Quentin Crisp had a flair for the peculiar, he was an attention enthusiast & a constant contrarian. He was a household name in England, but is not well-known in the US mainstream even though he took up residence in New York where he would go to lunch with anyone who paid for his meal. One of my few regrets is that I didn’t take Quentin to lunch while he was alive!
(Quentin was very punk rock for his day & without a doubt a pioneer for gay and lesbian equality)
As a writer & raconteur his published works & lectures were composed of evocative accounts of his life as a self-proclaimed Naked Civil Servant. Crisp documented the troubles he faced due to his refusal to hide his homosexuality & to play down his flamboyant lifestyle. He paraded around London in full make-up, painted nails & heels at a time when gay sex was illegal in the United Kingdom.
(The Naked Civil Servant)
Despite his high-profile, Crisp always allowed his phone number to be listed in the directory as he felt tasked to converse with any person who called & a duty to accept dinner invitations from nearly anyone. He was the epitome of a one-man show, constantly stirring up controversy & confusion, referring to homosexuality as a “terrible disease” or to Princess Diana as “trash” commenting that it was her “fast & shallow” lifestyle that led to her death…but all joking aside he was an advocate of change, a hero to difference & much admired for his intellect, humanity & courage.
(An extra from the Naked Civil Servant DVD, Quentin Crisp on American & British Culture)
Beverly Hills’s Rodeo Drive, Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade, West Hollywood’s Melrose Place & Robertson Blvd are all internationally renowned shopping & dining destinations in Los Angeles & for good reason. With fashion houses such as Marc Jacobs, Diane von Furstenberg, Mulberry, Alexander McQueen, Oscar de la Renta & Vivienne Westwood lining their blocks these stylish streets are a must visit for globetrotting fashionistas & elegant Angelenos.
The 100 & 200 blocks of La Brea Avenue have crept their way into joining my short-list of favorite Los Angeles destinations & I imagine it will creep into yours as well if, like me, you enjoy the thrill of the hunt & a bit of a walk.
In the 1980′s the eastern end of Melrose district, which runs from Fairfax to Highland Avenue, became a popular punk & new wave shopping area, spearheaded by a raucous bunch of boutique retailers & restauranteurs. La Brea Avenue played a small part in this underground shopping scene then & made gastronomic waves with standard-setters like Nancy Silverton & Mark Peel of La Brea Bakery & the recently closed farm-to-table staple Campanile. Now La Brea has become a destination all it’s own with some of my favorite stores & cafés.
Mishka LA Store
128 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036
Mishka is streetwear brand that has influences from 80’s underground punk, indie rock, heavy metal, the skate community, comics, b-movies, horror flicks & pop culture. Starting as a Brooklyn t-shirt shop in 2003, Mishka has become a powerhouse brand with a cult following & recently opened it’s La Brea Ave storefront.
A+ R is a global design store by Andy Griffith and Rose Apodaca. They obsessively seek out the newest products, cherry pick the best from the best manufacturers & import them from anywhere in the world. It’s the kind of store where you find things you’ve needed for a while & a whole lot you didn’t think you’d ever need…but desperately want.
Undefeated was the first store in LA to sell sneakers & sneakers only! Since then Undefeated has become a pioneer in the sneaker industry by carrying limited runs of shoe-wear not easily available to the masses. You’ll notice the tiny shop by it’s white prison bars, it’s five-count logo & the billboard above their shop that they have curated since 2002.
This is the only coffe shop I have come across that feels as expressive & beautifully designed as an art gallery, vibrant as a nightclub, cozy as a library with a fantastic fireplace & as fashionable as any other boutique on La Brea Ave. Graffiti Café serves Intelligentsia Coffee & pastries from Cake Monkey & Bouchon Chocolate!
American Rag is a mainstay of California culture. Founder, Mark Werts, has been recognized as one of the most innovative and trendsetting retailers in the United States. By carrying high-fashion brands like A.P.C., Actual Pain, Ksubi, Linda Farrow, McQueen, Rag & Bone, Alexander Wang, Vivienne Westwood & a stunning handpicked collection of vintage pieces they stay contemporary, edgy & classic.
LAB ART Los Angeles is dedicated to an alternative exhibition of street art & installation. The gallery features works of more than 30 of the most prominent & recognized, as well as up-and-coming names of the Los Angeles Street Art scene & beyond.
(Tamie Adaya *clincking* champagne flutes in the Penhouse at Hotel Shangrila)
Bubbly Talk Radio is an international online radio show featuring hosts from 3 different countries: @ChampagneChat here in the US, @LadyCofLuxuria in the United Kingdom & @ChampagneMemori in Australia.
The girls interview like-minded celebrity guests who are creative, follow their dreams & who share the vision of living a “Champagne Life.” This week it was my pleasure to celebrity guest-host from the Los Angeles Champagne HQ in the Penthouse at Hotel Shangrila.
(From left to right: Tamie Adaya, Kiron Barui, Lady Charlotte Lynham, Mella Noir phoning in Bubbly Talk Radio)
It was quite a monumental show as it was the first time the Champagne Sisters broadcasted altogether & live from the same room!
(The Champagne Sisters)
Adding to the excitement was the fact that we were just minutes away from the brilliant Los Angeles Press Launch of Lady Charlotte’s Luxuria Lifestyle Magazine, the official publication of the Luxury Network, being held in my open-air rooftop penthouse.
As you stay tuned for my wrap-up blog on the Luxuria Lifestyle event make sure to follow the Champagne Sisters on twitter & to learn more about these bubbly ladies join them at http://www.bubblytalkradio.blogspot.com.
Fred Butler is a forward thinking, multi-talented East London-based designer who is pushing the limits of fashion, accessories & style.
(Glowing wearable sculptures)
She has assembled extravagant accessories for fashion icons such as Bjork, Nicki Minaj, La Roux, Little Boots & most recently Lady Gaga wore Fred’s blue telephone headpiece in her video with Beyonce: Telephone.
(Lady Gaga wearing Fred Butler's blue telephone headpiece)
Last September at London Fashion Week, Fred Butler’s bumble bee inspired SS13 collection showcased original golden intricate patchwork rucksacks, gilt chain metal belts, hexagonal box clutches, floral clusters & honeycomb shaped headphones.
(Pieces from Fred Butler's SS 2013 collection)
(Pieces from Fred Butler's SS 2013 collection)
(Pieces from Fred Butler's SS 2013 collection)
Fred Butler does more than a designer or stylist, she is an artist…just take a look at her website Fred Butler
I love how pioneering Delia Derbyshire was. She innovated fundamental sound & beat matching techniques & advanced electronic music at a time when men dominated the music industry.
Delia was told by Decca Records that they didn’t allow women in their recording studios, which were a pretty clinical place at the time with workers wearing a shirt, tie & white lab coat…but despite being turned away she pressed on to become an architect of sound.
Delia is most well-know for co-creating the theme tune for the legendary BBC show Doctor Who.
Here’s a youtube video of Delia beat matching on equipment that I haven’t seen any of our current DJ’s using
I love her wonderful oxford english accent.
All music lovers owe a debt to trailblazers like Delia & also to Joe Meek who was pioneering in the commercial realm around the same time, but I shall go into more detail on Joe in another blog.
It is frequently stated that Los Angeles is the land with no seasons. Our beautiful blue skies & warm nights fill out most of the 365 days of the year, but even with the idyllic weather I always know the holidays are here when Justin Howard (the Flaming Florist) transforms Shangrila into a winter wonderland.
(the Courtyard's frosted snowman)
Justin’s eccentric ornaments & floral arrangements create the quintessential holiday atmosphere blended with the right amount of hollywood glitz & a just pinch of naughty.
(the Lobby at Hotel Shangrila)
And the perfect soundtrack to Justin’s decorations & Shangrila’s holiday ambiance is:
Dating back to the 1400′s, Hammam bath houses are some of the most beautiful buildings still standing & are one of the first places you must visit when traveling through Istanbul.
The Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam in Istanbul was designed and built by Mimar Sinan, the chief Ottoman architect & was built at the request of Hurrem Sultan (Roxelana), the wife of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century (1556-1557 AD).
The method of bathing was popularized in the Victorian era but has roots relating to Greek & ancient Roman bathing traditions. It is told that sisters & mothers were sent to bath houses to size up potential brides in the nude before their sons & brothers married!
You begin in a warm dry room before making your way into the hararet, a hot sauna-like room to perspire, slow down & unwind.
You then meet your masseur for your rejuvenating bath & exfoliating body scrub while lying on the göbektaşı, the raised marble central heated platform.
Completely cleansed & skin softer than you have ever imagined, you depart feeling relaxed, purified & ready to explore the rest of the magnificent city.
I fall head over heels in love with Istanbul each time I visit. The people, the history, the food, the joie de vivre are irresistible.
(the surreal Istanbul cityscape)
As Europe’s oldest luxury hotel group, there is a certain amount of grandness & flair to expect from a Kempinski property & yet each time I visit the Ciragan Palace, the only Ottoman Imperial Palace & Hotel on the Bosphorus, I am spellbound by its beauty.
(the magnificent chandelier in the Palace)
(the beautiful Ottoman interior of the Ciragan Palace)
(opulent crystal balustrades)
(the view from my balcony)
(the pool overlooking the Bosphorus)
(whole honey comb served with breakfast!)
A few days into my trip with my mother, my sisters & niece, I ran into the esteemed Madeleine Albright preparing for an interview with CNBC.
(just out of the pool & ran straight into Madeleine Albright)
(traveling with my beautiful mother, my sisters & my niece)
Walking along the cobblestone streets of Istanbul you feel a true sense of old-world culture & history everywhere you venture.
(the ceiling of the Grand Bazaar)
While visiting the famous Grand Bazaar I finally found the perfect red carpet runners that I had been searching for!
(the perfect red carpet runners)
With so much to do & see, new & old, Istanbul is a snug fit for any adventurous traveler.
My good friend Kesh recently debuted her latest collection of ultra-modern self portraits at her show ME.ME.ME. The show’s title describes her self-portraits ‘One’ through ‘Fourteen’ each a piece by Kesh of Kesh.
(Kesh & Tamie Adaya)
For me, as well as paying slight homage to the 80′s, there’s a hint of abstract modernist roots, both of which are run through Kesh’s unique lens to create something fresh, current & completely original.
(The fourteen pieces)
ME.ME.ME. was created & showcased using modern technology. The vibrant crowd became part of the exhibit as Kesh live-streamed the event for the world to see.
(Jeremy Scott & Tamie Adaya)
(Justin Barco, Tamie Adaya, Dork)
The imaginative & original experience was, as Kesh put it in her program, “a mark of the new age.”
The business of independent motion picture production & distribution reaches its peak every year at the American Film Market (AFM), the world’s largest film market. Each year I can always sense the vibrancy added to the brisk & sunny city of Santa Monica telling me that AFM has arrived.
AFM 1981 poster
Founded in 1981, AFM is a pivotal destination for independent film companies & business people from all over the world.
AFM gathering in Santa Monica
Each year, more than 8,000 industry professionals converge in Santa Monica for eight days of deal-making, screenings, seminars, premieres, networking & parties.
It is tradition that the official AFM Happy Hour take place in the lush greenery of the Courtyard at Hotel Shangrila.
In just eight days, more than $800 million in deals will be sealed on both completed films & those that haven’t started yet. It is a pleasure hosting AFM participants from more than 70 countries & to offer them a chance to experience the timeless atmosphere at Hotel Shangrila, year & year again.