30 March 2012

The Fashion Dessert

I do not know if it is my love for the petit four that makes me see macarons, cupcakes and muffins everywhere, but it seems to me that they have become the favourite dessert of fashion-lovers. If you look at the Louis Vuitton SS 2012 collection and ad campaign and think about the pictures of recent fashion shows after-parties, you will notice that these little sweets pop up in every shape, shade and (worryingly enough) in every possible taste. In my opinion, these mini desserts make people happy because, well, they look incredibly cute, not to mention that, from a fashion perspective, they are perfect to channel the pastel and preppy trend of the season.

My culinary love affair with macarons started many years ago in Paris with Ladurée and continued ever since. Every time I pass in front of a patisserie that displays macaroons in the window I just cannot stop from getting in and try them. Years of hard fieldwork allowed me to discover the creations of unknown artisanal bakeries as much as those of very well-know brands. As for Brussels, my favourite one is Wittamer, a family of Belgian patissiers chocolatiers that has a beautiful cafe in the city centre (12 Place du Grand Sablon), and I always go for a trio of vanilla, strawberry and speculoos (the traditional cinnamon cookies).

Let me conclude by saying something that will make me very unpopular: I don't get Pierre Hermé. Actually I tend to enjoy more its lovely boxes than its precious macarons. Maybe this has something to do with  the fact that he tries too hard to give a sophisticated taste to something which is, and has to be, quite simple. I must say the quality of the ingredients is superb and the freshness of the product is unbeatable, but no matter how fragrant the little macaron is, how silky and buttery its cream is, tasting of olive oil is wrong.

And what about you, what are your favourites? After another very busy week at work, I will finally devote the next couple of days in catching up with my blogging pleasures. I wish you all a great week-end!

Image source: Vogue.it

26 March 2012

NJAPD In The New York Times' Readers Street Style

Inspired by the spring that has finally arrived in Brussels and by the theme of the week "The Flat" that couldn't be more 'me', NJAPD is in the Readers' Street Style section of The New York Times here and here. And to celebrate I'll wear ballerinas for the rest of the week.

Images source: The New York Times

25 March 2012


Sometimes, in my endless search for photo shooting locations, I go off the beaten track and look for the most hidden parts of Brussels in order to find peculiar and suitable places. So I couldn't believe my luck when I found this 'artistic' and very solitary spot, which, in my opinion, has nothing to envy to one of those questionable installations of contemporary art that usually express the discomfort of the artist towards society.

COS egg yolk silk top, Marni for H&M black sequined collar
Carven olive pleated-front cotton-blend skirt, silk bird clutch, Lanvin black satin flats

Not sure if I've mentioned it before, but I'm a fan of mini clutches and the weirder the shape, the better. This chick is made from a patchwork of kimono silks and, even if it can only fit few things, it has become a favourite accessory for my nights out. Talking of original items, I would love to have a book clutch by Olympia Le-Tan, but I wonder if I could at last profit from my many childhood years of cross stitching and  finally start a DIY project. I'll keep you posted on my future creative developments.

22 March 2012

Fashionable Readings

Fashion books can serve different purposes. They can give us interesting insights into the history of fashion and its iconic characters, their artistic pictures are a feast for the eyes and a source of inspiration, and they are beautiful objects to decorate our homes. Recently, I received two books that I would highly recommend.

It was an incredible surprise when Natalia at Fashioned by Love sent me Camilla Morton's  "Manolo Blahnik and the Tale of the Elves and the Shoemaker" (HarperCollins). I still don't know if I liked more the author's idea to write a fairy tale about the life of Manolo Blahnik  mixing fantasy and reality or Mr. Blahnik stunning illustrations. And I've rarely seen such a pretty opening: "This fashion fairy tale belongs to princess ... whose ... years of dreaming will be rewarded with high heels and happy endings".

As for the second book, a dear friend of mine knew how sorry I was for missing "Audrey in Rome" so she got me the book of the exhibition (Mondadori), which includes intimate portraits of Audrey's life in Italy, where she spent almost twenty years between the 50s and the 70s. This publication is another discreet window to admire her style and outfits both in public occasions and private life.

Next on my fashion reading list is Grace Coddington memoir (to be published in November), and of course I'm dreaming of Alber Elbaz's Lanvin. Released to celebrate ten years of Monsieur Elbaz at the helm of the French label, this book looks as beautiful as one of his creations.

19 March 2012


Being Italian, you may guess that coffee plays quite an important part in my everyday life (and even more on  Monday mornings when the week-end looks so far away). If you ever come to Brussels and you feel like a nice cup of coffee, you might want to avoid the ubiquitous tall-skinny-caramel-mochastrappuccino (flavoured with aromas that should never appear anywhere near a coffee). I would personally recommend Bar Moka (5 Rue des Riches Claires) for the best espresso in town paired with great 60s atmosphere and music, Maison Corica (49 Marché aux Poulets) for the impressive selection of coffees from all around the world, and the newly opened Barbeton (114 rue Antoine Danasaert).

Marni for H&M coat, Marni belt, Uniqlo +J grey wool jumper, Vanessa Bruno skinny jeans
Vanessa Bruno anthracite Cabas bag, Roger Vivier black patent leather Belle Vivier

A big plus is the fact that all these places are in my favourite shopping area of the city...

15 March 2012

Need A Sustainable Red Carpet Dress?

If the answer is yes, H&M is (again) the place to go. As part of its Conscious initiative, it has presented the Exclusive Conscious Collection: "[...] red-carpet looks, all made from more sustainable materials such as organic cotton and hemp as well as recycled polyester". Following the example of Livia Firth and her The Green Carpet Challenge for Vogue UK, the Swedish brand has (again) found another clever way to make people long for its clothes. Available as of 12 April, you can find the complete look-book and relevant prices here.

As you may have noticed, I am fan of the previous H&M Conscious editions and I'm particularly intrigued by the looks below. This Chantilly organic cotton & silk gown is my absolute favourite, but you definitely need a movie premiere to wear it...

While this could be considered a more low-profile option (OK, only if compared to the previous look): so very Mary Katrantzou meeting Givenchy RTW FW 2011 minus the scary panthers.

Image source: H&M

13 March 2012

A Case For Collars

When I got home from my Marni for H&M mission, someone gave a sceptical look at the white and black collars. Mr. NJAPD asked me if those particular pieces, as well as the Obelix leggings and the floral skirt - which in his opinion looks like the curtains that usually decorate those colourful Indian taxis - were the consequence of the 'limited edition effect', i.e. shop like there is no tomorrow*. Today I wanted to prove (to him and to my mom, another critic who couldn't see the charm of giant sequins) that this collar is an 'essential' addition to my wardrobe: it is the perfect alternative to wearing necklaces and it is going to give a quirky touch to my minimalist cardigans...am I right?

* This is a quote from today's post by the lovely Natalia at Fashioned by Love who wrote about her Marni for H&M online shopping experience. I highly recommend this reading as she gives interesting advice on how to prepare for this kind of fashion missions.

08 March 2012


Guess where I was this morning...Of course, I was in front of an H&M store at a very early hour with a dear and  fearless friend who braved the cold weather and my strict designer collaborations' shopping rules. We managed to get into the store in the first group of Marni for H&M wrist-band elected, and we ended up with a big smile and so many bags that we left our shopping neighbors wondering if we were actually going to wear all those clothes or if we were going to sell them on eBay.


The clothes and the accessories are as beautiful as they look in the glossy ads. I was particularly impressed by the necklaces that are exactly like the original ones for finishing and 'material weight', and by the polka dot ensemble (both the matching blue jacket & skirt and the black coat), which to me were the best items of the collection in terms of signature Marni design and quality.

Not Just a Pretty Dress in action (image source Le Vif Weekend)...

The only thing on my wish-list that I didn't manage to get was the lovely straw hat (I was told it will arrive in a week), and the thing I got but will return tomorrow are the striped leggings (I didn't see the disturbing 'Obelix effect' until I tried them on at home). Anyway, this is a sneak peek at one of the pieces and I'm sure that the rest of my shopping spree will appear in (many) upcoming posts...


06 March 2012

My Céline(alike) Jacket

I had a very nice surprise from the Paris Fashion Week. Maybe some of you can remember a post I wrote sometime ago in which I introduced you to my first leather jacket. At that time I was just happy with this wonderful present given by my parents, and I knew that its original collar was the best feature of the creation. However, I couldn't imagine to see a very similar design on the catwalk of a favourite French maison.

Céline FW 2012 look n. 7...

Caterina at Not Just A Pretty Dress look 'A Walk In The Snow'...

Ms. Philo, thank you so much for this personal moment of joy and for another beautiful collection! And since this is the week of my dream capsule collection, let me wish for another one: if H&M ever approaches you for a collaboration, please say yes and please (now imagine a begging voice) include one of your magnificent oversized coats. In orange, if possible...

Image source: Vogue UK

03 March 2012


A Single Man is one of the most 'visually' beautiful movie I've ever seen (just remember Colin First looking incredibly stylish even while seating on a toilet's vase). There is one scene I found difficult to forget: Julianne Moore that attentively applies a lavish, 60s style make-up while talking on the phone to her friend. Maybe with that sequence, Tom Ford wanted to introduce us to his forthcoming cosmetics extravaganza.

I've always been curious to try Mr. Ford's lipstick range and I would like to thank Paola at The PvdH Journal - a talented designer, rouge à lèvres expert and one of my favorite bloggers - for her aesthetic support in choosing two Tom Ford Lip Colors.

I went for Indian Rose - a dusky, mauvey pink that highlights the natural colour of my lips (worn here) - and Wild Ginger (worn in the last post) - the perfect orange red shade to channel the make-up seen on the Jason Wu SS 2012 catwalk, which was a personal favourite. I was impressed not only by the richness of the shades, but also by the fact that they stay on for hours.

So Mr. Ford is a genius in fashion, beauty and directing movie. I just wonder what's next for him. I think that even if he decides to try his hand at auditing or weather forecast, he would make them glamorous.