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Saturday, 26 October 2013

I ♥︎ VLT

As I walk into Valletta this afternoon, I am greeted by the sound of Peruvian pan-pipes.  Further down Republic street, a clarinetist plays Skyfall while 'Blurred Lines' blurts out from some super-sized speaker at the Embassy.  Further down the road, 'Caruso (Te voglio bene assai)' is being played on a French horn.  Valletta is abuzz with music.

But that isn't the purpose of my visit.  Neither is shopping, which is as you well know, a habit, or rather addiction for me.

I head straight down to Strait Street, past my favourite drinking hole, and on to the once glorious Splendid, currently home to Nadine Noko's exhibition Two Heads and a City.

Arguably, one can say that the exhibition per se starts at the City gate, where a mural has been affixed on the boards concealing (?) the site of the new Parliament building.  I love this prelude to the exhibition, and the greater part of me hopes in it surviving beyond the exhibition itself. Noko has managed to capture the essence of all that awaits the visitor upon entering the City walls - from the Valletta lawyers one sees on a daily basis, striding along the main street; to the all-seeing, unseen eyes, watching their neighbours' every move from their window; to the baskets hanging and waiting for the daily consignment of bread.  Much of what I see on this mural fills me with a sense of nostalgia for the Valletta I always loved, the Valletta I lived in before moving abroad.

My nostalgia is triggered again when I thread on the steps of Splendid, where the locale's name is emblazoned in a faded red over grey granite.  Walking around the exhibition together with Nadine, I am filled with memories of when I used to go to swim at the Valletta waterpolo pitch, or when as a child, I would visit an exhibition with my dad and then head over to Prego for pastizzi and peach juice - my drink de rigeur as a tiny tot. Entering the second exhibition room, I recognise the undertaker whose garage / shop was right round the corner from where I lived.  Nadine recounts her own encounters with the same chap and his family, and she takes me through a neighbourhood journey where the cabby drivers call out "madam wanna ride my horse?" and the old spinsters and widows gather in the neighbourhood square to say the rosary.

Nadine tells me about how her creative process came together on this project: how, moving to Valletta three years ago, she would seek inspiration among the City's streets, sketch-book in hand, immortalising the characters - human and non-human - who epitomise the City. With innumerable sketches and photos for reference, Nadine embarked on the Two Heads and a City project which features 20 archival prints which are to last 100 years.  I find this detail as appealing as the colourful characters and illustrations themselves: I like to think that Francois, the tattooed gas cylinder distributor, will live for 100 years more on someone's wall.  We talk about how we find the mundane - gas cylinders particularly - as incredibly beautiful.

I gravitate towards a painting of a female swimmer at the Valletta pitch.  I love the birds' eye view and the linear flow.  The more I look at this piece, the more it becomes my favourite.  It might be the connection I feel with the place it depicts.  Whatever it is, I feel a certain magnetic draw towards it.

This second visit to the exhibition was possibly the best idea I had over this last week.  While the opening last Friday was a great event, I now found the time to take in each piece and have a little tête-à-tête with the creative genius behind it. Everything about this exhibition fills me with a feeling of belonging.  The City is beckoning, and I must answer its call.

If you haven't been to Two Heads and a City, you have to go now. The exhibition is open until Tuesday 29th October and is supported by the Malta Arts Fund, V.18, Valletta European Capital of Culture and Farsons Group.

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Going home, just for a while

Those who have been following this page will know that I was, until a couple of months ago, living in Krakow, Poland.

Even though I have now returned to my motherland, and am actually currently back in my parents' house, at least for the time being, truth be told, it doesn't always feel like I'm home. Home is where the heart is, and my heart is still in Krakow.  And finally, it is time to go back, albeit for a short while.

Being back in Malta has been good in the sense that I've renewed a lot of my relations, friendships and contacts, been über-busy with work and events, and it's been broadly speaking, a good time.

The packing is almost done for this week, leaving enough room for those all-important purchases from H&M, Yoshe and other brands and stores we don't have on the island.  My mind is free from parochial concerns and open to enjoy my time with my loved one and the city I've grown to call home.  I've been polishing up the little Polish I managed to learn while there and I'm looking forward to my birthday away from it all. Oh, and of course, the mid-week Editors and Balthazar concert who just so happen to be in the city when I'm going to be there! (now what am I going to wear for that chance-encounter with Tom Smith?!

So in case I don't blog much over the coming week, well, you now know what's keeping me busy! Keep following my Facebook page though as any updates / strange happenings / sightings will be posted there xx

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Thursday, 24 October 2013

Lipstick Renaissance

If there is one colour combination that you're hard pressed to find me wearing is black and red.  I can't go past the Dennis the Menace / Milan / Hamrun Spartans connotations in my mind.

And yet, you wouldn't say that from the updated look of this blog (do you like it, btw?) Nor from one of my latest purchases - a maroon and black striped dress as seen here.  But maroon is not red in my books. So all's fine where maroon comes to play.

My mind is boggled by red. A few weeks before I returned to Malta I bought this Monnari bag in red and cow-print.  Anyone who knows my aversion to red and animal prints would certainly be thrown off by this purchase of mine.  I was actually thrown off as well ... but I found the combination so appealing together that I just couldn't leave the bag in the shop.

Together with the red bag, I decided to give my lips a tinge of red as well.  Who says you can't wear red lips (a) for the office and (b) at 6 in the morning? My go-to lip-colour when opting for a glossy look are:

And this, is what the final look came to: an LBD with a simple back pinned hairstyle; black flicked eye-liner, and a pair of back-seam black tights (yes, I've already started wearing tights.  It is October after all!).  The only statement pieces: the Monnari red bag and the Chanel red lips.  Simple, classic, and pretty much effortless. 

Would you wear red lipstick for work / university? Why or why not?! Let me know x

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Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Spot on: Yana's Jewellery

A few months back, I spotted the most exquisite ring on a friend's finger: it had 3 teal coloured beads intertwined with a gold coloured band which held them together in a sort of clover shape. When my friend told me that the ring was hand-made, and by a local, I was even more intrigued.

I'm a bit of a sucker for local talent.  It gives me hope:  I grew up with a pervasive post-colonial island mentality that local stuff doesn't match up to foreign, because of the premise that it is local.  So whenever I come across local talent which does actually match up or even surpass the 'foreign' stuff, I'm more than happy to oblige with a blog post, and why not a purchase or two!

And this is one of those instances.

Walking home from work one day I realised that I was actually walking past this little treasure trove called Yana's Jewellery on a daily basis.  The name immediately rang in my mind as the creator of my friend's teal coloured clover shaped ring.  I stepped in and what I found was a most enchanting array of intricately woven pieces, which, as Yana herself explained to me are all unique since even if a piece is repeated, being handmade, there can never be exact copies.

A simple black and mustard jade ring called my name and I couldn't but leave it in the store.  Ever since I've bought this, it has hardly left my hands as it is so versatile, despite the particular colour.  

I kept mustard as the stand out colour in this #ootd with this Zara bag from a couple of years ago, complementing the purple skater dress from Asos and 'Missoni inspired' pashmina from Accessorize, also from a couple of years back ... some pieces remain eternal, don't they just?

My hunch is this will be the first of many purchases. And with walking in front of her shop on a daily basis ... it will be very hard to resist!

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Monday, 14 October 2013

what happens in Brussels ... according to Guze Stagno

This is not a review.

And this is not a Magrittian statement on the lines of "c'est n'est pas une pipe."

This is just an attempt at illustrating an experience ... the experience of reading What happens in Brussels stays in Brussels, the latest offering by Maltese author Guze Stagno.

Let me start with the premise that hadn't I had to go to work or stop to eat / sleep / shower over the three days it took me to read it, I would have probably gone through it in three hours.  One day, while doing some reading on the bus-stop on my way to work at 6am, I even caught the wrong bus.  Hadn't I lifted my head just to stretch my neck in time, I'd have ended up at the airport instead of Valletta.

Yes, the book is like a drug.  Much like Stagno's own Ramon u z-Zerbinotti a couple of years back.  I wish I could say the same about Inbid ta' kuljum and Xemx wisq sabiha. I know I read the latter but can't remember it (note to self: re-read it asap) while Inbid remains in my memory as a pinching rendition of the civil service I'm actually part of when I'm not blogging.

Back to What happens in Brussels stays in Brussels.

Anyone who has had the (mis)fortune of heading to Brussels for work will have inevitably come across one of the MEP canvasser / supporter groups en route to the European capital for an orientation tour, if that's what it actually is.  I've never been on such tours, but boy have I met these groups.  Upon reading the first pages, I started mentally going through all my flights to / from Brussels over the last eight years. Through Stagno's writings which, as is oft done, are comparable to the narrations we're familiar with on the Fantozzi films, as well as my personal experiences, I could recognise il-Bebeto, il-Commando, il-Pied u nofs and il-Junker, Terry and Marija Pija. I could see them in all their finery: the men in their suits customarily reserved for weddings / funerals / court appearances ... the women with their freshly dyed mahogany / auburn short hair (so typical of Maltese women of a certain age - those with a 'young at heart' attitude would have highlights done, which on short hair, always made me think of it as some bloodied leopard print), their "sjuts" and matching hand-bags and shoes, and of course their freshly applied nail extensions, complete with bejewelled nail-art which render them completely helpless given as they wouldn't be used to having dolled up nails.

Stagno also provides the reader with a glimpse of the Maltese community in Brussels ... the ones who have transplanted themselves there for work.  I must confess that I tend to be a bit of a snob whenever I'm in Brussels and actively seek to avoid meeting anyone I know/worked with.  Not that I wouldn't want to.  It's more a case of using my work trip as a means of escape from the island routine. I guess, it's the same form of escapism which somehow possessed these individuals in seeking to work abroad. I suppose I fear I wouldn't necessarily get that escape if I hang around my fellow countrymen whenever I'm there.

When you're in my line of work, moreover, reading a book like What happens in Brussels... can be a bit of an uncomfortable experience.  As entertaining as it is, I found myself wondering - at times, exclaiming out loudly to myself - whether the various characters in the novel are whom I would think they are.  Assuming that the author is familiar with the same nucleus of Maltese abroad I'm familiar with, I shudder to think my suppositions are correct.  I'm not sure if everyone would be comfortable with the notion of having a 'fictional' character based on them.

Certainly something that I thoroughly enjoyed was the very visual descriptions which Stagno is by now renowned for.  One of my favourite quotes is his description of the MEP's attire:
Charlo kien neża l-kappott u anki l-ingravata u preżentament kien qiegħed bil-qmis biss: wahda minn dawk il-qomos Naracamicie li x'aktarx jilbsu 1) dawk li 'jħossuha' daqsxejn; jew 2) iċ-chavs Mediterranji; jew inkella 3) it-tnejn f'daqqa.  Din ta' Charlo kellha l-għonq vagament Edwardjan, il-pulzieri bojod ukoll u l-bqija lewn il-qar'aħmar.  Fuq il-pulzier ix-xellugi, bħal Gianni Agnelli: biċċa t'arloġġ tad-deheb daqs taġen tal-World Marketing li anki min-naha l-oħra tar-ristorant Gustav seta' jara x'ħin sar.
I could almost have been on the same dining table as Gustav I could see this so clearly.  Possibly, also, because I have come across one too many "chavs Mediterranji" to picture this so well.

Without revealing much to those who haven't read it as yet, I will come clean in saying that I was somewhat let down by the book's ending.  At one point Gustav, the main character, gave me hope.  A sense of hope that I personally experienced when I moved abroad.  I thought he would have made the run for it.  But the ending, as disappointing as I may have found it a few days ago when I turned the last page, I realise now, is the most realistic ending I should have expected.

Buy What happens in Brussels stays in Brussels  by Guze Stagno here

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Sunday, 13 October 2013

a little party never hurt no body

High tea at Palazzo Parisio with the girls ... 

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as featured on STYLE on Sunday magazine ...

Well, well, well ... I've been building up to this moment over the last week, haven't I?

This has definitely been a highlight of ever since I have started this blog.  It is something that gives me the courage to persevere at what I am doing.  This blog is where my passions come to play and if I don't keep this up, then there won't be much left of me, the real me, that is.

So, yeah, in case you haven't noticed from my Facebook page and profile, I'm among the Maltese Fashion Pack in today's issue of STYLE on Sunday ... It was certainly an honour to be featured among so many big names in the local industry.  I for one would have never thought that this little blog would have set me in their same ranks! I am still in awe, seriously!

In case you missed out on your copy of STYLE on Sunday, here's what the feature had to say about me:

Mariel Sacco has injected a bit of reality into the Maltese fashion scene through her blog Confessions of a Former Size 6.  Her blog has also become something of an overnight sensation. 
Inspiration: It's people rather than brands for me.  Mostly divas, like Sophia Loren, Lana del Rey, old-style and vintage things. 
Contribution: I think I'm the only blogger to give fashion a reality check, in the sense that I'm short, constantly on a diet, and always in between sizes.  The trials and tribulations of a real person trying to make it: that's my selling point.  
Mariel's top tip: Internationally, bloggers are now collaborating with big designers and becoming celebrities themselves.  So if you have something to say, say it, as bloggers definitely have a place on the fashion scene these days.
Huge thanks firstly go to all my followers - you are the ones who give me the strength to keep going and I owe this one to you; Jo Caruana and Iggy Fenech for giving me this opportunity and exposure; Brian Grech for the amazing shoot; and to all those within the local fashion scene for keeping the passion, dedication and dream of us all alive!

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Saturday, 12 October 2013

blood ombre CND Shellac nails

What is wrong with this weather? Or should it be, what is wrong with me?

It's mid October and this island is still basking in the sun.  And yet, as I've often enough complained already, I'm badly craving proper autumn weather ... complete with golden coloured leaves crackling away under our feet, hearty soups and roasts (vegetarian ones of course!), and logically, all those gorgeous jewel toned clothes and accessories!

And with halloween round the corner, I couldn't but go for a gory but gorgeous and classy blood inspired manicure! Since I returned from Krakow, it was a bit of a hit and miss in the nail-maintenance department for me, but finally thanks to the girls at Wispers I can say I'm majorly hooked on CND Shellac colours.  So many shades to choose from, and I love how you can combine shades to create new ones too! And I just love how long lasting they are!

blood ombre nails

This time I've gone for a blood-inspired ombre look with different shades of dark red on each nail.  I love how the effect is both edgy and sophisticated at the same time thanks to its subtlety.  It fits perfectly with my aesthetic and how I like to experiment with fashion and styles without going over the top.

(btw ... don't forget my ROMWE giveaway here!)

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✌ ☮ GIVEAWAY ☮ ✌ - ROMWE shorts, just because!

I've been a very bad girl lately ... in blogging terms that is! I haven't been blogging as regularly as I should have and as a thank you for sticking around, here's a little giveaway for you dear followers!

I'm giving away this ROMWE aztec print denim shorts which comes with detachable straps which you can style in so many different ways! I've prepared a few Polyvore sets just to give you some ideas. Even though it may at first look a bit summery, the shorts can also work as a transition piece paired up with sweaters or a light leather jacket and boots.

ROMWE shorts look 1

ROMWE shorts look 2

ROMWE shorts look 3

ROMWE shorts look 4

The giveaway is open worldwide and closes on Saturday 19th October 2013. Just follow the easy steps below and fingers crossed! xxx

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Tuesday, 8 October 2013

make me up at NYX

Oh the shame, the shame! I haven't written anything in a week! I should be flogged in the blogosphere!

I always blame my lack of blogging on my work commitments, which, hand on heart, is pretty much the case most of the time ... my fingers would be too tired to type after 9 hours of doing so!

But enough of that.

As you may recall, especially from my Facebook page, a few weeks ago I mentioned I had something which for my little blog was quite huge.  I mean, me, this blog, being called up by Style on Sunday magazine?! Seriously?! I still can't reveal much, but what I can do is take you through the preparations I felt I just had to undergo for it.  Fret not, you'll know all by the weekend *wink*

This huge thing I had called for some good old fashioned pampering so after I got my hair styled by the awesome Chris at Michael & Guy, I felt I needed to match that with some professionally applied make-up.  NYX in Sliema came to the rescue with their HD collection ... perfect for my uneven skin tone, open pores and acne scars: the price you pay for not taking care of your skin at a young age! Oh well ...
So here go some before and after photos with the gorgeous Kida patiently applying all the different products (I wish I had taken notes! sorry!) ... and even giving me amazingly long lashes which I would kill for to have naturally!
new to me: eye make-up before everything else! 
the all-important laying of the foundation

made-up 'bare face' sans lashes ...

kaboom! lashes that are a dream!

almost there ...

trying my Lana pout for size ... still, a few collagen injections would have helped!

the finished look: worthy of a selfie with my gorgeous mom, photographer of the day!

The overall look was somewhat retro-glamorous, inspired by Lana del Rey's look in Young and Beautiful, with tousled hair (courtesy of a lot of styling and sleeping in foam curlers as you can see here!), a hint of smokey eyes and flicked liner and a luscious plum colour for the lips.

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Tuesday, 1 October 2013

New Look #ootd

All yours ... Babooshka, Babooshka, Babooshka-ya-ya!

This morning I woke up humming Kate Bush's Babooshka which I actually haven't heard in ages.  I don't know how this came about, but what is for sure is that it resonates with the newly acquired Eastern European aesthetic I seem to be harbouring. 

It's been noted by others and I've even realised it myself, that since I returned from Poland, my overall look and style have somewhat changed.  As my mom put it this evening, "with those braids and that lick of red lipstick, you look like a Polish girl." Well, minus the narrow hips, tight abs and legs that go on for ever.  But I suppose she is somewhat right.  

Unwittingly, I'm gravitating more and more towards florals, bold colours, somewhat folk inspired shapes and patterns, as well as outfit combinations which I used to notice around me back in Krakow. Sometimes, it's good to get away.  It gives you a new perspective. 

Today's outfit fitted in with this new perspective in the most perfect of ways.  I love the colour combination on this floral dress by New Look - the various shades of reds complement the green shades over a black background.  I paired the dress with brown brogues, also from New Look to keep it more contemporary ... and because I just don't like wearing black shoes with a black based outfit!  I also fished out an enamel statement necklace (you know by now how I just can't live without my statement necklaces!) which I had got during my first trip to Berlin.  I love the intricate design on it and it blended so well with the dress that it could almost have been part of it!

If you like the look, click on the HYPE button at the bottom of the post xx

 dress: New Look
cardigan: Peacocks
brogues: New Look
necklace: independent store

foundation: Chanel
translucent powder, blush, eye-shadow, mascara: Benefit
bronzer: Dior
eye-liner, lip colour: NYX

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