Monday, September 28, 2009


i remember falling in love. it was 1999, turku and a small streetwear store called koma. they had just received a delivery of an exciting denim launch: levi's red. it was very limited edition and exclusive: products were sold at only three stores in finland and each had only a few items. i remember it being one of my first encounters with the trend of producing small quantities of streetwear. back then streetwear was more about small brand versus big brand with everyone aspiring for huge; street fashion wasn't about collectables and exclusive lines, but a relaxed style differentiating it from other costumes.

the garment in question was a denim culotte slash jeans – too long for a culotte, but too wide and skirt-like for a pair of jeans. the novelty of the piece was the 3d shape: twisted seams that wrapped around the legs creating an imaginative silhouette. it was something completely unseen of, and i remember an internal battle over the purchase: for a student the price of 800 finnish marks was incredibly high – at that point 60€ was pretty normal for a pair of jeans, diesel was around 70€ and, therefore, the equivalent of 130€ was just ridiculous – but i had to have them. it was love, after all.

(meta-entry: in order to show the garment, i need to move. i kid you not, from now on, i will become not only the dork who is arrogant enough to post their own photos online, but the dork that dances on the balcony in order to do so. slippery slope, if there ever was any...)

beanie by maison martin margiela, track top by jeremy scott for adidas originals, denim culotte by levi's red, metal leather converse hi-tops.

at the time, there was change in the air in general. people expected the turn of the millennium and almost everything design oriented reflected the entrance into the unknown. the most significant influence on design and language had an easily traceable source: the human genome project was still a long way from completion, but was gaining an increasing amount of recognition among lay(wo)men. while gene-talk was in the air everywhere, i, personally, had no idea how overwhelming an impact the research would have on culture or that i'd be working closely with scientists of the field in the next few years.

at the millennium genetic references had infiltrated everyday speech, and it had only started to become commonplace to refer to genes as "selfish" – despite the fact that dawkins' book was published already in 1976. the growing interest in our molecular basis was the result of genetic engineering and the tremendous insecurity and fear of novelty associated with monstrosity: the oncomouse, chimeras, and never rotting tomatoes.

as a perfect fit with the zeitgeist of the 2k, levi's embarked on an unforeseen branding journey which left their successful nostalgia riding and hit-creating commercials behind and launched their engineered line which utilized the same structural idea as red for a mass market later the same year. nothing was straightforward anymore and bodies became wrapped as and in helixes replicating the coiling of dna.

interestingly enough, the original idea for both red and engineered lines was the result of a flaw or a quirk in the original 501 jeans’ right-hand twill fabric construction which caused the legs of vintage levi's jeans to twist to the left. in hindsight, the creation of a new line from inspiration from the past and the marketing of it through genetic imagery which was completely new, sustains the paradox that repeats itself throughout the past ten years: nostalgia sells, but is outsold by the appeal of the positive unknown.

well, the world did not end at 2k. genetic engineering had not resulted in a monster taking over the world. since then, the hgp was finished with the mapping, and we've been left with an incredibly informative, but slightly disappointing sequence, i.e., the human genome did not offer the revelatory information expected – after all the project started with the assumption that every human trait had its individual genetic pair – but proved slightly more complex and merely offering the basis for further research. moreover, speaking "gene" is so habitual that we're hardly aware of it anymore.

i heard somewhere that whatever style one embraces in the early years of their twenties, it sticks with them for life. i was experimental – even radical – then, excited by the novel and unexpected, and continue on the same path – albeit less radical, i presume. perhaps there's a point to the hearsay then. in the following years levi's continued to use the red line as an exclusive and experimental workshop, and, needless to say, my love affair lived on. i kept on buying things from their collections because they were miles ahead of denim innovations anywhere else. i have everything stored away since the garments have not lost their interesting qualities to this date although many of their design elements have become more commonplace. self-evidently, the exclusivity market has since exploded and lost much of its credibility, as well.

my love for unexpected silhouettes has definitely stuck and the affair with twisted seams feels as fresh as years ago. levi's red and engineered were re-produced as 10th anniversary collections – complete with the original hemp and cotton mix culotte i fell in love with – but naturally in more limited numbers. since for me it is a trail already treaded, ten years later my love story continues somewhere else: this time with a pair of loose woolen trousers repeating the wrapping movement around my legs.

tank top by filippa k, trousers by fifth avenue shoe repair, all white converse lo-tops.

fifth avenue shoe repair have excelled at producing unexpected shapes from quality materials and these pants are not an exception to the rule. 100% wool and a pattern that defies explanation, they warp and twist to create a loose, dynamic shape of comfort. my favorite accessory to team the trousers with has been this necklace made from chunks of plexiglass. ten years and information incumbrance later, i feel the need for some naïve scifi.

necklace from h&m.

now that "the future is here" isn't it fine to see some shapes retain their interesting qualities through years and years of wear?

Friday, September 25, 2009

a rare diamond.

sometimes a song and video capture a feeling entirely. for me, the song below is the perfect representation of stationary and active waiting: a repetitive and haunting process of slow motionless being. after starting today full of energy, i have been forced to stop and give into a cold creeping in.

although judging by the lyrics the song is about self-consciousness and depression, kind of a musical outsider, i mainly feel the solitude and solidity of the music. just like i feel lying wrapped in a wooly blanket...

the band is glass ghost, a drum and piano duo from brooklyn (hello! is everything great from brooklyn, huh?) the song's most notable element is eliot krimsky's falsetto. the video is cleverly created around a visual collage of old vhs tapes by peking.

this is definitely not a party track, but something to digest.

fashion 11211.

already long overdue but, as promised, here is my list of brooklyn shopping. since vintage and second-hand are the basis of hipsterhood style, i will list only two interesting boutiques selling mostly young designers and a few worthy vintage stores and second-hand warehouses. new ones pop up every second so i recommend you leave with a hunting spirit and lots of time.

bird is a beautiful store on my old home street, grand. they serve a selection of established brands and younger designers in their spacious wood-paneled store. my favorite new encounter was sunshine & shadow whose silk paneled dress had me drooling. thanks to my newly gathered strength i left the dress in the store on account of having several similar items already.

even though grand street is nowadays known as "restaurant row", there is a myriad of small vintage boutiques along grand that i recommend popping into. most are outrageously priced, but there are still worthy gems amongst the hideous polyester.

beacon's closet is the original willyburg vintage warehouse. the large space is color coordinated and filled to the max, and if you're able to walk out without a purchase vintage shopping is definitely not yer thang. the pricing is still moderate compared to most nyc boutiques and the selection is huge. definitely worth a visit.

another favorite of mine is vice versa on bedford avenue. crammed and stinky, it reminds me of good-old second-hand stores of the nineties. the pricing is cheap and the selection is huge. if you're stunned by the recent developments in vintage prices being continually hoisted up, vv is a pleasant surprise. if you feel uneasy at old-fashioned thrift stores, you're gonna hate it.

the hype around butter boutique's consignment store in boerum hill is seriously well-founded. they sell past season items from the mother store and a carefully selected collection of consignment items. the place feels like a boutique and the merchandise is immaculate. priced accordingly to the impressive selection, i tried on a gaspard yurkievitch dress (98$) and martin margiela sandals (unworn, 250$), but also considered a pair of louis vuitton wide-leg trousers (tags attached, 350$) and a faded marc by marc jacobs jacket (40$).

dossier's newly opened store on dekalb avenue houses quirky jewelry and a small selection of interesting clothes. definitely worth a visit – especially if you're enjoying brunch in the neighborhood.

auf wiedersehen, i'm in.

the first season of finnish project runway launched with an introductory extra episode last night. the combination of rookies and experienced designers, explosively creative characters and mousy self-conscious artists will surely result in an exciting series. i cannot describe my enthusiasm properly, but think 'tremor' works fine for the lack of a better word.

true to the format the competitors' backgrounds are varied and some are more established than others. although a brief venture around the blogosphere would suggest that antti asplund was in a league of his own – and has created the most turmoil for being accepted as part of the show because of his supposed position in the finnish fashion world – i'd suggest there are a few other competitors with histories that posit them more deeply in the industry. i mean, really, having your own small brand does not mean you're a famous and successful fashion designer and being a darling of fashion bloggers only implies marginal recognition. i think everyone who's made it as a part of the show equally deserves and needs the elevation for their career.

(un)fortunately – depending how you look at it – following the show changed drastically for me two nights ago. i attended an event where the tix have been most desirable and covetable: the finale fashion show. since the tv-show follows a constituted format and the core structure is common knowledge, it can be easily inferred we witnessed the presentation of the full collections by the finalists. the excitement amongst the audience was tangible mainly because we all knew we were in on a huge secret. needless to say, we're sworn to confidentiality about the competitors who made it to the top, the event itself and everything else... and even we did not get the big scoop, i.e. the winner. so sorry, no slips escaping my lips (or keyboard).

are you as excited as i am and who's your favorite?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

diesel gulp.

well, it seems diesel's renzo rosso is going all virgin on us. in keeping with the brands quality and essence he isn't in the business of appealing to the masses, but creating another rather exclusive range to continue with their idea of "for successful living".

unsurprisinly, since it seems that aesthetically inclined people are often also enthusiastic about flavors in life in general, he has expanded the brand to nourishment of the liquid kind. through diesel farm he offers a choice of white (chardonnay), two reds (merlot&cabernet and pinot noir), a grappa and olive oil.

i dunno about you, but personally i empathize with rosso's venture: one of my ideal retirement plans is to have my own little vineyard close to a bustling city. walking amongst olive trees the warm wind in my hair (or smthng), fondling the ripening grapes, listening to the crickets at night sipping me owne produce... even better if i could have it all and create my own wine before retirement, like rosso. one can always dream, right?

harvested and produced at his estate in northern italy, near venice, the limited edition wines and oil are eco-friendly and, naturally, stylishly packaged. with classic bordolese and borgognone bottles plus directly stamped on labels, the result is both tradition embracing and fresh. they also offer a customizing service via their webshop which opened last week to serve all diesel and wine aficionados worldwide. since personally i steer clear of chardonnays and merlots, i am considering ordering a bottle of the pinot nero. while gulping it down i can continue dreaming of my own venetian cottage...

pic from diesel farm.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

snowing black and blue.

the swedes with beards and indie rock cred are at it again. miike snow's new single "black and blue" is out 19 october. two thirds of the band are responsible for britney spear's "toxic" (yeah, say what?!?!) and they collectively made one of this year's clearest, interesting pop tracs "animal".

here's the new video for an awesome song.

brunch as it should be.

i spent last weekend in my old hometown. the busy three days consisted of two dj gigs, gathering and preserving the crop we've grown at the garden cottage. come sunday, i was knackered, but needed a refueling stop before heading over to helsinki for the showing of the september issue.

the people of turku have a gem they hopefully appreciate to its full potential. blanko has been a part of the restaurant and club scene for years, has enjoyed a dubious status as too trendy and snotty for almost as long but, nevertheless, has been one of the most stylish bars in this country for its entire existence. the interior, designed by tom gustafsson, has gone through a few evolvements while remaining unpretentiously spectacular.

as i grieve the fact that my favorite bar in helsinki is closing down (or changing ownership, which practically means the same thing...), my nostalgia for blanko heightens. the many nights i've spent leaning on the bar or slouching deep in the couches (first in the back, now in the main space of the restaurant), the times i've dj'd there and danced to someone else's music... sure, the turku jock extravaganza may feel annoying as hell, especially during the weekends, and there are a myriad of rather dubious ways to describe the fashion scene at blanko, but regardless of the hair-extension galore and cheap heels, the place is pretty uplifting and still feels cosy and homely.

well, guess what: it just got better! last sunday they served brunch for the first time in years. as might be obvious from my previous ramblings, i welcome brunch culture with open arms. because their forte is catering, a buffet is definitely something they excel at. there was nothing left to be wanted, to be honest – and that's saying a lot.

naturally they served the compulsory brekkie foods: cold cuts, cheeses, bread, veggies plus the usual warm grub – bacon, sausages, eggs, potato fritters – associated with finer hotel breakfasts. the variety was great already. additionally there were three salads, marinated mushrooms, falafel, a selection of fresh fruit juices (pink grapefruit, my favorite!) and a huge bowl of ice cream next to the most beautiful fruit salad i've seen in a while.

the fact that everything looked great even after two hours is another point worth mentioning: the most common and annoying thing about finnish buffet service is that after the first round, things get messy and sloppy and, quite honestly, not very appetizing... well, not here. the display was immaculate throughout the time we spent enjoying ourselves.

another added bonus was the dj: ricardo played soulful pop tunes that together with the rays of the sun lifted you to another place altogether. there were several moments during the couple of hours that i noted that i – or someone else in the table – had an escapist and ecstatic smile on our face. pure little moments of perfection.

despite some people walking in and checking out the buffet were heard murmuring something about "expensive", people used to brunches in helsinki will appreciate knowing that the entire set cost 15€. i wonder if there is any way to teleport blanko to helsinki?

night munchies.

we all know that time of night when the bar closes and you're not quite ready to go home, yet. afterparties seem scarce and the tummy is a-growling.

at this point finns head over to get some kebab or pizza; new yorkers also choose pizza, but hot dogs are equally attractive.

the best night time pizza slice in nyc is available from a little hole-in-the-wall in the lower east side. i'd tell you exactly where, but am unable since i only seem to know my way there intoxicated. sorry.

but if you're feeling adventurous, i suggest you go and check out creperie. open till 3am, they sell freshly made crepes with both sweet and savory fillings. there's nothing better than a greasy crepe filled with cheese and olive tapenade: satisfaction guaranteed if you feel like accentuating the morning after's puffy eyes...

you feel like going for the sweet...

...or the savory?

pics from creperie.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


the trend of the boyfriend blazer and 80's inspired accentuated shoulders seems to continue. the easiest way to rock the bf blazer is to get a jacket that has a sharp shoulderline and a straight cut, i.e. simply more masculine than the curve enhancing female blazer. looks good on everyone, but may lack a bit on the edginess.

as much as i love the chic look of the slightly masculine blazer on a womanly frame, going a little over-the-top adds the desired roughness and, i think, fun to the blazer look. additionally, despite effortless chic being something i admire, going slightly more fashion-forward feels better. today, that is.

unfortunately, attempting the fashionista may translate to a visually devastating trip. accentuating shoulders or going overly slouchy and large works heavenly on the runway, but in real life, doing oversize is tricky: if you're short, the result is easily midget-like and heavy. if you're tall, you may look overwhelmingly large sideways as well: skinny legs may save you, but the result may be a pinheaded popsicle. for someone mid-sized and not so skinny-legged – like yours truly – the result often just looks off-beat and wrong: wide, slouchy and droopy in all the wrong places.

since a huge part of my personal style evolvement (grandiose terms to uplift a less grandiose project...) is to try looks that i'd intuitively steer clear of, i'm gonna show off two little numbers that i love despite the fact that they are definitely oversize and over-shouldered. the trick saving me from ultimate disaster is a little piece of woven fabric. now that we've entered scarf season, i can pull the extra width off: my long and narrow neck creates an unfortunate resenblance to e.t when combined with necklines that do not fit just right.

the first coat is from a nostalgic trip to stockholm in 2007 when jaakko and i went tipsy shopping during the best festival ever, accelerator. i found this miami vicey blazer from downstairs the weekday store. instant ridiculous love with two layers of grey pinstripes, narrow collars, folded and padded shoulders.

coat second-hand c&a, sheer oversize tee by rick owens, necklaces by i know why no and my o my, leggings by pieces, boots and scarf by vivienne westwood, bracelet by bless.

for the chillier days, i've gone sloughier: this woolen martin margiela 6 blazer is humongous and humorous to an equal measure – therefore the grumpy face (i actually have no idea why i look so grim in the pic...). it's most flattering with a high heel creating an illusion of a catwalk cape crusader, but that will not stop me from wearing it with flats – i'm just a regular gal who needs to run to places, after all.

the dropping shoulder accentuates the fact that mine are naturally delicate and the length of the coat shortens me tremendously. perhaps the jacket allows me or provides an opportunity to explore the way i'd feel much shorter – something i always wanted to be.

everything as above, blazer by martin margiela 6.

both blazers are over two years old, but i still dig them out regularly and find myself intrigued by their possibilities. what do you think: do you fear the hulk-like shoulder? are you keen on sloughy potato sacks? open up and let me know...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

let the drums play!

right now, this is making me happy. imagine the beach boys twisting in the sand with joy division, the gloomy factory records influenced by a sudden, sunny love of surfing... the drums bring extended summer to these rainy fall days. their ep summertime! is filled with cheerful tunes, including my fave "don't be a jerk, jonny" downloadable here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


as an addition to my previous post, i must recommend an exhibition i finally visited today called all we want is everything at gallery kalhama & piippo. rauha mäkilä's paintings of pop culture faces du jour are as neon as cassette playa was a couple of years ago and as contemporary as they get. sure, they're easily recognizable and somehow create a feeling of "hey, i took this great photo from a magazine, scanned and expanded it and splashed it with color, yay!" which is joyful and almost feels like you're collaborating although yer not. happily i noted that most paintings were sold already.

unfortunately, before i left i took some time to read the reviews and, quelle surprise, there was some nag-nag-nag about the pricing of the paintings. the accusations were directed towards the gallery for inflating the recently graduated artist's value, but the tone was showing contempt towards the artist for noncompliance. such a prime example of suffocating control towards new artists for thinking they could actually live off their artwork, as if asking a price that covered the cost of producing the art and the time it takes to create was too arrogant a request for a beginner...

no wonder artists are torn between the axes of creative freedom, marketing demands, artistic purity and putting food on the table. oh my.

absolutely frivolous.

a while ago anna and i discussed how such a large number of young art students become indoctrinated into the paradoxical credo of the (finnish) art world. by the credo i refer to the belief that achieving popularity is a mixed blessing in addition to being something suspicious.

it seems that artists are socialized into believing that success is only worthwhile if it comes in droplets of graciousness from the "right" people or institutions. massive enthusiasm from institutions of glory could be a sign of greatness, but is usually followed with an expectant smirk: "s/he'll surely fall from grace soon." needless to say, grandma's bridge club just isn't a credible buyer – even if they clear the entire gallery.

much of it comes down to insecurity: funding is scarce, making it hardly ever was purely about artistic talent or vision, but having the right connections and, yup, style of the time. moreover, there is the romanticized notion of great artists only being valued posthumously. additionally, there are inaccurate historical beliefs that true art is only the expression of the artists own whims, true self and desires – the majority of renowned artworks were made to order, after all.

the worst scenario is be deemed a sellout: the artist who creates art to be bought and enjoyed by mere mortals, the success of whom is dependent on the taste of the masses, someone whose funding is mainly covered by sales instead of grants. a perfect example of such an artist is kaj stenvall in finland: his duck portraits cover the walls of ordinary finnish homes as posters (and the better off as originals) and those of us who are "in the know", snicker at the poor, uneducated fools who think they own art, right?

the intricate and complex web of power relations is held together by aspiring artists and their peers, curators, reviewers and art museum regulars all executing what say they may have over the state of the art circles. an exemplary personal experience was when i was attacked by an art lover at a kiasma opening whilst dj'ing: she complained her heart out and finished with a telling phrase "this place is not for the youngsters" desperately trying to grasp onto whatever little authority she had over me as a "youngster" playing "youngster" music.

sure, i am exaggerating and over-simplifying, but it seems reasonable to assume that most artists would love to sell their work (some at least if they could decide who to sell it to) and make a decent living without the stress of grant applications. but it seems that because there are examples of real sellouts who have made it big (and i am not talking about stenvall here; his success seems to be the result of two worlds colliding to form a perfect symbiosis), fame or success have become read as signs of being a sellout. it's an example of faulty logic that is not uncommon: because despicable motives sometimes lead to the wanted results, we start to think that someone achieving those results is a sign of contemptuous motivation.

there is a completely different world of art out there, as well. while finns still cherish the suffering artist desperately trying to get attention to their bleeding heart and growling stomach, the art kids in new york ditch the art and begin with networking. "working in the arts" is the desire; hanging with the right crowd is the answer. creative production of artwork – music, video or whatever, like, duh, i'm in the arts, bitches! – has become secondary.

the conversed logic seems to originate from the realization that to make it anywhere in the arts in the us, you need to know the right people. having a trust-fund – and no-one in their right mind would pursue the arts in (post-)dubya states without a trust-fund because health insurance is expensive – is not enough, creating work of immense potential is nothing, if you don't know the people. so young aspiring americans start from the most important: creating networks.

three children of nyc artists and/or art world regulars observed their environment and figured that a scene of such hilarious characters could not go unremarked. they started a little project, delusional downtown divas, that parodies the art world and the clueless fame hunters that flock the circumferences of important artists and galleries. their chronicles are both an observation and self-mockery as they claim that their characters are versions of themselves, only "with much bigger delusions of grandeur."

interestingly enough, by inspiring insiders and catching their attention – such as isaac mizrahi in the teaser above – they've achieved what they decided to make a parody of and have made it into the "right circles" – their, like, ultimate life goal. i guess penetrating the art world comes down to creating something interesting, after all.

full series at the index website.

Monday, September 14, 2009


one of the ultimate luxuries in fashion for me is not extravagant gold sequins or softest of (faux) fur, but wearing white. if you ask me, it has more shock value than neon pink because it screams attention to the wearer's cleanliness and ability to refrain from messy, mundane activities. white accentuates a leisurely and affluent lifestyle, the exemplary socialite without a stain in sight. i guess one's subjective experience of glamour is relative to the everyday experience...

the easiest – but by no means easy – way to add the effect of white clarity is the tailored button-up. a crisp white shirt upgrades any outfit and if you can pull it off flawlessly, admiration is sure to follow. i wish i was one of those immaculate people, but... nah, too messy, certain to land a drop of salad dressing or pasta sauce on mine. somehow i am also completely unable to iron my shirts properly and, therefore, i usually steer clear of white shirts. see, the reason for my adoration of white is starting to unveil as pretty self-evident: i am utterly incapable of looking crisp and flawless.

instead of shirts, i go for white coats. as a kid, my mother would not buy me (and later in life advised me against buying) white coats: stain removal is a b**ch, dry cleaners are expensive and eco-unfriendly. moreover, living in a land of constant (sure, slightly exaggerated...) rain and sleet with finnish car owners who are not exactly courteous when it comes to puddles and pedestrians means stains regardless of how careful you may yourself be. as a part of my fashion electra complex (am i hearing freud and jung tremble in their graves? *haha*), i have repeatedly attacked my mom's sensible fashion advice by acquiring white overcoats. i have also experimented with washing them in the machine, with mediocre to decent results. thus, i admit to my mother being right, but i cannot help myself.

see, i really find fairly little that exceeds the indulgence of pulling on a white coat. depending on the material, the addition pure light into an ensemble works as an instant perk-me-up. i have a basic members only windbreaker for the indie rock moments and a classic peacoat in warm wool for the more glamorous winter walks in the park. although they are worlds apart stylistically, both add that slight shimmer of glam.

nonetheless, my favorite is this marella coat i found at stockmann's sample sale a couple years ago. a cotton-linen-viscose -mix creates an interesting texture which dissociates it from lab coats, and the material works well in spring and fall before the cold really sets in. the cut is tailored and sleek with one button closure providing easy accessorizing with scarves.

coat by marella, tee by acne, jeans by cheap monday, shoes by miu miu.

as always, the little details make all the difference. the belt on the coat has a black buckle: a minute detail that adds some edge into an otherwise very classic (and therefore easily ho-hum) coat. another small, but important detail for me is the addition of a gilles & dada skull safety pin brooch and the years-old checkered, slightly ridiculous miu miu lace-ups.

can you – and do you – capture glamour in a single color?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

mixed up.

although i am, just like sugar kane, "a dive girl through and through", i do enjoy the occasional quality cocktail in a sultry and more grownup atmosphere. mixology, i.e. skilled bartenders carefully mixing the highest quality ingredients to create flawless drinks, seems to be growing in popularity, and nyc is no exception to the rule. in addition to the legendary milk & honey, there were two places worth a visit, both in brooklyn (who would've known...), that i will mention.

in the beginning there was milk & honey, the bar that started it all – as far as i know. located in an ordinary residential street low, low, low in manhattan, the members-only speakeasy was famous for creating a list of house rules for its clientele:

1. No name-dropping, no star fucking.
2. No hooting, hollering, shouting or other loud behaviour.
3. No fighting, play fighting, no talking about fighting.
4. Gentlemen will remove their hats. Hooks are provided.
5. Gentlemen will not introduce themselves to ladies.
6. Ladies, feel free to start a conversation or ask the bartender to introduce you. If a man you don't know speaks to you, please lift your chin slightly and ignore him.
7. Do not linger outside the front door.
8. Do not bring anyone unless you would leave that person alone in your home. You are responsible for the behaviour of your guests.
9. Exit the bar briskly and silently. People are trying to sleep across the street. Please make all your travel plans and say all farewells before leaving the bar.

the bar itself is a small, alley-like dark room with a few, leather-lined booths on one side. they need to be reserved beforehand, showing up without a reservation is a strict no-no. although i don't have membership, i got in with a friend some years back. i had the pleasure to witness the bartenders at work by sitting next to the bar, and still remember the experience as absorbing.

acquiring a membership was not easy and everyone had to wait for their turn; the bar was famous for making ethan hawke wait months for his. nowadays the once much coveted phone number for the bar is publicly listed which implies, i guess, that reservations can be made by mere mortals. the house rules still apply and you're not supposed to tell anyone where the bar is exactly... the luring power of secrecy, right?

well, bkln. my first recommendation, the clover club, is for the history inspired cocktail buff. it has a tennessee imported bar from the 19th century: the solid and dark ornamented wood works as a beautiful background for the colorful bottles and the art of mixing. unlike most mixology bars, this one has an open front and more light, but the back is dark and velvety soft just like you'd expect. their list changes often, serves pre-prohibition drinks, and there are delicious informative stories added in the menu for your reading pleasure. the service is impeccable and the drinks balanced. background jazz was slightly too middle-aged to my taste, but suits the bar nonetheless.

photo from the clover club.

the other one goes by the name hotel delmano and follows the speakeasy style of the original classy mixology venues truer than the clover club. nevertheless, there is a bouncer at the door and usually a line where you wait for a seat inside. this is the hipster alternative to clover club's collars and slacks wearing clientele and is apparent also amongst the staff: bartenders are notably rude and obnoxious, but their liquid concoctions work. when we visited the hostess was acting like a dimwit and we voted with our feet after the first drink, but the bar itself was beautiful and my salt'n'pepper martini amazing.

photos from free williamsburg, © noah kalina.

do you find speakeasies and mixology bars appealing – or just anachronistic and pretentious?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

helsinki design week.

last night was the design partners opening party for helsinki design week. i went with silver, met plenty of friends, ingested a hefty amount of sparkling and enjoyed the fashion show and design installations. agent pekka and napa ilustrations showed a collection of the coolest illustration talent in their space and i recommend you go and check it out yourself.

one of my highlights was the performance of zebra and snake, a quirky electro-duo.

the night of design was filled with people dressed in black. i ran from work and had only time to change my glasses into contacts, but was dressed appropriately somber anyhow. i love this time of the year when bare ankles, necks and arms combined with flowing layers of wool are just right.

merino sweater by uniqlo man, wool grandpa pants by diesel black gold, booties by prada.

how boring, you may think, and i must admit to the ensemble lacking a certain je ne sais pas. fear not, there was a detail to save me from outfit bore. the schtick was my incredibly oversize bag with a... ta-taa... teddy bear! i love dame westwood's sense of humor and this fall's anglomania collection was again filled with signature westwood icons – such as the teddybear and the squiggle – and just plain good old fun.

bag by vivienne westwood anglomania.

have you attended the design week already?

stylist's dream.

here's a new unofficial video for annie's forthcoming album don't stop. it was shot during her promo photoshoot, the styling is by minttu vesala (whom i absolutely adore), photos by nina merikallio and video by miikka lommi. amazing talent combination!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


fashion faux pas and tackiness are something i'm guilty of quite often: i fall in love with incredibly ugly garments and wear them to the detriment of my fellow citizens. nevertheless, my everyday essentials need to be sleek and stylish; i know many people who obtain continuous joy from quirky little personal items, but hello kitty or related cutesy or kitsch objects just do not work as part of my daily routine.

i dunno about you, but decent looking laptop cases are incredibly hard to find. the ones available in finland are either hideous – like built neoprene cases and golla that not only look awful but feel yuckily squishy to the touch – or do not come in a variety of sizes, like the fun cases by henrik vibskov. the only more hideous things in the world of laptops are actual laptop bags designed to carry your computer in addition to necessities and important papers. yuck!

still i need to carry my laptop with me everywhere. sometimes i just want to store it away safely. for a long time my main requirement for a purse was that it fit my computer neatly because it was the only protection provided. my old and significantly smaller powerbook traveled in an unused shoe pouch, but my macbook pro did not fit into one – not that it offered any cushioning in case something damaging happened. despite traveling nude for years, the good old powerbook survived incredible occurrences, such as an impromptu football match at tavastia dance floor late one evening where "the ball" happened to be my mulberry bag (that survived equally well, impeccable quality!) holding my laptop...

therefore, i was thrilled to find out about pijama, an italian firm that makes cases not only for laptops but also for other gadgets. although as an ardent appletheist i do not understand the need to prettify or protect pc's – i mean, someone aesthetically inclined would not choose a pc in the first place, right – (i am kidding, ok!) – they also nowadays offer cases for pc-users. incredibly enough by using quality wool fabrics from milanese factories combined with simple and sympathetic designs, the result is stylish and practical. i love the polka dot and pink tartan patterns, but chose a classic houndstooth for mine – very fall alexander mcqueen.

what kind of a pijama would you have your laptop going to sleep in?

Monday, September 7, 2009

save rudeboy.

single acts of random kindness become more beautiful by the minute. fashion design collaboration with ngo's and ethical causes are excellent examples of consumerism harnessed as positive action, but despite their undoubtedly altruistic and generous basis, they sometimes echo emptiness. the creative growth campaign purses and tees by marc jacobs are perfect examples of collaboration feeling hasty, greedy and hollow despite a cause that is definitely worthwhile. the mj store was crammed with stuff feeling like a chinatown souvenir shop: cheap trinkets and the above mentioned purses were piled on top each other almost falling off the racks. the respectable cause lost its dignity in the hands of fashion people.

there are other kinds of fundraisers, deeply personal ones that succeed in originality and the essential beauty expected from a collaboration. antti asplund's project is a perfect example of what can happen when creative people are touched by tragedy: this time a cat that jumped from an open window and landed six floors down on the street. all the funds collected from the t-shirts will go towards paying the medical bills of rudeboy, the cat who believed he could fly.

get yours for a mere 50€ by emailing

pic from saverudeboy2009.

dives of drunken menagerie.

bar-hopping has always been fun in nyc. not only are there bars everywhere, great bars are bountiful. the speed of hotspot circulation is mind-boggling, but fear not: merely by following local websites (like free williamsburg, brooklyn vegan or l magazine) you'll soon figure out where the action is. if you've lucked out with friends who know everything that's going on in addition to open bars (free booze, free booze, yay!) (kidding) (not really), the city seems filled with possibilities.

the greatest difference between finland and nyc seems to be that "acting your age" is a demand that feels utterly unimportant in the city. i mean, you're expected to be nice and polite regardless of your age and maturity is expected from older generations, sure, but after turning 30 your social life, sense of fashion, taste in music, etc. are not expected to change radically towards "more adult". this means that people past 35 can go to indie shows and hipster bars without being sneered at as desperately trying to deny their age – even if they're not rock journalists whose presence seems self-explanatory and who carry an aura of continuous cool youth around them. this said, i enjoy both upscale drinking establishments and grimy (or not so grimy) dives, and will list a few of the latter now.

my number one dive is lit lounge, located in the east village. although i didn't visit this time, from what i've heard it remains the same. downstairs is a rare location for smokers and a very small stage for aspiring indie superstars. some of the most interesting gigs i saw whilst living in the city took place here. the main floor is equally small and dirty, but the music is excellent thanks to a great lineup of dj's (carlos d from interpol has been known to spin here). if you enjoy bars like dynamo in turku or erottaja in helsinki (may she rest in peace... *sigh*), this is your spot.

if you're into cheap (and i mean cheap, like 2$ beer), you've got to visit welcome to the johnsons in the lower east side. definitely the grungiest on my list and a dingy hole that smells hideous is great for boozing up on a budget. an extra touch of going way low are the plastic covered sofas... well, you get the idea.

williamsburg's bar scene evolves in the proficient hands of indie kids, and a new spot seems to emerge every week. nevertheless, there are a couple that deserve kudos for longevity and consistency. first is union pool that opened its doors while i was a resident of the neighborhood. the place used to be an old swimming pool supplies store and some of the related paraphernalia is still part of the interior. the backyard garden is beautiful, the drinks are cheap and the place packed most nights. for some reason i remember seeing some live acts there as well, but it may come down to an alcohol infused memory lapse...

the other one is a newbie to me (although not the neighborhood i was told), called k&m. an old pierogi bar, it is nowadays one bonafide hipster hangout. the bar is small, cosy and the mixed drinks are excellent and, guess what, cheap. the walls and ceiling are painted tin in true nyc style.

my friend's boyfriend was dj'ing there one night and we made plans to pop by. knowing this they offered me a spot for spinning since one of the guys had cancelled, but because my records were in finland and i don't laptop dj, i had to pass. unfortunately, instead of the finnish export star, they needed to settle for someone else, an utter nobody called brace paine from some nondescript band called the gossip... well, i guess that explains the music scene quite exhaustingly. i kinda wished beth would have shown up...

(and brace, i am still really sorry for the flash going off like that. then again, this one is the only decent photo of the night...)

do you like dives yerself or want clean and sleek around you? my next recommendations will be slightly more upscale, i promise...

Friday, September 4, 2009

hiding with carcasses.

the promised land of speakeasies and misleadingly nondescript little restaurants, manhattan still offers some truly magnificent places that remain hidden at the ends of alleyways and backdoors.

freemans restaurant is located at the end of freeman alley, a tiny little opening on rivington, just off the bowery. entering you first note the clandestine lighting and traditional decor. on the walls are masses of taxidermy – a disturbingly prevalent trend in nyc restaurant design. the clientele is varied, but somewhat in the know, since although the restaurant was opened in 2004 it is not easy to find. the menu consists of american classic cuisine, but don't let that fool you into thinking it's only burgers and mac'n'cheese.

they take reservations for only parties of six and more, others are treated as walk-in's: completed parties, first come, first served basis. sometimes the wait can be long, but we secured our spot right after an immaculately mixed drink at the bar by the entrance – the girl working there has such a delicate touch and grace in mixology that it's definitely worth a few minutes admiring. depending on whether you enjoy getting in the mood for dinner by sipping a cocktail and people watching, freemans' policy may or may not suit your taste, but i surely felt it was like a soft landing towards sitting down to a cosy table amongst the carcasses.

the rustic menu is wholesome, but portions are not extravagant – although the hot artichoke dip (pic below) is quite enough for four people as an appetizer, costs 10$ and tastes heavenly. according to the lifestyle trends i described here before, they serve wild game, sustainable seafood and local organic produce. the wine list is old-world style and changes often with small specialty batches, organic and bio-dynamic wines.

pics both from freemans restaurant, tweaked by me.

as we enjoyed one of the best meals of our trip here, the place is definitely worth a visit even if the decor may give you the occasional chills.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

party track of the year.

as an expression of an entirely subjective opinion, i name this aeroplane remix of friendly fires' "paris" the dancefloor track of the year. original here. the song features the darlings of au revoir simone.

i will be playing it tomorrow when i dj at the official pipilotti rist opening at kiasma museum of contemporary art. the exhibition is a collaboration of the museum and finnish elle magazine, and there is a pre-opening tonight, hosted by elle. i look forward to seeing the fashion extravaganza. which reminds me, i gotta get dressed... wang boots, yes, but what else...

sensible shadow.

although it is impossible to visit nyc without shopping, i left with a promise: i am only allowed to acquire things for fall. moreover, i must absolutely and instantly love them and they need to fit perfectly prior to any alterations. the reasoning behind these clauses is self-evident: i have too many "almost there" garments hanging in my closet and i never end up taking them to a seamstress. i also promised myself that neither sandals nor sneakers were allowed because there are several dozen of both types in (and outside) my closet already, but that i should find myself a pair of sensible ankle boots for the fall. based on my previous thoughts on recessionista behavior i had acted according to the dogma of frugality, and i thought it was time to boost the american economy the little it was possible on my part.

since the definition of 'sensible' comes down to one's personal evaluative skills, you can probably imagine that my first, absolutely down-to-earth thought was to find these finsk ponyskin wedges. unfortunately, they were sold out. bummed, i was quite certain i wouldn't find anything that could impress me to the extent of their beauty.

lately my desire for unconventional shapes and structured pieces has grown tremendously; the approaching fall and winter create a longing for strength and shadow that is somewhat unprecedented. i have for years relied on shoes for additional interest in an outfit; a sculptural shoe oomphs an outfit easier for the likes of myself who find layering a challenge and often too fussy. and i did not believe i could find anything as beautiful as the wooden wedge.

wrong! less than a minute after walking into barney's co-op i was teetering in these alexander wang ankle boots. the leather is so soft i first thought it was washed denim, the weight of each shoe closes on 2lbs, and they jingle when i walk. although i hardly have time to stroke the beautiful material, the feeling of luxury seems to submerge through socks and underneath my skin. the heavy steps are as good as exercise (right?) and the clickety-clack is just a fun – and annoying – detail. they're a pair of terminator hushpuppies meet moon boot creepers.

instant love? yes. perfect fit? definitely. but sensible? probably not...

boots hanne by alexander wang.

otherwise i acted true to my plans. i bought things i fell in love with and that fit flawlessly, such as the rick owens jacket below. in perfect accord with his style it creates interesting 3d silhouttes depending on how you wear it and where you're looking from. within my newly embraced femininity that arrived with the shaved head, an hourglass shape does not necessarily strike as traditional. moreover, a tucked waist works better on my body than cloak-like shapes, but the foldings add interest and take a feminine shape to another level.

come fall, i venture back towards my monochrome ways. since i associate color with spring and summer, most of what i wear will hover between black and white. hence, the look i'll be sporting this fall may be a little tough and industrial, but i promise to accessorize with a smile...

click to enlarge. jacket and long sleeveless tee by rick owens, leggings american apparel, necklace i know why no, boots as above.

what does sensible mean to you? are you finding it hard to follow your principles when ultimate fashion love strikes?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

bowl like there's no tomorrow.

the absolute highlight of the trip was a result of a timeout disaster: it seems all the great things summery nyc had to offer were mentioned in one issue of timeout magazine, which meant flocking people and lines around blocks. when new yorkers move, there's bound to be some traffic. one unfortunate (for us, that is) recommendation was girl talk playing at mccarren pool (which actually has been relocated to a new park by the east river in willyburg) where we stood in line for almost an hour, made it in only to realize that most of our friends were still stuck in line.

after a while we decided that joining the people outside was a better idea (lines for bathrooms and bars were considerable), and we took off for some dinner and drinks. our choice was brooklyn bowl – a restaurant, bar, live venue and bowling alley – next to brooklyn brewery. unaware that the locale was also the official afterparty venue for the pool party, we lucked out and secured a lane for bowling with only an hours wait.

the food was sumptuous, greasy and perfect, the rental shoes clean, the service friendly and the music a combo of indie classics and dance tunes. the lane cost 50$ an hour which is reasonable. most importantly, a great group of friends shared an action packed evening of fun. thus, if you're in town with friends, this would be my ultimate recommendation spot.

and since nyc is a great for celebrity spotting, i'll share one story. as we waited with our beer for a free lane a bathroom break was in order. i waited for my turn, saw the cubicle door open and who did i bump into if not agyness deyn. casual in grey leggings, oversize tee and bowling shoes, she was shorter than i expected and beautiful. were i more of an arrogant pap, i should've asked for a pic, but instead i just blushed and felt stupid. yeah, bummer...

go organic!

when finns talk about buying organic produce they use terms such as "try" and "whenever possible". it makes sense really because the number and variety of organic choices offered in grocery stores varies from nonexistent to low. another question is the quality of the merchandise which also varies from excellent to rotten – probably due to low demand.

i am definitely one of the people who claim to buy organic whenever possible, but am probably not the only one who finds high pricing a possibility diminishing factor. offering organic tomatoes next to regular ones with exponential prices really works wonders in lessening the appeal of the organic fare. the difference is too obvious and the benefits less so – for me, at least, the ethical superiority is too vague.

there are considerations worth thinking about, though. while it is true that organic farming may not be the most eco-friendly way to produce food, it is usually toxin free. after growing my own veggies during these past two summers i have noted that everything rots in a matter of days, and naturally it makes one wonder whether the stuff we're sold at grocery stores are not only preservative filled mockery of produce.

living organic is not only possible, but de rigueur amongst brooklynites. new yorkers are known as finicky eaters and restaurants hardly show contempt if you change every single part of your order to suit your taste. obviously demanding that the failing economy has not destroyed your financial means completely, the choice of following an organic and local production favoring diet is easy and accessible. grocery store chains, such as whole foods and trader joe's, not only sell organic and local foods, but favor them over produce that follows eco-unfriendly agricultural procedures. fortunately (for some of us), this means you're not constantly pounded in the head by the price difference between organic and non-organic choices.

the reason i am hesitant about paying much extra for organic comes down to a typical finnish trust in the safety of our alimentary control; since the environmental benefit is debated, the perks of eating organic come down to health issues and finns just seem to trust the food we're sold is safe. we love to think domestic is cleaner and better than exported, and the propaganda we're fed is constant so we cannot forget.

the difference between finns and new yorkers is huge in this sense: educated brooklynites are more than aware of the legislation that allows the usage of all sorts of toxins and hormones in agriculture. they also know that a full-blown capitalist society favors profit-making over individual and social concerns, because the free economy is considered the primary value of the nation. the myopic health concerns of officials have lead to several nutrition associated problems, and as officials turn the blind eye to the safety of their citizens' health repeatedly, americans seem almost paranoid in comparison to finns when it comes to food choices.

the paranoia results in incredible produce sections and selections in aforementioned grocery stores and local restaurants. most restaurants serve completely organic menus and the preference for local producers is visible and dominant. old trades, such as butchering, are rising in popularity and some restaurants offer a choice of a local meat-cutter for your steak in addition to information on the origin of the beef. small specialty shops pop up everywhere and people frequent them happily – willing to pay for the service they get.

this retrieval to artisanship and traditional farming is a devolution i wholeheartedly welcome. i mean, wouldn't you love to get your cheese from a store called stinky brooklyn where they'll tell you all about the producer and afterwards fetch the wine to accompany it from across the street at a store called smith &vine with a huge selection of organic wine? both stores are owned and ran by a married couple and offer individual service with a big heart, and i cannot think of many consumption related experiences that surpass that.

do you think organic choices should be more widely available or are we just being hoaxed into believing they're healthier so we'd pay more?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

city sleek.

shopping in nyc can feel like a full-time job. the possibilities are endless, and even if you choose your destinations carefully, the probability of finding yet another new interesting boutique is, let's just say, high.

as a consistent rule i would avoid shopping during the weekend. "the earlier the better" also applies whenever possible – unless you belong to the group of people who find empty stores intimidating. in addition to a couple of exceptions, i only shop in areas i find otherwise also inspiring, and therefore you're not going to find recommendations for stores in soulless midtown here. i also recommend signing up for all possible lists before traveling in order to be informed about warehouse and sample sales in the city. last week many of my friends got lucky at the barneys new york warehouse sale...

but here we go.

first manhattan.

century21 is something every new yorker loves. whether you're into high fashion or not, this bargain hunters' heaven is a likely target – whether you're willing to admit it or not. the stock is past season items from every imaginable designer and brand, and the shoe department alone is worth a visit (designer shoes are downstairs...) go early in the morning (opens at 7.30am), during the week, and reserve a few hours for browsing. add everything you like ever so slightly to your shopping basket and just try it on. if you don't grab it right away, it may be gone...

i left with a helmut lang wool dress (below), some rick owens, martin margiela and vivienne westwood garb, and although the prices are relative to the originals, the savings were huge. for designers whose style alters very little from one season to another and for fashion lovers like myself who know exactly what they love regardless whether it is current season or not, century21 is like the perfect speed date: instantly gratifying.

dress helmut lang; watch tag heuer; glasses chanel.

barney's co-op is the hipper, younger alternative to the high-end barney's department store. in their own words "it's always downtown even when it's uptown" which pretty much sums up nyc fashion. from their several locations i like the original soho store best. my sneak peek boots are from there – and sugar kane, more pics are on their way...

oak is a boutique started in williamsburg and now has an additional location on the edge of soho towards east village. they sell up-and-coming young designers and established brands such as philip lim, alexander herchcovich+wang, bernhard willhelm and comme des garçons. a tad on the expensive side and with snotty service, the selection is worth ignoring the downsides.

opening ceremony on the border of soho and chinatown is one of absolute favorites. three floors of edgy designers and special collaborations guarantee there is always something interesting and new on offer.

for streetwear lovers the scene in manhattan seems grim. many amazing sneaker stores have closed down although luckily dave's quality meat is still alive and kickin' for the pleasure of footwear connoisseurs. for those who desire a wide selection and good prices the secret is to go down on broadway in soho: the lower you go towards canal street, the lower the prices on sneakers. for converse, the prices go down approximately 10$ per block. the emporium i recommend is michael k who carry several brands but also rare and customized sneakers.

the design aficionado will hail the incredible prada store in soho designed by rem koolhaas. the sales associates are used to design students sketching away on the steps and service is sometimes hard to find due to the immense amount of tourists just checking the interior. but even if you go in intending not to buy, it may prove hard – as it did for both my usually hight-street wearing little sis and meself. this time i was seduced by these booties with a thick rubber sole, "läskärit" (i.e. fatties) as we'd call them in finnish.

booties prada.

consignment shopping is huge in nyc, and for manhattan my recommendation is to head over to the east village and tokyo 7 where the fashionable and wealthy take the stuff they get bored with – usually after one wear. high-end recycling never got better... on the same street you can find other quality vintage stores, so just pop in and see what's on offer. to my disappointment, second-hand and vintage stores have gone insane with their pricing: lower east side stores sell second-hand for hundreds of dollars a piece regardless of quality, brand and condition. i had to conclude it wasn't worth it...

next time, brooklyn.