Divya Zeiss, Swantribune

All images supplied by Swantribune

Sometimes something creative speaks to you more than the usual. You find yourself craving to know more about the subject. How you gather more knowledge can vary, but whichever path you choose you find you still want to know more. This is what happened when I came across SWANTRIBUNE. You could say that the colourful souvenir illustrations of DIVYA AUORA ZEISS and DANIEL ARON COHEN touched me in a particularly profound way; I instantly adored the manner in which the art expressed their passion for the bygone era of travel and travel etiquette. Here, Divya opens up about their work, style and influences.

When did you become interested in art?

I can’t say I was ever interested in art itself, I never studied art. But I always needed beauty to surround me and everything that was beautiful became a form of art. I love colours, therefore, I love Matisse, but I stand before his paintings with a naive eye, very innocent to his techniques, motives, and methods. I am interested in beauty and the effect it has on the individual.

What was your first art love?

Actually, literature was my first love. The way in which words could compose a painting in my imagination was extremely powerful. I began to write about a world I visioned and later I found a way in which I could draw that same world that once I could only express in my diary as words.

What is your signature style?

Colour and little people within a setting.

How did it come about?

I never dared to draw before so I would collect images and cut them out to then make a collage, which came as close as possible to the idea I had in my mind.

Can you tell us a bit about your artistic process?

I went to Jaipur to do an internship in Manglam arts. I liked the idea of learning the art of hand block prints. Somehow I never entered the block print room and remained in the design compartment where day after day I played with watercolours. Within the month I drew and felt the most creative I had ever felt. I owe that awakening to Jaipur.

What material do you work with?

I began drawing sketches using watercolours in my travel diary. My partner Daniel encouraged me, believed in the style I was developing and pushed me to learn how to draw digitally. So my illustrations could be done on both paper and iPad.

What do you do when you get the artist’s equivalent of writer’s block?

I accept it and focus my attention on other things. There is no need to pressure oneself. I don’t associate myself with my art, more like being an instrument. In Indian culture, the Deity Saraswati is the Goddess who bestows creativity on one. Her blessings turn into art and beauty, we are only instruments. So if I no longer feel creative I completely surrender that if it needs to it will come again.

What are your creative influences?

I am very inspired by the past, especially the bygone era of travel and travel etiquette. Hotel lobbies and the way ladies and gentlemen dressed for breakfast and dinner. There’s a mist to that world that has somehow dissolved now, and so I like to wander to the past for inspiration when it comes to fashion and settings.

What’s next for you?

My wedding!

A great work of art should be spontaneous and for oneself.

THE GUCCI CLASSROOM | SwanTribune | Artist Interview | Travelshopa

THE GUCCI CLASSROOM

Perhaps had I worn beautiful clothes in the classroom,
I would have learnt to be a lady.
Had there been flora and a Cheetah,
I would have learnt to have an imagination.
Had I been able to see the sky I would have caught all the shooting stars and fulfilled my dreams.

VENICE | SwanTribune | Artist Interview | Travelshopa

VENICE

I wore the muse of another man,
because in Venice the muse was never I
and the man always another.

A BABYHOOD OF DEITIES | SwanTribune | Artist Interview | Travelshopa

A BABYHOOD OF DEITIES 

I had a babyhood of deities,
and I was told they all lived within my body,
which they said was a temple.
 So I corrected them and said,” no its a lobby”

 CENOBIO DEI DOGI | SwanTribune | Artist Interview | Travelshopa

 CENOBIO DEI DOGI

I got over my Adolescent sadness when I found out about karma, that perhaps I was still suffering from the spoils of my last life and he was gallant because of his.
So we became wizards and hid in pink houses on the Riviera.

Linda Cox on Milan

While she frequently visits Milan and Paris on buying trips, LINDA COX owner of Aquel in Sydney has had a long love affair with MILAN. She loves this stylish and chic Italian city, as it's not jammed with tourists. It is understated and elegant. But it's when the fashion buyers are in town that speaks to her - the people watching, style and vibe is something else, especially in the summer. Oh my! Here she shares her top tips when visiting this fashion capital.

Milan is… not the city on the top of the tourist list for most people visiting Italy, where tourists are more readily drawn to the cities of Venice, Florence and Rome. Milan has always been known as the centre of Italian fashion and being there during Milan Fashion Week means the streets are busier than usual. But oh, the fashion on the streets is something else. Everyone seems to be associated with the fashion industry in some guise – whether as a model, photographer, fashion buyer, showroom assistant, designer, fashion blogger and they are dressed for the show! There is never a better time than to see the latest looks and trends than on the streets of Milan during Fashion Week.

What takes you to Milan?

As a fashion buyer, I am in Milan 3 – 4 times each year. Sometimes I am travelling alone, other times with my husband and occasionally my 10-year-old daughter joins us too. Not only have we developed a love for Milan, we have discovered Milan is a fabulous hub for enjoying many day trips to places like Turin, Bologna, Verona with a train network that makes these day trips a breeze.

What is your favourite thing about Milan?  

Enjoying an aperitif at the end of a day of appointments and people watching.

What should one pack when visiting Milan?

Always comfortable shoes when travelling.  Outside of that, Milan is a stylish, understated fashion capital.  I always love to have a great jacket and when going to the showrooms, I always try to dress ‘on brand”… meaning I always dress in the label I am seeing.

Stay

The fashion showrooms are spread out in Milan so the key is just to stay somewhere in central Milan and use taxis to get between appointments. Room Mate Guilia has become my absolute favourite hotel. Located in a quiet side street right next to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, it is an easy location for a short taxi ride to just about anywhere I need to be. The young knowledgeable staff at this new boutique hotel give this Hotel the coolest vibe with their cute orange heart shaped badges telling everyone their passion, whether it be food, travel or dancing. After all they are Italian!

 

Shop

Anyone travelling to Milan loves to shop and this is where you will find the flagship stores for the Italian brands. Via Montenapoleone and the streets around it are filled with the most beautiful shops in the world. I always try to visit the boutiques of the labels that we sell at AQUEL so that I stay up to date with how our labels are merchandised in their flagship stores.

There are not a lot of multi-brand boutiques in Milan however if you are short of time and want to see a great selection of Italian brands in one place then La Tenda, Banner and Biffi are all good options. The famous Italian department is Rinascente right by the Duomo and is packed with Italian fashion. The rooftop bar is a perfect spot for an apertif at eye line view with the stunning Gothic architecture of the Duomo. For a unique shopping experience, a visit to the exclusive and innovative department store of Excelsior is worthwhile just to wander the seven floors of contemporary and eye-catching design.

Eat

There are no shortage of fabulous Italian restaurants in Milan. At least once during my stay in Milan I have lunch at Dolce & Gabbana’s Bar Martini®. Sitting in the courtyard enjoying a prosecco and truffle risotto on a spring day during Fashion Week is hard to beat. When I need a peaceful spot for lunch, the Armani Hotel restaurant is my favourite. Quiet, refined, understated and elegant in its food and styling, it gives my head a break after the intensity of a showroom appointment. In the evening you will find wonderful Italian cuisine at Dal Bolognese, Giacomo Bistrot and Bice.

Sarah Rasheed on Dubai

Sarah Rasheed on Dubai | Insider's Guide | Travelshopa

Images: Sarah Rasheed

Born in Damascus, Syria, SARAH RASHEED moved to DUBAI with her parents when she was 5 years old. As the Senior Beauty Editor of Marie Claire Arabia she knows what's in and out in the Middle East's mecca of all things style. Here, she shares her insider tips for the city she and her family have considered their second home for 25 years.

Dubai is…

Fast growing, rich in superlatives and very luxurious.

Favourite thing about Dubai…

Meeting people from all over the world

Fondest memory of Dubai…

The UAE consists of seven Emirates so I used to like cruising the Emirates with my family on the weekends, visiting different cities and experiencing different vibes within the same country.

One fun fact about the local people

Emiratis tend to keep themselves away from the main tourist mass, so it’s rarely unlikely to get to chat with one on the beach.

Best time to visit Dubai

Anytime from December until April. The weather is great then with lots of sunshine and amazing alfresco cuisines that you can get to try.

A local tidbit should one must know about Dubai

If you are planning to visit the city and tag your Instagram photo in Dubai, use the hashtag #MyDubai .

One must pack…

Summer dresses, comfy sandals, hats. Make sure to get a nice cocktail dress, if you are planning to party or dine in a fancy restaurant. I would also suggest bringing chic sunglasses to block away the rays and a good SPF to keep your skin protected.

Sarah Rasheed on Dubai | Insider's Guide | Travelshopa

Sarah’s Blackbook

Favourite things to see 

The Dubai Mall fountain, Dubai Cycling Tour and Art Days in Dubai

Favourite places to stay

Jumeirah Al Naseem Hotel, Four Seasons Jumeirah, One & Only the Palm and XVA Art Hotel

Favourite places to eat

II Borro Tuscan BistroLa SerreLogma and Abd El Wahab

Favourite places to shop

Shop at Souk Madinat Jumeirah, The Dubai Mall and visit Old Dubai, where there is a variety of local markets that you will get to experience

Favourite things to do 

Do underwater yoga at Atlantis the Palm, go horseback riding in the desert at sunset, do a Desert Safari and take a cruise in a traditional boat in the Dubai Creek.

Must-see/do in Dubai

Visit Burj Khalifa and see Dubai from the highest building in the world, go to Aquaventure Waterpark and Burj Al Arab, as well as visit Al Bastakiya.

Sarah Rasheed on Dubai | Insider's Guide | Travelshopa

Karen Adie, Convict Bags

Meet the Australian brand that tells a great Australian story. Founder KAREN ADIE has created a range of beautifully designed, unique handbags with Australia at its heart. Influenced by the raw landscapes of Australia and a connection to the iconic poem My Country, by Dorothea Mackellar, CONVICT bags are made in Australia and poetically capture the raw beauty and barefoot beach style of Australia. Find out more about the birth of this inspiring local brand, the creative talent behind it and how important Australia is to the essence of the brand.

Harriet Goodall | Australian Sculptor and Fibre Artist | Travelshopa

All image by Karen Adie, Convict

What is Convict?

I’m referring to those who were convicted for crimes by the British government and, to alleviate overcrowding in British prisons, were transported to Australia penal colonies as a labour source. I believe they’ve helped shape our national identity and indeed, much has been written about this by writers and historians.  I can’t imagine the hardship they faced, and I’m fascinated by the stories of what happened to them after they arrived here – whether it’s good, bad or indifferent I love retelling them. Around one in seven Australians are descended from a Convict, as am I, we’ve long ago lost the stigma and recognise the contribution they made.

What do you mean by #weareconvicts?

When travelling in the UK, Europe or the States you often get ribbed about coming from a land of Convicts. Using #weareconvicts is a statement about that, it’s a big yes we know and we’re proud of it. 

You carried out vast research in developing the brand story for Convict Bags. Can you share a short convict story? 

This one is a favourite.

Annette Myers (c. 1819-1879)

Annette Myers, aged 26, was tried for ‘wilful murder’ of a handsome Coldstream Guardsman Henry Ducker by firing a pistol ball straight into his head.  She stated to two constables “I did it, I intended to do it.  I have intended to do it for a long time”.  She was sentenced to capital punishment, but after two years it was commuted and she sailed to Van Diemen’s Land on the Emma Eugenia, arriving in 1851. Annette’s story captivated the public and indeed, a ballad was written on it. 

Born in Paris and raised in Brussels, and was a servant to the Curtis family of Hyde Park Gardens. Her love letters to Henry were read to the court, and as the indignities of her life were aired, she came to be seen as Henry’s victim. He was a cad. He’d used and abused her. By contrast, she was ‘of irreproachable character, very superior to the station she occupied in life’. 

Although Annette worked in service she claimed to be the niece of prominent lawyer Sir Francis Myers but was thought to be his illegitimate child. Annette Meyers was resident with them at the time of the 1841 Census, in the capacity of servant and certainly not acknowledged as a niece. She was just 15. Her aunt and uncle were both 50.  Hers was complicated story and the social silence protected the reputations of Henry Ducker of the Coldstream Guards and Sir Francis Myers. 

Upon arriving in Van Diemen’s Land Annette Myers was sent to Great Swan Port, to work for John and Lillias Lyne at their property ‘Apslawn’. There she met her future husband John Desmond, an Irish convict assigned at the neighbouring property. John and Annette’s son, Francis, was born at Spring Bay in 1854. The family later moved to Launceston before, like many former convicts, they moved to Victoria—either to improve their lot in life or to escape the convict stain. The family eventually settled on the fringes of gentility in South Yarra where John worked as a gardener. Francis married and fathered a son, yet when he died at the Kew Lunatic Asylum in 1926, he died alone. 

Annette died in 1879 aged 60. Annette’s death certificate stated that she was born in Paris. She never knew her mother. She did, however, know who her father was—Francis Myers.

She had survived. Henry Ducker was dead and she had lived to tell a version of her tale, to bear a son and name a father.

Tell us about your connection to the iconic poem My Country, by Dorothea Mackellar. When did that start? How has it translated into your brand?

When I’ve lived overseas or travel, I always miss Australia’s wild beauty, the raw landscapes. Mackellar’s poem captures those landscapes and the sentiment so beautifully.  I wanted Convict to give a nod to the essence of that beauty, I think it’s delivered in the raw beauty of our handbags.

What is your design philosophy?

The design philosophy is simple, we are looking for pared-back, understated bags, with great functionality and a luxe-y feel.  We use soft buttery leathers and hand choose all the hair-on cowhides.  I don’t want to create disposable, throwaway fashion, I want to make beautiful products that our customers can continue to enjoy for many years.  I love that our handbags are made by hand using the amazing traditional artisan skills of European fashion houses, but they’re made right here in Australia. I believe we all now have a responsibility to minimise our impact on the planet and need to consider this in our design and processes.

How would you describe your design process?

It’s a long process and always starts with the inspiration phase, although I think I’m pretty much always in that phase.  I get inspiration from art, nature, street fashion, and trend forecasts.  I take lots of photo’s and keep them in an inspiration folder.  I also like to look to the past, I’m a fan of vintage style. Once you’ve decided on a style, you draw it up as a sketch, make measurements, make a pattern, sew it up and source the materials you want for the design, always keeping in mind the end costs. Then I take it to one of my makers and we discuss the design and perhaps alter it based on their feedback – they are way more experienced than I am! The next stage would be creating the first sample for trial.

I usually wear the bag in a testing phase of a few weeks to a month; I’m looking for comfort and ease of functionality, and to see the reaction I get while I’m out and about. If I’m asked where it came from, I know I’m onto a winner. There may be further adjustments required followed by more testing. Then you go into production and source enough materials to make a reasonable run of product. Meanwhile, you will have been doing your sums for wholesale and/or retail pricing, scheduling photography and then preparing promotional material.

I work with artisans in Perth, Ballarat, and Sydney. Who I use might depend on their schedules, their skill sets and the type of sewing machines they have in their studios. Different designs need different machines.

The design process often takes six or more months, but you know at the end of it you have a tested and quality product.

Harriet Goodall | Australian Sculptor and Fibre Artist | Travelshopa
Harriet Goodall | Australian Sculptor and Fibre Artist | Travelshopa

What does Australia mean to you?

Relaxed, easy, barefoot living.

For someone who has never been to Australia, how would you describe the raw landscapes of Australia? 

We’re such a vast country, with a small population mostly living on the coastal plains, so much of our landscape is untouched, the landscapes remain as it’s been for eons. It’s red, dry, sun bleached, harsh with vast plains and golden sunsets. Its bush is soft greys and olive, muted colours that spring into life with fields of wildflowers.  It’s not been landscaped or sculpted into order, it is as it always was.

Where would you suggest someone visit in this vast nation?

That’s a hard one, I’d suggest a tasting plate experience; our beautiful Perth  beaches – they’re the best in Australia, the wildness of the Kimberley ranges in Western Australia, a chilled week in our South West wine region for a sense of our barefoot lifestyle, then visit our spiritual red centre Uluru and finish with dining under the stars while you’re there.

How would you describe the style of Australia?

Relaxed, barefoot beach style – our summers are long.

How has style changed in Australia?

We used to be more conservative but also casual and not necessarily in a good way.  We were often a season or so behind in trends, but all that has now changed.  There’s more sophistication in our style even when translated to beach style.  And of course, we have many talented designer’s Australian designers producing beautiful work.

What is your favourite thing about Australia?

Space, clean air

Which local phrase/titbit should one must know about Australia?

Gidday = Hello

Harriet Goodall | Australian Sculptor and Fibre Artist | Travelshopa
Harriet Goodall | Australian Sculptor and Fibre Artist | Travelshopa
Harriet Goodall | Australian Sculptor and Fibre Artist | Travelshopa

Shop The Story

Convict Bags | Travelshopa

Convict Bags

Mary Clutch Brown Cowhide

Convict Bags | Travelshopa

Convict Bags

Mina Tote Beige Cowhide

Convict Bags | Travelshopa

Convict Bags

Susannah Cosmetic Pouch Brown Cowhide

Stones That Rock on Shanghai

Stones that rock, Shanghai

Leah Lambert and Annie Tsinonis, co-owners and designers at Stones That Rock based in Singapore, sure know a thing or two about gem-spotting. Join them as they uncover the city of Shanghai’s best-kept secrets.

What drew you to Shanghai? 

Annie and I have a love affair with this city. We each lived there with our families – and that’s where we first met. We both moved to Singapore around the same time 7 years ago and one of the main reasons we started our business was to have an excuse to keep going back.

Where did you stay?

We travel to Shanghai between 2-4 times a year and we normally stay at one of the 5 star hotels on the Bund. But for this most recent trip, we each brought our youngest children with us and therefore we needed more space. A Shanghainese friend recommended New Harbour Serviced Apartments, near People’s Square. It was absolutely fabulous. Having the extra space and a kitchen was great, but more than anything, the location was perfect.

Highlight of the trip…

Where to start? Being there with our kids was fun, catching up with old friends, going for early morning walks and eating street food for breakfast, visiting a neighborhood ballroom and dancing with the locals and of course, creating our latest collection for Fall/Winter: A Midas Touch – STR Metallics.

Local Style …

Is quite high fashion and edgy, especially for evening but pretty much anything goes.

Must Pack …

Comfy shoes and a credit card for all the great shopping and dining options available.

Best Shopping …

Annabel Lee for gorgeous jewellery and inspiration. Woo Scarf & Shawl for the most beautiful cashmere scarves, Casa Pagoda for fun home wares and furniture, June Wang for beautiful upholstery fabrics and Madame Mao for cultural revolution-inspired gifts and clothing. We also recommend that you simply walk along any of the streets and discover any number of the tiny boutiques that dot the city especially around the French Concession, Changle Lu and Xinle Lu. No visit to Shanghai is ever complete without a trip to the fabric market at Lujiabang where you can have anything made or copied.

Favorite shopping finds…

We each love digging around Dongtai Lu “antique market” for the odd gem as well as spending hours in the wholesale markets around Yuyuan Gardens finding anything and everything from silk knots and jade to incorporate in our designs to Chinese decorative items to hang around our homes.

Local phrase…

Duō shǎo qián? (How much?), Tài guì le! (Too expensive!), Bù yào (Don’t want)

Favorite local haunt…

Walking the streets of the ‘old town’ around Yuyuan Gardens. This has been a favourite pastime for 10 years, but sadly, many of the lanes and houses are disappearing – so you need to hurry!

First time visitors must see… 

The view from the top of the World Trade Centre in Pudong – it takes your breath away. Also wander through Peoples’ Park and watch parents trying to find marriage partners for their children – quite an amazing sight. We also recommend you have a walk along the Bund and look across the river to Pudong, then the next day take a look back across from the other side to Puxi – It’s worth taking in these views day and night.

One local secret…

We will give you two secrets: Yang’s Fry Dumpling – this fantastic dumpling chain is everywhere… (absolutely delicious!) and cocktails at the rooftop bar at House of Roosevelt on the Bund.

Stones that rock, Hema

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