Wednesday, December 30, 2009

c o u n t i n g d o w n

Loud music. Champagne. Fireworks. Dinner for one. Dancing.

Whatever your plans for New Year's Eve may look like, forget the hype and pressure about ending '09 with a bang and starting the new year off perfectly... I've heard way too many stories about people stuck on their way to the "party of the year" and forced to celebrate the beginning of the new year on a bus/train/random street. The best times are those which you spend in good company, so make sure you're surrounded by the people you love (and love to party with). Add good food and a little champagne for the obligatory toast... and let the good times roll!

For everyone who will be in Berlin tonight, I can highly recommend stopping by the legendary VILLA party (and afterhour) or the Kings & Queens masquerade at the HBC. For more information about either, check out the 'I Heart Berlin' blog.

If you're still unsure about what to wear, just remember that this may be one of the few nights of the year where anything goes. Well, almost anything. Leave your leopard leotards at home and think flashy! Sequined tops are always a good bet, although throwing on a cocktail dress and rounding off the outfit with a pair of funky stilettos will do the job as well. Once you have overcome that last (very tricky) obstacle of finding the perfect NYE outfit, you're good to go!

Friday, December 25, 2009


Think home-cooked food, heavy snowfall, good company and a festive atmosphere... can it get any better than Christmas? I wish you all happy holidays and a jolly good time with your beloved. La Berlina will be back in time for some NYE updates ;)

Until then, ho ho ho!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Last Christmas (I listened to bad music all the time)

A couple of weeks ago, one of my friends said, "I just heard 'Last Christmas' on the radio... that means it's officially holiday season!" I thought about what she said for a while, and gradually, my initial reluctance made way for accepted defeat. No wonder we're exposed to the same old song every year if there's no good alternatives around... right?

Wrong. There are plenty of contemporary artists that can take on Mariah Carey and WHAM any day. Throughout the past years, I've been compiling some of my personal favourites and burning CDs with them for my friends. At the top of the list is Ron Sexsmith's "Maybe This Christmas" - I've been hooked ever since this song came up on The O.C. a couple of years ago. If you're wondering why Lady Gaga made the cut, just listen to the song... it's hilarious. (although you should wait until your relatives have had plenty of eggnog before you start playing this!)

Who knows, one day our combined efforts may succeed in banning "Last Christmas" from TV & radio stations for good ;)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

All I Want For Christmas...

Yes, it's that time of year again. Those of us who don't spend 99% of their time procrastinating and trying to avoid the inevitable will already have an assortment of neatly wrapped gifts and matching christmas cards stored away in the back of their closet. Everyone else - it's crunch time!

In case you're not only in dire need of wrapped pleasantries for the family, but also lacking creativity to come up with ideas for these, La Berlina is here to save the day. Trust me, I know what it's like to suffer under the annual 'socks & underwear' set that mothers love to give.

See below for an assortment of unique gift ideas that will make your brother's self-made carwash coupon seem extremely unoriginal... (Undoubtly the biggest advantage is that all items can be ordered online and shipped internationally = you won't have to leave the house at all!). Click on the images to enlarge them.

1. The Bubble Calendar: a poster-sized calendar with a bubble to pop every day ($20.10)
What do your little sister, Aunt Marge and Grandfather Larry have in common? There's a child deep down inside all of them! So chances are, they will still love popping the bubble-wrap more than what is actually wrapped in it. Why not treat them to the truly one-of-a-kind 2010 Bubble Wrap Calendar? You can order it from the folks at, who will ship it to you for free! (International shipping is free for orders of 2+ calendars).

2. Miniature Chairs Jewellery Stand (€53.00)
Away with dusty cases full of tangled-up necklaces! This cast iron mini-sculpture will display all of your mother's jewellery in a visually pleasing fashion. Available via Urban Outfitters Online Shop

3. 'Math Sucks' Tshirt by Wildfox (€80.00)
Supposedly there's people out there who actually enjoy battling fractions, algorithms and puzzling equations. I'm not one of them, and maybe your cousin Trudy isn't, either? In that case, she'd probably love this tshirt. Just remind her not to wear it to her next calculus quiz. La Berlina assumes no liability for failed exams due to agitated teachers. Order online

4. Fridge Magnets 'Ransom style' (€14.00)
Ever looked into the fridge and realized that your little brother secretly ate your vanilla yoghurt - again?! By giving him this set of fridge magnets, you will be able to write anonymous notes on the refridgerator door, threatening to devour his peanut butter snacks should he commit such a felony again. Yeah, it's more a present to yourself than to him but, hey, who said that's a bad thing? Via Urban Outfitters Online Shop

5. Undercover Laptop Sleeve (€33)
Disguised as a worn, oversized envelope, this laptop sleeve will ensure that nobody steals your older sister's brand-new macbook. The case is padded for protection on the inside and sports a velcro closure. Buy now

6. 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (€27)
Does your dad take great pleasure in bragging about what a music expert he really is? If yes, you're not alone. Do him a favour and surprise him with this 960-page collection of album reviews from over 5 decades. He'll be able to boast about having listened to at least half of these records already, and educate the rest of the family on the milestones of music industry history. Make sure to take this away from him again at one point or he won't stop rambling about how great Woodstock was... Published by Universe and sold via Urban Outfitters Online Shop.

7. Rock 'n' Roll Pen (€13)
Who said your dad was the only one with a good taste in music? Give your boyfriend this electric guitar-style ballpoint pen and he will declare his undying love for you. Also available in saxophone- and keyboard shapes.

[In case you didn't notice yet, Urban Outfitters is THE place to look for novelties and out-of-the-ordinary present ideas!]

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

climate action #2 this Saturday! (12.12.2009)

A while ago I reported back from an alternative type of demonstration here in Berlin - the Silent Climate Parade. The event turned into a huge success, international media coverage and a daily increasing amount of fans on the event's facebook page followed shortly thereafter.

(can you spot La Berlina in this shot of the Silent Climate Parade?)

Now, the boys are back. In light of the current climate summit in Copenhagen and the World Wants A Real Deal global day of action on December 12th, it is time to take a stand in the fight against climate change. While the event's organizers once again aim to combine political activism with tons of fun and a kickass soundtrack to back everything up, the concept of climate action numero dos differs slightly from that of the previous event.

After signing up, you will be sent a link to download the audio file that will be used during the demonstration. Transfer this file onto your mp3 player and bring it along on Saturday. Not only will you be listening and dancing to the same music as everyone else, you will also receive important instructions on what to do next... this may include chasing other participants who have dressed up as CO2-molecules ;)

All in all, the event promises to be another big success in raising awareness and protecting our environment. Register now and get all of your friends to join in the fun! More information can be found on the official website or on the event's facebook page.

Monday, December 7, 2009

London.4 - Dress Me Up!

"Ever wished you could borrow a dress from Kate Moss for a big night out?"

Thanks to Topshop, this dream turned into reality for a number of London-based women. Between November 26th and December 6th, customers of Britain's most popular High Street retailer had the opportunity to hire dresses that had previously been donated by selected starlets. The benefit of splurging on one of the dresses for an unforgettable night of glamour (besides the fact that all profits went towards charity) was undoubtly that all worries about other girls showing up in the same outfit could easily be eliminated! An excerpt of the Topshop holiday season catalogue explains just how easy it all was:

While I was unable to hire one of the glamourous gowns (previously owned by Scarlett Johansson, Dita von Teese and many others) myself, browsing through the robes, feeling the different textures of feathers, sequins or tulle, and imagining what kind of events these had been worn to proved to be exciting enough. Photography was strictly forbidden, but I managed to secretly capture the lovingly decorated interior of the miniature fashion temple that had been set up inside the store on Oxford Street.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

London.3 - no cinderella story

Sometimes, life is unfair and we can't do anything about it. Plain and simple.

I had to learn this lesson the past weekend while shopping in London with my friends. Apart from literally scrutinizing every single article of clothing in one of the many vintage shops, we came across a tiny shoe store on Camden High Road that sells low-priced imitations of popular designer pieces. Shoe heaven, so to speak. I was enraptured until I realized that they only carried sizes 36 - 39 (EU). Too bad I'm a size 40 and the shoes tended to run small. Subsequently, I had to sit and watch while my good friend Muriel treated herself to these gems.

Perfectly suited for dancing the night away in one of Berlin's many underground clubs (and not freezing to death on the way back home in the early morning hours), these £30 dark brown faux leather boots would have been the perfect addition to my ever-growing shoe collection. Looks like I'll have to wait and hope for a miracle...

PHOENIX @ La Blogotheque (Take Away Show)

Alright, so there's some impressions of London I'd still like to share... but in the meantime I couldn't focuse on my studies until I hadn't done my share of spreading the following three videos on the web. 2009 just wouldn't have been the same without Phoenix. Now, the talented young lads have cooperated with La Blogotheque in Paris, and the result is captivating. Sit back and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

London.2 - inSpiral @ Camden Lock

Clearly a magnet for tourists and locals alike, Camden (one of London's 32 boroughs) can't be fully discovered in merely one or two hours. Along Camden High Street and around Camden Lock, you will come across a plethora of little shops and market stalls, offering everything from scented candles to black leather plateau boots to fresh fruits and vintage records. Chances are you'll find funky gifts for everyone, grandparents and flatmates alike, if you just take the time to browse a little.

When entering Camden Lock, your eyes and tastebuds will most likely be overwhelmed by the variety of foods and beverages offered at the little stalls lining the alleyways.

No insider's tip but certainly a highlight of the area is the café/bar/shop/lounge inSpiral. Situated on 250 Camden High Street right across from Camden Lock, this venue is unique in its concept and implementation thereof.

"inSpiral combines personal and planetary health with creative media to achieve positive conscious change in a fun way for all!"

Apart from offering a great array of vegetarian and vegan dishes (ever tried hemp millet fricadels or vegan tiramisu cake?), inSpiral hosts parties and events every weekend... Why not pop by the Social Sunday Open Mic session and have a couple of organic beers while you're at it?

If you're still not convinced that is place is a must-see, take into consideration that this is one of the few locations in central London that allows you to have an amazing time while simultaneously benefiting your local community and our planet earth. Idealistic? No way. 100% of the electricity consumed at inSpiral comes from renewable engery sources. All packaging is either biodegrable, recycled or otherwise ecofriendly. None of the staff members own a car - most of them cycle to work!

Captivated by the concept and low-spirited because you live nowhere near London? Do not despair. The brand-new inSpiral website not only features an online shop and radio station, but also offers its advice on how to be ecofriendly and posts news and updates via the inSpiral blog.

London.1 - an interest in fashion

While the weekend spent in London included more than enough opportunities for shopping, sightseeing and discovering the local clubbing scene, I managed to dedicate a good amount of time to something which my mother would refer to as a 'good investment for the future': touring universities. And although that implied spending a lot of time in cozy common rooms, indulging in biscuits and coffee and chatting with various members of the faculty and the administrative staff, I was also delighted to gain an insight into what real uni life boils down to.

Just for the heck of it (and because the Journalism Department wasn't giving tours that day), I travelled straight from Stansted airport to visit the Open Day for Fashion Design at the Harrow campus of the University of Westminster. What I encountered was a group of open-minded, independent-thinking and friendly students, sputtering with creativity. I also learned more about fashion, its history, and the complexity of tailoring than Vogue could ever teach me. If you get the chance to attend a similar event at the university of your choice, go for it! Trust me, it'll be worth it.