fashion

Theme 15: Downton Abbey. The Exhibition in New York.

Downton Abbey: The Exhibition Review. New York, 2018

When I first heard that Downton Abbey: The Exhibition was coming to New York, I was beyond excited! It has been years since the last season aired. Nothing could quite replace witty, funny quotes of Dowager Countess, the fascinating-to-watch competition between Mary and “poor Edith”, blossoming romances, emotional heartbreaks and seemingly never-ending miseries of upstairs and downstairs habitants of Downton Abbey.

Asking myself the iconic “What is a weekend?”, I decided to take my friend Allison, a fellow fiction writer and another die-hard Downton Abbey fan, to the exhibition on Saturday morning to explore and review it for my Pastiche.today readers. I already had a Downton Abbey theme running on my blog, and I knew that this experience will be a perfect addition to the collection of my articles about the show and looks inspired by the Downton Abbey’s characters. You can click here to see the rest of the posts inspired by the famous PBS show.

Mrs Patmore's kitchen. Downton Abbey exhibition in New York.

From the very beginning, the exhibition immerses you into the Crawleys’ household and really makes you feel that you are stepping into the Highclere Castle, where the PBS show was filmed. It all starts with the warm welcome from Carson and Mrs Hughes, and leads you through an impeccably and very true-to-detail executed kitchen of Mrs. Patmore, where she ruled over a handful of kitchen maids and footmen. Then you continue to explore the detailed sets and costumes of the servants’ quarters.

Servants Quarters in Downton Abbey. PBS show exhibition
Downton Abbey cast's costumes on display in New York.

The second and the third floor explores the lavish and beautiful world of Crawleys. It felt almost scandalous to peek at immaculately recreated Lady Mary’s bedroom, where I couldn’t help to avoid thinking of Kemal Pamuk. Then there is of course a grand dining room. Empty, but all set for an exquisite dinner party that could arrive any second. Every detail is intimately familiar and gives such a surreal feeling of invading Crawleys’ home that I half expected the Dowager Countess Violet to appear in front of me with a suppressed, but visible mark of a humorous disdain on her glorious face:  “Oh, roll up, roll up, visit an actual dining room! Complete with a real life table and chairs!”.

Downton Abbey: The Exhibition.
Lady Mary Bedroom
20s dresses in Downton Abbey. Period drama costumes. Fashion of Downton Abbey.

Slowly walking and taking in all the magnificence of the masterfully designed space by Imagine Exhibtions, Allison and I especially enjoyed all the interactive and smartly placed insights of the historic events and changes that occurred in daily lives of British subjects from Post-Edwardian Era to the World War 1 and the Roaring Twenties. I can confidently and sincerely declare that even those who haven’t yet seen the Downton Abbey would enjoy all the valuable and entertaining information if they have even a remote interest in history!

Wedding hair in Downton abbey
Downton Abbey. Edit's Wedding gown
Downton Abbey fashion.
PBS Downton Abbey fashion styles.
Sybil's harem pants in Downton Abbey.

And how can I forget to mention the costumes and accessories of the Downton Abbey’s ladies and gentlemen! The abundance of wedding laces, strict lines of riding costumes and enchanting glitz of all the glamorous 20s gowns absolutely stole my heart. Even though sometimes I like slipping into pajamas at a Netflix kind of night at home, I desperately long for the times when an afternoon tea in a garden required a pretty hat, and for a 6 pm dinner you had to change into an evening gown and wear long elegant gloves.

20s fashion in Downton Abbey show.
Downton Abbey Exhibition

Lord and Lady Granham, Mary, Edith and Sybil, Tom Branson, Mr, Barrow, Isobel, Daisy and all other beloved and sometimes despised characters of Downton Abbey already felt so real to every fan of the show, but the exhibition immersed us into their world like never before. Allison noted: “The section with the gramophone and the visual explanation of social hierarchy reminded me of the circumstances these characters faced and the changing landscape they had to navigate. The characters already felt real and three-dimensional. All of this information along with the costumes, sets, and  props made them even more alive!”

Downton Abbey: The Exhibition has exceeded my expectations and truly made me feel like I was a dear guest at the Crawley’s, or a curious phantom wondering through the halls and sumptuous rooms of the family that quite honestly feels in a way like my own!


Theme 39. Arabian Adventure. Four Seasons Dubai, Sea Fu review

Ulia Ali - travel and fashion blogger, fiction writer. Review on Four Seasons Dubai at Jumeirah. Sea Fu restaurant.

Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach - Jet Set Oasis

Dubai has made a name for itself catering to the luxury-minded jet set crowd over the years, so it was only a matter of time before the Toronto-based Four Seasons Hotels group installed their beach-side desert offering: Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach (FS for short because #carpaltunnel).

For those of you who have not had the privilege of gracing the threshold of a Four Seasons, let me be the first to tell you that you are in for a treat should the opportunity arise to visit one of their 109 (and counting) properties worldwide.

Gorgeous Four Seasons
Four Seasons Dubai beach

Like many of their locations, the FS exudes opulence from the moment you approach the grounds. A sweeping paver stone driveway lined with trees lifts you up and away from the bustle of Jumeirah St. Through gaps in the greenery as your drive deeper, you will begin to notice the neutrally colored, Arabian influenced lines of the main building. Terraced construction incorporating terra-cotta and neutral tones is the perfect complement to the landscape, causing one to forget that a city of steel and glass is only 15 minutes away. If you look closely at the buildings, you may notice nods to the Arabian culture in the form of Horseshoe Arches and large, ornate doors standing between you and marble lined lobby of the FS.

Four Seasons Dubai Review

As one would expect from a Four Seasons, the lobby is the crown jewel. Every Four Seasons seeks to make the entry way to each of their hotels a statement. Dubai is no exception. With an attention to detail second to none, the FS unabashedly flaunts the line between palace and hotel. Gold trim, deep brown hues, neutral tones, complex light fixtures comprised of baubles and more flowers than Versailles in spring, the FS transports you.

Now, our engagement on this particular adventure was at one of the FS’s dining venues known as Sea Fu. The FS mantra is about experiencing sensory environments. So, if you can accept that the lobby overwhelms, Sea Fu relaxes, much to the same degree.

Sea Fu Dubai, UAE
Free People dress in Dubai
Sea Fu menu, Dubai

Set in a quasi-outdoor, beachside setting, Sea Fu serves an Asian-inspired menu amongst pillars of wood and beneath umbrellas and billowing fabric. I highly recommend sitting outside as the breeze in winter or early spring is still pleasant. However, should the sun be too harsh, the interior of Sea-Fu is a perfect alternative and a welcome respite from the sun. There is something about an ocean breeze and eating lunch on a terrace that is just…pleasing.

The staff at Sea Fu was, for lack of a better term, phenomenal. From the moment we approached the host stand to announce our arrival, we were treated with near-perfect deference (I say near-perfect because I have a penchant for restaurants that maintain a dress code that includes white gloves for their staff, but that is a story for another time). The truly standout quality however, ignoring the smiles, friendliness and attention of the staff was something that I believe every restaurant should take to heart and do: responsive and thoughtful guidance on the menu.

Best sushi in Dubai
Sea Fu Dubai, Four Seasons review by travel blogger Ulia Ali Pillmore
Four Season's Sea Fu review by Ulia Ali Pillmore.
sea-fu-review

This may sound like a simple task, but the vast majority of restaurants do not ensure that their staff knows the menu.

When I patronize a restaurant I like to ask the waiter or waitress to pick items from the menu that they believe will constitute a meal representative of the quality and diversity of the restaurant. Few get this right. More often than not, the selections are representative, but not of what is good, but what is popular, or what they think I will like based on their judgement. For those of you who know me personally, you will know that I drink and I know things. But you will also know that I eat. I love good food.

Sea Fu understood this. Our waitress selected dishes that complemented one another, were varied enough in their execution to not leave us bored and diverse in flavor to the point that we had to throw in the proverbial towel for lack of capacity. It was beautifully executed and showcased what I love best in a restaurant: mastery of a variety of techniques. 

In the words of Paul Prudhomme: “You don't need a silver fork to eat good food.”. Fine by me, the FS (and Dubai) happens to prefer gold anyway.

Until next time,

- BAP

Free People dress in Dubai
Desert in Dubai. Sea Fu at Four Seasons review.
Lotus Flower Sea Fu
Sea Fu review
Impressive deserts of the world
Dubai food - Sea Fu Four Seasons review

P.S. For the curious among you, here is what we had for lunch:

Small Plates: Edamame, Spicy Chicken

Sushi: Yuzu Tempura Roll

Raw Bar: Hokkaido Scallops

Main: Seared Black Cod

Dessert: Mochi Selection, Lotus Flower

Four Seasons Dubai

SHOP MY LOOk:

My Dress - Free People (it comes in 4 colors and it is my favorite dress EVER!)

Bag - Louis Vuitton (It was a Christmas gift from my hubby)

Jewelry - Sequin Jewelry (My favorite Jewelry company! Everything is so gorgeous)


Theme 31: Coachella 2017. Outfits, parties and celebrities sightseeing.

Coachella Outfits 2017 of Ulia Ali. Fashion and lifestyle blogger.

If you have never been to Coachella, I suggest you to add it to your bucket list! I have been to a few festivals in the UK and the Unites States before, and almost always been very lucky to have premium tickets, and a group of fun friends with me, however NOTHING came even close to Coachella.

I won't lie, Coachella IS EXPENSIVE even if you get general admission tickets and stay in your own tent. But if you like comfort, want to see concerts and your favorite celebrities in their natural habitat, I suggest you splurge on more expensive tickets and fancy hotels. Luckily, Ben with the help of the great SPG Moments team organized a very well-planned, luxurious and pleasant festival trip as a part for our 1-year anniversary.

Hospitality Tent Coachella 2017
Polaroids from Coachella Festival
Couple at Coachella
Amex Platinum House at Palm Springs. Le Parker Hotel.

After spending a couple of days in Los Angeles (I will show you some beautiful pictures we took there in the next post!), we drove to Palm Springs, where we had the most awesome 'Coachella Pad' I could dream of: a beautiful suite at Le Parker Meridien Hotel. Moreover, SPG Moments were able to get us Artist & Guest Coachella wristbands that rarely go on sale for the general public and are quite hard to get. Those tickets grant you access to almost every area on the Coachella grounds, including the Artists area (where all the celebrities hang out), and most importantly you get access to the front row at EVERY concert. 

What amazed me is how well the whole festival was organized and perfectly orchestrated! I can't even imagine how much work it takes organizers to pull off an event on such a grand scale EVERY SINGLE YEAR.

Coachella 2017. Beautiful Sky

We didn't spend much time in the general admission area as it was way too overwhelming and busy for us, but I was happy with every little detail in the more exclusive areas. A plethora of delicious food choices in the VIP area, clean bathrooms, the most stunning men and women in exotic or just very stylish outfits around me, enjoying themselves, positivity and love spread all over; it was just like finding a little paradise on Earth. Maybe I was lucky, but I didn’t see any drunk or high people, or crazy behavior (well, almost none :)), and the Festival felt like just this one big, happy place with amazing music.

Coachella outfit-ulia-ali
Coachella Festival Look. Custom denim shirt.

A lot of people are interested in what celebrities I saw at Coachella and if it’s true that they are all around you. I can tell you, it is true and you will definitely be around some sort of celebrity, whether it’s a favorite blogger of yours, Victoria's Secret model or Kendall Jenner, even if you stay in the General Admission area. 

I was skeptical about seeing anyone the first day, but when I was scanning my ticket to enter Coachella, my wrist band (which is your ticket) took a minute to scan, and I felt bad for the guy behind me who seemed to be impatient to get in. It ended up being A$AP Rocky and his crew. After that it was just a blur of different famous people like Drake walking by, the Jenner sisters sipping on their cocktails, Michelle Rodrigues talking loudly to her friends, and being quite unrecognisable in her huge shades, Katy Perry who is surprisingly very tiny, but amazingly gorgeous. I don't really follow celebrity culture, so I was talking/asking this beautiful blonde with a pixie haircut about a cart (the Coachella grounds are so huge, you can actually wait for a cart to take you), and was wondering why she has such a huge entourage, and then realised that it was Katy. It was quite a funny moment :)

Another person we were excited to chat with was Patrick J. Adams (Mike Ross from Suits). I didn't take any pictures with anyone because I believe it is more fun to actually take time to chat with people you admire seeing on screen and get to know their real personalities. They are all just humans (maybe more talented and good looking, but definitely just humans) and want to enjoy themselves. Ask yourself if you would really like to be asked to pose for a picture by strangers every time you go out? 

So by all means go to Coachella and stare at famous people as long as you want, but don't go there hoping to take selfies with Kardashians.

I will take my own selfie, thank you! :)

I will take my own selfie, thank you! :)

Coachella is famous for its amazing concerts and a variety of widely-loved artists. This year there were more than 250 artists with Lady Gaga, Radiohead, and Kendrick Lamar as headliners, however Ben and I were most excited about Hans Zimmer! He is one of of my favorite composers of all time, and being in the first row, right in front of the stage and listening to him and a wonderful orchestra of talented musicians play his music from Inception, The Lion King, Gladiator and Pirates of the Caribbean was so magical, I even teared up at the end. Pharell Williams also made a surprise appearance at Hans Zimmer's concert, which I was pretty stoked about.

First row at Hans Zimmer!

First row at Hans Zimmer!

By the way, if you are an influencer or just a very friendly person, chances are you won't just be hanging out at Coachella during the festival weekends. Coachella is almost like a major Fashion Week, with tons of pool parties, big brands' collection launches and promo-events. Without even planning anything ahead, I ended up being invited to tons of exciting events and parties, including big Amex Platinum House event and Popsugar party. So make sure you bring a LOT of outfits. I had to change probably five times a day (sometimes in a car!), and by the end of day 3 I was so exhausted I almost got sick :)

Ulia Ali
Le Parker Meridien
Saguaro Hotel in Palm Springs.
Hot Meshki silver dress. Transparent sparkling silver dress.

Для моих русскоязычных читателей:


Коачелла - один из самых популярных музыкальных фестивалей в мире. Фестиваль проходит в апреле в два трехдневных этапа (пятница-воскресенье) с разницей в неделю. На Коачелле очень много грандиозных сцен и различных тентов,  что означает что на территории фестиваля в одно и то же время идет несколько концертов и шоу! На одном Weekend'e выступает более 250 очень популярных и знаменитых музыкантов. То есть пока вы смотрите как отжигает Lady Gaga, на другой сцене играет какой-нибудь потрясающий модный DJ,  а в отдалении еще читает реп Drake. Не буду врать,  иногда мы с мужем разрывались не зная на какой именно концерт сходить,  но у нас похожий вкус, так что проблем не возникло.

Коачелла занимает огромную территорию в более 40 гектар, так что переходить от сцены к сцене занимает немалое количество времени, но к счастью если вы обладатель браслета-билета для артистов или VIP зоны,  то вас могут катать по территории специальные гольф-карты с водителями. 

Кстати о билетах, на Коачеллу не так-то легко попасть! Билеты раскупают в считанные часы после релиза (обычно за более чем полугода до фестиваля),  и многим приходится находить перекупщиков или находить какие-то контакты в музыкальной сфере.

Фестиваль для многих из стран СНГ звучит как какой-то дешевый концерт с морем алкоголя,  ночевкой в сыром тенте и прочими "прелестями". На самом деле обычные билеты и место для вашей собственной палатки на специально приспособленной территории фестиваля далеко не дешевые.  Cамый дешевый билет стоит $400 + если хотите поставить свою собственную палатку,  придется платить $60 за то что занимаете место. Прибавьте к этому транспорт (Коачелла находится в часу езды от Palm Springs и почти 3 часа от Лос-Анджелеса), питание и прочее и вы получите довольно внушительную сумму. 

Билеты-браслеты, кстати, значительно отличаются друг от друга. На каждый weekend Коачелла разные по значимости билеты имеют разный цвет. Всего около 4 разновидностей браслетов (к моему сведению): обычные (самые дешевые и есть доступ только к общим зонам), VIP билеты (есть доступ к VIP зонам с большим количеством вкусной еды,  магазинчиков, более свободные бары, рестораны,  больше туалетов + в этой зоне чаще всего тусуются блоггеры и захаживают знаменитости.  Вся VIP зона очень приятная и люди тут все как на подбор красивые,  аккуратные и не ведут себя как сумасшедшие. Здесь более так скажем чинно и благородно чем в Общей Зоне).

Так же есть билеты-браслеты для Звезд и их Гостей и они дают доступ практически ко всему что есть на всей территории Coachella, и вдобавок к VIP зоне с такими билетами можно пройти к зоне где отдыхают знаменитости, их друзья и родственники, приватным садам и озеру, на берегу, которого можно заметить целующихся звездных парочек. Такие билеты обычно практически не продаются, и их можно получить только если ты звезда,  знаешь кого-то важного в музыкальной индустрии или/и готов заплатить за один билет более $3000. Нам с Беном повезло, потому что он приобрел именно такой вот билет через SPG Moments, так как он давно уже член  SPG. С такими билетами у вас просто 0 шансов уйти НЕ УВИДЕВ какую-нибудь звезду первой величины.  Так и мне удалось поболтать с Кэти Перри, которую я в первые секунды разговора даже и не узнала, увидеть сестер Дженнерс попивающих коктейли, толкаться в очереди с ну очень маленькой,  но очень громкой Мишель Родригес, и завести разговор c Патриком Адамсом (Майк Росс из сериала SUITS). Больше всего меня порадовало то,  что с этими билетами можно пройти в огороженную зону прямо перед сценой, и практически каждый концерт мы стояли в первых рядах,  а на Hans Zimmer'a мы пришли пораньше и вообще стояли первые прям перед сценой. 

Так же есть билеты для организаторов фестиваля и людей следящих за тем,  чтобы фестиваль работал как часы. 

Если вы блоггер или просто очень активная и дружелюбная личность, то не думайте,  что вот так вот концертами и отделаетесь :) Фестиваль Коачелла - это ужа почти как Неделя Моды в Париже или в Нью-Йорке с модными брендами устраивающими пресс-релизы, громкие пляжные вечеринки со своим списком именитых звезд и всякие показы новых коллекций за пределами Фестиваля, чаще в Palm Springs. В конце weekend'a Коачелла я просто валилась с ног и чуть не заболела! Это потрясающий опыт и очень благотворно влияет на работу если вы digital influencer, но ужасно изматывает.

Кстати,  если вы все же решились накопить денег и поехать на этот потрясающий фестиваль, бронируйте отель заранее! Отели обычно во время проведения фестиваля просто упомрачительно дорогие,  а если вы хотите остаться в хорошем отеле в  Palm Springs,  то приготовьтесь к небольшому разрыву сердца от увиденной цены :D Для экономии советую посмотреть на сьемные квартиры на AirBnb.

Не стесняйтесь задавать вопросы! Я с удовольствием отвечу. 
 

If you want to see more of our Coachella adventures, subscribe to my new YOUTUBE channel!

I have already uploaded 2 Coachella videos, and part 3 is coming out soon, so make sure you don't miss it! 


Week 27: The Start of 2017. A girl with a plan.

A girl with a plan. How to set goals and manage your own expectations.

I am lucky that, in less than a year, my blog has received a great amount of attention from brands and companies, so now I am able to choose who I want to prioritise and to whom I have to say no.

3. Creating video diaries.

I am very excited to finally start my Youtube channel in 2017. My husband, Ben bought an awesome camera for Christmas, and I am very excited to share detailed reviews and videos from our travel adventures, and blog diaries from me and my other blogger friends.

So, there :) Now I have to accomplish all three of my goals! I promise I will try to keep you updated on my progress and share my other 2017 goals on my vlog diaries.

Are you a girl with a plan?

Check out my next post to read how I get things done and what helps me the most!

It is unbelievably scary and vulnerable to share your goals for the new year. People might laugh you off or will be able to point out your failure at the end of the year. However, here I am, sharing with you my top 3 blogging/writing-related plans for 2017:

1. Finish writing at least one novel.

I have always wanted to be a writer. I don’t know if I will get published this year or at the age of 80 when I am wiser and more proficient in the English language, but I know it will happen. I have several unfinished novels and tons of drafted ideas, and this year I plan to finally complete at least one of my novels and show it to a few agents and publishing houses.

2. Quality over quantity.

Since I want to write more fiction, I want to make my blog more about quality content rather than swamping you with myriad outfit posts.

Fashion blogger Ulia Ali in Soho, New York. True Manhattan girl.

SHOP THE LOOK:

Coat - MakeMeChic | Black Dress - SammyDress | Boots -  Steve Madden | Bag - Kate Spade


Ombre blonde blogger in a black dress from SammyDress and green Kate Spade bag.
hot blogger 2017. A girl with a plan. 2017 goals! Blue Wall
orange-coat-blogger-collaboration.jpg
orange-is-a-new-black.jpg

Week 26: CHRISTMAS SPECIAL. Winter Wonderland in Laduree.

Christmas Tree at Laduree Soho in New York City. Blogger Ulia Ali

Laduree in Soho, NYC has some of the coziest Christmas decorations in the city. I love going there wearing a warm sweater to drink Marie Antoinette tea and to read a book (I just started The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton).

Today's look is one of my favourite of the season, and I am so excited to share it with you. I am wearing a super warm, grey sweater from Shein that looks perfect with my arctic blue, fox fur vest bought in Baku, Azerbaijan in Снежная Королева. I also can't stop wearing white jeans as they make every outfit look so fresh. The cherry on top of my marshmallow babe look (that's what Ben calls it!) is my grey Louis Vuitton bag.

Blogger Ulia Ali from Azerbaijan wearing grey fur vest in Soho, NYC. Серая маховая жилетка Снежная Королева.
Ulia Ali portrait.
Street style New York, winter 2017. Winter cozy fur vest.
Ulia Ali wearing fur vest and Louis Vuitton bag.

 

SHOP THE LOOK:

Fur Vest - similar here | Grey Sweater - Shein | Boots - Hush Puppies  | Jeans - Topshop | Bag - Louis Vuitton