VDNKh + Taras Bulba

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Top: Promod | Vest: Jennyfer | Pants: Abercrombie | Shoes: Minnetonka | Watch: Michael Kors
VDNKh or the All-Russia Exhibition Centre is a place straight out of a Soviet textbook, glorifying communist ideology and promoting national unity. That's where I spent most of my childhood days. My parents used to own a business on its premises, so I roamed the pavilions, frequented exhibitions and went pony-back riding during the afternoons and weekends. That's where I discovered my love of art and need for creative outlets, as I was left in office rooms with papers, pens, crayons, and sometimes... Windows Paint. High tech, old school craftsmanship right thurr! What sets VDNKh apart from other Exhibition Centres around the globe is the dedication that was put into making the venue extremely ornate and extravagant - just like an overdressed Russian woman in six inch heels, dripping in diamonds, fur and foundation. It's fascinating to look at, to say the least. 

If you ever make your way to uptown Moscow, make sure to visit this place but don't waste your time and rubles on the actual exhibits. The site in itself is a sight to see. You can walk around for days on end and admire the pavilions dedicated to every former Soviet Republic, and gawk at the gold fountains - namely the "Stone Flower" fountain, which is based on a fairytale and the "People's Friendship" fountain, which is, no doubt, the magnum opus of the exhibition centre. My other favourites are the Ferris Wheel, the Cosmonautics Museum, the Space Pavilion, the space shuttle, and the old Aeroflot plane.

Considering my brain overflowed with thoughts of socialism that day, I opted for dinner at a popular Ukrainian Restaurant, called Korchma Taras Bulba. Despite the current political unrest and national resentment, Ukrainian cuisine will always be appreciated in these parts. It's simple-no-fuss but quite hearty, and sometimes, that's all your stomach needs. I ordered the lean Ukrainian Borsch, salmon with garlic potatoes, and Kvas, which is, traditionally, a Russian soft drink. Everything tasted more than adequate, the service was superb, and the decor - delightfully rustic Ukrainian. I recommend this place to anyone travelling to or living in Moscow, Kiev or New York, and are interested in trying authentic Ukrainian food.

Last but not least, my outfit details will not be left unmentioned. I'm certain I resembled a Samovar in the printed, floral top but if you haven't already noticed, I sometimes display my cultural affiliations via fashion. I added a denim vest to offset the girly look; a pair of the most comfortable black skinnies, and embroidered, suede moccasins.

I'll be back with more from this city, so stay alive!

Patriarch's Ponds + Mari Vanna

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Top: Vintage | Skirt: Urban Outfitters | Shoes: Minnetonka | Sunglasses: Urban Outfitters
Almost six years have gone by since I last saw my beloved Moscow - my birthplace, my motherland, my former hometown - but I've finally made it here. So much has changed, yet so much is still the same, especially the people. The last time I was here, I was still a teenager, visiting family, not making any specific plans, not fully absorbing the beauty of this city. This time is different. I am more aware of my surroundings. I feel like more of an outsider, a stranger, and yet I am ever so connected to this place. 

What's beautiful about Moscow is the grandiosity of everything. It has a way of inspiring you like no other city. History seeps through every building, every street, every park, and it does so with elegance and an air of Soviet fortitude. It still slightly baffles me that I was fortunate enough to be born here and to have lived here. I mean, Toronto is great, unique and is one of the most comfortable cities to live in but you simply cannot feel the grandeur and complexity, which inspires and intimidates you every single day, as soon as you step outside. Basically, Moscow keeps you in check!

My first few days back were hectic, rushed, filled with both, pleasant and characteristically rude encounters, trips to various offices, government bureaus, banks, stores, etc. As soon as the weekend arrived, I decided to start my adventures with something simple - a stroll in the park, by a pond, and brunch.

Partiarch's Ponds is a gem of a park, which used to consist of several ponds, more than two-hundred years ago. However, only one of them remains and holds the kind of esoteric charm no nature-lover would want to miss out on. In the early hours, it's peaceful and enigmatic; it livens up, just before the afternoon sun, as mamas, papas and babushki take their youngins and pups out for a walk. If that isn't intriguing enough, this sure will be - writer, Mikhail Bulgakov, monumentalized this place in his novel, The Master and Margarita, where he had the Devil appear.

After a relaxing couple of hours at the park, I headed over to Mari Vanna, an upper-scale restaurant stylized as a cozy, old-fashioned, Russian home, where you are greeted by waitresses dressed in traditional garb. Brunch came in the form of Syrniki (cottage cheese pancakes) and Oladi (buttermilk pancakes), and everything tasted like pure Slavic heaven. If you have never tried authentic Russian food, this is a great place to start. Just remember that Polish delis aren't the only options available if you wish to dabble into Eastern European cuisine. The BEST part, however, is the owner's Cat, Venya (aka Veniamin, aka Benjamin, aka Benny), who lives there and is free to roam around the place like the little Tsar he is. And this is precisely another reason I love Russia - being a crazy cat lady/man is totally normal and acceptable! Unfortunately for non-Muscovites, His Majesty Venya's living situation is unique to the city. The absence of fat cats shouldn't discourage you from trying out the Moscow-based restaurant chain, which is also located in St. Petersburg, New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and London... Sadly, not Toronto.

Last but not least, my ensemble for the day consisted of a 70s-inspired, retro, paisley, Georgette silk top; a simple, black mini skirt; embroidered suede moccasins, and a pair of black, retro-style sunglasses. Ancient ponds and old-fashioned restaurants call for old world style.

Hope you have a lovely day. More to come from Moscow!

Mean Prints on McCaul St.

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Dress: Mango | Shoes: Handcrafted from Bangladesh | Necklace: Handcrafted | Watch: Michael Kors

I believe this is my first summer post, wearing an actual dress. Where has time flown?! As soon as I started posting summer looks... Oh wait... What?!... It's already fall?! Usually, I'd be extremely pleased with this change of weather, since I'm not particularly a fan of the heat and sweat that comes with everyone's favourite time of year. However, I'll be ditching Toronto in a couple of days, and the unpredictability makes it a lot more difficult to pack light. I was hoping to only take dresses, basics and itty bitty items. Just my luck.

Before I leave, I'm making a point of eating foods that are not readily available where I'm headed to next. That's where my appreciation of Toronto comes in. No matter how many places I visit, this city's food scene tramples all else. It's known for its variety, and variety is a luxury - one that I truly value. This time around, I was near the university area, and decided to get down to McCaul Street and pop into one of THE BEST food courts in the city, the Village by the Grange, which has a little bit of everything to offer. Yes, that's a weighty statement but I solemnly stand by it. Just look at how cute the place is! I tried out Chinese steamed buns (Bao), stuffed with a variety of ingredients, as well as steamed dumplings (Siu Mai), at a modern Chinese eatery called Mean Bao. I like me some cheap eats, savoury goodness, good service and a hospitable atmosphere, all of which the Bao joint successfully delivered.

Of course, this post wouldn't be complete without some outfit deets. The "ethnic" print shift dress I wore is one of my most versatile pieces, despite the bold impression it gives off. The mixture of warm and cool colours work well in any given season. The piece can be paired with a chunky cardigan when the cold settles in, or a blazer for work, interviews, day dates, etc. It's perfect on its own in the summer, because of the soft, flowing fabric, lack of shape, and cut-off-shirt look, which I especially adore. I had to assemble it with the pair of amazing, beaded, genuine leather, handcrafted sandals; handmade florentine leather bracelets, and a handmade choker necklace. I'm all for purchasing and wearing handcrafted pieces, especially those with cultural significance - they have character, positive energy and most importantly, they make you stand out from the crowd.

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