Style updates Fall-Winter 2017-18

This is the fourth time I am trying to condense the upcoming season’s women’s wear trends. And it is interesting to see that most trends don’t last one season only. When browsing the high street shops, style magazines and my favorite brands’ newsletters, I came to realize that many of the trending items I identified last year were still pretty omnipresent this year.  Small spoiler: I love so many pieces this season, I really am excited and cannot wait to wear them! Find out more here.

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Style updates: Fall/Winter 2016-17

It has been a bit of a frosty slap in the face. Yes. Winter has arrived, and quite abruptly indeed. One weekend you spent at a lakeside wedding in your summer dress, two weeks later you wonder where on earth did you put your gloves. Hence this style update comes with a bit of delay but let’s face it, summer is not going to be back for another 6 months so there is no rush anyway.

So what are the key pieces to get this fall/winter? I have made up my mind for you. Find out more here.

Weekend tip: Records and Rebels in London and Just Married in Brussels

Fall has arrived and while we are lucky to enjoy an Indian summer in central Europe, the weekends of sunshine are doomed to come to an end. This is the sad truth but there is a positive side to it: once the rain and clouds take over, we will look for indoor activities, and the good news is, there are some exciting exhibitions going on, that I cannot wait to see.

Once again, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London has come up with a fantastic theme-exhibition: “Records and Rebels 1966-1970” explores how the finished and unfinished revolutions of the late 1960s era have impacted the way we live today and think about the future, looking at the greatest music performance alongside with fashion, film, design and  political activism. The exhibition is on until 26 February, tickets available from 16 pounds, and you can pre-book your visiting slot here. I just did, can’t wait! (General admission to the museum is free, opening hours daily 10.00 – 17.40, Friday: 10.00 – 22.00, Cromwell Road, get off at South Kensington tube stop).

In Brussels, on the other hand, the Museum of Costume & Lace is taking a more convential theme as an angle for its current exhibition. “Just married – A History of Marriage” explores the dress code of weddings over time, displaying over two hundred years of bridal fashion dating back to the late 18th century until today. You have got time until 16 April 2017, otherwise best go on the first Sunday of a month when admission is free (otherwise 8 €). (Opening hours from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5 pm, Rue de la Violette 12- that is just around the corner from Manneken Pis and Grand-Place). It’s definitely on my list!

Looks like a good start into the fall-museum season to me!

❤ Kate

 

Yoga 101: The eight limbs of yoga

IMG_0529If you have ever attended a yoga class, you may have come across the term “Ashtanga Yoga“. In this context, “Astanga Yoga” refers to a stream of hatha yoga based on the teachings of Pattabhi Jois (himself a student of the great yogi T. Krishnamacharya), which is characterized by a fixed set of dynamic sequences. While there are three series, normally only the so-called “primary series” is practiced. Pattabhi Jois brought this style of yoga into the Western world. He only died in 2009, so you can see that this school of yoga is a rather new one.

Originally, the term “Astanga Yoga” has quite a different meaning. It goes back to Patañjali, the old Indian sage who wrote down the yoga sutras and refers to astanga as the concept of the “eight limbs of yoga”: each limb corresponds to one step on path of yoga and has a different purpose. Here is a short overview of what the eight limbs are about (The Light on Yoga, BKS Iyengar, p. 3, 12-31):

  1. Yama: Universal moral commandments.
  2. Niyama: Self purification by discipline.

In the first two stages, Yama and Niyama, the yogi lays, if you want, the foundations for his path: he follows the common rules of moral for society and the individual, and lives a disciplined, pure life in terms of his body, thought, word and food. „Whether or not to be a vegetarian is a purely personal matter (…) But, in course of time, the practitioner of yoga has to adopt a vegetarian diet, in order to attain one-pointed attention and spiritual evolution“. Niyama also includes the cultivation of a content mind, because this is the prerequisite for being concentrated. „The yogi feels the lack of nothing and so he is naturally content.“

  1. Asana: Posture.

The purpose of the third limb of yoga, āsana, or posture, is to bring steadiness, health and lightness of limb. However, the objective is not just to keep the body strong and elastic, the practice of the postures also trains and disciplines the mind. Further to that, by performing the āsanas, the yogi assumes positions that resemble a variety of creatures at all levels of evolution which should teach the yogi that they all breath the same Universal Spirit.

These first three stages of yoga are hence the outward quests (bahiranga sadhana), before moving on to the next to stages which are called the inner quests (antaranga sadhana):

  1. Pranayama: Rhytmic control of the breath.

The first of these two stages is dedicated to breath (prana), the extension of it (ayama) and its control. The purpose of following a proper rhythmic of slow deep breathing is to strengthen the respiratory system and reduce desires and cravings. The thought is, that by controlling the breath, the yogi can control his mind and can also control its constant movement.

  1. Pratyahara: Emancipation of the mind.

It is the fifth stage, when the process of the withdrawal and emancipation of the mind from the domination of the senses and exterior objects begins. The yogi undergoes a self-examination to learn control his senses and become free of its desires. He can learn to do so by being aware of the qualities that drive him, and will be able to pursue actions prompted by sattva (the ideal, pure or good quality), and will try to eradicate those caused by rajas (the quality of mobility or activity) and tamas (the dark and restraining quality). Ultimately, the sattva quality should remain as the only quality.

The final three stages are also referred to as the „quest of the soul“ as this is what these stages focus on: the Inner Self.

  1. Dharana: Concentration.

The purpose of this stage is for the mind to be focused on one task. There are five states of mental state. It is only in the fourth state (ekagra), when the mind concentrates fully on one thing. The final stage, niruddha, is when the mind leaves behind intellect and surpasses the feelings of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ and concentrate fully on the Deity, and its symbol AUM. The Sanskrit word Aum means the best praise or the best prayer, its symbol has many meanings and interpretations, which center around omnipresence, living spirit, creation and the triad of Divinity.

  1. Dhyana: Mediation.

When the flow of concentration is uninterrupted, the state that arises is dhyana (mediation)“. When the yogi’s mind is illumined by dhyana, this will transform him and he will share its state of lightness, clearness and serenity by becoming „a light unto himself and others“.

  1. Samadhi: A state of superconsciousness.

At the end of the quest or at the peak of the mediation, the yogi’s body is as if asleep yet the mind is fully alert yet beyond consciousness. This state is characterized by a silent feeling of truth and joy.

***

As you can see, the original understanding of yoga goes far beyond the physical practice, it has become known for in the West. While the practice of asanas is an important element to ensure healthiness of the body, it is only one step on the path of yoga. You may choose that this is all you want to take up for yourself. But if you take a deeper look, you may find that there are several other concepts that can also be quite useful to guide you through the  ups and downs and challenges of our hectic daily life, by developing a sort of inner compass of what is right and wrong for you. For example, I have learned to respond much better to what my body and mind need, e.g. when it is time for me to take a break and focus on what I need to recharge my batteries.

If you want to read more about the eight limbs of yoga, you can do this in BKS Iyengar’s “Light on Yoga”, the source for this article.

❤ Kate

A little introduction into yoga

imageWhile I have been practising yoga for many years now, it always used to be mainly a physical activity for me which also had a sort of calming, meditative effect on me, which I appreciated. When I recently joined a yoga teacher training, I began to learn that there is a lot more to yoga than just its physical side. Following the mission of this blog, I want to share a bit of my newly acquired knowledge and thereby inspire others to look deeper into the story of yoga and what it has to offer. The concepts described below follow the books of A.G. Mohan (Yoga Reminder) and T.K. Desinkachar (The Heart of Yoga).

Why do we speak of ‘Yoga sutra’ and what does ‘yoga’ mean

Yoga is one of the six systems of Indian thought known as darsanas. It originates in the Vedas, which is the oldest record of Indian culture, but it was not systematized until the Indian sage Patanjali wrote it down in a structured “sutra” form. „Sutra“ is a style that uses very few words, but yet captures the essence and is thus very clear.

The word yoga has acquired several meanings. They usually centre around the following: “to unite”, “to attain what was previously unattainable”, focusing all our attention towards the activity we are pursuing at a particular moment, or also “to be one with the divine”. Essentially, it is about being mindful and attentive to our actions, which usually involves change.

Removing cloudiness from your mind and perception

There are some basic concepts that build the foundations of yoga. These include the concept of avidya. Avidya is expressed through its brances of asmita (the ego), raga (having demands), dvesa (rejecting things), and abhinivesa (fear), and through which, individually or collectively, our perception and mind are clouded and we end up feeling dissatisfied with the results of our actions. We want to reduce avidya, as the absence of it is recognised by the absence of unrest or agitation, and an internal feeling of peace.

Everything is subject to constant change

Another basic understanding of yoga is that everything is subject to constant change, a concept which is called parinmavada. The objective of yoga is to lift the veil of the clouded mind to see our deep self within, which is the one thing within ourself not subject to change. Ways of achieving this can be by tapas, to keep ourselves healthy and cleanse ourselves inwardly, e.g. by practising asanas, and pranayama. The second means is svadhyaya, which means inquiry or getting to know ourselves. The third way is the “love of god” or, in practical terms, a certain quality of action which in practise refers to pursuing a career or gain qualifications. It is these three actions that are known as the yoga of action (or kriya yoga).

Reach a state of lightness

Changing something in one’s life is often a motivation to start with yoga. A reason why we feel this way may be that our mind is in the state of duhka. The notion of duhkha refers to a feeling of being restricted in our possibilities, a feeling of being squeezed. The objective of yoga is to eliminate the duhkha and reach a state of lightness and openness within, which is called sukha. Avidya relates to duhkha in that every action deriving from avidya results in some form of duhkha. Duhkha can also be understood by looking at the three qualities of the mind which are described by yoga: tamas, rajas and sattva (all three together are collectively known as the guna). While tamas, the state of heaviness and lethargy, and rajas, the striving for action, restlessness, can produce duhkha, sattva, which refers to a clarity of mind, is the only one leading to a reduction of duhkha. The forces of duhkha limit our feeling of freedom and can limit us. Being aware of these forces within us is one step towards working to reduce duhkha.

***

I am going to stop here, since I am certain this is as much as someone can take when starting to dive into these old yoga concepts. But it already gives you an indication that yoga is, in fact, much more than some gymnastic or breathing excercises.

A much lighter read is A.G. Mohan’s ‘Yoga Reminder’. It is recommendable for everyone who would like to learn more about yoga, its concepts, meanings and different elements.  Here are some quotes of the book that particularly stuck with me and changed the way I used to look at things and approached life:

Unless we cultivate the ability to choose one peaceful thought over other thoughts, we will not be happy, even if all of our wishes are fulfilled“ (p. 11).

From Steadiness arises the possibility of holding to positivity. A scattered mind cannot stay focused on a positive goal“ (p. 38).

To bring steadiness and positivity to the mind, the body, the breath, and our senses, choices, and relationships – this is the goal of yoga“ (p.36).

Reading A. G. Mohan’s book made me realise some perhaps not so fruitful patterns in my lifestyle. The world is always changing around us. So indeed, the only thing we can control is how we approach and feel about these changes. Our minds might want to distract us, but the more steady our thoughts are, the  more complete and content we feel. A scattered mindset can have an impact on our actions, as it diverts focus, and will make it more difficult to keep inner balance and positivity.

I hope this little glimpse into some of the concepts behind yoga will bring you some enlightenment as well.

❤ Kate

Sources:

T.K. Desinkachar: The Heart of Yoga

A.G. Mohan with Dr. Ganesh Mohan: Yoga Reminder – Lightened Reflections

Revisiting childhood memories: Barbie exhibition in Paris

20160605_120906_HDR_resizedEarlier this month I visited Paris, and on the occasion, I could not resist going to the Musée des Arts décoratifs (conveniently located just a few steps from the Louvre) to see the Barbie exhibition. I loved it! It’s not too big, so it won’t take too much time to visit, but it will take you on a fabulous drive on memory lane finding one or the other Barbie that used to be a daily companion back in the days and also making you realise that today, you live the life that you once imagined. Further to that, it is great to learn about Ruth Handler, the woman behind Barbie and how its success story started in 1959, and how the look of Barbie has been changing in recent years, responding more consciously to its influence on young girls with regard to their looks and bodies. If you can’t make it to Paris until September, you can also find out more on theweek.com who did a photo blog on the exhibition. Here are a few impressions:

This is not the only exhibition currently on display. We went for the combination ticket which also included entry to the “Fashion Forward – 3 siècles de mode” show: unfortunately, this was not really worth the money. It turned out to be a rather lacklustre display of a number of pieces in one large room, but then this was already it. Hence, you better spend this money on an overpriced coffee on Champs Élysée.

 

Weekend tip: Art16 Art Fair at Olympia, London

In London and not yet any exciting plans for the weekend? Looking at rainy weather forecasts, why don’t you head to Olympia (Hammersmith Road, W14 8UX) where the Art16 is taking place this weekend, this year for the fourth time.

This is a unique opportunity for art lovers. The London art fair presents over 1000 pieces from international artists and galleries from more than 30 countries from around the globe (find a list of exhibiting galleries here). You may also want to check out Philip Colbert’s (The Rodnik Band) ‘Fried Egg World’, or the pop-up restaurant by Corbin & King, the duo behind The Wolseley and The Delaunay. An interactive guide allows you to browse through the artworks vitually (pretty helpful, you can search for different price categories, artists, size of the work, check it out here and also available as app)

Opening hours are Saturday from 11am – 7pm and on Sunday from 11am – 5pm. It is strongly recommended to purchase tickets online, which you can do here (door price 20 pounds, in advance 15 pounds).

The wedding guest dress guide: Dress to impress subtly

Wedding season is coming up .. and with it the question: what the heck am I going to wear to all these weddings? Not only the bride finds herself under stress about which dress/shoes/purse/jewellery to wear, it is her (female) friends too. Finding the right outfit for a weddings is tricky: you want to look amazing but not outshine the bride, you want to be elegant but at the same time you want to be able to go wild on the dance floor later in the night; last but not least, you may have several weddings coming up, and you cannot or do not want to afford getting a complete new outfit for each event.

If you are looking for some help, read more about my recommendations on how to pick your prefect wedding party outfit here.

Chocolate Art Perfection: Patrick Roger

imageIt happened today. I had the most delicious chocolate pralinés in the world. It was the first time I tasted one of the incredibly exquisite creations of French chocolatier and artist, Patrick Roger. So I am not exaggerating, he has indeed continuously been named as one of the best chocolatiers in the world, and in addition to producing mouthwatering, distinctively tasty chocolate he uses chocolate also as the material for his art sculptures. If you want to see and taste his creations yourself, you can find his store in Grand Sablon, Brussels or on Boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris.

Que le chocolat vous inspire

(On the photo you can see the pralinés amazone, sauvage, noir mistral and noir sudashi. My favourite was  sauvage, the greyish one, filled with a yuzu, verbena and lemongrass ganache).