Shhh! Secret Life of a Princess

Random, provoking thoughts from a self-confessed princess :: with focus on motivational learnings from the media. I hope to inspire everyone to be the best they can be

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Co-Branding - Fashion & Tech

I just recently came across a new HP Mini Notebook designed by a famous Chinese fashion designer, Vivienne Tam in collaboration with Fashion Week across Asia which sports a really lovely multi-petaled peonies to symbolise the many layers of a woman's life. Her goal was to design a system that would encourage the feeling of peace and tranquility you get from being in a garden (a "Zen" moment).
Adding to the mood, the enter key on the notebook includes the Chinese symbol for double happiness. Labelled the Digital Clutch (such a catchy name), it has to be one of the most beautiful designed laptop one can buy. However, it might end up to be only a looker rather than something practical what with its smal 8.9" screen and weaker processor compared to a larger laptop. Well, this will suit a lot of superficial females who are not fussy on the functionality of the laptop but the look of the laptop they carry with them wherever they go. Small and light, it is indeed made to be carried and seen around. Great form of getting eyeballs for HP I would say.

It is fashion statement at its best. The combination of the geeky and the mechanical world with fashion and art has made the former cool again. It started with Mercedes-Benz trying to revive their oldish brand in the light of the more sporty, trendy luxury automobile brands like BMW and Audi. One would never have expected an automobile company to be associated with a fashion event, maybe more of a sports event like the Olympics but they chose fashion. Thus with the launch of Fashion Weeks in Milan, Paris, Italy, Singapore and many countries all over the world, the word Mercedez-Benz was mentioned widely among fashion enthusiasts. Was it a tactic to target female car buyers who has the wallet capacity to buy high end fashion like Vivenne Westwood, Escada, Gucci and Celine to also think of Mercedez-Benz as their car of choice? One has always seen Mercedes-Benz as a car that reflects status symbol, a symbol of success and power, thus only favor by men of high calibre. Now with the entrance of Mercedez-Benz in the fashion industry, it becomes a car of choice for high end fashion enthusiasts too.

This brings me to the concept of co-branding in female movies. 'Sex and the City' has to be the most sponsored movie by brands compared to any other movies ever made on cinema. Positioned as 'the Super Bowl for women', this movie received sponsorship from multiple brands like Skyy Spirits (part of Gruppo Campari), Bag Borrow or Steal, which rents handbags and jewelry online; Coty fragrances; Glacéau Vitaminwater, sold by the Coca-Cola Company; the Mercedes-Benz USA division of Daimler; and the jeweler H. Stern. These brands are mentioned or placed strategically in the movie and I like the part which an iPhone was handed to Carrie when she wanted to contact Mr. Big as he was missing from the wedding and she responded "I don't know how to work these things! Give me another one." It was subtle enough for viewers to see the complicated interface of an iPhone which is deemed unsuitable for those who are not technologically inclined. Thereafter, you see Carrie using an iMac all throughout the show to respond to her emails and write her articles. As a return, these brands will help publicise the movie with commercials, posters, sweepstakes, viewing partoes, events in-stores, contests tickets giveaways and even product lables inspired by "Sex and the City". For example, Skyy Spirits has released tie-in drinks named after characters like Carrie, Samantha and Mr. Big. It was an obvious partnership when 'Sex and the City' tie up with Mercedes-Benz to potray the ladies attending Fashion Week as it would be a natural thing to do for their outings, plus it increases the glam factor of the movie. I was feeling excited for them when they walked up the platform to see the various fashion presented with the big Mercedez-Benz logo potrayed everywhere in the film. I was also entertained when a lady poured paint on Samatha's fur coat to resemble how the movie does not condone such cruelty to animals. So, why does she wear it in the first place?!!! With the success of the movie all over the world, not only with the female population, these brands have indeed been entrencthed positively in the mind of people all over the world. One can't help mentioning the beautiful gown by Carolina Herrera, Vivienne Westwood, Dior and many more worn by Carrie during her photoshoot which jus upped the brand in the minds of future brides!

Putting brand sponsorships in TVs and movies might not necessarily bring returns to the brand or even put positive value to the brands. For example, the racism and bullying of Shilpa Shetty that marked last year's Celebrity Big Brother led to its sponsor, The Carphone Warehouse, severing its relationship with the C4 show. Having walked out of the Big Brother house, the mobile phone firm signed up as the new sponsor of ITV’s The X Factor in the summer – and found itself embroiled in another row when finalist Emily Nakanda was forced to quit after being caught on video assaulting another girl. In future, perhaps it should avoid reality shows.

Having said that, I am excited to watch just how movie sponsorships will remain in the hearts of advertisers, reducing market share of TV advertisements placed in between the movies which will depreciated with the use of TiVo. People get more kick out of drinking Coke when it has been drank by Tom Cruise or Motorola when it has been used by James Bond in his magnificent escapades. Meanwhile, allow me to indulge in looking up the brands of gorgeous attires and handbags donned by the girls in "Sex and the City".

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Friday, September 26, 2008

My Sex and the City Moments

It's ironic that for a movie that is so controversial, replete with sex and nudity that it's central theme is not steamy at all in fact the theme centers around something that touches the heart so deep it moves every soul that watches it. I have been told to watch this movie by so many dear friends of mine including guy friends and when I finally get down to watch it had I understand what the fuss is all about. 'Sex and the City' could well be one of the best chick flicks I have ever watched, its plot so beautifully written and the characters so well told, noone was left out or overtook the limelight. For someone who grows up with doses of 'Sex and the City' when facing life's trials and tribulations during adolescence (that is when you need it most), one could understand why I could relate to it so much so that when the movie is out, I planned a girl's night out to watch the movie only that it did not happen. But watching it on the plane was just as well.

The moment I shed tears which I found happened to a lot of girls I know was when Carrie (played by the effervercent Sarah Jessica Parker) was jilted at the altar when she found out from a phone call that her soon to be husband, Mr Big got the jitters and decided to not go ahead with the wedding. It was disheartening to see a love affair that held everyone so endearingly to the TV series season after season got ended so abruptly. Carrie had her friends to thank when they protected her from being hurt by Mr. Big, brought her for a vacation only to have her slept through it, fed her emanciated body and made her laugh at the most unpredicatable moment. I was touched when she did the same thing I would have done when I found my girlfriend alone and depressed. On New Year's eve, when Charlotte was going through a separation and had to spend it alone, Carrie got up from her bed after receiving her call and ran all the way to her house, arriving just before midnight to wish her 'Happy New's Year!'

Sometimes people belittle the little actions a friend can do that will make a huge difference. I have been jilted, dumped and ridiculed before. I have cried till my eyeballs almost popped out. Most often than not, it is my girlfriends who came to my rescue, lent me a shoulder to cry on and lent me ears for my problems and most importantly related to my crisis since they have been there before. Among my 'Sex and the City' moments are:

1. After I broke up with my first serious boyfriend of two years (yes, I had a few of 'un'serious ones before), I had not much girlfriends as I had distanced myself from them. However, when I contacted an ex-classmate whom I have lost touch with, she did not hesitate to drive over to my house to chat. She gave me the power to trash my ex, called him a jerk and make me feel confident about myself again while she said the same thing about her own break-up. It was one of the best chat I have ever had since having a relationship. Since then, I told myself never to lose your friends even when you are blissfully in a relationship. You need your girlfriends to put you back on ground.

2. When I was going through my clubbing phase, I remembered getting drunk once and a few guys tried to take advantage of the situation by pretending to comfort me. I was so glad that my girlfriends were there and protected me by pulling me away from the guys. When I passed out, I was thankful that I still found myself back on my bed safely even though I was still in my clubbing attire. To my horror, my wallet was nowhere to be found so I had to call one of my trusted galpal ad found that she kept my wallet and drove over to pass it back to me. I had never been more relieved and promise never to get drunk again esp without galpals :P

3. On the year when I was overseas and had to celebrate Valentines Day alone, I found myself getting very depressed. At that time, I was having a tough patch with my long distance boyfriend and felt like I had to do something to get my mind off negative things. I booked two movie tickets just to be turn down by another guyfriend. Fortunately, I had a housemate who also happened to be alone as she also has a long distance relationship. She agreed to go to the movies with me to watch "PS I Love You". Even though the whole cinema was full of couples who are hugging each other, I had more fun laughing with my friend over some of the scenes and oggling at the gorgeous guys in the movie. I would never have been able to do this with my partner. It was one of my funnest valentines Day and I didn't even celebrate it with a guy!

As quoted by 'Sex and the City', the crucial relationship is the one you have with yourself. Next is with your friends. Without them, life would never be the same. So, tell me, what are your 'Sex and the City' moment?

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Date with Paris

It is the land where perfume is created. The land where wine is consumed like water. It is the land where graffiti covers every walls visible in the cities and subways for the sheer celebration of art. It could also be the land where the word "I Love You" or "Je t'aime" (in French) is created. Five years ago, I was promised a honeymoon to Paris. Fast forward five years later and I found mysel standing on this land only that not with my fiance but here due to work, which makes it better as it is an all-expense paid trip with a nice comfy hotel to boot.

When you watch movies like "Before Sunset", "Before Sunrise" (both starring Julie Delphy and Ethan Hawke), "French Kiss" (starring Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline) and "Two Days in Paris" (starring Julie Delpy and Adam Goldberg) where all the movies were filmed in location of Paris overlooking the Eiffel Tower and River Siene, you will always think, nah, the place looks only that nice as it was filmed that way. Boy, was I wrong! Paris actually looked exactly like how it was filmed! Impeccable and artistic. The ambience creates an aura of romance, where one can easily fall in love with a stranger after only seconds of meeting, as it was potrayed in countless movies filmed here.

As I walked along the clear crisp autumn air, smell of freshly baked croissants and baguettes filled with cheese insinuated into my nostrils. This spells my first encounter with the original French baguette with choices of ham, cheese, chicken, tomato, tuna and lettucve in the original country that created it. The crispy freshly toasted baguette blended well with its fresh fillings. Also enticing is the tasty crepes filled with nutella, carael, banana and many other flavors.

If you only have one monument to see, you will want to choose Eiffel Tower. The most famous icon in Paris built in 1889 illuminates with a glowing blue light come night time. Every 15-30 minutes, there are sparkling lights that twinkles all around the tower. Stepping onto the podium that overlooks the tower, I was in awe when I set my eyes on the magnificent 325 meter of a tower. Right under the tower where a dinner cruise passed by, I witnessed a proposal where one of the male diner pulled out a ring from his jacket, creating tears of joy in her eyes followed by passionate kisses. It was one of the best moments for a proposal.

The churches in Paris was one of the most magnificent structures in the world. Every pillars have a sculpture on top of them, each and every one so intricately made. In the Lourve, the paintings of Mona Lisa was not the one that captivated me. It was the painting opposite mona Lisa that beguilled us. It potrayed a commotion of people enjoying wine and chatting bewildingly and if you notice carefully, you might almost miss the picture of 2 men sitting in the middle in pure serenity with halos on their head, so at peace in the midst of all the hive and buzz of the people surrounding.

On the last day I was in Paris, I took the privilege to jog along the River Siene in the cold 12 degree Celcius weather where the views of Notre Dame Church, Palais Royale and Eiffel Tower can be seen. The structures were incredibly built with its immense size and intricate details boggling the minds of normal human beings. Walking along the Lourve at night, I saw little passageways and staircases at the basement of the house, piqueing my curiosity of what the passageways are used for. Hmmmm, time to read Da Vinci code?

For those seeking a more commercial satisfaction, there are 2 or more places to go: Champs-Elysees for those who wants to get a fix of the latest brands in the world from the all encapsulating Louis Vutton to the posh shops of Gucci, Prada, Dior and Chanel that resides along that road that spells opulence with a capital 'O'. It was a street dripping of gold and people paying gold just to get a hand on the latest designer labels. Another location is MontMarte which is more humble and down-to-earth with little outlets selling souvenir, clothes and fresh fruits along the cobblestoned streets. On the top pf Champs-Elysees lies the Arc de Triomphe, an arc that honours those who fought for France, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars. On the inside and the top of the arc there are all of the names of generals and wars fought.I was dumb-founded to know that the whole arc was a hiding place for the soldiers during the wars.

As I jogged along the Siene River on the last day of my trip, I can't help but feel wistful that I will leave a place that boosts romance and class, where modernization did not seem to have affected the country one bit. I left "Before Sunset" but hope to come back to see it "Before Sunrise" again.

Emily and the Beanstalk in Beijiing

Beijing will dwarf anyone who enters the place. From its overwhelming buildings to its tall entrances, I felt like an ant when walking around the place. Compared to Shanghai, Beijing has maintained its culture which has gone far way back. With a vast amount of land to spare and a smaller population than Shanghai, Beijing prides itself in large and magnificent architectures. Being a tourist-friendly country, people come from far and near to visit of the greatest Wonders of the World, the Great Wall of China and the towring Forbidden City.

As I was there on business for only 2 days, I did not get to visit those two well-known places. I only got to see the world's largest LED screen illuminated onto a very long ceiling located in front of a shopping centre called 'The Place'. On its surface, brands like Coke. Adidas and other sponsors of the Beijing Olympic Games pays hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of advertising space just to get eyeballs for their brands. I have never seen such a huge ceiling that could earn so much money but it works well as people from all over Beijing flocks to this area not only to shop but also to view this magnificent ceiling, thus increasing the revenue of this centre. Here is the country which advertising budget will eventually surpass that of the United States due to higher consumption power and the sheer quantity of the people in the country. And I am here to keep track of the rise of this superpower.

As it was such a rushed visit, I left promising to see a lot more of the province esp the Great Wall of China where people are still living on daily income of less than USD1 a day.

Lost in Translation in Shanghai

Just like the movie "Lost in Translation", I wandered alone aimlessly along the streets of Shanghai called Huai Hai Road, one of the poshest streets of Shanhgai, the equivalent of the Champs-Elysees of Paris where brands like Gucci, Rolex, Cartier and CK line the beautifully lit street. They even have a H&M outlet here which does not even exist in Hong Kong or Singapore. I was suprised to see the evolution of Shanghai from a busy port to a metropolitan city that leeks of brands advertising on billboards, neon lights arching the streets and people garbed in the trendiest of clothes. I feel so underdressed among them even though I was supposed to be from a more developed city. Amongst the large number of passerbys that speak in perfect Mandarin or even the local Shanghai dialect, I was delighted to hear fluent, accented English when I entered the branded stores like Adidas and H&M. Signs of a new China. It was eminent that Westernization has taken over the country more than I expected with Haagen-Dazs, Starbucks and McDonalds visible almost 500m from one another.

As I walked past food shops, fragrant smells of pastry wafted into my nostrils tempting me to purchase at least one egg tart to savor. This is the land where Chinese pastry originate after all. Biting into the crispy flakes that surrounds the milkist egg I have ever tasted was one sumptious experience. I have never tasted any egg tart this good! There were a variety of food stalls from night dim sum to japanese food to buffett pizza and even Latin food.

From the posh, Champs-Elysees de Paris, Fifth Avenue in New York and Ginza of Tokyo like streets of HuaiHai Road, I ventured further into the famous shopping area called Nanjing Road beginning with a walk around the famous The Bund that overlooks the glorious lights of Pearl TV Tower and Shanghai Financial District. The lights on all the skyscrapers were fascinating and my eyes were wide open when I saw the biggest advertisements on the ships that go around the Huang Pu river with neon lights all around the ship making them such a wonderful sight. While walking along the extremely long tourist shopping road, I found a very Singaporean shopping centre right in the heart of the place called Raffles City built on a Capitaland building. It was gigantic with more tham 8 floors to boast.

Imagine my suprise when I saw the biggest Hershey's lighted signage in the world and I immediately walked towards the 'light' (pardon the pun). Inside I found the largest chocolate machine I have ever seen in my entire life. I felt like a kid given her treasure as I fully adore Hersheys due to its consistent quality of chocolates. There were mechandise like soft toys, t-shirts, mugs and not to be missed chocolate milk shake and ice-cream plus boards on the history of Hershey's across the 2 floors store. The best part is the ice-cream can be purchased to be brought into the iMax cinemas that is next to it. Yum Yum!

I walked past the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center (quite a nicely built structure ) to get the subway back to the hotel called Jin Jiang Towers, a very beautiful 5-star hotel with a revolving restaurant on the top floor. It was not hard taking the subway as the lines were labeled clearly and there are English names. The subway here is also a cheap form of transportation, beats rushing and pushing the local folks here to take taxi anytime.

I left Shanghai for Beijing with a sense of knowing how much Westernization has invaded the place and how much people here are consumed with brands and labels that they have lost their own tradition and culture. Beijing on the other hand is a different story, to be continued on my next blog.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Happy Mooncake Festival 2008

Not much time to write but just wanna wish all my readers Happy Mooncake Festival 2008! To celebrate this occasion, I will make you salivate by displaying the various types of my favorite mooncake, Ice-Cream Mooncake from all over the world.

Swensen's Bandung Ice-cream Mooncake in Singapore - there are a variety of Chewy Chocolate, Chendol, Strawberry Cheesecake, Apple Cinnamon and Durian mooncakes also.

Haagen-Dazs mooncake found in Shanghai. Such inricate details and great amalgation of colors

Julius Orange Ice-cream Mooncake found in Beijing

Have an icy but romantic moonacke festival!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

How Does It Feels like to Turn 30?

Some say it is 'the' important year. The year where the word twenties does not ring a bell anymore. The year where you are not allowed to make mistakes and get away with it. The year where you are supposed to take responsibilities for all your actions. The year where you have reached a threshold in your life and that you should re-examine what happened and what you have achieved in your life.

So, how did I feel? I feel like I'm Made of Honor, open to all possibilities in life, able to accept what is thrown at me gracefully and adapt to situations no matter how hard or easy :). Cos that was exactly how I felt, pampered as a princess going into Hotel Mariott from winning the sms contest from Made of Honor movie. Right after being escorted to the front door of the reception where I was told that I will be placed in their fantastic Junior Suite complete with a living room and a huge bathroom, I was asked to choose the type of spa I want and the time for dinner in the room, I was exhilarated. To be pampered and to have everything brought to you at your whim and fancy is by far the best feeling to have after the satisfaction of achieving miracles, hehe. I felt I was reliving the episode of The Bachelor S12 where one of the bachelorette was invited to the red carpet of this movie with the Bachelor and had a magical time with him.

The view from the hotel room was of the highly decadent new "it" shopping centre of Kuala Lumpur, the Pavillion. There was 2 tv sets, one in the living room and one in the bedroom. I was enjoying switching on both tvs and hearing 2 different languages on tv at the same time. Haha, so jacoon. After that, I went for my spa in which I had one of the most relaxing 1 hour massage. This was followed by a moderate spread of buffet tea at their lounge at the 24th floor which can only be accesed by people residing in the Executive, Junior and President Suites. The staff at Hotel Mariott made sure everything was taken care of from serving us wine at the lounge to greeting us at the lifts as well as even washing our car at the carpark. Imagine our suprise when we saw the card saying that our car has been washed for the enjoyment of the hotel patrons!

I enjoyed my birthday celebration for the fact that I celebrated it with my best galpals in the world. Nothing beats having your truest friends around you and asking you, "Hey! So what are you going to do about turning 30?" My answer: Live life! I have finally grown to accept live and to let it happen. To embrace every second than to live my life so planned out. Plus, I am at my prime age. Hehe! My friends will never know what goes on in my mind with so many new things and challenges to look forward to. Even though I do wish that I could actually have a kid and marriage before this age, I guess it was not my choice to take. Thus, I am embracing the benefits of not having those and not tying myself down. My time will come, I am sure :)

I ended the night watching what else but the movie that won me this fantastic experience: Made of Honor! Even though cliche, the movie touched my heart in parts that no matter how unstable and how much enjoyment you can have as a single person, with a good heart and a good friend, one day you will find your one and only love. The one person who filled the void you never knew existed and who made a difference once he/she is not in your life. Thank you for the special person in my life who won me this gift!

So in short, how does it feel to be 30? On top of the world! I feel like I can relive my dreams again. The excitement of looking forward to new opportunities and my dreams coming true. And I can be who I wanna be! Here enjoy my theme song :)