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London: Fun Things for Teens to See & Do

It’s exciting going to another country. There are different customs, fashion designers and foods. There is also the opportunity to learn a new language and explore fun and interesting places and landmarks. In London, there are many places to explore and some are a must-see, especially for teens. I am not talking about the museums, although they do have great exhibits, but shopping districts, restaurants and attractions. It’s also where music and fashion are a huge influence. Below are some places you should check out when visiting London.

Hard Rock Cafe — This was the first Hard Rock restaurant where the “classes mingled.”  It was established in June of 1971, when rock and roll was taking form. The Hard Rock Cafe is the “Ambassador of Rock,” and the memorabilia on the walls proves it. The restaurant has locations around the world, including Paris and Washington, D.C. Aside from the rock memorabilia, it boasts an American menu and has a huge sundae with sparklers! It is the best place to experience music and pop culture at the same time. It even has its own gift shop! When in London, a Hard Rock t-shirt should definitely be one of your souvenirs.

Piccadilly Circus — This isn’t a circus with clowns; it’s actually a popular intersection in the West End section of London. The word “circus” is Latin in origin and means circle, which was commonly used by the Romans. Think of it as London’s version of Times Square in New York City. There tons of lights, people and shops. Nearby is the theatre district and Leicester Square. This square is where the world premieres of films in Britain are held and is nicknamed “Theatreland,” just as we have Hollywood. If you love Shakespeare, there is a large statue of him in the park located in the center of the square. 

The London Dungeon — This is part history and part entertainment. The London Dungeon has a long history dating back a 1,000 years and recreates the gory and dark moments of the city’s past. It became a tourist attraction in the 1970s, but the atmosphere is still reminiscent of the gruesome deaths that occurred in it. It has become an interactive experience with a cast of characters telling stories of cruelty and pain, including Jack the Ripper, Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot and the plague of the 17th century. It’s not for little kids, and it will make your trip memorable.

Originally published at lilawalter.net on April 30, 2019.

Iconic Fashion Designers of the 20th Century Part II

There are so many great designers that shaped the 20th century that I had to continue this series. Fashion not only tells us about the period they were created in, but it also reflects our moods. It can be a staple or symbol of status. For example, a black suit reflects power and sophistication as well as sorrow and grace. It is worn during a professional job interview or at a funeral. It was created for women in the 20th century, as women’s fashion became more comfortable and stylish. Also, fashion in the 20th century became big business for men and women, where “brands” became just as popular as the cut of the dress or jeans. Here are some designers that created signature pieces that made them household names.

  1. Tommy Hilfiger — When you see Tommy Hilfiger clothes, his signature red, white and blue colors jump out at you. He began his fashion career in the 1970s, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that his clothing line took off. At age 18, he opened his first store, The People’s Place, in his hometown of Elmira, New York, where he sold “hippie” clothes. He had a successful chain, but an economic downturn hit his stores hard and he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1977. He bounced back when he met Indian entrepreneur Mohan Murjani in 1984. Hilfiger was given the financial backing he needed to start his own label and went on to build a lifestyle clothing empire.
  2. Vera Wang — Known for her wedding gowns, Wang did not set out to be a fashion designer. After college, Wang was hired at Vogue as a rover. She worked her way up to become the magazine’s youngest fashion editor. In 1987, she left Vogue to work for Ralph Lauren. The switch to fashion designer happened when she was planning her own wedding. She was an older bride and noticed the styles were geared towards younger women. This pushed Wang to start her own wedding boutique and design gowns that were elegant and classic. She branched out to engagement rings, dinnerware, cosmetics, eyewear and a clothing line.
  3. Ralph Lauren — Lauren’s passion for fashion began as a teenager. He combined the classic lines of 1940s clothing (he admired Cary Grant and Fred Astaire) with “preppy” looks. He began his fashion career in the 1960s as a salesman for Brooks Brothers. Lauren first designed neckties for Beau Brummell under the Polo label. In the next decade, he designed suits for women with a men’s cut. The iconic polo shirt with the polo player logo was designed in 1972. As with many fashion designers, Lauren expanded his empire to include fragrances, home decor, shoes and dinnerware.

Originally published on lilawalter.com on April 30, 2019.

My Favorite Ports of Call

My Favorite Ports of Call

Some of my vacations have been to famous ports of call, such as Corsica, Rome, Barcelona, and Malta. Ports of call are intermediate stops while on a cruise. The cruises themselves are fun, but the ports give you the opportunity to go ashore and check out what each city is known for, get some pics, enjoy great food and buy some souvenirs. It was hard to be bored when there was so much to see and do at each port!

Corsica, France — This island in the Mediterranean has the most beautiful beaches, such as Palombaggia with its clear water and white sand. But it also had mountains, valleys, and forests. It reminded me of California, where a short drive took you to the beach, mountains or desert. There were hilltop villages that were amazing! And you know me with fashion; I had to check out the stores. The style in Corsica was very laid back, with casual dresses and shorts. Yet, it did get really cool at night, so it’s always good to travel with a sweater.

Rome, Italy — Rome was beautiful. Everywhere you looked was a piece of history, and I didn’t mind learning about them. The Colosseum is the most famous of landmarks and is right in the middle of Rome. It’s hard to imagine this amphitheater was used for gladiator matches and chariot racing. You can’t go to Italy and not have pasta and pizza! Best of all, the shopping district had everything from high-fashion to vintage.

Barcelona, Spain —  Located in northern Spain, this city is a combination of old and new. There are old buildings and monuments and modern shops and markets. Walking the narrow streets and alleys was like going back in time — and the walls had intricate designs! There is so much to do, too. There were fiestas and festivities, beautiful beaches, and tons of shops.

Malta — Located in the Mediterranean, this group of islands makes up the smallest country in Europe. It consists of three islands: Malta, Gozo, and Comino. Malta is the largest island, with beautiful buildings and hidden coves. The Blue Lagoon in Comino has water that is so blue! Malta, like Barcelona, is very colorful, with its red-gold beaches, limestone cliffs, and deep blue sea. And the food was interesting, since their cuisine is a mix of Italian, French, Arabic, and British.

Lila Walter enjoying a boat ride in Malta.

Originally published at lilawalter.net on April 2, 2019.

Iconic Fashion Designers of the 20th Century Part I

If you know me, I love everything about fashion from the latest styles to its history. Did you ever wonder who created the fashion pieces that gave inspiration to today’s designers? Without them, we would not have timeless fashion pieces, such as the little black dress, jeans or skirts. If you are planning a career in fashion (or just a fan like me), you should check out these famous designers.

Coco Chanel — The name Chanel says it all. It is a brand that will never go out of style. We have Chanel to thank for getting women out of corsets and into suits and black dresses. Despite her success, Chanel’s teen years were difficult. At the age of 12, her father put her into an orphanage after her mother’s death. It was there that she learned to sew, and her career as a designer was set in motion. Born Gabrielle Bonhour Chanel in 1883, the nickname Coco was given to her during her brief stint as a singer. Some believe the name came from one of the songs she used to sing. Chanel, however, squashed that rumor and stated the name was short for cocotte, French for “kept woman.” She opened her first shop in Paris in 1913, and the rest is history.

Madeleine Vionnet — If you saw her designs, you would think she was a current designer. Vionnet was a designer of the 1920s and 1930s. Her daring designs had bare shoulders, plunging necks and silky materials. She cut her materials on a bias, which created a halter top and hugged a woman’s curves. Vionnet designs are classic, since celebrities, such as Cameron Diaz and Natalie Portman, wear her dresses. And you can find her collection at expensive stores, such as Saks and Barney’s.

Claire McCardell — McCardell is the grandmother of American sportswear. She was a visionary in that she designed the opposite of her French peers; her designs were more about function and comfort. Her signature designs of the 1940s and 1950s included the Monk Dress, the Kitchen Dress, and Popover Dress. She even mixed fabrics as well as separates. Many contemporary designers (e.g. Calvin Klein and Anna Sui) have cited McCardell as a huge influence on their work.  

These designers not only made beautiful pieces, but they also made fashion sleek, colorful and sporty. Could you imagine if women still had to wear full skirts to play sports? Or to just go to the movies? I didn’t think so. There are too many designers that have made a huge impact on today’s fashion to cover here. Watch for my next blog in this series!

Originally published at lilawalter.com on April 2, 2019.