Burberry Prorsum Tobias Suede Shoes: Spring Has Sprung

Burberry Prorsum is one of my most favorite collections during the Spring/Summer 2014 season. Besides the playful, uplifting color palette and brilliant styling, the entire collection has a very down-to-earth appeal to it– you know, the kind of stuff that is utterly fashionable yet very wearable. While I do salivate at the gorgeous coats, my eyes are fixated on the vibrant, refreshing footwear. Which is actually a good thing because my bank account takes a less severe beating when I lust after a $500 pair of shoes rather than a $2,000 coat.

The good news is these shoes, called Tobias, are now available both online and in-store. Made in soft suede, they come in a variety of colors from beige, bright red to cobalt blue and green. (They also come in yellow as shown on the runaway, but for some reason no e-commerce site seems to have them in stock.) Apparently, these don’t work very well in a corporate environment. But if you have a great life outside your office and are interested in having a bit more fun with what you wear when you go out or go on vacation, these are fantastic options especially since spring is in the air and summer is just around the corner.

Tobias suede shoes (in green) are available on Matchesfashion for $531 while Burberry Prorsum Blue Suede ShoesBurberry Prorsum Red Suede Shoes and Burberry Prorsum Beige Sand Suede Shoes are on SSENSE for $485.

Before I let you go, here are a few looks from the collection that show you how to wear these shoes. Worth having on your wall, if you ask me. 

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Gucci Jelly Snaffle Loafers: Still up for grabs

This post is a follow-up on this one, which I wrote in November 2013. Since then, the coveted and inarguably most affordable ever Gucci rubber loafers have sold out everywhere. If you are still looking for them though, I have got both good and bad news.

The good news is I came across the beige pair during my “market research” today. And the bad news is they are only available in UK size 11 & 12 (or US size 12 & 13). If that is your shoe size (oh boy, you got some big feet going on there), just a quick head-up that Jelly snaffle loafers are up for grabs on Matchesfashion for $256. Since they are water-proof (which will come in handy during summer showers) and airy enough for blazing, hot summer days, a fantastic addition to your shoe rack if you ask me.

 

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The Ultimate Reason Why We All Come to Granada?

Islamic architecture inside the Generalife, confused dasher, explore granada in 48 hours, tips to visit the alhambra, the Palacio de Generalife, the sultan's leisure palaces, pebble walkaway in the garden, white washed houses of granada andalusia spainThe very pretty white-washed houses and the stunning sky of Granada.

Saying that the Alhambra is the ultimate reason why everyone comes to Granada would be a bit of a stretch. I know several travelers who skipped it entirely when they were in town. That being said, my hunch is that 96 percent of people who go to Granada go to the Alhambra.

I am part of that 96 percent, and had a really lovely time there. But like with Granada, my visit started off on the wrong foot.

- My appointed time into the Nazrid Palaces (the most remarkable part of the attraction) was at 2PM, but through a fault of my own I didn’t set off until 1.45PM. Thus, I walked ran as fast as I possibly could. It didn’t help that Granada is very hilly (think: San Francisco). By the time I arrived, I was so exhausted that I could barely speak, let alone continuing to walk and absorbing everything.

- As a directionally challenged person, I headed to the Palacio de Generalife instead of the Nazrid Palaces where I was supposed to be first. The more I walked, the more puzzling it got because nothing looked like the Alhambra that I had seen in photos prior to my visit.

- I realized my mistake after chatting with fellow visitors, but it was almost 4PM. I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown because I was about to become the only person in history of mankind who went inside the Alhambra but had no freaking idea whatsoever about the Nazrid Palaces.

- I thought about giving up, but for some reason I didn’t. I trekked toward the palaces and was denied at the entrance. I desperately pleaded my case with the guard, but he told me he wasn’t the one in charge and that I would have to go the ticket officer nearby and explained my situation.

- On the short way to the ticket booth, I tried to come up with all the excuses of why I was late. I was lost because I just got to Granada. I had a gallbladder attack and had to rest at the hostel. The stairs in the Palacio de Generalife were too slippery I tripped myself and hurt my ankles…

- I arrived and found three other visitors trying to do what I was about to do. Is it racist if I mention that all of us are Asian? Fortunately, the ticket officer sympathized and changed our appointed time slots. I was not denied entry anymore.

Without further ado, here is my visit in summary. Intricate wall patterns inside the Palacio de Generalife, the sultan’s leisure palaces.

Mirador de San Nicolas is the top spot for a panoramic view of Granada, but the view from the Generalife is quite inspirational as well. 

Islamic architecture inside the Generalife.

Pebble walkway in the garden. Yes, that is the amazingness of the Alhambra.

I counted my lucky stars that my visit was on such a gorgeous day. The following day was quite dreary and rainy. 

The kind of view that never ever gets old. 

Here is the beginning of the Nazrid Palaces tour. Islamic architecture in all its glory. 

Intricate arabesque pattern.

The obligatory shot of Patio de los Arrayanes (Court of the Myrtles) in Nasrid Palaces.

It used to be called the Patio of the Pond or the Reservoir (Patio del Estanque o de la Alberca).

The insanely stunning star-shaped ceiling in the Hall of the Abencerrajes. This is one of the places that I think no camera could fully capture the opulence and intricacy. 

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Carven Green Canvas & Suede Low Top Sneakers: Fern Green with Envy

I have never talked about Carven here before. Given that I have been eyeing quite a few pairs of Carven shoes lately, it is high time that I did.

For those who are not familiar, Carven is a French brand founded in 1945 by Carmen de Tommaso. An interesting detail in her story, according to Vogue, is that Madame Carven (as she later called herself) was told by her own mother early on that she would “never be elegant” because she was only 5 ft 1″ and thus petite. (Seriously, why would a mother say something like to her daughter?.) Fortunately, she only used that kind of discouragement as fuel to build her couture house where simple yet elegant clothes were created to make women, especially petite ones like herself, feel more beautiful and confident. Fast forward 69 years later, here we are today with Carven womenswear and menswear collections. Inspiring, isn’t it?

Carven has been under the direction of Guillaume Henry since 2009, but it was not until 2011 when he presented his first menswear collection. Browsing through the archive, some of the adjectives that I have noticed come up rather frequently as Guillaume described each collection and critics reviewed his collections are “elegant”, “charming”, “young”, “schoolboy-ish”, “wearable”, and “affordable”, all of which are very welcome in our modern day wardrobe. And here is another tidbit: Guillaume did not include green, the totem color of Carven, until his Spring 2013 menswear collection for the house.

So in true Carven fashion, these low-top sneakers come in fern green, which is ridiculously easy on the eyes and as spring-appropriate as it gets. (This article on the NYTimes declares that Carven is not the place where you get your “dark droopiness” fix.) With such an eye-pleasing color and a lean, sleek silhouette shape, these sneakers have a naiveté and eternally youthful appeal that remind us of our carefree days in elementary school.

Admittedly, the color is not the most traditional, but it is surprisingly easy to coordinate with what you already have in your wardrobe. Sure, you can pair them with dark-colored jeans or chinos, but the look I have in mind for us of all consists of a fitted white button-down shirt (or t-shirt), a pair of neutral-colored chinos or even better linen pants, and a casual, slim brown belt in suede. To give you some ideas, here and here are how I wore items in nice, bright shades of green. Replace the shirt and the pants with these green kicks and you get the picture ;)

Carven Green Canvas And Suede Low Top Sneakers is available on SSENSE for $410. Since we are talking about Carven, it is naturally fitting that we have a quick look back at the previous collections for some doses of inspiration for spring. Before we do that though, here is the charming Guillaume Henry whose style is exactly what effortlessly Parisian chic is all about. 

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Oh the joy of being a parent…

Hey you guys- Sorry for the lack of posts in the past few days. My week hasn’t been going well mostly because my energy level has been quite low. I thought: “well, maybe coffee would help…” so I downed two cups of coffee yesterday and today, something I hadn’t touched since last year. (I was a coffee addict until I learned that I have gallstones.) The consequence of that is I had a mild gallbladder attack today. I should NOT have been so stupid.

Anyhoo, I have something so precious that I have to share even though I am literally curling into a fetal position right now. That is the many stages of my son’s afternoon nap. He was supposed to keep an eye on me while I was recuperating on the couch this afternoon. (2 things: #1. I took these with my iPhone, so the quality was compromised. And #2. In case you are wondering why Mr. Bun looks dramatically different from this, the answer is I took him to a grooming salon a couple of days ago to have his baby fur completely shed off so his adult fur will be more curly and fluffy. Here is to hope that when his fur grows back, he will be the cutest guy on the block.)

Here is how it went down:

No worries, I will be taking care of you, Daddy. 

Hey, I am still watching you…with one eye.

Sorry, I just have to…

IMG_4035I DON’T LIKE TO LOOK INTO THE CAMERA WHEN YOU WAKE ME UP!!!

But if you like to take my pictures, make sure to take it from this angle. It really flatters my Western face shape. (lol)

Daddy, I am not having it anymore. Do what you want with my body, I do NOT care because I need to sleep!

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50 Shades of Granada Sky

Can I have this forever?

The sky in Europe never ceases to amaze me.

From RomeFlorenceVenice to Paris and Barcelona, there is something so magical and awe-inspiring about the endless sky in the old continent that has such a heady effect on me and just leaves me wanting for more. I’m not sure if it has to do with topography or pollution but since moving back to Hanoi, I have been seriously deprived of beautiful sunrise/sunset- something I had plenty of in New York. But stupid me took it for granted.

In the previous post, I recounted how Granada gradually swept me off my feet. However, I didn’t mention the defining moments, which occurred at Mirador de San Nicolas and had everything to do with the sky and light of Granada. I feel like I would do its breath-taking beauty a disservice if I didn’t dedicate an entire post to it. When you’re in Granada, you absolutely can NOT miss this spot. Yes, it’s touristy but the view is unbelievably inspirational. And it’s free.

I went during the winter months, so of course it was a bit windy up there. But come spring or fall (summer might be unbearably hot as far as I’m concerned), I can’t imagine how heavenly it will be. I loved Mirador de San Nicolas so much that I came twice and spent a total of 7 hours there in the span of 48 hours I had in Granada. Despite the crowd, both times gave rise to grand moments of tranquility and clarity. I might be the only one I know personally who has this over-consuming desire to see this vast world and I might never be well-off because of it, but I know in my heart that I’m on the right track.

Enough of ramblings. Here come the photos. Mirador de San Nicolas sits on top of Albaycin, the Arab and Moorish quarter of Granada. With a full vista of the Alhambra and the white mountain range of Sierra Nevada as a backdrop, Mirador de San Nicolas is inarguably the best panoramic spot in town. I arrived at around 4-ish on my first day when giant patches of cloud were floating in the blue sky. I thought, “wow, this is really gorgeous”.

Half an hour later, apocalyptic clouds started forming on the other part of the sky, shadowing the sprawling city below. I thought, “oh Granada, you’re so going to get wet”.

Cloud and cross, quite a foreboding combination, right?  

Meanwhile, the sky turned a beautiful purple color on the other side. The whole scene looked more like the end of autumn than the midst of winter.

Back to that other side, angry clouds had evaporated. Rays of sunlight were peeking through layers of cloud; Granada was blessed. 

I could have gone somewhere else, but I loved what I had seen on the first day so much that I made my way back to Mirador de San Nicolas the next day. Plus, when I saw this light, I had an inkling something spectacular was going to happen. 

The golden light in Granada at 6.30-ish PM. 

It was getting dark. I was about to head down to go back to my hostel when this dramatic sunset happened all of a sudden. Saying I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. I was beyond overwhelmed. It was Granada kissing me goodbye in the most dramatic fashion…

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So is this how it looks to have a wanderlust father?

Since I learned about Casey Neistat from this article on the NYTimes, I have been watching a lot of his other videos and enjoy them immensely. They are entertaining and inspiring. I think you guys will enjoy them.

(Just a very brief rundown: Casey is an American and wears many hats. He directs, produces and obviously creates awesome videos on his YouTube channel. To me, what stands out most in his background is the fact that he dropped out of high school at 15 and had a son at 17. That’s not to say that said fact defines him in my mind or I’m any less impressed with his achievements; it’s just that, you know, it’s an unusual story and all the more memorable considering the long way he’s gone since.) 

Watching the video above has got me wondering about my own parents and the arts of parenting. Have you ever wondered how would it be if your parents were different from who they are? Let’s make it clear here that I don’t mean it in a material sense, like wishing your parents were billionaires or celebrities. But if your parents didn’t have the characteristics that they have and thus taught you differently, how different would you turn out?

My parents are incredible and did the very best that they could to give me a better life. I owe them everything that I have right now. But we are different on so many levels that it’s getting harder and harder to have a real conversation. They are quite traditional for the most part and do care a lot about societal expectations, which unfortunately (or fortunately?) is not my kind of thing. The most fundamental difference is that I have a burning desire to travel and see the world while they don’t. They never dissuade me from traveling and always say I can travel anywhere I want as long as I can afford it. However, I know that deep down they prefer me to settle down, climb the corporate ladder and earn a good living, have a nice house, cars and all that shit. That is not what I envision my future, and if you ask people who truly love traveling and collecting experience rather than possessions, I bet my life their responses would be more or less the same.

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AMI Black Woven Leather Derbys: An ode to the old friendship

No, your eyes are not tricking you. We’re talking about AMI again today. You might be wondering but I am not playing favorite at all. Like I have repeatedly said, the way we do things here is discuss shoes objectively regardless of where they come from or how much they cost. I have covered AMI very recently here and not so recently here. I have no association with AMI whatsoever; heck, they don’t even have a clue who I am and that I’m actually reviewing their shoes. The sole reason for all of this is their stuff is incredibly good-looking and very much to my taste. (But hey Alexandre Mattiussi and the AMI team, I’m always at your beck and call. If you want to know me better, just call me. Don’t be shy, ok?.)

The point of this post is not to tell you how drop-dead gorgeous these derbys are or how you’re going to wear them. I’m writing because when I saw them, I was instantly reminded of my old Opening Ceremony pair that looked relatively similar though much less polished. I used to own the shoes until I sold them to a very close friend of mine when both of us lived in New York a few years ago. I remember quite vividly how often I got compliments whenever I wore them and how often that friend told me about people asking him on the subway where he’d got the shoes. He wore them too much that one day, they just broke down. And I saw him throwing them away. At that point, they were no longer mine so there was nothing I could do.

Unfortunately, that friendship was over as soon as the both of us left New York for a variety of reasons. But if you have ever been through the end of a friendship, you would know that even when you have moved on it is always there as a part of your past. In my case, part of my unforgettable past are that friendship and the shoes.

Ami Black Woven Leather Derbys are available on SSENSE for $595.confused dasher, AMI black woven leather derbys, best derbys for men spring summer 2014

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Styling Sunday #4: Victoria Beckham and I want to tell you something

(This post should have gone live yesterday, but I was too excited for you guys to see this first. So I need to ask you all two favors: #1. Let’s just pretend that today is Sunday, alright?, and #2. Don’t pay any attention to my stupid, rice cooker-looking, borderline creepy hair in the pictures. I changed my hairdresser who was so awkward.) 

Regular readers are most likely sick of hearing me proclaim my love for All Saints, so I’m not going to talk about that fashion monogamy. Instead, I just want to let you know that we were happily reunited in Paris this February after two years of separation. The upside of our very intimate reunion is I brought home this gorgeous oxblood Garrison peacoat. The downside is I was 125 euros (or $167) poorer. It could have been 255 (or $419) if it hadn’t been for the discount.

Now you don’t have to run to the nearest store to purchase a coat in oxblood or any other shade of red for that matter because if you have already covered the fantastic four (black, navy, grey and camel) like I always advise you to, you’re doing fine.

However, if you have searched over and over again for that perfect black or camel coat to no avail and suddenly see a coat in a deep, dark, rich, warm and so incredibly good-looking shade of red, then go for it by all means. It’s going to up the ante in the best possible way. Need more proof? Read on. Just keep in mind that I’m wearing these in the spirit of spring. If it were still in the midst of winter, we could tone it down a bit.

Look #1: All Saints Laker Funnel Neck Pullover, Closed Eaton Tapered-Leg Chino, Adidas with 3S Stripes Sneakers, Warby Parker Glasses. Look #2:  COS Cotton Knit Top, COS White Chinos, The Generic Man Wingman Wingtips.Alright, that’s it for my part. It’s time to hand the mic to the woman of the daddy we all secretly want to have who will show you exactly how to wear oxblood/burgundy/maroon. Yes, we’re learning from a woman but remember, this is one of the most fashionable women in the whole wide world. The way she coordinates colors never ceases to amaze me, and it usually works for menswear as well. Honestly speaking, I live for Victoria just as much as I do for David, lol. victoria beckham Merlot Wool-twill Coat in MaroonNow comes the most important question of how you can try this at home. Everything that I’m wearing in the photos was bought on sales, so obviously none is available. But like I said, you can always rely on The Confused Dasher to be your personal shopper. If you love what you have seen so far in this post, below are similar items from low to high for you to shop. Shop away!  [Read more...]

How Granada Won Me Over

This is how Granada looked this winter. New York and Paris, eat your heart out. 

Before you dive in, here is a little treat for your ears. I’m feeling utterly useless right now because I don’t have the name and address of this bar. There is this unidentified name (La Cueva Del Gato) in my journal that I have googled, but nothing clear comes up. If you happen to know this place, do say it out loud in the comment section. The internet and I would highly appreciate that. Anyway, you’ll barely see anything in the video because the room was candlelit, rendering my iPhone kind of incapable. That’s why I said it’s for the ears, not the eyes :)

I’m not a frugal person. Well, at least, that’s how I think about myself. But when something is so cheap that it almost sounds like free, I’m willing to scoop low and get my hands real dirty to own it. Especially if it’s airfare.

Low airfare deals give me the ultimate cheap thrill.

Seasoned backpackers to Europe keep gushing about how they occasionally bag dirt cheap airline tickets to fly between countries. Such stories always turned me green with envy because I had never ever been able to catch any travel deal in my entire life and it started making me question if there was anything wrong with me.

This time, as soon as I knew for sure that I’d travel to Europe, I made it my mission to get those elusive tickets. Partly because my budget was tight, and partly because they would be the badge of honor, the external validation I desperately needed for my self worth :) So, I lurked around travel sites multiple times per day every day for two months before the departure date. Hard work certainly paid off as my Ryanair tickets from Paris to Barcelona, Barcelona to Malaga, Lisbon to Paris were all 19 euros. (The ticket itself was just 2 or 3 euros before taxes and miscellaneous charges.) “Are you fucking with me?” was the common response when I told friends and people I met.

The thing is cheap and comfort do not necessarily go hand in hand. My flight from Barcelona to Malaga taught me that very well. Since the flight left at an ungodly hour (6:15) in the morning and I didn’t want to hail a taxi at 4AM that certainly would have cost more than the flight ticket itself, I hauled ass out of Casa Consell at midnight to get on the last airport express bus of the day at Plaça de Catalunya. The bus ticket was €5.90.

I arrived at Barcelona-El Prat Airport 40 minutes later. As a naturally resourceful person, I quickly turned my backpack into a pillow, my coat into a blanket, the flat hard bench into a bed and dozed off until check-in time. Oh boy, it was a long night! But thank the high and mighty, the flight was uneventful and landed at Malaga safe and sound and on time to boot.

(Tip: To visit Granada, you can fly into Federico García Lorca Granada-Jaén Airport or Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport. Granada airport is only 12 kilometers away from the centre. You can take the shuttle to central Granada for a few euros. Malaga airport, on the other hand, is in Malaga. To reach Granada, you have to take the ALSA bus to Granada bus station for about 10 euros and then take a local bus to your hotel for about 2 euros. The whole trip takes approximately two hours. In my case, the flight ticket plus the bus tickets were still cheaper than a flight ticket to Granada airport.)

However, for the first three hours, the deck was really stacked against Granada.

I was understandably frazzled after spending a total of 12 hours at airports, on airplane and 4 different buses. To put things into perspective, driving or taking the train from Barcelona to Granada takes around 7-8 hours. Flight duration is 90 minutes.

It was annoyingly cold and rainy when I arrived, a far cry from the sun-drenched Barcelona.

Funky Meridiano Hostel was a real let-down, especially when compared with Casa Consell even though the prices were essentially the same. The room was small, dimly lit thus kind of suffocating. There was no wifi in the room. The kitchen was so-so.

The lunch I had at Restaurante Al Pie de La Torre was also disappointing. I was recommended there, and it surely looked the most promising on the street. For €13, I got a three-course lunch that I ate with trepidation. It included:

Mediocre salad mix that had eggs and ham, my two absolute no-nos.

A main dish of pork, potato and veggies that was too oily and salty.

And an underwhelming dessert. 

My head kept screaming: “Barcelona I miss you. Why the hell did I leave you for this?” 

Well, it seemed like Granada was a bit insecure and didn’t like to be hated so after reading my thoughts, she quickly cleaned up her act.

The lovely Plaza Bibarrambla, filled with restaurants, sidewalk cafes and small shops.

The facade of Granada Cathedral basking in sunshine.

Once I stepped away from the centre a little bit, I began to see her sexier, edgier side, which I absolutely love.

A slightly hilly street leading to the legendary Alhambra. I promise we’ll talk about it a separate post.

Then comes Albaycin, the most charming part in my opinion. It’s the Arab and Moorish district of Granada where you feel like being straddled between Europe and Africa. Happily so, though. 

I fell head over heels in love with the picturesque narrow winding streets that I had to come back the next day when it felt and looked more like winter. No, actually, more like autumn. 

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