So Good They Named It Twice

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Last week I was given the fantastic opportunity to travel to New York with my university course. This was my second time visiting the city - I had been to New York two years ago with my family but unfortunately during Hurricane Sandy, which was an experience in itself but not quite the New York experience I had hoped for! This time I was excited to see the city as it should be.

We stayed in The Hotel Wolcott located in Midtown Manhattan - a beautiful, historic (and apparently haunted) hotel with lots of character and in the perfect central location. My friends and I packed in as much as we could during our stay, wanting to make the most of the city and explore both New York's famous tourist attractions of some of its lesser known, quirky areas outside of Manhattan.
We of course visited the Empire State building, Times Square, Bloomingdales and Central Park which, because of the freezing weather, was transformed into a snowy winter wonderland. Being fashion students, 5th Avenue was also a must and we admired the extensive stretch of designer stores; Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Prada, just to name a few! We were in awe of the impressive exteriors and interiors of the stores and their outlandish window displays. Speaking of which, we could not forget about the famous Bergdorfs windows, which did not disappoint! 

Of course I had to make a trip to Kate Spade and was greeted by the most lovely sales assistant (and may have treated myself to a new purse). I found that to be the main difference between British and American retail experiences - with Americans, service is everything and staff in all stores are consistently polite, friendly, helpful and approachable. And, being in New York, a visit *or two* to the mothership (Sephora) was of primary importance and I came away with some cult American beauty products such as the Beauty Blender, Smashbox Photo Finish Primer, Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment, Oscar Blandi dry shampoo as well as the Tarte Sculptor and Living Proof Style Extender - all of which I cannot wait to try.

On the Wednesday we caught the subway to Lower Manhattan and visited the 9/11 Memorial and museum, something I have always wanted to do. Both were incredibly moving and I could have spent hours in the museum, it was extremely interesting as there was just so much to look at. My favourite piece was an installation by Spencer Finch, composed of thousands of watercolour drawings - each an attempt to remember the colour of the sky on the morning of the attacks. This was accompanied by a quote from Roman poet, Virgil. The words were created by Tom Joyce using remnant steel from the World Trade Centre. 

On Thursday we were invited to the Fashion Institute of Technology and were given a lecture, in the on-campus Perfume Lab, by Assistant Professor of the Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing course, Virginia Bonofiglio. She spoke about the history of perfumery, as well as the structures and science behind perfumes. I found this incredibly interesting and helpful especially considering our next project requires us to create and market our own perfume. After, we took a trip to Chelsea, one of my new favourite parts of the city. Chelsea is incredibly scenic, with lots of character. We visited Chelsea Market and the Artists and Fleas market which contained lots of vintage and craft stalls, including the Pamela Barsky stall which was introduced to me by my lovely friend Stephanie, who kindly bought one of her famous pouches for me during her visit to New York last year. We also walked along the High Line which provides incredible views of the city, as well as revealing some of the city's notorious street art. 

During our second to last day in New York, we took a trip to Brooklyn as I was on a mission to find a store I had seen on Liv's Instagram called Catbird. This tiny store hidden in Brooklyn offers an extensive collection of delicate pieces of jewellery and other sparkly trinkets and I was so glad we managed to find it! We also explored some of Brooklyn's vintage stores and markets. 

I came away feeling incredibly inspired (and perhaps a little bloated after all the pizza and french toast I had consumed)! New York is undoubtedly one of my favourite cities, it feels like a whole other world full of possibility and excitement, as cliché as it sounds. Perhaps that may be the tourist in me speaking as I found, after speaking to a man in Starbucks who lives in the city, it seems that most New Yorkers cannot comprehend why anyone would love the city so much! 

I think travelling is incredibly important, and fundamental in the industry I would eventually like to enter. I want to see everything there is to see and I would travel all over the world if I had the funds to. Experiences are priceless and I hope 2015 brings about more opportunities to travel and explore the world. 

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