Florence Files, Uncategorized

This one actually picks up right where FF011 left off- on a plane from Paris to Dublin. When we learned that we would have time to travel after our academic trip, Dublin was my first thought, but I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to sell my friends on the idea since it was the weekend everyone was going to Oktoberfest. Luckily enough, we opted to go to Oktoberfest a weekend early, leaving us wide open to go to Ireland. I was thrilled, because Ireland is the very first place I ever visited in Europe and the reason for the intense travel bug I caught when I was fifteen. That school trip to Ireland, Wales, and England is the reason I decided to study abroad in the first place, so as you can imagine, I was pretty excited to revisit Dublin and explore more of the place where half of my heritage comes from.

We landed in Dublin around 6 pm, which was actually around the time that we took off, because Ireland is an hour behind Paris and the flight was a little over an hour long. It was so awesome to see the miles and miles of green meeting the sea as we landed after being away for five years. For this trip we chose an Airbnb, which was a new experience for both of us. With Airbnb you can book either a whole space or a room, but since there were only two of us, we chose to stay in our host Laura’s spare room which was right off of the front of the house. Since we were basically staying in someone’s home, we were skeptical, but I really liked it, since we had a room to ourselves but were not paying hotel prices. We were pretty busy as well, so it wasn’t like we were hanging out in the room all day. Our host was even kind enough to leave us breakfast food out in the mornings and to lend us two Dublin bus passes, which were very helpful since we were staying about a fifteen minute drive from Dublin city center.

We freshened up after traveling all day and headed into the city center to grab a late dinner and check out the Temple Bar district. We both had awesome meals and blonde brews at Elephant & Castle, and as anyone who travels knows, all it takes is a little bit of good food to bring you back to life after a long day. For those unfamiliar, Temple Bar is the neighborhood of bars and restaurants on cobblestone streets surrounding the legendary Temple Bar, one of the most historic bars in all of Ireland. There’s tons of live Irish music, great food, and all around good vibes. We, of course, had to start our night at Temple Bar itself, and wound up staying there for quite a bit, enjoying the band, dancing, and making new friends.

The next morning we headed across the country to Galway, which was, in a word, adorable. Galway is everything you picture when you think of a seaside Irish town, complete with a huge port, little cobblestone streets, Irish music everywhere, and quaint little shops. The bus ride was pretty long, so we didn’t have a ton of time in Galway, but we spent about five or six hours there, which honestly was all we needed to just have a peek around. I got the most amazing fish and chips in Galway, which wasn’t a surprise because there were so many great little spots with really fresh fish. I love seafood, and since Tuscany is a landlocked region, I don’t get to have it very often back in Florence, so I was loving all the options in Ireland. We walked around and just soaked it all in, popping into little shops and seeing what the city had to offer. Galway is known for the claddagh ring and Irish wool, so there was lots to see. If I had the luggage space, I would’ve bought a sweater, but since I was packed for eight days and two very different climates out of a backpack, I opted for a pair of amazing wool socks. They were put to good use, since Ireland was freezing! My family collects Christmas tree ornaments from our travels, so I got a really beautiful hand-sewn claddagh ornament for our tree as well.



A lot of people only know Galway from the Ed Sheeran song “Galway Girl”, and while that’s not the only reason I went to Galway, I just HAD to visit the bar where the music video was shot, since I love both Ed Sheeran and the star of the video, Saoirse Ronan. When we arrived at O’Connell’s, fully intent on hanging around for a pint, we were incredibly disappointed to learn that they didn’t admit anyone under 23! This was most likely to keep out crazed Ed Sheeran fans, but stung all the same. We headed back to Dublin on what felt like a VERY long bus ride, got a quick dinner in Dublin town and then headed home for the night.


The next morning we woke up at the crack of dawn for our 6:30 departure to Belfast, but the wake-up was nothing compared to our excitement for the day. We weren’t going north of the border (and, for me, behind enemy lines) just to check out the city, we were on our way to a nine hour comprehensive Game of Thrones shooting location tour, with a detour to the Giant’s Causeway. Game of Thrones is my favorite show of all time, and I read all of the books before beginning the show, so to see real-life Westeros was so special to me. I tried to keep it cool, but I was geeking out the whole way. Northern Ireland and Game of Thrones have a very special relationship, since the Game of Thrones soundstage and home base is in Belfast, and 80% of footage is shot in Northern Ireland. All production crew, including hair, makeup, cameramen, and extras, must have a home address in Northern Ireland, so Game of Thrones has done wonders for the Northern Irish economy. This also means that nearly everyone in Belfast has been a Game of Thrones extra at some point in their life, even our awesome tour guide. She was a wight during the Hardhome episode; those who watch Game of Thrones will know just how awesome that is.

Our first stop was the quarry just outside of Belfast used as The Wall and Castle Black. There wasn’t much to see here, partly because all of the snow and ice is CGI and partly because HBO keeps huge fences around the whole location. We moved up the coast to a tiny little marina in Carnlough, whose stone steps were used by Arya to pull herself out of the Braavosi canal after being stabbed. The next stop was one of my favorites, a tiny cave in Cushendun that was used in one of the weirdest Game of Thrones scenes ever. This was the cave in the Stormlands where Melisandre gave birth to the shadow assassin, as Davos watched on in horror. The cave itself was really beautiful, and actually offered great views of the Scottish coastline, which, at that point, is only fourteen miles away.



We drove quite a bit to arrive at the Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site formed 60 million years ago by volcanic activity. Much of this stretch of coastline consists of interlocking hexagonal basalt columns with flat tops, giving the appearance of stepping stones. The Giant’s Causeway is also the subject of an Irish fairytale I grew up reading about, the story of the giant Fionn mac Cumhaill, who, long story short, used the bridge to get to the Scottish giants on the other side, and after a particular instance, the Scottish giant Benandonner destroyed the bridge while fleeing Ireland. This was the only non-Game of Thrones site on the tour, and will likely never be used on the show because of how instantly recognizable the site is, but simply couldn’t be missed. We arrived here around lunchtime, so after taking in the beauty of the coastline, we headed up to the top of the cliff to have lunch at the adorable Causeway Hotel. This is where I had what was probably my favorite meal of the whole trip, seafood chowder with Irish brown bread and Kerrygold butter.



After warming up with our lunch, we took a pit stop at Dulunce Castle, which isn’t the exact castle used for Pyke, but looks pretty close, considering it’s a deteriorating castle by the sea. The castle had already reached its max visitors for the day, so we didn’t have the chance to go inside. About half an hour later, we arrived at our next stop, and by far my favorite stop, the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, built in 1755 by salmon fisherman looking to connect Carrick-a-Rede island to the mainland about 100 feet above the water. Not only is this rope bridge used as the bridge inside of Pyke where Euron Greyjoy kills his brother Balon, but the beach below is the site of the duel where Brienne of Tarth joins Renly Baratheon’s Kingsguard as well as pretty much every scene where someone comes ashore at either Dragonstone or Pyke, considering there’s tons of unique little coves and bluffs that all look different, but equally breathtaking. The island was hands-down one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been in my entire life, and just made me feel really lucky to be able to travel like I do and visit these places, especially Ireland where so much of my family history resides. We finished up the tour at the Dark Hedges of Ballymoney, used in the very first season for the iconic shot of Arya on the Kingsroad fleeing King’s Landing. After this, we headed back to Belfast, where we caught the bus back to Dublin and headed into Dublin town for the night.




Sunday was our last day in Dublin, so we checked out of our Airbnb and saw the town for what we had of the day. Grafton Street is, as always, a must, so we shopped and walked around the area, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and then set off on our walk towards the day’s main event; the Guinness Factory Tour. The last time I was in Dublin, I toured the in’s and out’s of the city, but the one thing I really didn’t get to do was the famous Guinness tour, because, well, I was 15 and with my school group. Now that it’s five years later and I’m well over the legal drinking age in Ireland, I finally had to experience one of Ireland’s greatest exports. For anyone who’s ever been to Hershey Park’s Chocolate World Tour, I would definitely say they’re similar, except instead of singing cows and a chocolate river, it’s walls of hops and fountains of fresh water. The building is designed so you begin at ground level and work in a circular motion upward, finishing at the upper two levels, which are bars. Before you’re even allowed into the bars, you first learn how to taste a Guinness; upon first sip, you must hold the beer in your mouth and hold your breath to allow the foam to dissolve. This came in handy as we ascended to the final level, the Guinness Sky Bar, offering 360 degree panoramic views of Dublin. Included with your ticket to the experience is a complimentary pint of either Guinness or a soft drink, which we happily took them up on. I got ID’ed for the first time in weeks, so lucky for me, I had my passport on me, because after finishing our pints, we got in a cab to the airport to head back to Florence for the first time in what felt like forever.



Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Ireland, so this, of course, was one of my favorite trips by far. The people, the food, the scenery, it’s all so worth the visit. So much so that I’ll be back in January with my sister in tow for her very first visit to one of my favorite cities in the world, immediately followed by a trip to London before I head back to Florence for the spring semester and she heads home.

Thanks for sticking through this long one!! I really do appreciate it, and to all my mom’s friends who want more pictures out of me, here you go!!





From now on, I’ll be plopping a playlist on here every month to keep you updated on what I’ve been listening to. I haven’t had a ton of time to get into new stuff due to the crazy whirlwind of the past month, but I’ve been really loving the chance I’ve gotten to revisit old favorites. Only really new song on here is the new Dua Lipa song because come on, it’s just SO good. Comment below if any of my favorites are your favorites, and if you find a new song that you like from here, let me know!!!!



FLORENCE FILE #002: Murphy’s Law

Florence Files, Uncategorized

Yes, you’re reading this, which means I’m alive, but just know that that was not a guarantee after the events of the first few days.

I left New York on Monday night, equipped with nothing but three bags worth of personal belongings, a passport, a four-year-old learner’s permit, an emergency replacement debit card, and a handful of euros. Some might say that this arsenal is less than sufficient, and I’d agree. Never would I ever leave for another country with no credit card, had it not been for the events of Saturday night. Due to a series of unfortunate events, I, who has never misplaced a single credit card or ID in her life, lost my whole wallet during a goodbye dinner with a friend. Before you ask, yes, I retraced my steps, turned my room upside down, cancelled the cards, and ordered replacements.

This left me a bit rattled, but I still boarded that Air France flight with three of my friends and a sense of excitement. As I landed in Florence and saw my first view of the city, I had completely come to terms with the hand I was dealt, and the long overnight flight and chaotic layover instantly seemed worth it. The plane flew over the green mountains and down into the valley, revealing the sight of the sun coming up, illuminating the Duomo peeking out of the thick layer of fog. A next road bump came in the form of a missing fleet of suitcases, our checked bags lost in the scuffle of our layover. Had this come at any other time, I probably wouldn’t have cared so much, but anyone who has been awake for far too long and has dealt with human beings in airports will probably understand just how poorly I took this information. Nevertheless, we left the Amerigo Vespucci airport ready to catch up on some sleep and explore our new city. Our bags arrived at the hostel in the midst of our deep nap, and we instantly freed ourselves from our black leggings and comfy tees in exchange for our featherweight sundresses, since the blazing heat was brand new for us.

The next few days consisted of orientation all day, sleep all night. Temperatures were in the high 90s every day, with frequent thunderstorms due to the ridiculous humidity. According to fitbit, we walked an average of around 15,000 steps a day, collapsing as soon as we got back to the hostel. We began apartment hunting on Thursday, coincidentally the hottest day of them all, and after a long, hard day, we found a great little three bedroom apartment, within spitting distance of the Arno River and the Palazzo Vecchio. We’ve since had the chance to get our bearings, check out our local restaurants, and partake in the Florentine nightlife, which is, funnily enough, saturated with American college students.

Photos from my first week will be in a photo diary that I’ll post in a bit, as well as my San Gimignano and Siena visit this weekend.




Let’s chat.

I started this blog with the intention of encouraging myself to write creatively, a skill that I overuse academically, causing me to dread it recreationally. Thanks to a fabulous professor this past semester, I nurtured my blog for the sake of class assignments, exploring the different ways that fashion journalism can be presented. I grew to love blogging, but could never quite find the right subject matter. Thankfully, life has since provided me with much to talk about.

For the next two semesters, I’ll be studying abroad in Florence, Italy. Naturally, I plan to document this amazing opportunity, for the sake of sharing it with my loved ones at home and for my own posterity’s sake. In preparation for this trip, I’ve been reading up in the Library of Alexandria of travel; Pinterest. So many people have shared such great tips and tricks in the form of their own blog posts that I feel that it’s only right to pay it forward and share my knowledge and experience with you all as it occurs to me.

I intend to revamp my blog not only with travel content, but also with the beauty, fashion, and lifestyle that I originally intended to fill my blog with. If you’re just following along for the pasta pictures and museum recommendations, you can follow along here. If you’re brave enough to stick around for the rest of my ramblings, thanks!

I fly to Florence on Monday, August 20th, so if there is a Florence File #002, know that I’ve made it.




For this assignment, I had the opportunity to collaborate with three other bloggers (Carolyn, Ellie, and Callie) on a video lookbook describing Doneger’s Spring/Summer 2019 trend, Youthquake: Ethnopop. Youthquake:Ethnopop is a trickle-up trend based on today’s youth, street style, 90’s pop culture, and cultural exchange. Today’s youth values “the experience”, and cross references based on their interests. We each chose a microtheme and styled looks from our own closets that we felt best explained where this trend was going. As the videographer and editor of this project, I had a lot of fun filming and putting together our video like a serious youtuber. I really think that video lookbooks and influencer collaborations are the future of fashion presentations, and in such a digital age, it’s great to know how to utilize this technology.



In an age where fashion and the internet go hand in hand, there is one word that comes up very frequently; influence. Fashion influencers can be traditional journalists, designers, or models, but more often than not, the people making waves in fashion (and, subsequently, driving sales and traffic) are quite simply people with great taste and an internet presence. Some retailers will continue to funnel millions of dollars into print and television ads, but the retailers that are currently thriving ahead of the curve are doing business with internet influencers who have amassed followings within said brand’s target demographic. The model is simple; consumers log on to Instagram and Youtube to be inspired by those whose taste, wardrobe, and lifestyle they look up to. When a brand that the influencer already loves pairs up with a retailer, the retailer pays the influencer to create content for them using pieces they love in exchange for exposure to the influencer’s audience. It’s a symbiotic relationship in which nearly everyone benefits.

This partner-driven content is exemplified in blogger and Youtuber sunbeamsjess‘s Summer 2017 lookbook, in which she partners with Urban Outfitters. She picked what she liked from the Urban Outfitters website, they sent it to her for free, and she credited them in the video. A viewer who likes Jess’s style will watch the video, like something they see, and easily be able to obtain a link from the description to purchase the item they like, driving sales to Urban Outfitters. This video also helps promote the Urban Outfitters lifestyle, with the vacation-ready vibe, laid-back music, and beautiful cinematography. I think videos like these are about to be much more common because more and more retailers are catching on to the importance of influencers. More out-of-touch marketing teams are often quick to dismiss the power of influencers since it’s a relatively new way of going about things, but especially for the millennial and generation Z age ranges, influencers are incredibly powerful.



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In an internet age where visuals are everything, sometimes a brand’s merchandise can be one of their strongest marketing tools. When fans purchase a piece of merch from a band or musician, it marks somewhat of a milestone; they not only appreciate this musician’s music, but are appreciative enough to go out and spend extra money on a piece of clothing that broadcasts their appreciation to everyone who encounters them.

Few musical acts have been able to truly master the art of merch, but a band that I feel has excelled in this area is the artistic zeitgeist that is Brockhampton. For those who are unfamiliar, Brockhampton is an American musical group comprised of not only singers, rappers, producers and musicians, but also web developers, visual artists, videographers, and photographers. Brockhampton skyrocketed in the past year due to their release of their first three full-length albums, Saturation I, II, and III, each dropped only months apart. All of the members live under one roof in Los Angeles, California, where they collectively brainstorm every song, every visual, and every photoshoot. This holistic, independent approach to producing content is perhaps what makes Brockhampton so unique and successful, as they are constantly interacting with each other and listening to fans, free of interference from outside sources.

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Instead of having merchandise available 24/7, Brockhampton chooses to drop their merch in highly anticipated releases, bringing a sense of exclusivity and excitement to each launch. One of these launches was announced several weeks ago, projecting an April 2nd drop date. The only information given at first was the title; “Gay”, most likely in reference to frontman Kevin Abstract’s sexuality and the group’s overall message of inclusivity. To give fans a peek into what was to come, Brockhampton released a lookbook on their site, featuring the line largely designed by the group’s visual artist Henock Sileshi and stylist Nick Lenzini and modeled by the members themselves. The retro, saturated feel of the photographs is a signature element of photographer Ashlan Gray, and combined with web developer Robert Ontenient’s website, the result is pure magic. Pieces largely include their hallmark couch logo, as well as quotes from songs and photographs of the band members themselves. The shirts, shorts, backpacks, socks, water bottles, hats, and notebooks are very representative of Brockhampton; a little bright, a little retro, fun, casual, and very, very cool.

This merch drop had me wondering why more musicians hadn’t pursued such an interest in merchandise before. Brockhampton itself is very influenced by Kanye West. After all, they all met on a Kanye fan forum. The idea of such exclusive, cutting-edge merchandise is very reminiscent of Kanye’s Yeezy collections, but why aren’t others following suit after seeing how successful such a release is? As music, fashion, and technology become more and more integrated, why haven’t more artists figured out that presenting new merch in exciting ways is a huge drive for both listeners and business? On April 2nd, Brockhampton’s “Gay” collection sold out almost completely within 10 minutes, so clearly they’re doing something right. Just as Brockhampton’s the future of music, they might just be the future of fashion too.

To see the full lookbook, click here.

To shop what’s left of the “Gay” merch drop, click here.

To listen to some of my favorite Brockhampton songs, click https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/dufffs/playlist/5vm0iNDGutYYBdUmeimMVl“>here.

All images by Ashlan Grey 2018.

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Trunk shows are a great way for labels to give their customers some inside information about what’s to come without really breaking the bank on presentation and venue. The clothes speak for themselves, and really can be inspected and appreciated. While browsing one of my favorite fashion sites, Moda Operandi, I stumbled across designer Jennifer Zuccarini’s ready-to-wear line Fleur du Mal. The collection seemed very contemporary, paring menswear elements with delicate and feminine materials. This combination of masculine pieces with lingerie-esque textiles feels very accessible to the modern young woman.

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Upon first glance, I adored what I thought was a really adorable plaid minidress, but when I went to see more photos, I found out that it was actually a skirt and a top. I love this coordinate trend, especially with pieces that could be worn just as well together or separate. This mix of a traditionally masculine suiting material with a bustier and paper bag belted skirt is the exact play on gender dynamics in fashion that I think is very appealing and exciting to a millennial shopper.



Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 1.32.10 PM.pngFleur du Mal is also known for their usage of lingerie and sleepwear outside of the bedroom, and I think the styling of this outfit hits the nail on the head. The intricate bralette and the silken pants may suggest a more intimate feel, but with a bright, dressy shoe, these pajamas are suddenly ready for cocktail hour. Although this is a ready-to-wear line, this look feels a bit less wearable than the aforementioned bustier and skirt set, but it seems as though Fleur du Mal’s target audience knows what they’re doing when styling an outfit for a night out on the town. The collection is structured and chic while being just racy and sexy enough to really cater to the young, stylish city girl.