Swimsuit – Huit 8. Sandals – Birkenstocks. Glasses – Finlay & Co. Face Mist – Purearth. Straw Bag – H&M Home.

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Darling it’s better, down where it’s wetter. Take it from me

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Swimsuit – Victoria’s Secret. Bag – Louis Vuitton. Brogues – Hudson x Charlie May. Sunnies – Karen Walker. Watch – Larsson & Jennings. 

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Instagram @parkncube

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Swimsuit – Victoria’s Secret

Clearly, seasons aren’t London’s strong suit – this time awkward overcompensation at its best. Within a few days, the city transformed into one oversubscribed Bikram yoga class with hot, thick, armpit-consistency air with condensation streaming down the walls and windows (this is possibly what the River Thames made of). I’ve been finding shelter within some tightly shut double-glazed windows, a small fan circulating stale-but-cooler air. My mind keeps wandering back to the Maldives – of rushing sea winds on a boat as it slices through aquamarine water, escorted by a school of shiny dolphins. What I wouldn’t give now to be able to grab a mask and snorkel, plunge into the water and hand-signal a dad-joke at a family of clownfish, blow bubbles into a giant clam, or chase a sea turtle around a forest of reefs! I wouldn’t even mind thrashing away from a blacktip reef-shark* again, it’s more interesting than sighting a pack of sweaty, shirtless yobs with open beer cans in the park across the street, at the very least.

Oh well, I’m blowing bubbles through a straw into my morning iced-coffee, I suppose it’ll have to do for now.

Snorkeling at Conrad Maldives; Read reviewP Part 1 | Part 2

*apparently as scared of you as you are of them. Hallelujah.

Chanel métiers d’art paris-salzburg 14/15

Austria has always held a special place in my heart, not only for the reason that it’s the scene to my (undoubtably yours too) musical education (and knowing that doe is a female deer before learning what a deer is), but because it also happens to be where my family started our European abode back in 1989 before putting down our roots in Warsaw.

Coincidentally, it transpires that Chanel too has a vital link in Austria, more specifically, at the Mittersill hotel near Salzburg where Coco Chanel noticed the lift-boy’s uniform during her stay, a detail that later inspired the shape of the neat boxy shape of the now time-honoured classic, the Chanel tweed jacket.

The 11th Metiers d’Art collection showed at the lakeside Leopoldskron castle in Salzburg, back one frosty day back in December – blessed by the quirk and humour of Lagerfeld and a small army of expert hands from the label’s network of 11 artisan houses including Lesage, Desrues, Lamarie, Michel… et al. Technically, the collection boasts a level of meticulous craftsmanship that could be mistaken as couture, although in theory perhaps shy by one denim lederhosen and a nod towards dirndls.

So, it’s a huge pleasure to re-live Austria, albeit only through photos and found paintings, accompanied by shoes and accessories from the Chanel Metiers d’Art Paris-Salzburg 14/15 collection. Here’s a playful rendition that include some of my own childhood memories.

In collaboation with Chanel. Photography: Shini Park & Brian Leavy. Assistance: Simon Schmidt
Art Direction & Graphic Design: Shini Park
Cable car and skis enamel brooch Chanel
Patent side lace-up boots Chanel

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Red alpaca tweed long coat, cashmere socks, grey felt ankle boots – Chanel. Skirt – my own.
Felt messenger bag with flowers and pins Chanel
Plexiglass bracelet, silk faille blouse Chanel
“She took an element and made it hers”
- Karl Lagerfeld on Coco Chanel taking inspiration in everyday details
Pretzel and beer enamel brooch Chanel
Patent clogs Chanel
Cream cashmere skirt with roses Chanel

View the Collection

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Shown in Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg – an 18th century rococo castle, now a hotel but formerly private residence of the Prince Arch Bishop of Salzburg – the collection is an ultimate showcase for the Chanel workshops: primarily Lesage – the embroidery house, and Lemarie – the flower and feather specialists…

Discover more

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Felt ankle boots Chanel

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Sweater – My own. Cashmere skirt & felt bag – Chanel
Felt ankle boots Chanel
Leather Girl Bag Chanel
Wool felt loafers Chanel

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The devil is in the details – best demonstrated in the accessories and shoes.
Various resin chain brooches and charm necklace Chanel

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The Chanel Metiers d’Art collection is now in select boutiques globally.

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Behind the scenes at Pierre Marcolini
Brussels, Belgium | Marcolini.com

Brace yourselves, there’s a whole load of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (and a bit of poop, for that dose of unprofessionalism that I know you secretly love) references coming your way, because I’m about to take you behind scenes to where Pierre Marcolini chocolates – also known as dreams – are made. Now, if you’re not familiar with the Pierre Marcolini magic, first of all, let me book a crane to lift that rock you’ve been living under (do Uber do cranes?), and secondly you need to up your dessert game, son.

I’m not necessarily one to say, of course – we all know that anything brown makes its way into my mouth (this is not where the poop jokes happen, people.) and if it looks like a half-decent éclair, it has full potential to rock my world. But what I admire about Maison Pierre Marcolini, aside from outstanding practice of traditional Belgian artisan skills with matched innovation and creativity, is the respect for the bean. Meaning, an appreciation not only of the chemistry and the taste, but the people and community around the bean. Fairtrade is Marcolini’s norm, anything less is not accepted – and this is one of the decisive factors that I personally find validates the Maison an haute chocolaterie. So you try not comparing this to Willy Wonka and the cocoa-loving Oompa Loompas. (I do stand to believe that we should be seeing more of this type of approach in the fashion industry but perhaps this is a topic for another time.)

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The factory is an unpretentious block of a building that exudes a smell that some would consider an aphrodisiac – a somewhat spicy, earthy scent that piques curiosity yet makes your knees weak at the same time. This scent is directly traced to the first room where the cocoa beans are roasted in a giant contraption – the smell is most pungent here. With every following room, the aroma changes, and we taste each process with our noses – a whiff of vanilla and chilli in the mixing room, a dash of cream in the churning chamber… This is also where I chant to myself Don’t go Augustus Gloop, don’t go Augustus Gloop watching the chocolate swirl, until our guide hands over a small plastic spoonful of freshly churned liquid chocolate, and I melt at the spot.

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In the main hall we are given permission to pick up and eat anything off the assembly line and I ask myself this is some kind of heaven yes/no? If there were grass I’d have eaten it. The candied orange covered in dark chocolate (long poop-looking bits below) is especially scrumdidiyumptious. I am genuinely contemplating on moving to Brussels. Into a chocolate factory. Maybe build a pillow fortress behind a stack of cocoa bean burlap sacks and come out only when all the lights are shut. A bit like a raccoon, yes.

Candied orange things covered in dark chocolate

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Eclairs in the making

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Raspberry Cœers (‘hearts’)

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The Marcolini residence

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Much like grapes or coffee, cocoa beans are also identified the geographical factors of the source, so the outcome is vastly different depending on which passports the beans hold. Pierre Marcolini is not about creating ‘Belgian chocolate’, but in maintaining the native character whether it’s from Ecuador, Cuba, or Peru – a celebration of origins. This is apparent from his private residence, in central Brussels – ceiling as high as it comes, walls and corners littered with art and souvenirs from South America, Africa and Asia. After poking your head into his room for whiskey and cigars you realise, that for Marcolini this is not just a job, but a passion, this everlasting search for a voyage of the senses.

Finally, I am henceforth doomed with any diet whatsoever, as Pierre Marcolini have just opened the first standalone London store, on 37 Marylebone High Street W1U 4EQ, which also sells (fully-decent) éclairs, therefore guaranteed to rock my world at least 200%. I’ll build my pillow fortress there for now.

Park & Cube was the guest of Pierre Marcolini; All views and opinion mine.

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Serves 4

ciroc

Celebrate the warmer days with this crisp and refreshing classic, also popularly known as the French Martini. Give it a summer twist by preparing in a tall, fruit-laden pitcher and serving in tumblers. Enjoy with good company.
35ml Cîroc Pineapple
15ml Chamboard
50ml Pineapple Juice
10ml Vanilla Syrup
Shake and strain onto rocks glass with cubed ice. Cut pineapple lengthwise in half. Use half to make wedges for garnishing; skin and dice the other half to add to pitcher.

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Dress & Tray – House of Hackney

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If you look closely, this bottle literally has my name on it. See? If that doesn’t make it entirely mine, I’m not sure what does. Wow, sorry – there is a reason why I’m getting so dibs-y with a bottle of vodka, hear me out…this is actually my very first time mixing a cocktail at home! (Unless you count the cocktail of burritos and cheap beer I mix inside my digestive system, then I’ve done it every Friday night.) I’ve always been intrigued by the art and science of cocktails, and still consider it as wondrous as the Patronus charm. This is probably why I’ve fallen in love with every single bartender. (And also probably why I’m banned from bars.) Turns out, all you really need is a few simple ingredients and a shot glass to become your own sexy witch.

So I’ve decided to put down Learn more cocktails on my to-do list this summer, at least the classics. Speaking of which, Cîroc are hosting Mixology masterclasses every Wednesday throughout the summer at Southbank. In fact, they’ve taken the London riverside by (tropical) storm since June 1 and transformed the entire Tower Bridge area into a summer-long boutique festival dubbed Cîroc at London Riviera. Last time I checked it was overflowing with pineapples, palm trees, and Eastern Mediterranean street food (created by celeb chef John Quilter and chef Tom Kime). So, guess where I will be after work every day until the end of summer? I’ll most likely be wearing a light palm-tree print dress with matching sandals and a straw hat – you’ll know it’s me from across the river. If not, I’ll be in one of the Cîroc day-beds with a Pineapple-y drink in hand. Wake me up when September ends…

Art direction and photography by Shini Park. Shoot assitance by Simon Schmidt. In collaboration with Cîroc Vodka

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Add an extra dash of Chambord to the bottom of each tumbler to bring out the crisp edge of Ciroc Pineapple.

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Sandals & tray – House of Hackney. Jewellery – byAlona. Sunnies – Vintage.

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Scarf – Nazanin Rose Matin

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CoNrad maldives
Pt 2.
Rangali Island, maldives | www.hilton.com | Part 1

It’s difficult to write an account of an experience in the Maldives without an introductory flailing of the arms and a bit of gurgling, followed by something that’s spelt a little bit like this. It’s all very professional, really. In fact, the world should celebrate that I’m not on Youtube because it all looks and sounds like Tom Hanks in Cast Away with a bit of spirit fingers sprinkled in the mix. (I am on Snapchat however, making the same noises at brownies and puppies on Broadway Market: Sparkncube) Even re-living the Maldives through these photos puts me on a high.

As mentioned in Part 1, the main attraction at Conrad Maldives – once you’ve gotten over (warning: this may take forever) the milky-white beach, azure skies and the most translucent water since bottled Fiji – is the sense of privacy and isolation. I’d fully embraced this inside my Water villa (with thumping rap music on the first night), with a tinge of suspicion that perhaps it was to be expected given the nature of architecture, but was promptly proven otherwise as we moved into a Deluxe Beach villa two nights later. In theory, your neighbours are close by, but the minute the gates click shut, you feel like a homeowner. And it’s a big home – larger in fact, than most of my previous London flats, and I don’t recall ever having an outdoors bath-pavilion (unless you count the one where water leaked from the ceiling). So there, yet another reason to move to the Indian Ocean.

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Lingerie – Triangl. Serum – Estee Lauder. Sandals – Pour la Victoire. Watch – Daniel Wellington. Sunnies – Westweard Leaning

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Romper – ASOS. Necklace – EFFRA

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Speaking of reasons to move, add these too – ten restaurants where one is 5m (16 ft) under water, and another inside a wine cellar; an extensive list of DVDs and snacks that can be ordered through room service for rainy afternoons after lunch; and a spa that is set on stilts with glass floors so that you can drift off counting the stripes of a family of clownfish (“three”) while your back gets some much-needed TLC. So yes, I would jump ship and go Tom Hanks for/at Conrad Maldives any day, as long as Wilson can pour me some bubbly at pink sunset, I’d be happily cast away for ever.

Park & Cube was a guest of Conrad Maldives, all views and opinions are my own. Shots of me with the help of Mr Tripod.

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Caudalie Beauty Elixir. Sabon Body Lotion. Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Cream. Skyn Eye cooling gel. Kiehls Avocado Eye cream. Pai Avocado & Jojoba Day cream

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Watch – Daniel Wellington. Ring – Elizabeth & James

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The over-water spa

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