Fashion is everywhere

Clones N Clowns by Aimee Wood

3 Places to visit in Paris this Summer 2014

Happy Sunday everyone I hope you’re weekend is as peaceful and sunny as mine. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll probably know how often I travel to Paris and I’m stopping over there again next weekend which reminded me I should get posting some Parisian tips on here some time. The city is changing at a fast pace and is already quite different from the Paris I knew and fell in love with (and in !) five years ago. Luckily, my frequent trips allow me to keep up and when I’m not there myself I have plenty of friends living in the French capital to keep me up to date on what’s going on. Traveling from London to Paris is so simple these days that in just a few hours you can pack your bag and go get that je ne sais quoi every perfect Summer needs. Here are the top 3 things that should be on your list this Summer if you’re planning a getaway to Paris, the city of lights, romance and gorgeous French people. 1: Les berges This is an area of Paris I did not know until very recently – shame on me! It’s the latest place to go for a stroll when you’ve filled your face with too much baguette and I was so impressed with the area I can’t wait to go back. I’m not one to say Paris is a modern city but the work the county has done along the Seine is seriously impressive stuff finally giving this museum of a city the touch of modern creativity it lacked. There are hamacs to lie in, huts to book for the day , dance lessons, photography courses and more – all for free. What’s not to love? 2: The Printemps Rooftop Despite the famous images of Parisian rooftops a la Aristocats, the French city is actually not the best place for a drink on the skyline. From what I know, having a rooftop view is a luxury only the maids would have in Paris since the top floors are often made up of wardrobe-sized rooms the “bonnes” – in other words house-carers – would call home. If you’re moving to Paris for a few months, are looking for a cheap(ish) place to stay and don’t mind having the toilet at the end of your bed I might recommend you rent one of these chambres for yourself and you may get to see the whole of Paris, including Madame Eiffel, from your teeny window. If that doesn’t appeal to you, you could always get a partial yet beautiful view from the top of the famous Galeries Lafayette store on Boulevard Haussman. The view won’t be quite as romantic as the twilight shot above, but you will see the Palais Garnier, one of my favourite 19th century buildings in Paris otherwise known as L’Opéra – arguably the most famous opera house in the World. The rooftop is free to access – unless you end up shopping on your way up – and you can even grab a coffee on the floor below if you’re in need of a café. Don’t go late as it closes at the same time as the shop – 8pm – but do turn up whenever you feel like it before then as you won’t even need to queue for the view. 3: La Nuba  If making yourself at home means hanging with the cool dudes then La Nuba is the place for you. I meet many people in London who like myself know Paris quite well after years of city-hopping like there ain’t no Channel. When you get to this point in a relationship with a city, you don’t want to be doing the touristy stuff any more. You want to be a part of it. And “it” my friends, is la Nuba. Make sure you pack your most hipster-chic outfit as well as a well-topped up credit card and head off for La Nuba no earlier than 10pm for the full Parisian experience. You’ll have to queue (for a while) outside but just remember it’s all part of the fun – and the fashion show. The club closes in the early hours of the morning but if nightlife is not what you’re looking for it opens again in the day time for laid-back lunch on the terasse. Let me know if you get to try any of these three places and bon voyage! xx Aimee

3 Places to visit in Paris this Summer 2014

Travelling light !

I’m full of excitement as I write to you this morning since, after months of anticipation, the day has finally come for me and Mr Marcel to fly off to Martinique ! Caribbean, here we come ! Meanwhile, there’ll still be lots to see on the blog as I have prepared a whole week of articles for Clones N Clowns. This week we’ll be discussing something I have given a lot of thought over the past few months… Minimalism. But I’m afraid I’m not able to guide you to the perfect Scandinavian house nor the ten piece wardrobe. I’ve never actually been very good at minimalism and have far to many things I love and enjoy in life to allow in so much spare “space”. However, I do have a thing for uncluttering from time to time and have learnt how good it can feel to eliminate the unnecessary once in a while. Travelling is a very good place to start in fact because after two years of visiting Paris on a near to monthly basis, I can guarantee it is a vertu to master the art of travelling light. Here are the rules I follow when packing my suitcase…. Rule n° 1 : YOU SHALL TAKE 3 PAIRS OF SHOES Let’s start with the most difficult rule of all… The shoe rule. 3 pairs it is, whatever the situation or length of stay. One comfortable pair (trainers, Converse, running shoes…), one pair of flats and one pair of heels. These three will get you everywhere, no need for more, you’re likely to panic if you have less. Rule n° 2 : YOU SHALL MIX & MATCH Mix-and-matching is the ideal way to make sure you have everything you need without overloading. Never pack anything that can’t be worn twice EXCEPT for an evening dress. You should always have one of those you never know what event you might get invited to. But the general rule is “if it’s not going to be worn twice, it doesn’t go in.”  Here’s an idea of what I take away for 7 days : 4 tee-shirts, 1 blouse/shirt, 3 sweatshirts (if winter time, 1 if not), 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of trousers, 2 skirts / pairs of shorts, 1 evening dress (pick one that travels well…!), 1 pair of pyjamas, 2 swimsuits (if beach holiday), underwear.  Rule n° 3 : YOU SHALL TAKE 3 ACCESSORIES Considering my mobile wardrobe was getting pretty light according to the above rules, I used to allow myself to take as many accessories as I wanted. MIS-TAKE. Unfortunately, accessories can get pretty heavy and before you know it you’re back to the old overweighted suitcase. Try taking just three, for example : A belt, a pair of sunnies and a chunky necklace. And of course you can always cheat by stacking bracelets and rings before you leave home 😉 Rule n°4 : YOU SHALL PACK A (VERY) BASIC MAKE-UP BAG Make-up palettes are ideal and particularly trendy these days, which is handy when it comes to packing light. As well as my Fade to Black by Smashbox I simply pack a tinted and hydrating CC cream, see-through powder to make sure my makeup lasts all day, blusher, mascara, a Chubby Stick by Clinique for hydrated yet colourful lips, night cream, day cream, all-over-your-face makeup remover and a sample of cleanser. Oh and a tooth brush unless I forget it and end up buying one where I’m staying. I swear I could open an international toothbrush museum. Samples are amazing for packing, they’re the perfect size for a couple of days away and of course are as light as a feather. Plus I know you keep loads in a box somewhere… Go on, get rid of that clutter ! Miscellaneous… I have noticed that even when you master these 4 rules, the miscellaneous category is the most difficult to tame. I don’t know about you, but I used to end up packing a home and half, “just in case”… But the potential scenarios I had imagined simply never occurred and I realised I was carrying a whole load of “emergency” items I never used. I have since learnt to leave the “maybes” behind and to deal with “emergencies” as and when (and wherever) they happen. As for leisure, I always take a book and an iPad and have tried to stop taking my computer everywhere I go. I have to have a notebook, that’s just me, no compromise possible I’m afraid. I also have a rule that goes CCPP : Credit card, charger, phone, passport. Some of you you might want to add an extra P too, for pill 😉 I sware you can survive anything with the CCPP(P) rule, try it ! So there you have it, my travelling bible… There’s only one thing left to say… Don’t forget your tickets ! I hope this post helps you next time your packing, pin it or keep it in your favourite folder for next time you need someone to say “nooooo you don’t need that” ! I’ll be here ! I hope you enjoy the rest of my minimalist week too… See you tomorrow ! And off I go ! Aimee

Travelling light !

New Year in Chinatown, London

Good morning, readers ! I hope you’re good this morning. I had such an intense week last week, follwed by a full-on weekend, I think I need another one to recover ! One of the best events of my weekend was experiencing the Chinese New Year in Chinatown for the first time. I have been promising myself I’ll go for the last few years so it was about time we checked the party out. Although bits were slightly disappointing (due to very high expectations no doubt!), all in all it was a great day and experience. Here are the photos I took. The funny thing about yesterday’s festivities, and the part we were a tad disappointed by, was the parade. It was… short and to be honest not particularly impressive. I was expecting something amazing, with massive dragons, masks and floats galore. Oh well, at least we got to see a double decker bus full of dressed up kids and a gigantic blow-up duck 😉 We then moved on to Leicester Square which was super busy too. It took us ages to cross the place so I had my camera at the ready and was click-click-clicking all around to make the most of the unusual views. There were a few stands along the side, free ballons (sponsored by a bank haha) and also a huge stage in the centre of the square. I’m not sure what was going on on there, but there were quite a lot of people standing in front of it so maybe something was about to begin. We quickly noticed the cute little dragons people were holding and so went on a search to find our own little Chinese pets. We walked to Chinatown and this was my favourite part of the day. There were endless decorations and lots of stands in the streets, people everywhere and of course the sweet smell of Chinese food… We didn’t actually stop for Chinese at the time but we did make our own Chinese dumplings in the evening. It was great fun and absolutely delicious ! I think what I enjoyed most yesterday was seeing so many people meet up to celebrate a holiday from another country. Whether it’s out of curiosity or love of a good party, I always like seeing people mingle on days like this. So many people, young and old, will keep that day as a fun memory ! Did you celebrate Chinese New Year this weekend ? Or have you in previous years ? Love from Chinatown xx Aimee

New Year in Chinatown, London

London at Christmas time

Hello readers all over the World ! Today I’m going to show you a little bit of London… As you might know already (in fact, chances are you might be one of them), the English LOVE Xmas time. I don’t know what happens, but overnight, between 10PM on Halloween and 8AM the next morning, people turn from gloomy and grey to bright and bubbly. Of course you get the odd bah humbug, but let’s face it, even he loves a good mince pie and a drop of port ! Christmas in London is like a condensed Christmas, it’s all over the place, in the streets, on people faces, in their shopping bags, in their glasses and on their plates. I have even noticed more people giving to the poor in the steet – so I guess it’s not just a cliché that people become more generous over the holiday season. I think what I love most about Christmas time is the structure it brings to our days and nights. Everything is about Christmas, there is a general theme going-on, everyone is taking part in one big fun party. I just love the cosiness of a warm cider in the pub and have been shopping for pressies for months already ! Basically, what I’m trying to say, is I LOVE the fact Christmas is all about indulgence. And, well, London definitely knows how to indulge. Magical decorations in the Covent Garden market <3 It’s snowing on Oxford Street !A beautifully decoration road near Covent Garden, leading to St Martin’s Courtyard Because I know a lot of you might consider coming to London before Christmas or the New Year, I thought I’d give you a bit of a taster. Oh, you know you want to ! It’s simply the ideal place for shopping and I find that these days it’s getting easier and easier to hop from place to place, especially European cities. With online comparators like this one or this one it can be easy enough to find an affordable hotel or hostel. Come and share the magic ! Regent Street’s 12 days of Christmas decorationsJ. Crew sees Christmas in a traditional light…Urban Outfitters however show a more cynical twist ! St Martin’s Courtyard – Covent Garden Yep, people even get dressed up…. THIS IS LONDON !Psssst – Hopefully I’ll be showing you how to put beautiful Christmas bouquets together soon !Concerts in the street… The perfect tune to shop until you drop !Popcorn, anyone ?! Go ahead, it’s free !  If you do come to London before Christmas, here are five things I suggest you defintiely do : – Check out the beautiful “robin” decorations on Carnaby Street – Sit outside with blankets and enjoy a sweet, warm and spicy mulled wine – Treat yourself to a Christmas afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason (I’m heading there this weekend!) – Be sure to walk around Covent Garden and check out the fun seasonal animation – Shop until you drop on Oxford Street and make sure you get your fam’ and friends the best pressies out there ! See you soon ?! Aimee  

London at Christmas time

Morning, Stokey !

This week is going to be CRAZY. I moved into my office this morning, have birthday celebrations from tomorrow on and also have a great announcement for Wednesday… So before the busy times kicked off I made sure I had a relaxing weekend. Friends, sun, brunch, shopping and watching films… It was perfect. I even grabbed the best bargain EVER : a Sparkle & Fade 100% leather biker jacket for just £35…. It was hooked onto the rails on the side of the road with a couple of German hippies waiting to negotiate prices. I didn’t even try to get it for less, I couldn’t take the risk of it not being mine ! I have been meaning to show you pictures of Stoke Newington for a while. It’s my home borough here in London. People don’t know Stoke Newington until they move here, and then I don’t think they ever leave. It’s almost like a place where rock ‘n’ roll hipsters grow up and become the coolest parents in the world. And then at night younger folk comes in because there are so many awesome bars and clubs in the area. Stoke Newington is a super creative area, even Baksy loves it (apparently !). Here you can see a painting he once left us, unfortunately it covered partially covered up…  Generally speaking, Stokey is such an inspiring place. If I’m ever lost for ideas, just a walk along Church Street is the most refreshing remedy. It’s quite an expensive area, I have to be honest. But the reason for this is that a lot of the food you find here is organic or locally sourced and everything is top quality. People recycle, stay healthy, top up bottles of oil and wine instead of rebuying… It’s all quite cliché but I find it very inspirational. There’s a lot of homemade and vintage in the area, too. As you might have guessed from the above description ! Of course then there’s Whole Foods, what’s a trendy area without it ? But I prefer to shop in smaller shops where people sell their own produce or care about your order. There aren’t that many butchers or markets in London, but here we have lots of choice. Having said that, I think the shop type we see most around here is the classic thrift store…One of my favourite moments in Stokey is weekend mornings. There might be a few too many kids (forgive me but there are LOADS and they all CRY NON STOP), but it’s still perfect for a relaxed brunch… There are a few cute cafes who do great breakfast, my favourite so far being the Fat Cat because they serve my salmon in a flower shape 😉 So there you have it, Stoke Newington ! If you ever have an extra afternoon in London, check it out… It’s also a quick walk to Dalston which is pretty cool too, this is where my new office is so I’ll be sure to take some pictures to show you soon ! Hat – H&M Necklace – Primark Tee-Shirt – COS Shorts – American Apparel Bag – Petite Mendigote Hope you enjoyed your visit ? And that you’re weekend was glorious too 🙂 Bisous xx Aimee PS – Meet me here tomorrow for a special birthday wishlist !

Morning, Stokey !

Avenue 32

Yesterday I attended an event organised by Avenue 32. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t know anybody there so I spent a lot of my time hiding behind my camera – I’m shy like that ! I did feel like you were with me though, as weird as that may sound. I saw how the other fashion bloggers grouped together, took photos of each other, almost held back from eating the delicious breaky provided, ooohed and ahhhhed over the clothes on show… Oh and, bloggers tend to have the hugest cameras ! I had a small lense on mine yesterday so I had to remind myself that “size doesn’t count” ^^ Generally speaking, all the bloggers looked very stylish, many with a typical London modern-yet-retro look, and as for the items on the rail… Just : WOW. I am so inspired by Avenue 32’s whole concept : the website stocks emerging designers as well as better known designers, sharing the credibility and promoting newcomers with talent. I love that idea. Promoting designers is something I’d love to get involved in and I think it’s a new dimension I’d like to introduce to this blog. Although I’m a total DIY freak, I do genuinely believe supporting talented designers is a good thing. It’s one of the reasons I’d rather DIY a project inspired by a trend rather than attempt to reproduce a designer’s actual piece of clothing or accessory. Well, OK, I did recreate the Moschino paper boat clutch – it was irresistible ! But as a general rule I try to do my own thing and if I love another person’s creation, I will also try and buy it or not have it at all. Personal rule. The prices on Avenue 32 are what you might call “affordable luxury”. I mean, you’re not going to fill your basket without having to deal with triple digits, but new designers tend to charge more understandable prices for their work. It’s not so much about the hype and branding, it’s a lot more to do with quality, materials, work and talent. I think I’m going to start saving up to buy less high street and a little more “luxe”. My dream style would definitely be a bit of homemade, a bit of cheap ‘n’ cheerful high street and a beautiful designer piece to top it off. When’s payday already ? Uh oh, today… So I’ve been thinking. How can I (and you) boost my wardrobe without failing to pay the rent ? Well, there are so many sites out there with second hand designer, and then there’s ebay, and also sales and “private” sales… There’s actually a lot of alternatives out there if you’re looking to buy designer at a lower price. So what I’ll do sometime soon is take the time to dig out some online luxe bargains and post you a top ten selection – what do you think ? Something like “OK I’ve found these, they’re amazing, one of you grab ’em nooooooowwww”. A cheaper way to upgrade your wardrobe. Come on, let’s get designer clever 😉 xx Aimee

Avenue 32

Back to London, Back to Business

Back to London : Back to Business ! That’s what I say to myself everytime I come home. And I like it. Working is something I love, because I’m creating the perfect job as a freelancer so that I wake up everyday inspired. So however blissful it has been to have some time off, I secretly couldn’t wait to get back to London to get back to work on my exciting projects ! I still feel so happy here in London, this city is endlessly exciting… What I wasn’t looking forward to however, was getting back to work… from home. After a year and a half, I was getting pretty tired of working on the same table I eat from and hardly moving from that one spot in the corner of our one-bedroom flat. Not much fun. I have been looking forward to the day I would be able to afford to rent a desk in an office and I’m proud to say that time has come ! I’ll soon be moving into an office shared with other designers and freelancers – all very talented people I can’t wait to get to know. It’s a great step for me and an exciting move for my small but ambitious business. I now have a couple of weeks before I move in so as you can imagine I’m already dreaming up desk DIYs… But I also have a lot of work to do so I’m using this time to get out and about to work from different areas of London. Today, I came along to work in the City of London, a place I feel gets me in the perfect mood for work. All these suits and heels… The huge buildings and the smell of success… It’s oh so sophisticated and boy do I feel like getting down to some good work when I see busy people walking with purpose from snazzy building to cool cafe and back.I’m wearing Jones shoes, a Forever 21 skirt, a COS tee shirt and a Primark clutch. The building here on the left is my favourite of all (although it’s highly threatened by the arrival of the Pinnacle, that building looks incredible !). I especially like the fact it was designed by Richard Rodgers, one of the architects who worked on the Centre Pompidou in Paris. I feel like it’s my own secret porthole… Although it isn’t as colourful as its Parisian brother, it’s definitely impressive and I love the way it clashes with the old buildings in the city but matches so perfectly well with its more contemporary neighbours, including the famous Gherkin (30 St Mary Axe). If you’ve never been before, make sure you stop by Leadenhall market next time you’re in the city – especially for a bite to eat if you have time to queue. The food in those small restaurants is fabulous, but you have to wait for all the busy suits to rush back to work before getting a table ! A sexy scene of suits and subs.Even in the most sophisticated areas of London, the English always appreciate a little fun and creativity. I love these dinos at the foot of the Gherkin. They have been there for a few months now, rusty from day one. Toy Story forever.I hope you have lots of exciting things lined up for the up-coming weeks and months too, and that you’re as excited about getting back to work as I am ! Love from London Aimee  

Back to London, Back to Business

Take a look at St Pancras International

When people ask me where my favourite places in London are, I never really know what to answer… I have already shown you a few places I love (see here, here, here and here), but there are just so many more ! I will attempt to show you more over the months to come – and here is a place I adore right now. These photos were taken ten days ago, on our way to France.     St Pancras is one of the first places I ever saw in London. When I lived in the UK as a young girl, I moved around the North and West of England and never really went to London (or not as far as I can remember, at least). My first trip there was in fact during my first year living in France – a class trip to visit a few museums and famous spots. St Pancras is where the Eurostar leads, straight from the heart of Paris. It was weird being back in England with a French group, I didn’t know where I belonged ! Having been back here for a year and half, I still travel back to Paris every few weeks for work, friends and family. I love that place… And the excitement grows from the second I set foot in St Pancras International train station…  For those of you who have been following me for a year or so, you may remember me saying about my love for train stations… Train stations make me happy 🙂 I love seeing people waiting to meet their loved ones and even emotional departures make me smile with affection. I find travelling by train so relaxing and stations have such amazing features like huge clocks, tic-tacing boards, beautiful floors and high ceilings… And people, each with their own story, rushing around everywhere, threatened by their own watches, impatient to get to where they’re going… Wherever that may be… For whatever reason they may have… St Pancras is by far one of the most incredible stations I have ever seen. Some parts of it are literally breath-taking. It’s like a mini-museum, or a gigantic cabinet of curiosities. There are things to see all over the place, if you only take time to look.  Pianos are available for people to play at all times, meaning people buzz around to beautiful live music.         Tick tock, tick tock…  Read “I can’t wait to get to Fraaaaance !” If you’re ever passing by, make sure you have a snoop around, even if you’re not going anywhere. Don’t ever tell me inspiration doesn’t come free !   Finally on our way 🙂 xx Aimee

Take a look at St Pancras International

Notting Hill through black lace railings

It’s so SUNNYYYYYY ! Feels so good ! All I can think about it getting out there right now and walking / running / skipping around ! Which reminded me I wanted to show you a few more piccies from our walk around West London the other week. I already showed you my favourites from Portobello, now it’s Notting Hill’s turn ! However, I won’t be showing you the oh so famous bookshop – I slipped a photo of its sign in the Portobello Road selection because it’s more on that side of the area. There are so many other bits I have to show you though, Notting Hill is such a beautiful place and so different from its neighbour. When walking round Notting Hill, there’s one thing you’ll notice straight away : money. Houses are no longer made out of red-orange brick but are as white as a sheet of paper nobody knows what to write on. And I’ll bet you nobody will be writing on it anytime soon because it’s locked up behind spear-headed railings ! The beautiful houses are as private as their gardens which you can also only get a glimpse of when peeking through the iron bars. There’s nothing like being reminded you’re a tourist – or worse – poor ! It’s pretty impressive but I don’t think you should feel offended, it’s so interesting to see and simply beautiful. I have to admit there isn’t much to visit except for the pretty crescent roads but if you’re in the area it’s definitely worth wandering for a couple of hours. Although the houses themselves look a tad austere, flowers and healthy plants brighten the whole place up making it look decadently romantic and typically British. The whole area smells of luxury and good taste… I couldn’t help myself whispering… When I grow up… Well, reach for the stars, right ?!      Olive trees ! Without olives, but still classy ! Designery cafes…A teeny bit of colour for the watching lion…      Boy’s toys (or maybe girl’s in fact ?!) xx from my imaginary balcony (I’ll have one of those when I grow up, too 😉 Aimee

Notting Hill through black lace railings

Portobello Road

Hello ! I promised to share some pics of my trip to West London – let’s start with Portobello ! Because yesterday was a bank holiday, we figured it was the perfect time to visit this area because Portobello Market was not on. This may sound weird, because Portobello Market is a thing, but I have been twice already and just don’t get it. I find going on a quieter day is so much nicer, you can actually see the pretty buildings and streets instead of thousands of tourists and to be honest I have never found the market to be as interesting as the actual shops on Portobello Road. Question of taste, I guess – but yesterday was the perfect sunny day for a quiet walk in this popular part of London. After a good walk and a bit of a browse, we stopped in a cafe called Gail’s which I highly recommend despite the expense (£10 for 2 coffees, a finger-sized sandwich and a mini cake). The breakfast there looks amazing but because we had already eaten we went for tiny bites of salmon and chocolate (not all in one go^^).      I won’t show you any more than the sign – you’ll have to go and see it for yourself ! But I can tell you Hugh doesn’t seem to hang around there too much – shame ! Nibbles at Gail’s – don’t walk past it ! Old school cinema.  Hipster alert.      Love this ! I think I’m going to put a similar note in my purse !  My DIY iKat bag felt at home in this arty place ! Time for tea !If you’re ever looking for a gift / souvenir for a sporty friend, check out the vintage sports store, it is THE PLACE to buy vintage gear.    Pretty, isn’t it ?! So definitely go and take the tour next time you’re in London and better more try to go on a quiet day ! I also recommend The Hummingbird Bakery on Portobello Rd if you’re a cupcake addict (so good !) and if you have time make sure you have a walk around Notting Hill afterwards – it’s beautiful. I’ll show you some piccies soon. There’s also a museum I’m dying to go and visit, the Museum of Brands. I didn’t go yesterday because the weather was way too nice but I’ll go soon and let you know if it’s good ! Have you ever been to Portobello ? Liked it ? Loved it ? xx from RAINYAGAIN London. Aimee

Portobello Road