Non-Equestrian

This week’s SIA inspiration, “Personnages aux Chevaux” by French artist Marcelle Cahn, is a true challenge for me. At first, I thought about going the equestrian route – my brown riding boots would be a good choice for both the colors and the theme – but then I didn’t know what pants to pair them with to mimic the rest of the painting. Then I thought about color blocking, but I don’t have the exact colors in my wardrobe. In the end, I decided to pick out the pieces that are closest in colors and put them together. I also added my pendant necklace as an interpretation of the exaggerated eyes in the painting.

The result is… interesting, I guess? Not bad, exactly. Although I’m leaning toward this kind of loose-fitting silhoutte now, I certainly would never pair these items together if it wasn’t for SIA, so at least it’s something new.

Don’t forget to check out Kim’s blog to see other interpretations of this painting!

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Iran Diary #5: Yazd & Persepolis

I took the bus from Isfahan to Yazd (170.000 rials for a 4-hour ride; the staff at Ragrug Hostel booked the ticket for me.) The view along the way was unremarkable as usual, and I dozed off a little, until I was woken by a drop in the temperature and realized we were driving through snow-covered mountains.

The joke was on me. I’d planned my North-South route to get away from the cold, yet so far Tehran had been the warmest. But a bigger joke was waiting in Yazd. See, Yazd is a desert town. It being winter, I didn’t expect scorching heat or anything like that, but what I definitely didn’t expect was a flood. That’s right, this desert city was flooded!

Thankfully, the old town was not flooded, but the rain was relentless and my mood was dampened considerably. So instead of staying a full day and leaving for Shiraz by bus the next afternoon like I had planned, I decided to take another transfer tour from Yazd to Shiraz via Persepolis the very next morning. I was going to Persepolis anyway, and as it lies between Yazd and Shiraz, this would save me a long bus ride (the transfer tour was 40 euros including a guide). My hostel, Tarooneh (a very nice, family-run place), organized the driver/guide for me, and since I had to leave quite early, the owner even brought breakfast to my room. So considerate!

That gave me just an evening in Yazd, and it was raining cats and dogs. No matter. I headed out anyway. Yazd’s old town is a bit like Kashan’s – all winding alleys and mud walls – but larger. And it was quiet, which was a nice change after the hubbub of Isfahan.

The alleys of Yazd

The wind catchers outside my hostel

Of course, I couldn’t resist a cat photo

I went to all the usual sights – the Amir Chaghmaq square, the Jameh mosque, and the Atash Behram fire temple. I don’t know if it was the rain or not, but they didn’t leave much of an impression on me; mostly they were just shelters from the rain. It was pretty awe-inspiring to visit the fire temple, though, considering the fact that its sacred fire has been burning for over 1500 years.

The square

The fire temple

The Faravahar symbol of Zoroastrianism


The sacred fire

The Jameh Mosque

Funnily enough, my fondest memory of Yazd is a little thing. As I trudged back to the hostel in the rain, I suddenly came upon the best smell in the world – bread baking. It was from a small bakery where a group of locals were waiting to buy the freshly made bread, and when I indicated with my camera, they all invited me inside to take photos and watched the bakers at work. How nice of them!

The baker was working so fast his hands were a blur in all the photos

The next morning, I got picked up at 7 and driven through an imposing mountain range, all covered in the fluffiest, most pristine snow I’ve ever seen – it was gorgeous.

If it wasn’t for the blue dome of the mosque…


… you’d think this is the Rockies.

The tour includes three stops – Pasagardae, the Naqsh-e Rustam necropolis, and Persepolis. Pasagardae, frankly, can be skipped – it’s just a tomb and some ruins, nothing to write home about except it works as a built-up to Persepolis.

The tomb of Cyrus the Great

Naqsh-e Rustam is much more impressive – four tombs cut high into a rock cliff, believed to belong to ancient Persian kings, Darius I, Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I, and Darius II. It blew my mind to think how long it must’ve taken to finish them.


Look just how tiny the person is compared to the tomb

Finally, after a quick lunch, we arrived at the climactic conclusion of the tour – Persepolis. From the entrance, you walk up to the terrace and climb the stairs to the Gate of All Nations, just as the delegates of ancient times would when they arrived in Persepolis to see the King (Persepolis, which existed from around 500 BC to 300 BC before it was destroyed by Alexander the Great, was more of an administrative/ceremonial complex rather than an actual city for people to live in.)

Panorama of the front entrance

The Gate of All-Nations

A griffin capital, used to hold up the rafts on the ceiling

The place is absolutely huge, and a guide is highly recommended so you know where to go and understand the story behind the ruins. For me, the most remarkable thing about Persepolis is the patience and the precision it took to complete all those buildings (my guide, the aptly named Darius, said that people today lack patience to make such art, which I think is absolutely true). To touch the carvings really feels like you’re touching history.

Even the graffiti are historical

The tomb of either Artaxerxes II or III (I forgot which) tucked into the hill behind Persepolis

This carving is high up, which is why it’s so pristine

Another thing is that all the buildings used to be painted brightly back in the day. It may look dignified now with the weathered stone, but what I wouldn’t give to see it in all of its original, colorful glory.


Casual Ravenclaw

Despite my online moniker, I am a Ravenclaw through-and-through – in fact, in the early days of the Internet, I went by Rowena, as in Rowena Ravenclaw, but then I decided that it was too feminine for me. Probably because I associate the name with Lady Rowena in Ivanhoe.

Anyway, this outfit was a no-brainer, but when it came to titling the post, I was stumped. That usually happens to me when the outfit is simple or too “obvious”, as there is not much to talk about and I can’t come up with a snappy title. Then, while browsing Pinterest, I came across a board for clothes inspired by the four Hogwarts Houses and the title just popped into my head, since I was wearing the Ravenclaw colors – blue and bronze (well, my brown boots can count as bronze) – and there is a preppy touch with the striped button-up and the cable-knit sweater.


SIA Inspiration: Marcelle Cahn

It’s again Kim’s turn to host SIA, and here is her pick:

 

This is called “Personnages aux Chevaux”, or “Characters with Horses”, by French abstract expressionist Marcelle Cahn. Kim chose it for the vivid color palette, the equestrian theme and even the emphasized eyes (yeah, that horse on the right has seen some sh*t.)

I don’t know how I’m going to interpret this painting yet, but I’m certainly looking forward to seeing your outfits. Remember to send them to Kim (fiercefashionblog@gmail.com) by next Tuesday, March 26th. Have fun!


Iran Diary #4: Isfahan & Varzaneh Desert

After my transfer tour from Kashan, I arrived in Isfahan (or Esfahan) early in the afternoon. Despite being a big tourist destination, the city has no affordable hotel/hostel within walking distance of the center. However, the hostel I stayed at, Ragrug, offers free transport to the center, so it’s perfect.

As usual, after checking in, I immediately headed out to see the sights. My destination was the Naqsh-e Jahan Square, one of the biggest squares in the world, and its surrounding buildings – the Shah Mosque, the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, and the Grand Bazaar (there is also the Ali Qapu Palace, which I didn’t check out.) The scales and the details of the mosques are just stupendous – I must’ve developed a crick in my neck because I couldn’t stop gawping up at their domes. It was like looking up at heaven.

The square

Courtyard of the Shah Mosque


The Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, outside and in

Dome of the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque

The bazaar was good for souvenir shopping – I was especially impressed by the silver and copper shops!

A “spice mountain” in the bazaar


A silversmith at work and a fruit/snack stand in the bazaar

Unfortunately, I arrived just a day before a big national holiday, so everywhere was insanely crowded. I wanted to stay until nightfall to see the square lit up, but the crowd became too much for me, so I pushed on to the Si-o-Se Pol Bridge, one of the 11 historical bridges in Isfahan. The walk took me through a pedestrian street lined with shops and hipster food and coffee trucks parked in the middle – I had dinner on the go from one of these trucks. The crowd was pretty thick here, too, but at least I could keep moving and people-watch.

Eventually, I emerged into a square thronged with traffic overlooking the Zayanderud River. Somehow, I managed to reach the bridge, which was super crowded as well. Though the bridge was lit up beautifully and I was happy to see water in the river – most of the recent photos of the bridge showed the river dried up – the crowd was stressing me out. So after snapping a few photos, I went back to the hostel and called it a night.


Under the bridge

The next day, per the suggestion of the hostel staff, I avoided returning to the city center because a) it was going to be even more crowded, and b) everything was closed anyway. I briefly considered going to the Armenian Quarter to see the Vank Cathedral (Iran isn’t all about the mosques, you know), but after Tehran and Kashan, I was feeling a bit burned out on architecture, so I decided to have a “nature” day instead.

In the morning, I went for a walk on Sofeh, a mountain about 10 km outside the city (I wouldn’t call it hiking, because the paths up the mountain are paved). Although it was drizzling, it was great to get out of the city and away from the crowd.

View of the city from the mountain

Then, in the afternoon, I went on a desert tour organized by the hostel (15 euros/person). The sky was clear when we headed out, but as we approached the town of Varzaneh, it started pouring. Ironic, isn’t it? Here we were, hoping to see a scorching desert, and it rained!

We decided to press on anyway, and it turned out to be a really nice outing. We had some interesting discussion with our guide about life in Iran, about their frustrations in the present and their hopes for the future. It was a great way to get to know the country better.

And the scenery was pretty awesome too. First, we went to a salt lake – it must be really striking in the summer with all the salt crystals coming up, but even in the rain, it still looked impressive, in an alien kind of way.

You can still see the salt crystals

Our tour guide and the two guards working at the salt mine (they offered us tea!)

After that, we headed to the sand dunes. The vastness and emptiness of the landscape is astounding and really makes you feel insignificant (in a good way).

Looks like a set for Mad Max: Fury Road, doesn’t it?

On the way back, we stopped to see a “cow well”, which is a well where the water is drawn up by, you guess it, a cow (actually, it’s a bull), to irrigate the nearby fields. The really fun thing is that the trainer sings to the cow to get it to move – how sweet is that?

Our last stop was a roadside restaurant where we enjoyed some fresh fish – and I mean super fresh, as we watched the cook catch them from the pond where the fish were raised.

Best fish I’ve ever tasted!

And that wrapped up a really fun day and also my time in Isfahan. There are still a lot of places I didn’t get to see in the city – it’s not called “half the world” for nothing! – but I hope to return one day.


Something Different

One thing I forgot to mention in my Style Personas post is that I’m also moving toward different silhouettes – you may notice that none of my “key pieces” includes skinny jeans. I’m not letting go of skinny jeans forever, of course – you will have to pry them from my cold, dead hands – but I’m beginning to feel that skinny jeans aren’t the most comfortable thing to wear anymore, and I’m at that age now when comfort trumps style. So I’m looking for looser fit and combinations I wouldn’t have thought of before.

Like this outfit, for example. A few months ago I wouldn’t think of pairing this leather jacket with these pants, but now I quite like it. Of course, it’s still a work in progress so some outfits may work better than others, but I’m having fun, and that’s all that matters.


The Hardest Button

The post title not only refers to the song by The White Stripes but also to the fact that this SIA was harder to interpret than I thought. The colors are clear enough and I have most of them in my closet, but with the weather being quite unpredictable lately, I didn’t quite know how to combine them in an outfit. In the end, this is what I came up with – a layered outfit that works well for this kind of weather and has all the colors of the inspirational photo. I also added a brooch to mimic the intricate button on the top of the pile. All in all, I’m happy with it 🙂

Don’t forget to check out Daenel’s blog on Wednesday to see other outfits inspired by her lovely photo!