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Review: The Carrie Diaries

AnnaSophia Robb for Watch! magazine, September 2012. 

              We all know the story of Carrie Bradshaw. We know all of her secrets, the gory details of her failed relationships, and more than anything, we know the ins and outs of her covetable closet. In fact, we feel like we know Carrie herself.

              But when it comes to Carrie's backstory, the details are a little murky. That's where the CW's new TV show, The Carrie Diaries, comes in. While it may seem odd that the prequel to a show largely responsible for turning HBO into the economic juggernaut that it is today has relocated to the CW, the network shift is logical once you consider the storyline. When I first got into Sex and the City around the 10th grade, I would have never have been caught dead watching the show with my parents. It would have been mortifying! However, minus a few cringe-worthy references, the high school version starting Anna Sophia Robb as a young Carrie Bradshaw seems almost prudish considering its predecessor. Think of it as PG-13 version of a Disney Channel show.  

      Carrie is your typical starry-eyed 16-year-old with big-city-dreams living in a small town in Connecticut circa 1984. Her overly eager attitude about everything from boys to Thanksgiving dinner can be borderline nauseating at times, but Robb’s quirky delivery makes for a charming rather than obnoxious character (though at times I admit I’m left thinking, “Seriously? Who wrote these lines?”) 

     My first run-in with the series was about a year ago when I read that Gossip Girl’s former costume designer, Eric Daman, was tied to the project. Naturally I was extremely excited to see what the prodigious ménage would bring. I didn’t think much more about it until mid-summer when a few publicity shots of Robb, in full Carrie regalia, strutting around the roof of their Brooklyn studios – the perfect backdrop of Manhattan positioned just behind her, were released. Maybe my expectations had been to high; a pairing with such potential may have been doomed at conception. In any case, I was not impressed with the final outcome. Alone, her clothes are cute… in a mall brand sort of way. But when you think of how far it could have gone… Remember that opening scene in the second Sex and the City movie? Where was the shoe porn I was hoping for?

          Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the wardrobe and the plot, I can’t seem to stop tuning in. Call it “hate-watching,” but I can’t think of anything more entertaining than Hollywood’s interpret of my life. Sadly I don’t have a gorgeous boyfriend waiting for me at home, nor a somewhat attractive Upper East Side boy inviting me to swanky soirees, but I can make a pretty strong case for similarities in other areas. There’s the fact that both Carrie and I are new to living alone in the city, our fabulous internships in fashion (although I know a couple of people who’ve interned at Interview and they weren’t quite as satisfied with the experience as Ms. Bradshaw seems to have been), and the fact that we’re both slowly being educated in the whole downtown nightlife ‘scene.’ And of course there’s the whole same name thing (carrie/caroline…) Not that it’s anything like it was in the ‘80s, but I can get pretty territorial when it comes to Indochine. I don’t need some subpar TV show bringing in tons of pre-teen tourists taking up all my reservations and I certainly don’t need it mucking up my impression of the immortal Carrie Bradshaw.

Lugano, Switzerland.

I am the worst when it comes to keeping a travel journal. Every time I go somewhere new, I make an honest effort to document it for future reference or to aid the nostalgia that I expect to roll in right around the month of February when I find myself holed up in my room for an entire month. I plan ahead. I buy the notebook. I even write down everything that's happening for the first few days or so!  But you know how it goes... everyday the entries get a little shorter and a little shorter until you're suddenly back home and realize you have all of three pages filled in. Or better yet, you left the entire thing in a random cafe across the Atlantic and have absolutely no way of getting it back. Thankfully for our forgetful generation (or is it just me?), we have social media and camera phones to do all the work for us. While I have a few valiant efforts on the dairy front, I imagine that when I'm old and in the mood to reflect, I will look to my iPhoto library and Twitter archives (which by that time will be completely out of date) for a trip down memory lane.

With that in mind, I wanted to share a few snapshots of last summer's trip to Switzerland. The photos above were all taken in Lugano, Switzerland: a breathtaking lake town with beautiful gardens dividing the town region from the water. On one end of the strip there were a bunch of low hanging trees dangling above the water that people were using as makeshift diving boards and swings to jump into the water. It was a ridiculously hot (August in Switzerland... whew!) day and I'd been sitting on a train for much longer than I would have liked so I took the opportunity and jumped in with them! Obviously these photos were taken pre-reckless ruining of outfit, but thankfully American Apparel bandeaus are practically made for this sort of activity (useful- considering those girls in the AA ads, who knows what kind of shenanigans they might get into that requires immediate removal of clothes). 

Random assortment of tweets from the trip:

The Ampersand Hotel

Finally it's getting to be that time of year when the days are growing longer, the sun seems brighter, and there is that carefree, 'anything-could-happen,' vibe inspiring long-overdue hope and optimism after a harsh winter. For some this change serves as an incentive to hit the gym in anticipation of cutoffs season, and for others, it's the motivation they need to go that extra mile at school or at work now that the end in finally in sight. 

While all of those ideas are true in some form (I hardly go to classes as it is, and I plan on continuing to work with the same person for the foreseeable future), what Spring has brought on me is a new hobby: spending entire afternoons parked in from of my laptop with a mug of coffee (or on a really good day, a glass of wine) stalking travel blogs and making pretend bucket lists and dreaming up perfect vacations. Normally I try not to indulge too much in day dreams as to not lose my focus, but when spring rolls around it's hard to knock anything - even the feasibly impossible- out the realm of possibility. 

Fueled in part by anglo-mania brought on by both One Direction Infection and the residual questioning as to whether or not I made the right choice by deciding to NOT attend Uni in there, my latest point of virtual exploration is London. In particular, The Ampersand Hotel located at 10 Harrington Road in the South Kensington area. I can't actually remember where I first read about the place, but I saw the name written hastily in the small journal I carry around with me at all times and decided to look it up online in attempt of seeing why I had written it down in the first place. Of course, once I sat down (morning latte in hand), I became obsessed with the hotel and it's quirky eccentricities such as the individually themed rooms styled to resemble a nearby cultural attraction (ex: Kensington Gardens, the V&A museum...) 

As its quaintly mysterious name would suggest, The Ampersand Hotel, is equal parts posh, modern, and welcoming in the most British sense of the word. Since its original construction in 1888 and the subsequent re-opening in 2012, the hotel has done a good job establishing itself within the niche market of luxury boutique hotels. Falling smack-dab in the middle of British traditionalism and modern sophistication, the assortment of eccentricities arranged in each of the 111 rooms lend an air of lived-in comfort. The experience seems similar to staying with one of your more sophisticated friends from primary school who went on to marry a banker and now contributes to Vogue. Well priced, the hotel is  fitting for those of us who may have a taste for Claridges or The Goring but a slightly more realistic budget that's more suited for The Holiday Inn. 

 I imagine myself waking up early to natural light streaming in through the immense floor to ceiling windows, taking an early breakfast on my balcony overlooking London's storied skyline, and then going out to Cafe Nero, buying a latte and wandering around Hyde Park for a few hours inbetween Kensington Palace and the Peter Pan statue... 

And after day full of museum hopping, lauderee-snacking, and souvenir shopping, I would be able to go back to my room, take a nap, get all dressed up and have some champagne at Apero, the Mediterranean  restaurant/bar on the ground floor. Finally I would head out to explore the city at night (and since this is my dream, my exploring companion would of course be Harry Styles). Can you tell I'm really in the mood to go to London right now? 

Brunch Attire Required

As many of you know, there is nothing I appreciate more than a long, productive morning. I absolutely hate waking up late; I always feel like the day has been wasted and it completely stresses me out trying to catch up on lost time. However, my one exception to the rule is Sunday morning. On Sundays, my friend Dakota and I have developed a ritual of enjoying a leisurely morning, choosing a new place off of my 'Brunch list' (yes, it really exists), and using the excuse of venue to explore the city. 

Besides the chance to see the city before most of it's inhabitants have woken up (I've always said that this is the best way to see a city in its purest form), my favorite part of this newfound tradition is dressing the part of a 'Lady who Brunches.' Normally, I would say that my personal style is a bit more downtown: M-O-D/borderline edgy at times, so Sunday provides the optimal chance to break out my more classic silhouettes such as shift dresses, tailored blazers and layers of pearls. 

Being slightly out of my element, I find it helpful to use a few of my favorite brunch-appropriate editorials as references for deciding upon a look. I'm more than willing to move out of my comfort zone to play a character- after all, we're two 18-year-olds in a sea of 25+ women discussing the previous night's conquests (think SATC), so we inevitably stick out whether we're wearing Prada or PJs. However, I do have one very important requirement... An elastic waistband!

If you either live or are planning a visit to New York anytime, I would highly recommend checking out a few of these places: 

Chobani (W. Broadway & Prince) 
It started when solicitors were handing out coupons for free yogurts during fashion week, and it turned into a real problem. I'm addicted. They have so many different options for $4, and I don't need to feel guilty because they're all very healthy. My personal favorite is the smoked salmon and olive oil concoction. It sounds disgusting but somehow the combination works perfectly. 
Whenever we go to Chobani we usually get them to go and take them to the McNally Jackson bookstore a few blocks away (Mulberry & Prince), pick up a latte and couple of magazines at their cafe and spend hours pouring over everything.

Egg in Williamsburg (plus the remains of my coffee from Radish on Bedford Ave.) The wait is usually lengthy but there is definitely ample views to be had of scrumptiously skinny boys in flannel shirts and faux glasses to be stared at while you wait. 

Tea & Sympathy (Greenwhich and Jane) 
The walls are lined with cheesy British paraphernalia that only adds to the quaint and quirkiness of this tiny establishment. Passionate about keeping everything authentic, the entire menu is composed of British comfort food and served to you by a pleasant staff accompanied by lovely accents. If a traditional English breakfast isn't your thing they also run a fish & chips shop right next door. 
All together, it's enough to inspire anyone's inner anglophile. 

Mon Petit Cafe (62nd and Lexington)

The Boathouse
Whether you realized it or not, many classic onscreen moments have taken place at this cafe which is actually located right in the middle of Central Park. Think Sex and the City, 27 Dresses, When Harry Met Sally... In direct correlation it can be a bit touristy at times, but the food and view is well worth any stress long lines and clueless Midwesterners might cause you. My own memories here are bittersweet- it was the location of the goodbye party for all of Lori Goldstein's summer interns! 

Vive La Crepe

My love Alli at one of my favorite summer spots in the W.Village. This particular location has actually closed but they have a few other spots in the city if you want to grab a quick bite (Spring/Lafayette & UWS). I must admit that though the food was good and the location was convenient, the main reason I always wanted to go there was that I'd always see a celeb-crush of mine, Jason Sudeikis, going in and out of his next door apartment (Olivia Wild occasionally in tow.) 

She love's you yeah, yeah, yeah...

"Either you love it or you hate it. Being indifferent is just boring. It means you haven't inspired a reaction. And that doesn't feel like much of a job." - Marc Jacobs


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Caroline Mason: 21. Native New Yorker (and one time North Carolinian). Assistant to Derek Blasberg. Just a girl who is OCD about all things fashion, drinks way too much coffee, and has an affinity for late night talk shows and travel books. FIT class of 2016. Previously with Karla Otto PR, Lori Goldstein and Lester Garcia.

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