and feeling the cold breeze rolling off of Venice’s canals at night is definitely making me eager for a more relaxing trip back to these two cities soon.
Missing like crazy Piazza Venezia, the beautiful Pugliese countryside, and the winding streets of Lucera right now as I huddle under a pile of blankets in the dead of winter here in Canada. I tried my best to make up for last year’s unfortunate mishap of forgetting my DSLR camera charger on the other side of the Atlantic by building a much more detailed photo diary this time around in Italy. Soon I’ll be off to another destination, albeit much closer to home, but nonetheless it’s another city that I can’t wait to photograph.
To say I have a slight obsession with anything Balenciaga – prét-a-porter, accessories, footwear – would be a gross understatement. From these covetable boots to the classic Balenciaga motorcycle bag, some Balenciaga accessories have gradually been incorporated into my wardrobe over the years, while others have remained mere longings on my Pinterest boards. Like many young girls, I was first introduced to the signature rivet, buckle and zipper combination of the brand’s bags and accessories on the arms of young celebrities in my favourite tabloid magazines. While it took several years for one of those timeless bags to be incorporated into my own wardrobe, it is unquestionably the most utilized bag I own, with a cost-per-wear soon approaching multiple decimal factors. While in Rome and wandering around Via Borgognona in December, I couldn’t resist falling fast for these purple and gold Balenciaga accessories. It might have made more sense to opt for a more traditional black and silver version of the Giant Arena studded wallet, but my gut instinct was unrelenting in its bias towards the bold gold and purple colour combination. Maybe it’s my subconscious trying to combat the winter blues, but this bold colour combination is sure to liven up any outfit this winter and for many years to come.
If there was ever a time for me to flee Canada to avoid some rather atrocious winter weather and impending, anxiety-inducing life decisions, it was over the last two weeks – which is exactly what I did. Even though 2013 was a great year for me, it was quite an emotional roller coster, primarily fuelled by uncertainty in a variety of areas of my life: uncertainty about what follows graduation, what industry I want to build a career in, and uncertainty about people and their roles in my life. That’s why I’m so grateful I was able to escape life in Montreal and go back to living a bit simpler with limited internet access, eating fresh food, spending time with my family, and oh yeah, wearing normal clothes that don’t include either of these. Truth be told, I was more excited to wear normal footwear than to shed my parka while overseas, wholly due to these boots that I picked up at a pre-Christmas sale by a new favourite shoe line of mine, To Be Announced (as already seen in a different colour here). I had been eyeing this colour for months, but couldn’t justify buying a duplicate of a shoe I already owned without a severe discount. There’s something about this iridescent leather in a classic boot cut that just seems to elevate any boring, monochromatic look like this one to a new level or sartorial achievement. No accessories needed in this look – no purse, no jewelry, no scarf, just the basics, the way I was intent on living life for those glorious two weeks away from the mayhem of Montreal life.
There’s something about coming back to Italy at Christmas that calms me down in a multitude of ways: my style and make-up becomes more relaxed, my continually racing thoughts slow down, and dinners and sleep both end up occupying significant portions of my days. It’s as if Italy induces some kind of serenity and feeling of certainty that I haven’t felt in a long time while living between Toronto and Montreal this year. Maybe it has something to do with visiting Castello di Lucera each year and seeing it standing exactly as it stood the year before, and as it has stood for over 900 years before my first visit. Maybe it has something to do with the sense of community in my tiny village that is so lacking throughout cities and towns in North America. Maybe it has to do with isolating myself away from everyone and taking care of myself in a selfish, but necessary manner. Whatever it’s attributable to, it’s a much needed departure and pause to reflect upon things bigger issues than the miniscule worries of my very blessed life.
I’ve always been passionate about supporting homegrown design talent since I began my foray into Canada’s fashion industry. In an industry populated by mass retailers and tough economic times, local designers often face an uphill battle against such successful corporate entities that supply most of the general public with their wardrobe needs. However, I don’t put as much energy into promoting brands from Italy due to Italy’s significant success with fashion: fashion in Italy is embraced by the public significantly more than it is in Canada, and there is significantly more national pride for creating and producing fashion in Italy than in Canada.
Are we really into the second month of 2013 already? Apparently we are, according to dates for Montreal Fashion Week, midterm exams, and meetings that stare back at me from my February page of iCal. Time seems to be passing at a record speed over the last few months, so I guess I shouldn’t exactly be surprised that it feels as if I left Italy three months ago, when in reality I left three weeks ago. All of those smells, sights, and sounds seem so far away – it was if my two week stay was just a dream in another lifetime. It almost feels like I’m coming to the end of a lifetime, quite frankly, as I start to think about the future outside of being an undergraduate student, which is a fairly difficult reality to put into words. Italy, or at least Europe, will hopefully be a part of that new life after this degree, but not quite yet. Montreal will always entice me into staying in this beautiful, crazy, disorganized, yet lovable, creative and charming city.
I’ve been back in Canada for a week and a half now, but it truly feels like my trip to Italy was months ago. The last few weeks have been ridiculously busy, sorting out my schedule and life for the first part of 2013, which is proving to be rather challenging. While the weather here in Canada is much more mild than it normally is around this time of year, I still miss those wonderful Roman afternoons when the sun would beam down on me and make everything better. One of the few things I picked up from Europe on this trip were these gorgeous 1a Classe by Alviero Martini high-top sneakers – the moment I saw them in the store window of a little shop near our hotel room, I knew I had to have them. For my last day in Italy, I decided to pair them with my long burgundy Zara zip jacket for a more relaxed look. It’s a bit of a different style for me, but one that I think I will pursue into the spring.
I never really considered myself to be much of a country pumpkin until this recent trip to Italy. I guess with the increasing stress and hectic nature of life as I get further into my twenties, the more I enjoy the solitude and tranquility of my father’s hometown, nestled deep in the Apennine Mountains. One of the things I treasure the most about his hometown is this small plot of land my family inherited – it’s a little slice of heaven on Earth complete with a stream, lots of fruit and nut trees, and green grass in December. Perhaps it’s not the ideal place to prance around in 4-inch Margiela lucite heels (according to most people), but I’ve never been one to let a setting or weather dictate my fashion choices. Now that I’m in Rome, I realize how much I actually miss the hot sun beating down on my face and just watching the ferel cats play in the grass. Words cannot describe how unprepared physically and mentally for the freezing cold temperatures and snow I’ll soon face when I return to Canada – here’s hoping these pictures and memories keep me sane throughout Montreal’s dreadful winter.
Sweater: Aritzia // Tank (underneath): Aritzia // Glasses: Versace (similar here and here) // Big Ring: Editorial Boutique // Gold Ring: Aldo // White Gold Ring: Gift from Italy // Cuff: Juicy Couture // Watch: Michael Kors // Pants: J Brand // Boots: Forever 21 (similar here and here) // Bag: Louis Vuitton