Monday, June 28, 2010

Voyage De La Vie

Last Sunday, I braved the crowd at Resorts World Sentosa with some friends when we headed there to catch the first circus production in Singapore - "Voyage De La Vie" or "The Journey of Life". As a Cirque Du Soleil fan, I was excited and hopeful to see Singapore's first production, as the set was designed by Mark Fisher (he who designed U2 concerts and some Cirque shows).

Before I go on to talk about Voyage De La Vie, let me emphasize a little more about how awesome Mark Fisher is. I was at the U2 360 World Tour in London last year to witness first hand the marvel of the stage he designed. The four pillared structure that resembled a "claw" or a "giant alien" was designed with 360-degree configuration in mind. The stage is rumoured to cost around £80 million, with daily production cost of US$750,000. The giant water-proof screen is made up of elongated hexagonal segments mounted on a multiple pantograph system, which enables it to "open up" or spread apart vertically as an effect during the concerts. Now you can understand my excitement in wanting to check out the set of Voyage De La Vie.

The first thing that came to my mind when I walked in to the theatre was "wow, this place is huge". Well, it has a seating capacity of 1,600! I can't wait to see other big productions in this theatre.

Now, let's talk about Voyage De La Vie. It is a simple story of a boy’s metaphoric journey in search of his destiny. He enters the world of the mysterious Lantern Keeper in his imagination, and encountered the charming Crystal Cat and the mesmerizing Diva along other extraordinary inhabitants. The story of life lessons that the boy will learn along the way, were presented through song and dance, magic acts and circus stunts by an international cast from 16 countries.

Our very own talented Jonathan Leong (runner-up in Singapore Idol 2006) plays the lead role of "The Boy". He sings well but I personally find that the songs were not catchy and memorable enough. Loved his Balmain-inspired costumes though. Victor Kee, the juggler from Ukraine plays the Lantern Keeper, who leads the boy through his discovery journey.

Alex Goloborodko, a 16-year-old Russian boy plays the Game Master. He is an amazing contortionist, definitely of Cirque de Soleil's standard I would say. He is so flexible, it was almost "painful" for me watching him contorts himself into a pretzel. I bet you will go "ouch" when you watch him.

Aurelia Cats plays Crystal Cat... and she makes her first appearance in the show by descending from a crescent moon. She's really beautiful and graceful in her performance.

Martti Peltonen plays Death, and he is really good with his bow and arrows. He is a good actor and a sharp shooter (literally) but I thought the acts didn't display the true portrayal of his skills. Liina Aunola plays Life, and her swing rope act got me sitting at the edge of my seat. It was so thrilling and I was so worried she will fall or hurt herself.

Melanie Chy from Switzerland plays Diva. The scene came across as messy and didn't do her justice. She was supposed to play the diva, but I personally felt she came across as "butchy" more than "diva-ish".

Overall, Voyage De La Vie was entertaining. I have to applaud the show's effort in engaging the audience through actors mingling with the crowd, with confetti falling from the ceiling and giant balloons being hurled at the crowd at the end of the performance. The set was well-designed and I love the pyrotechnic effects. Some acrobatic acts were rather world-class, though not all. The singing was good, though the lyrics and melody could be more catchy and memorable. If you are looking for something to do over the weekend, go catch the show but leave your high Cirque De Soleil expectations at home. so you won't be disappointed. This ain't Cirque De Soleil, but more of a rock musical. However, I think kids will enjoy this show very much, judging from the response I witnessed last Sunday.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Brazilian Invasion By Pedro Lourenço

Every once in a while, a new star is born in the fashion universe. We had seen the meteoric rise of Alexander Wang, Christopher Kane, Peter Pilotto, Philip Lim, and Thakoon. Now, it is the time for a new designer from Brazil. Are you ready for 19 year-old Pedro Lourenço? I am ready to see more from this young talented designer.

I was flipping through the July issue of U.S. Harper's Bazaar when I came across a snippet on Lourenço. Fascinated by his design, I decided to find out more about him. For his debut collection (Fall 2010), it was a grand one... considering he showed his collection in the room at the Westin Hotel Paris, the same room that Yves Saint Laurent used for his couture shows. He also has the right parental guidance from Glória Coelho and Reinaldo Lourenço, both mainstay designers of São Paulo's fashion community, and who own factories that helped produced his collection.

In terms of design, I feel he displays maturity beyond his youth (perhaps because he started designing since he was 12?). His grasp of technical construction and fabric manipulation is impressive. Personally, by looking at the pictures, I would have thought the collection came from Balmain, Balenciaga or Givenchy. Lourenço's designs also reminded me a little of Azzedine Alaïa.

These are my favourites from the collection. Love the colour blocking, paneled dresses, and horizontal slits. Perfect for a modern day gladiator look! I can definitely see his clothes being featured in fashion spreads of top international magazines, with a futuristic or a hunter theme. Not surprising, since Lourenço described his inspiration as "Diana the Huntress, and the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer."

Official Sites: and fashion show on youtube

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ladurée or Pierre Hermé... And Now Luxemburgerli by Sprüngli.

I am caught in a sweet dilemma. When I say "macaroons" (pronounced as mac-ker-ruins), the French-speaking peeps would think I don't know my sweet confection. When I say macarons (pronounced as ma-car-horn), the English-speaking friends will go "huh?". Sweet sugar, life is hard! Hahaha. I don't know what else to do except to just eat these little yummy colourful creations.

If you love macaroons, you will know that there are two distinct camps - Ladurée and Pierre Hermé. If I have to choose between these two esteemed brands, I personally prefer Pierre Hermé over Ladurée. If I have to compare them to fashion brands, I would say Pierre Hermé is like Hermes (long queues for Birkin bags is like the long queues to buy the macaroons) while Ladurée is like Louis Vuitton (more accessible with more points of sale). However, I have been recently told by some Swiss friends that I have to try Luxemburgerli by Sprüngli. Perhaps that would be like Isabel Marant in fashion speak (so hard to get your hands on as not easily available)? Let's take a closer look together.

The Ladurée story began in 1862, when Louis Ernest Ladurée, a miller from France’s southwest, created a bakery at 16 rue Royale in Paris, not knowing then that it will be creating history in Parisian tea salons. Ernest Ladurée’s wife, Jeanne Souchard, daughter of a well-known hotelier in Rouen, had the idea of creating a tea salon, by combining the style of Parisian café and pastry shop. The “salon de thé” had a definite advantage over the cafés as they permitted ladies to gather in freedom. In 1993, David Holder and his father Francis Holder, founder of the Holder Group, decided to buy this Parisian institution, and promote and expand the famous “Maison”. Today, Ladurée is now at prime locations in France, as well as in Japan, Ireland, Switzerland and U.K.

Pierre Hermé (born 1961) is a French pastry chef whom American Vogue named "the Picasso of Pastry". He began his career when he was just 14 years old, as an apprentice to the legendary Gaston Lenôtre. He then went on to become the Head Pastry Chef at Fauchon, where he worked for 11 years. In 1996, he left Fauchon to start Pierre Hermé Paris with his business partner Charles Znaty. Strangely, he opened his first shop in Tokyo in 1998, before opening in Paris in 2001. He was awarded "Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur" by Jacques Chirac in 2007, and has been credited for reinventing the art of macaroons by introducing bold new flavours like lime & basil, launching seasonal creations such as white truffle & hazelnut, and playing with ingredients and texture.

Luxemburgerli (a registered trademark) is the name of a type of macaroons made famous by Confiserie Sprüngli, one of Switzerland's most traditional family businesses. The company prides itself on the freshness aspect and does not enter into licensing or franchising agreements with partners outside of Switzerland. Similar to the French macaroon, the Luxemburgerli is smaller in size and is lighter and more airy in consistency. Invented in 1957 by confectioner Camille Studer, the term "Luxemburgerli" was derived from her nickname a colleague gave her based on her country of origin. Available only in Zurich, do try to get some the next time you are there... or get friends to bring some back (there is a store at the airport).

Official Sites:,,

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Equestrian Pursuit

I have always been fascinated with horses, as they are creatures with strength and grace. My very first encounter with these magnificent beings was a pony ride at the Singapore Zoological Garden when I was about six years old. When I moved to London, I decided to take proper riding lessons, since I was living a stone's throw away from Hyde Park. However, a misadventure in the South of France when I got thrown off a horse with one foot stuck in the stirrup (and dragged for a few seconds) put me off equestrian for a couple of years.

It took me five years after the traumatic accident to overcome my fear. I finally decided to try again when I was in Australia in 2006. It was a leisure stroll with no stress, just lots of flies during a hot summer!

Lately, with a new outlook in life, I have devoted my free time to doing activities that I have always wanted to do. Horseback riding has always something I want to get back to doing. After doing some research, I finally found Horse City, a place in Singapore that do not require me to pay a hefty membership fee to join. The best part about this place is that it even offer a one-time trial lesson, so you can try out before committing to a course of 5 or 10 lessons.

Located at Bukit Timah on Turf Club Road (where Picotin restaurant is located), it is situated on the former grounds of the Turf Club. The horses here are all ex-racehorses. There are also ponies for young riders. I signed up for the private one-on-one lessons so I could learn faster. My instructor is an ex-jockey who has lots to teach me about handling horses and riding skills. My last lesson was a breakthrough as I managed to get the horse that I am riding for the very first time to do a series of basic obstacle course. It was a boost to my confidence and gave me an immense joy (one that exceeds the acquisition of any material good).

The best thing about horseback riding is you have to be focused when you are doing it, kinda like when one is doing yoga. There is no competition, you just need to build the rapport with the horse, and let it know you are in control. Animals can sense fear, so staying calm is a virtue.

Should you wish to have a retreat of a different kind, you can check in to Rider's Lodge instead of a hotel in town or Sentosa. The rooms are basic and not fancy, but you get to be in nature and walk over for your riding lessons. There's a dog hotel next door, so it won't be a good idea if you want to sleep in. The lodge is perfect for those who want to ride horses and play golf down the road. There are also other facilities at Horse City... a spa, yoga studio, child care centre, golf school for kids, and many more.

Official Site: