Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Caroline vs. Berlin Street Style

Two summers ago I was really lucky to call Berlin my temporary home while I was doing a summer course.  I fell in love with the city and its history, and I also fell in love with its sense of style.  Parisian Chic and London Cool aren't popular looks in Berlin; Berliners have a style that is casually grunge but put together, as well as being fiercely independent.  I spent most of my time in the neighbourhoods of Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer Berg, where I noticed a lot of people mixing vintage with high street brands and boutique pieces.  These two neighbourhoods are popular with immigrants, young families, and students, so designer brands weren't something people really bothered with.  Women's Wear Daily recently did a roundup of 26 great examples of Berlin street style from Mitte, a neighbourhood more synonymous with tourists, high end stores, expensive restaurants, and offices, yet photographer Kuba Dabrowski didn't produce photos of people dashing about in perfectly fitted suites or decked out in luxury brands.  Instead, she found people who really exemplify the style of the every-day Berliner: basics layered with standout pieces that come together in a way that looks a little wrong, but still so right.  Here are some of my favourites, but click through to see more.

xx, C.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Caroline vs. Powder Puff Party

Last Tuesday I had the pleasure of attending Holt Renfrew's Powder Puff party, which was billed as "the beauty event of the season."  I'm not a beauty-product fanatic, but the $25 ticket included free beauty services such as eyebrow treatments, facials, and manis, plus it could be applied against a purchase of $75 or more, so how could I say no?!
Emily and Lisa.  Photo from my Instagram.
My friend Allison and I arrived shortly after the event started, and were surprised to see how crowded it was.  The sign of a successful event, to be sure (tickets had sold out well in advance), but it did make manoeuvering a bit difficult; there were lineups for free samples of Hermès perfumes and for a Wheel-of-Fortune-type activity that had to be controlled by security.  Allison and I opted for the wheel game, so we joined the end of the line.  Luckily for us, we ended up standing right beside the stage set up for a Q&A between HoltsVP Fashion Editor Lisa Tant and Emily Weiss from the beauty blog Into The Gloss; they talked about how to wear some of this Spring's beauty trends, such as brightly coloured eyeshadow, and eyebrows.  As someone with dark and heavy brows, I am so glad they are back in style!
My stuff from Diptyque!  It all smells amazing

As we inched closer to the spinning wheel, we figured out there was a prize guaranteed with each spin: landing on the pink "Powder Puff" sections meant a powder puff, landing on the black Mercedes Benz logo (one of the event's sponsors) yielded a sample sized nail polish, and landing on the only white section meant you walked away with a "grand prize" of sorts.  Spinning that wheel was quite nerve-wracking!  Allison walked away with a gorgeous red nail polish, and I lucked out and landed on the grand prize section!  I chose bag of Diptyque goodies, which contained a mini candle in "Figuier,"  and samples of "Lait Frais" hand lotion and "Philosykos" Eau de Parfum.  They all smell amazing...I might have to start saving up for some other Diptyque products.
My scented Conditioning Brush Cleanser.  Good for all brushes, but the chocolate is great for cleaning lip brushes!
Holts was also working with Beauty So Clean, who set up a brush cleaning station and sanitized up to two makeup brushes per person.  I have a ton of brushes, so on my way out the door I grabbed my two grimiest, a concealer brush and a lip brush.  They had two sprays, both were essentially hand sanitizer plus conditioner for your brushes, made with dermatologist-tested ingredients; the only difference between the two was that one was chocolate scented!  And I was actually the first person to have a lip brush cleaned, so I got a free sample of the chocolate-scented Conditioning Brush Cleanser!  I was on a roll!
Clinique purchases: High Definition Lashes mascaraRedness Solutions Daily Relief Cream with Probiotic TechnologyRedness Solutions Makeup SPF 15 with Probiotic Technology.
Free gift with purchase at Clinique!  From left to right: Chubby Stick in "Chunky Cherry;" Take The Day Off Makeup Remover For Lids, Lashes & LipsBlushing Blush Powder Blush in "Sunset Glow;" Liquid Facial Soap MildHigh Lengths Mascara; all on top of the cosmetics bag.
I also picked up some beauty products at Clinique for my mum and me.  We both have very sensitive skin, and Clinique makeup really works for us, so every time there is some kind of promotion I'll go to a Clinique counter and stock up.  For my mum I got her favourite foundation, Redness Solutions with SPF15 and probiotic technology, as well as a Redness Solutions face cream; she has rosacea, and these products are specifically designed to work with that.  For myself I picked out my favourite mascara, High Definition with a brush and a comb!  I have naturally long lashes so I'm not concerned with length, but this mascara is really good at separating the lashes so it looks like you have more.  I was also surprised with a gift with purchase, which included makeup remover, mild face cleanser, blush, High Lengths mascara, a Chubby Stick, and a cosmetics bag.  I'm a big fan of this makeup remover since it gets everything off so easily and is also so gentle.  The High Lengths mascara is interesting, because it's just sort of a wand with teeny-tiny bristles, as opposed to a brush or a comb; I find it does a decent job with the first few layers, but it's not so great if you constantly reapply mascara during the day, and I find that the more times you reapply the more it clumps.  I haven't tried any of the other products before, but I look forward to giving them a go!
Mani time!  The black polish is The Black Knight, and the pink polish is Queen Vic, both by Butter London.  Photo by Allison.
Nail polishes on offer!  This shade is Rosie Lee.  Photo by Allison.
As soon as we had arrived at the event we checked out the brow station, but they were already full up for the night, which was disappointing.  Instead, we managed to put ourselves on a list for manicures with Butter London polish, which is carried at Holts.  I am the proud owner of 55 nail polishes, so every time I get a manicure I find it really difficult to pick a colour unlike anything in my arsenal.  I don't own anything by Butter London (yet), so once my allotted time came around near the end of the event, I was able to quickly pick out two colours I liked: The Black Knight for eight of my fingers, and Queen Vic as an accent on my ring fingers.  The Black Knight is a black base with silver, pink, and blue glitter that gives the look of the galaxy trend with just one colour, and Queen Vic is a deep magenta that almost matches the colour of the Holts bags, which I thought was appropriate for the occasion!  The manicure only took about ten minutes because it was just nail painting - no lotions or nail cutting.  I was out of my chair as soon as all ten of my nails were painted, and because the event was ending we had to go right to coat check.  Getting dressed again for the brutal -24C weather outside took a while!  Big thanks to Allison, who took pics of me getting my nails did, and also writing down the names of the polishes I picked :)
Macarons from Butter Avenue.  One was Earl Grey, one was Sea Salt Caramel.  Both were delicious!
All in all, I had a great time.  Fancy hors d'oeuvres, virgin mint juleps, and bottles of Voss water were passed around, and there were stands scattered around the floor giving out Belmonte Raw juices, Butter Avenue macarons, and samples of David's Tea; I definitely did not go to bed hungry.  Thanks Holt Renfrew and Into The Gloss for such a fun event!

xx, C.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Caroline vs. A Night at the NAC

Growing up in Ottawa, I never quite settled into the holiday season without at least one trip to the National Arts Centre.  This year I forewent seeing The Nutcracker, and instead saw a performance of Handel's Messiah.  Seeing the Messiah isn't as big a tradition for my family, but I always love going to a performance; I constantly listen to the music on my iPod (and the Messiah was even a unit in a music history course I took last year - fun fact, it was actually composed to be performed at Easter!), but with a live performance one really gets to enjoy how animated the singers and orchestra get.
Baritone soloist Alex Dobson, and conductor Paul Goodwin.  From The Ottawa Citizen's review.
Every year the NAC puts on two performances the week before Christmas, and my parents and I were lucky enough to get seats right in the middle of the hall, mere rows from the stage - juuuuuust outside of the "spit zone!"  The choir was made up of singers from the Cantata Singers of Ottawa and Seventeen Voyces, and the orchestra was the NAC orchestra, led by the talented Paul Goodwin.  They were all amazing to watch and listen to, and my eyes would always go back to concert master Yosuke Kawasaki, who would move around in his chair in ways I've never seen a violinist do before.  The soloists were tremendously talented, but as an alto myself I really enjoyed mezzo-soprano Diana Moore; some of my favourite parts of the Messiah belong to the alto soloist, and I almost found myself wanting to sing along.  The performance was given a standing ovation from a full house, and you could really see the happiness in the eyes of the musicians at the realization that their craft had touched so many people.
View of Le Café from across the Canal.  From LE CAFE NAC.
Before the performance, my parents took my brother and me to Le Café, the restaurant in the NAC.  I've always known it was there but had never been before, and I very much enjoyed myself.  It's very popular for office lunches and dinners because of its proximity to Parliament Hill, National Defense HQ, as well as plenty of downtown offices, and both my parents frequent the restaurant with their colleagues.  We even saw MP David McGuinty having dinner when we were there! #OttawaLyfe.  I probably wouldn't choose to eat at Le Café if I was just hanging out with friends - the menu isn't really built to accomodate the student/starving artist budget.  But the food was very, very good, and the service was impeccable, so I'd go back again if someone else was footing the bill, or if I had a real job that provided me more disposable income than the tips I earn as a bartender.  Another selling point for Le Café is that because it is part of the NAC complex, it is easy to get from the dining room to any of the theatres, and the chefs and servers are conscious

I haven't spent much time in Ottawa for the past five years, so when I am at home I always try to rediscover a little bit more of the city I grew up in.

xx, C.