Friday, 22 July 2011

R.I.P. Lucian Freud

It would not be too grand a statement nor an exaggeration to say that Lucian Freud was without doubt until a couple days ago one of the greatest living painters of his time and also our time. For decades he has captured raw emotions and people, his friends in a way that is his and his alone. I was mesmerised early on by the late Francis Bacon, Freud's friend an contemporary. It grew to become an obsession one fo my best friends in school at the time, Ria Kirby who is also a viciuosly talented artist was inspired by Lucian Freud.
Many years later, I bumped into Ria and Mr. Freud at the Wolseley, she was his art handler at the time and later sat for him, all this from a chance meeting. It reminded me that art is a living thing and someone who has contributed to the history of art in the way that Mr. Freud has will be remembered, and his paintings will always be around and loved.

R.I.P Lucian Freud
8 December 1922 – 20 July 2011 (88 years old)

Thursday, 21 July 2011

A Shanghai Showdown

A Showdown it certainly was when Miu Miu decided to host a big party in Shanghai in one of the world's tallest hotels and create an entire Miu Miu world out of it.

Sebastian Suhl invited me to go along for one night in Shanghai, literally. I got on the red-eye arrived in Shanghai at 5 am and was escorted by a Miu Miu girl to my car. I was deposited at the Park Hyatt, where there was construction taking place. I wish I wasn't so groggy and took a picture as it was not any normal construction but Prada construction, a huge backdrop where the 1940's was starting to appear in the form of smoky facades, mirror cut silhouettes and big lights just for the night. No one had told me this, well, Seb certainly did not, that Hotel was actually closed to the public for Miu Miu.

It is without doubt one of the best hotels in the world, my 84th floor room with a Bund view was spectacular. The fact that I was greeted by a big pink Goody bag which contained a next season Miu Miu purse, the invitation and a letter from Sebastian AND breakfast would prove that!
View from my room
breakfast, bed and prezzie
As I was in Shanghai, I was adamant on getting myself out of the Park Hyatt to do a little bit of exploring and eat Shanghainese dumplings. One absolutely cannot go to Shanghai without having Xiao Long Bao, true there this now a din tai fung in most capitals including Bangkok but there is nothing like having them in Shanghai. I thought I would find the perfect ones at at Jia Jian Tang Bao, however when I got there, it was closed. I was saved by the other dumpling I read about, Yang's friend dumplings across the street.

saved by Yang's Fried Dumplings
The cheap fatty neighbour Yang's was a good fix and after devouring them understood the queue for them. I popped along to Xin Tian Di as it is so pleasant and there is a branch of Din Tai Fung there.

dumpling perfection
When I was last in Shanghai it was freezing and hailing, so I missed the Bund walk, touristy as it is, it is very cool. I also managed to squeeze in a little visit to 18 Gallery where there was a street art show, beautiful restored building 18 on the Bund.

JonOne at 18 Gallery
The Park Hyatt is in Pudong, it is on the other side of the water . . . not the most convenient for site-seeing but I suppose the new buildings on Pudong side justify it, they too are spectacular.
The Park Hyatt, notice window cleaner on left

Topped off my exploration day with a swim in the pool at what has got to be the highest indoor pool I have ever swum in. Then at 7 pm on the dot, my Sebastian friend arrived and we went straight down to the lobby of a spectacular 1940's NY hotel that just happens to be in 2011 Shanghai on the 87th floor of the Park Hyatt overlooking the Bund. I met the Thai contingency, P'Ann is absolutely lovely, she's Prada Thailand. And also P'Aaew and P'Vicky who are the Prada landlords as they own the malls Prada are in (Miu Miu will open in October). The drinks in the "lobby" was only the beginning.

before in Sorada and Miu Miu
lobby of skycrapers and mirror palms
The party was to take place over 4 floors in different room with different themes and different activities. Dinner at the very private Supper Club was wonderful, I felt like I was sitting in a pod in the clouds, the idea was to see the view but that did not happen but it gave it a certain mystery being literally high in the clouds.
supper club
I was on the table with Sebastian, my date for the night (and also the Host), HK actress Cecilia Cheung and Taiwanese actress Terry across from me and on my right Tanny Kea, an amazing lady from Singapore.

The AW 11 Miu Miu show took place literally, next to us. The shoes were definitely the high lights, I have three different pairs on my wishlist and also the backless black dresses with the fur shoulders. Please excuse the blurry pics, Seb did keep saying I was incapable of taking a clear pic, well, I would agree in this instance as we sat so very close it was impossible to focus! The backdrop was Metropolis with a dash of Jetsons
Cecilia Cheung and I

Miu Miu AW 2011 in Shanghai

Next up was the dash to lifts to get to the next activity . .we went to a quiet "Sparkle Club" to realise that it was too early and we needed to be on the top top floor for the Cabaret. The Park Hyatt's highest view point was turned into a dimly lit, 40's style cabaret, totally risque, totally fun. We sat on super low velvet seats and so close I thought the lasso guy would hit us. I was next to beautiful actress and MTV vj Zhu Zhu. We loved the lasso guy and also the funny looking hula hoop guy. Let's not forget the super hot hostess.

Me, Tanny and Sebastian

Next was a performance by Florrie in the Sparkle Club. Perfect for Miu Miu in the Sparkle Club. . .cheeky girly, totally a pretty doll but full of surprises. I mean, no one expected her to starting banging on the drums like she did. The club was filled with porcelain versions of all the things that girls love and like floating from the ceiling with a sculpture in front.

Sparkle sculpture
Mimi Xu (aka DJ Misty Rabbit)
Next we back down the freight elevator (the fastest way) to see Dan Lywood play and hang in the lounge, by this time I had lost track of what floor we were on and where we were going. I just know that it was fun and Nadia, Seb's friend from HK who manages the Gagosian HK was awesome.
Next, I found myself in the Moonshine Room, made myself some new friends and met the set designer Karl Sprague who did the ridiculously amazing sets, no surprise that he works in film and on Wes Anderson's Royal Tenenbaums. Definitely cinematic. Then back it was to the Sparkle Club where Mimi Xu was rocking the dancefloor so hard with her final set that non one wanted to leave.

What FUN! If there is anyone hows knows how to throw a big fat bash and still make it feel like it's a big family party, it's gotta be Prada. It was so intimate and fun that I really did not want it to end, it was like one minute it was 7 pm, the next 2 am and the lights were coming on. Intimate 1940's everyting in a roaring metropolis set way above the clouds - how's that for a contradiction? I am sure I will soon find myself in a Miu Miu store swooning over the shoes I mentally noted and buying them, just to remind myself of the magic of Miu Miu in Shanghai. Thank you Sebastian for inviting me, it was amazing. Until the next Prada memory . . . xx
Miu Miu girl the morning after waiting to put me in the car

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Exit to the North

Any excuse to go up to Chiangmai is a good excuse and MTV Exit's invitation to Chiangmai to stay at the Four Seasons Mae Rim and do the backstage interviews at the MTV Exit, Live in Chiangmai concert definitely fits the bill.

Despite the rain and the gloom, the Four Seasons is still lovely, we had a really spacious pavilion overlooking the rice paddies. The view onto the rice paddies is sublime, it is a very manicured rice paddy but they have kept the little wooden rice huts in the distance and buffaloes roam around. It is like living in another time with the comforts of the Four Seasons, I could probably get used to it! Especially as the food is rather good, I had a bite of the Club Sandwich, defo not a traditional one, a little bit Italian inspired but still good and I loved the gnocchi.

view from room


water buffaloes Tong and Tae x me

MTV Exit is MTV's campaign vs. human trafficking. MCOT happens to be their media partner for the campaign with the documentary premiering tonight! July 5th at 11.45 pm on Modernine. It is an informative, honest and very well made documentary about human trafficking, it raises awareness as to how shattering and widespread the crime is, especially in SE Asia and is hosted by Ananda (who is the ambassador for this campaign). The concert was an awareness raising event coupled together with major entertainment with the finale being the Korean phenomenon Super Junior M. It was pretty amazing what the turn out was considering the fact that it rained and rained all day and that the stadium is outdoors. We are talking 20,000 people in blue ponchos watching shortfilms made about the perils of human trafficking by students from Chiang Mai universtity and around the region between sets from ETC, Thaitainium, Slot-Machine and Kate Miller-Heidke.

Lee, Ananda and P'Jeab backstage
Thaitanium, Southside and I
the audience during Super Junior M set

Super Junior M paparazzi shot

There is this kind of craziness that comes with Korean pop stars, this idol worship and devoted fan behaviour which until that night I have never seen. I mean, properly, fans running through the rain to get prime spot, fans fainting, fan club gifts, this obsession. The managers are able to safeguard the artists' personalities to the point that they are untouchable, that probably adds to their appeal. I got a tiny little glimpse . . . then got thrown off the side stage, then went to hang out with the cops on the other side stage. I kinda get it but not really. Oh well, not gonna fight against millions who just love them to ask why. The concert special (with my little backstage interviews) will air on Modernine TV too, on July 17th at 21.30. Should be fun!

The next day, we just hung out, it's nice to be in the mountains, grey skies, and that kind of forest jungle feel. It's sleepy and calm. The little Wawee coffeshop and gallery on the hill is really nice, there were brother and sister cats hanging out in the little shrine too.

And its nice to know that you can walk out of the Four SEasons grounds to get a little bit of local action. The local action on that day were fans, lots of them, plotting a way to enter the Four Seasons to meet Super Junior, talk about determination. We witnessed a fan who was able to convince the security guard to take her bouquet of flowers to Super Junior. Sweet.

Back to the Four Seasons.
The weekend ended with a lovely wrap party at Ratree bar by the pool (the MTV crew all ended up in the pool, I did not) nicely done and thank goodness for the 24 hour room service.

K Yanisa, Ananda, K Titiya, Kate Miller-Heide and Ruici

Then finally time to leave, short little northern escape, without going to North Gate and Huanpen! I think that warrants as an excuse to go back very soon.