I say, Chapeau or Chapeaux? London & Paris

Always seeking specialty outfitters, milliners, gourmet kitchen accessories, fishing gear, antiques etc.…on my recent Journey I was ecstatic to find two specialty hat emporiums. A friend owned Fino Fino hat shop here and I was a frequent ‘unpaid’ model for  fashion events and prints ads. Unpaid, is really not quite accurate, I was paid in deeply discounted hat prices, thus why I have a room devoted to brimming hat boxes…friends have donated their mom’s vintage hats and boxes to my ‘collection’. ‘Blondie economics’ have usually proven to be successful for me!

You can find the oldest London hatter on its most historic streets – St James Street – Lock and Company dates back to the early 1700’s and the creaky narrow wood stairs leading up to the women’s hat gallery is a testament to the age. Don’t miss the Heritage Room at the back of the shop, a curated collection of archival content such as Sir Winston Churchill and Admiral Lord Nelson’s ledgers, the first-ever bowler hat, celebrity head-shapes and much more.

Lion Tamer perching hat

Lion Tamer perching hat- Who could Resist?

The Couture Millinery may remind you of perky royal fascinators; I didn’t see the Queen or a Princess lurking, however, I am certain this must be their go to shop for their whimsical and inspiring cocktail hats. For men’s formal wear, a large selection of Top Hats and an excellent selection of travel Panama Hats – with their own roller tube.



Embroidered smoking cap

Embroidered smoking cap – Everyone needs this hat!


Fashion make you a bit peckish? Then mosey to 3 St James Street to the oldest spirit shop for a tipple…pouring for over 300 years, we love Berry Bros. & Rudd. http://www.bbr.com/

In Paris, an elegant and stunning collection, this is THE shop for to die for millinery. Laurence Bossion just a few blocks from Le Meurice on rue, Saint Roch. If your social season demands the ultimate chapeaux, do saunter into this petite and charming atelier. Not far from the Louvre, the young women speak some English, have textiles on hand and many interesting and flamboyant styles. Their website offers many more options, however, each hat can be custom designed and sewn for Madame’s needs. http://www.laurencebossion.com/index.php

Oversize hat boxes don’t seem to cause a commotion at first class check in. And yes, I speak from experience; schlepping a hat box on the train and two hatboxes onto the plane…Perhaps there is an implied message delivered by dragging on a bag of hat boxes, who would question someone crazy enough to carry-on fragile hat boxes? Both firms also ship.

Peckish in Paris – nearby is the elegant Le Meurice Bar 228 or a few blocks away is the classic Hemingway’s Bar at The Ritz…A definite distinction, but we crave choices, don’t you?

Irina Kazakova – contortionist/artist Travel Tales

I meet the most interesting people on my Journeys – an important aspect we build into our client Journeys. On a recent client visit to the northern island of Hokkaido in Japan, we organized several very special events: an exclusive visit to an award winning Whiskey Distillery, small rural farms and a visit to a private Japanese Sword Studio, one of the last sword-smiths in Japan.

Broad cultural and exclusive experiences deepen our appreciation for foreign countries, their artists and craftsmen. Pleasurable experiences and adventure still to be discovered.

On my recent stop in Miami, I wandered the hallways of the Faena Hotel and heard the most ethereal music seeping from glossy ruby red doors of the Faena Theatre… I discovered this young woman rehearsing for the Faena C’est Rouge Cabaret.  http://www.faena.com/cest-rouge/

My new number "Dixie Boy" at @faenatheater 🎥 @rodrigueztarditi #whatcomesfromtheheart

A post shared by Irina Kazakova Performance Art (@sunallure) on

Irina Kazakova at Faena Hotel

I later met the star performer, a former Russian gymnast and contortionist, Irina Kazakova. Sitting at the outdoor Faena bar, she shared her history and intriguing career…what a delicious slice of life!

Irina Kazakova is an award-winning gymnast and the founder of SunAllure. She is known for her multifaceted aerial-contortion art form and dance. At the age of six Irina began rhythmic gymnastics in Moscow.  From 2002 to 2007 she was a Russian National Team member. She has won many achievements and is the Russian 2002 Honored Master of Sports in Rhythmic Gymnastics, of which is the highest national honor within this field.  She is also the 2003 Russian Cup Champion of Russia for all-around gymnastics, hoop, and ball.

Enjoy more of her photos and art on these sites.  www.sunallure.dance http://instagram.com/sunallure    http://instagram.com/mermaid_of_the_caribbean

Please click to enjoy the rehearsal session