I am love : 40

A belated post: My birthday this past April was something EXTRA special. I celebrated the big four-oh. What?! YES... be nice. I am still trying to get used to the idea! It was a celebration made more special by dear friends and family, spectacular food, an elegant setting and one amazing cake.

I decided to loosely theme the evening around one of my favourite films of all time, I Am Love. It is easily one of the most sumptuous films ever made. Food – and love – are central themes. I even designed my invites to look like the film's title sequence. If only I had Luca Barcellona as my calligrapher. Chef Jason Bangerter at LUMA created for me a beautiful menu around the themeIt was such an honour to have one of the best chefs in Canada to create such fantastic (and gorgeous) food for my birthday. If that wasn't amazing enough, my dear friend, Chef Rossy Earle created a jaw-dropping, Roasted Butter Pecan Cake with – get this – four layers of dulce de leche. 

It was one of my most special birthdays to date. It was such a beautiful night and exactly how I wanted to celebrate. I only wish my parents who have lived back in Manila for years and more of my dear friends in New York had been able to attend. Everything else fell into place and there was no shortage of laughter. What better way to bring in a new decade. So it's not so bad being grown up, old. ;) 

Many thanks once again to all who shared the evening with me (including my friend Lee from NYC), Chef Jason Bangerter (and the great LUMA staff), Chef Rossy Earle for my amazing cake and Renée Suen for taking and sharing the photos. x 

The AMAZING Roasted Butter Pecan cake with four layers of dulce de leche

All photos above by Renee Suen

A few birthday Instagrams by family & friends' (including my own); left: the Truffle Soup with chanterelle cream and buffalo parmesan that we all LOVED beyond words, middle: my big, beautiful Dulce de Leche cake, right: perfect Roast Sea Bass

The gift bags for my guests included bubbly and popcorn with chocolate pop rocks, peanuts, caramel and Chef Jason's fragrant mix


I can't believe it's taken me this long to watch this film, Elegy. It is based on a book by Philip Roth entitled Dying Animal that I read and loved years ago. I still remember feeling absolutely shaken by the book. It's film adaptation was so well done and the performances so fantastic (no overacting here), I am stunned. The book, the film and the screenplay are equally intelligent, sexy and honest. The film was perfectly cast. This may very well be my favourite performance of Penelope Cruz'. I really saw her versatility in this film. If you have not yet had the pleasure, do yourself a favour: READ and WATCH

bill t. jones : a good man

Watch Bill T. Jones: A Good Man on PBS. See more from AMERICAN MASTERS.


After recently seeing FELA, I became interested in the work of Bill T. Jones. His Tony Award winning choreography for FELA moved me to tears. I came across this documentary about his new project: A Good Man, and had to share. It is an incredibly inspiring and intelligent film about dance, choreography, performance and storytelling. This is a must-see for anyone interested in creativity. Works like this make me wish I had pursued dance more professionally. I am completely in awe. 

"I used to say that I want grace. That my reward in this life were to be to find what grace is. But now it's all choppy seas. Grace is for the saints. I'm not a saint, I don't aspire to be one yet. I'm a two-fisted maker." 
– Bill T. Jones. 

british style genius

An old friend sent me this BBC Series British Style Genius (from 2009) a week or so ago and I've been devouring every episode since. It is fascinating. It's an incredibly well produced, showcasing the most concise documentary on (any) fashion history that I've ever seen. I even love the title sequence design. Some of my favourite segments and episodes are below. 

The bit about the 60s Mod movement was of particular interest to me. I was hanging out in high school with a group of kids that revived this whole look/lifestyle in California during the late 80s. I also knew 20-something year old guys in Vancouver into the early 90s that (quite seriously) subscribed to the same look and lifestyle. It all centered around 60s, slim-fitting Mod suits, skinny black ties and creepers. One of my closest friends in high school, Barry, would wear Fred Perry shirts, skinny dress pants or jeans and dress shoes to school everyday. He also had the signature vintage Vespa scooter which I rode with him to school everyday. We listened to a lot of ska, Brit pop and punk. It influenced the way that I dressed then, too. I wore a lot of vintage and homemade 60s miniskirts (some tartan) with preppy sweaters, pointy patent flats — and yes, black TURTLENECKS (that's when the turtleneck love began!). Back then, I wasn't as aware of the whole history of the Mods. I didn't question it, I just enjoyed dressing up in the particular style. I still don't really know why the Mod look was revived then. It's interesting how it was (re)done the same way – but in suburban southern California. Perhaps it was a west coast thing. Does anyone know? We did feel that we stood apart from the popular fashion in high school back then (which at my school was comprised of Hyper Color cropped Tshirts, MC Hammer pants and lots of neon). I wish I had photos to share. So I loved seeing the way this documentary series illustrates and gives context to where/how it all began. It all makes sense to me now! 

One conclusion I drew from having watched the series in it's entirety: I believe that the days of such influential and distictive fashion "movements" growing from the streets is gone for the most part. The globalization of fashion trends is likely to blame. There is still a lot of street fashion that influence the styles that end up on the runway, but they don't end up evolving from movements with fiercely loyal followings (not unlike gangs) in quite the same way that it did back in the 60s. It was a time when younger generation made their clothes. New styles were created and evolved more organically on the streets. They weren't simply following what they saw on tv, music, magazines or celebrities (many of whom receive many of their clothes for free from fashion designers). I feel as though retailers like American Apparel and Urban Outfitters are the ones dictating the way young people dress these days. Hoards of young 'hipsters' are merely dressing in uniforms-of-the-minute as dictated by these retailers. That doesn't define edgy to me. I don't believe there is as much actual origination or innovation on the street nowadays — at least not as much as there was between the 60s-80s (and not in north America). So much of what's out there now tends to be an appropriation or remix of everything that has been done before — primarily from the 80s. 

If you didn't see this series the first time around and can get a hold of it, I HIGHLY recommend doing so. It's amazing and not to be missed. 



bill cunningham new york

 I finally, finally got to see the Bill Cunningham New York documentary yesterday at Village East Cinema. It was such an intimate glimpse into the life and vision of someone who just loves fashion so much. He loves what he does so wholly and purely, it was amazing to see. Bill Cunningham had his own unique way of cutting through everything and everyone in fashion and just seeing it for what it is and what it means to people. The man has an amazing memory for fashion, too. It was also very moving documentary about who this man is – and in many ways, he's still a bit of an enigma. What a character. What an inspiration. I am so glad I finally got to see it. It was appropriate that I see it while in New York City, too.

GO SEE IT if you can.  


last night

I happened upon this film entitled Last Night – just last night, in fact. I had no idea what to expect but the cast looked promising. I ended up really liking it. It's also still haunting me. The film is about choices, attraction and fidelity. It was a story well told, has a smart, well written dialogue, beautiful cinematography and performances that exceeded my expectations. There was so much power and depth in the subtle details, gestures and glances of the casts' performances. I was really quite impressed. It also shook me. It was violent or was gratuitous in any way (in fact, quite the opposite). Part of the reason I can't stop thinking about it is because it presents a question to the viewer of what choice you would make given the same situation. It brings up the idea of fidelity, whether it's possible and how. Perhaps, it's some of the things we're afraid to consider. Yes, the film is quite sexy, has a great-looking cast and it's beautifully shot. But at the end of the day, the story is... human. I highly recommend it. Preferrably, over a glass of wine.
This film is currently available on demand, on iTunes and it will be screening as part of The Tribeca Film Festival in New York as well as various theaters in select cities. 


the swan queen

After months of anticipation (and avoiding reading it's reviews), I finally saw Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan. It is easily became my favourite film this year – if not, of all time. It was amazing. Natalie Portman was so perfectly cast for this and, to me, delivered the most captivating performance of her career. So many shots focused a great deal on her face and the psychological turmoil underneath. She was incredible. The film was dark, sexy, timeless and edgy, gorgeous colour palette and cinematography (by an incredibly talented friend, Matty Libatique). It was a kind of psychological thriller that reminded me of terrifying old black & white films like Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. There were enough surprises in the film to make even the most jaded viewer jump out of their seat (or gasp and look away, the way I did). It was also amazing to see all the dancers and performances. This film took my breath away. I'm dying to see it again... 



danny & annie

Danny & Annie from StoryCorps on Vimeo.

Watching this film took me from giggling to having tears streaming down my face in
the span of under six minutes. It's an amazing StoryCorps animated short story based
on interviews about people of all backgrounds to share and preserve their personal
stories. This one is about a Brooklyn couple – Danny & Annie and the story of their
love. I was so incredibly moved and by this. You must, MUST watch it. 

Thanks to the friend who shared this with me. 

i am love (lo sono l'amor) is visual poetry


I Am Love (Lo Sono L'Amor) easily finds itself on my top five films of all time. It is the most beautiful film I have seen since In The Mood For Love. The cinematography alone is one of the most stunning I have ever seen. It is visual poetry. Tilda Swinton's searing performance is not to be missed. Just before I saw the film, I read that the timeless and elegantly minimal wardrobe is comprised of Raf Simons for Jil Sander and Fendi. I loved the way Swinton's character Emma's transition is complemented by a change in her entire look, mirroring the contrast that unfolds in her life. All throughout the film, she is the epitome of elegance. The older version of me would love to be dressed the way Emma is dressed. The film's sweeping (but grand) simplicity is also translated in it's soundtrack. It was refreshing to see a mature woman in the lead role of a provocative love story. The food, set design/architecture and, not to mention, the sexy (and younger) leading man played by Alba Rorwacher, made for one incredibly sexy film. It inspires daydreams of forbidden love affairs with a backdrop of a luscious, sunlit Italian countryside – all without even a hint of cheeseI Am Love was also sensitively and intelligently written and edited. It is destined to be one of the classic films of all time. I rarely use this word, but it can really only be described as exquisite. GO SEE IT.

Photo sources: 1-3, 4, 56

the kids are alright

Tonight my friend Jenna and I watched the advanced screening of this wonderful film: The Kids Are Alright. First of all, what a great cast. Combine that with a funny, smart and heartfelt script and what you get is seriously solid filmmaking. The acting was superb. The best I've seen in a long time. I immediately loved the characters. The actors took the writing – and the story – to a whole new level. It was about time a well-done story was told about a modern family. They succeeded in portraying a family with gay parents to feel about as ordinary as any other family – complete with all the typical concerns and everyday struggles that we can all relate to. Not only that, it was totally hilarious! You will laugh out loud, you will cry – and love every minute of it. And Mark Ruffalo: super sexy and adorable (where has he been hiding?!) Anyway, I can't say enough about this film. Just go see it!

If you're aching for an alternative to the big, loud summer blockbusters, this one is a sure bet. It will be in theaters July 9th, 2010.


inspired title sequences : sherlock holmes


If you haven't seen Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes yet, you must. I saw it with my sister over the holidays. What a great film, deliciously clever and sexy. I cannot say enough. As a designer, I was so struck by the title sequences at the end of the film. They are absolutely gorgeous –also a must see. Watch it here.

Images from Prologue Films


so fantastic, mr. fox

I absolutely adored Fantastic Mr. Fox, it may be Wes Anderson's best work yet. Really. It may be my favourite George Clooney film too. What could be better than Anderson's dry humour delivered by animal puppets? Great cast, brilliant writing. Couple that with his extreme attention to detail of all aspects of the film – particularly the set and costumes – it's genius. The stop-motion animation is also a nice change from all the computer animated features of late (not that there's anything wrong with them...). I really appreciate the work that went into this film. One hilarious little detail was the iMac (complete with yellow sticky notes stuck to it) that sits in the office of Mr. Fox's lawyer, "Badger" (played by Bill Murray).
p.s. This film is kid-friendly too, plenty of laughs for everyone. Watch for the particularly clever use of the word "cuss." So freaking funny.
Just to give you a glimpse into what went into making the film, check this out and watch the video below. it's incredible.

Photos from Fantastic Mr. Fox website

Photo from Vanity Fair
The Making Of Fantastic Mr. Fox


the september issue : grace coddington


I finally watched The September Issue last night. Loved it. It was very well done, fun, funny and engaging. I must say (and I realize I'm not the first to say this) that Grace Coddington, Vogue's Fashion Editor, was the real hero of the film. She is and has been the GENIUS behind the magazine's editorial fashion spreads for the past two decades. She is brilliant. My only wish was to see more of her creative process behind the editorials as well as the photo shoots themselves.
The only comment I will make about Anna Wintour is that if she were a man, no one would question her work ethic and demeanor. Men can be no-nonsense in the workplace, whereas women are still expected to be nice in addition to getting the job done.
 I wasn't surprised by what it took to put that magazine together. It was fascinating getting a peek into the process. If you haven't seen the film yet, GO! It's worth it.

From the haute couture editorial of Vogue's Sept issue as featured in the film, styled by Grace Coddington
From the 1920s editorial of Vogue's Sept issue as featured in the film, styled by Grace Coddington
The deleted 1920s spread featured in the film, , styled by Grace Coddington



Grace Coddington and Anna Wintour

I love this image of Grace Coddington (and the doggie!) back in her modeling days in the 60s


the rom-com for cynics : 500 days of summer

You may have noticed the film 500 Days of Summer being heavily promoted (and hyped) lately. I tried not to read reviews. But it was difficult to ignore the television ads. I went into seeing this film almost not wanting to like it. Despite reservations I had about just how *great* this film is supposed to be, I had to see it for myself.

I was pleasantly surprised. It's really funny, clever, charming and innovative in a way that doesn't make me roll my eyes. Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are completely irresistible. Crush-worthy. The costume and set design were great. I adored Summer's (Zooey Deschanel's) outfits. Everything was well-considered and smart. There was even a nod to 60s French New Wave films which was unexpected. There was a reference to my favourite author Alain de Botton and his book The Architecture of Happiness (in my top five books of all-time). This alone could have sold me on the film! I also loved the split screen sequences that plays out the male lead character's "Expectations" of an evening on the left and the "Reality" on the right. It wasn't self-indulgent or annoying. It was modern. The best way I can describe this film is it's the romantic comedy for rom-com cynics. I liked it. A lot. It's well-worth seeing on the big screen. Really. Just go see it.


Film still photo from


animated brilliance: UP


This is THE best animated feature since Wall-E. I saw Disney/Pixar's latest film Up in 3D last night and it was beyond wonderful. It really wasn't until I saw and fell in love with Nemo (of Finding Nemo), that I even paid much attention to animated features. This one even opened this years' Canne Film Festival.
Not only was the story line and script writing totally brilliant (and HILARIOUS), the characters were well developed and compelling. It goes where other animated films have not dared to go as far as it's story-telling. It made me love each character, it made me cry. I also laughed so hard watching it (as were all my friends who saw it with me). The funniest lines were delivered by the dogs. In fact, my favourite character in the film is Dug the dog. Loved him. As with many animated features there are many elements both children and adults will appreciate. I really can't say enough about Up. I would see it again. Just go see it.


speaking of cinematic...


I am a immense appreciator of well-designed, clever, creative and beautiful title sequences for film (as well as the films themselves, of course). Art of the Title is solely dedicated to featuring great sequence titles. The examples above are just a few of them. They also have viewable clips of each one. Love it. 
Stranger Than Fiction




High Fidelity





Napoleon Dynamite