creative direction CYNTHIA NGUYEN
photography CYNTHIA NGUYEN & CASSANDRA D’AMBROSIO in collaboration with HOTEL PLACE D’ARMES
With only a single vacation day left in my calendar and the desire to get away from home,
a trip to Old Montréal made the most sense.
It began with mobile messages being exchange with one of my long-time, best friends, Cassandra, regarding Rupi Kaur’s [#1 New York Time’s bestselling author of milk and honey] tour performance being sold out in Toronto. We netted out with a plan to mission to Montréal to go see Rupi recite her poetry at Le National.
That mission ended up being our very first trip together— cute, right?
Below is a summary of Day 1 and my Old Montréal hotspots.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 6TH, 2017
Woke up and got myself out of the home
to catch the 6:40AM VIArail train from
Toronto Union Station to Montreal.
MOOD: craving for a coffee and grilled cheese.
Two coffees and bagels later, Cassandra and I have arrived at Gare Centrale aka Montréal Central Station.
At this time, it’s too early to check-in to our hotel rooms at HOTEL PLACE D’ARMES. We drop off our luggage at the hotel with the lovely and most informative staff. I find that it’s super helpful to ask your concierge of the hotel for suggestions for places to go, eat and worth-wild seeing. They’re filled with amazing recommendations and will go as far as to curate a list and label a handy map for you.
. TOMMY 200 Notre-Dame Ouest, Montréal, Quebec H2Y 1T3
Our first #mtlcoffeecrawl stop— ordered my latte, grilled cheese sandwich, quiche, and croissant. Cannot tell you how obsessed I was with the ornate mouldings on the ceiling of the cafe.
. HOTEL PLACE D’ARMES 55 St Jacques St, Montréal, QC H2Y 1K9
Finally checked into our hotel.
We are greeted with a gifts, a personal note and divine classical music being played from the alarm clock system in our room.
At this point in time, Cassandra and I were on the verge of tears… of joy over the fancy bathroom shower.
Funny how a beautiful hotel room with a high-tech, oversize shower can make someone feel so deeply? That’s what I call a stellar interior. With the exception of the mini fridge. Two-thirds through our trip, we called front desk for help because we struggled to uncover the location of our mini fridge.. turns out to be what we had thought was our safe to store valuables.
The hotel’s 169 richly appointed rooms feature elegant, lavish interiors with century old brick walls.
En route to Le National to see Rupi Kaur.
Arrived at location and got pizza from next door. Got inside the theatre. Got her new book, the sun and her flowers. Watched Rupi from 7 till 9. Was in tears at the end, thanks to her last poem that she recited called ‘Broken English‘.
. FLYJIN 417 Rue Saint-Pierre, Montréal, QC H2Y 2M4
Dinner time. Ordered the wakame salad, pork dumplings, chicken dumplings
and too many cocktails.
If you like good Asian fusion-food and a swanky, underground atmosphere (and you’re also a low-key deep house music fan like myself), this is the place to be. This is celebrity chef, Antonio Park’s Japanese restaurant & bar that sits in the heart of Old Montréal. This restaurant goes from hip dining venue into a trendy after-hours club with featured DJs spinning music you never thought you’d enjoy. (Yes, Cassandra— this statement implies you.) If you ever find yourself in these parts of the city, I recommend at least going in for a cocktail or two and test drive the Stairway to Buddha. As if I wasn’t already amused by Cassandra’s presence, the making of this cocktail alone is pure, great entertainment. FYI, we both returned to this place two evenings in a row.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 7TH, 2017
. BRASSERIE 701 . 701 Côte de la Place d’Armes, Montréal, QC H2Y 2X6 .
Brunch, featuring: two classic benedictines, lemon-flavoured butter croissants, fresh fruit and a side of jaw-dropping beautiful interior.
For vintage and thrift shopping, this the area to visit. Discover new olds at stores like: Local 23, Empire, Bohême Friperie, and Annex Vintage. View map here.
Tip: You can use the Metro to get from Place-d’Armes station to Laurier station to get to Mile-End.
LE ROBIN SQUARE .
520 St Laurent Blvd, Montreal, QC H2Y 2Y9
Featuring: foie gras mi-cuit, beet salad, butternut squash soup (not shown),
mac & cheese.
It was a hectic yet bittersweet morning for Cassandra and I as left to take the train back home the next morning. We had only spent 48 hours in this beautiful city. I wish we could’ve stayed longer. I already miss the architecture, the lemon-buttered croissants and well-dressed men. But I feel more thankful than ever to have made it back home without a fractured ankle (it was only sprained). We really valued the food scene, range of vintage shops and sophisticated nightlife there. But most importantly the quality time we got to spend together over the 48 hours of being there because as we get back to our lives, it becomes busier and much harder to make that kind of time again.
Where are your favourite places in Old Montreal? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to follow along on Instagram to keep up with my adventures. xx
A visual diary post, featuring a piece from the lovely and talented Devon Thomas‘ first collection.
Nothing is quite more satisfying than wearing light, silky pieces that move so gracefully when a cool breeze hits you on a hot summer’s day. As summer is quickly coming to an end, I’m taking full advantage of wearing my favourite shades, my slinky thin-strapped tops, my mules and what seems to be a signature of mine— wearing silk dress shirts as a feminine and sophisticated cover. If you’re ever in need of a good milk shake, check out Bean and Baker Malt Shop at Grace and Harbord, Toronto.
creative direction CYNTHIA NGUYEN
photography VINCENT KO
If this month couldn’t have gone by any faster.
Congratulations to little o’ me for turning the big 2-5. Hitting a quarter century while still being well-fed, standing on my two feet, living under a decent roof over my head and occasionally gifting myself fresh blooms calls for a couple milestones, no?
You’d think that hitting the age of 25 meant facing some sort of point of realization or wishing you were younger again— to have these sense of urgency to turn your life around or be free of major responsibilities like finding all your bills for your income tax, counting how many gin and sodas you’ve been conspicuously consuming every Friday and figuring out whether you’re doing enough for your own age. Especially when you’re comparing how many times you’ve treated yourself to how much work you’ve actually put into crafting your life.
It’s a strange and looming feeling if you ask me what this year feels like. If I can compare and apply metrics to the years since coming out of school, it’s feels quite similar to lightyears. The term ‘fulfilment’ seems to surface up in the back of my head more often these past few months. I was told that being in my early twenties meant doing as much as I can. To be grouped in this age bracket to be able to do things that seemingly are appropriate— to further explore yourself, make this a great time to take risks with likely results in failures and ensuring your youth doesn’t wither away. This kind of classification where one should celebrate independence and finding yourself before settling down. To push my career as far as I can the in the right direction where others see as success despite shaving off more hours left in my days. To cover as many areas of the globe to feel this sense of ‘fulfilment,’ to be ‘well-traveled’ or ‘cultured.’ To make myself available and desirable… so that I might eventually have a man fall in love with me without knowing, because I’ve built these extraordinary version of myself.
Boy, do we have a funny kind of way to define a way of living for your 20’s. But that goes without saying for the rest of the age brackets. It just so seems my 20’s hold more pressure to create this insane foundation for this version of yourself.
Everyday can be seen as a new beginning. A new project, meet a stranger, or try a different route. An age bracket shouldn’t dictate where and when things should fall. Each day can significantly or insignificantly shift around the rest of your days or even the rest of your life— when it comes to routine, relationships, engagement and your own behaviour and mindset. That’s why we should look at spending your 20’s as spending time with yourself and not pleasing others. Not making so many goals which you’ll eventually lose track of and spin your wheels. Let this be a time where you leverage it doing what you want and holding onto what you love or seek what might interest you.
Creative Direction: Cynthia Nguyen Photography by: Vincent Ko
Do you ever wonder if you’re changing for the better or worst? Or if you’re just completely static?
As of late… I feel as though I’m cycling through the same routine and in search of something exciting to shift my creative thinking. A greater surprise just might influence and shape my new work. Maybe it’s the new people I’ll encounter or an event that will challenge me to act out a different side of myself.
Throughout the last two months, I occasionally catch myself feeling apprehensive about my position in my career and point in progression for my side projects…such as this very platform you are reading my post on. I felt that these short days could use some experimentation to ease that feel of being fixed. By producing somewhat ostentatious images, I draw attention and kick things into a unique tier of interest. All the recent and audacious images you see across my Instagram and this site don’t quite project my humbling experiences. But who cares?— it’s not as if I’m trying to get the entire world to know me for all my good deeds. As cliche as it sounds, I genuinely enjoy treating my feed as a canvas and I’m the big-headed genius behind it all.
People come to my page to view my direction as well as my friends’ awesome photography…also not to forget, to read all the kinds of nonsense I tend to write that follows after I’ve arrange the photos for my articles. No one has to know the part where I got stung by a wasp while Vincent captured these photos of me. Whoops.
Secretly and subjectively, I get a thrill out of “challenging” other people in the realm of curated content plastered all over social. That thrill is what you could also interpret as “motivation” and small bits of entertainment. That keeps me busy. The work on my feed and site has given me an assailable lead by being my own artist behind all the creative projects I take on. For fun and for a bigger portfolio book on the evenings and weekends. This millennial is better off marrying her job than a man in this city. The surface may appear different but I’m still that tenderhearted lady with that obnoxious laugh. This is for folks who are familiar with my outlandish way of displaying extreme happiness.
Below: At Lavelle, Pork Belly Benedict (front) and Cocoa Nib Waffle. (back)
“We can think in our minds and reinforce positive thought all we want, but our actions will dictate whether our circumstances change from bad to good. What are we going to do about it? I can want something with all of my heart and mix that desire with faith, but unless my actions provide the fuel for the engine, I remain in the same spot.” Christopher Connors
Brose Black Satin Tuxedo Blazer Frank + Oak The Boy Tee c/o
Zara straight leg black trousers
Zara Pointed Toe Loafers
Nordstrom Gold Hoop Drop Earrings
I’ve always been so fond of the tee and suit combination… but for the longest time, I’ve had no success in finding a simple white tee. You know…a tee that has the right arm length for the sleeves, the feel and stretch of the fabric, the kind of flattering scoop neckline.. etc. You know the saying that it’s tough enough to find the right boyfriend? This case is pretty comparable to finding the right shirt to go with your beloved jeans or black straight leg trousers. This issue became so serious that I considered paying a visit to the male section at The Bay to find their pack of 3 white tees in XS for myself.. but would that be appropriate? Can I tear open the package just to try them on? Who really knows.
But fortunate for me and for the rest of you— Frank + Oak has finally launched their very own womenswear line!! The long awaited line of essential apparel for the ladies has now graced Frank + Oak‘s website with awesome sweaters, bags and even body care. Just in time for the holiday shopping!