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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Behind the Scenes at the September 2012 MEGA Stylephile Shoot

Featured on Stylephile in the September issue of MEGA is the beautiful Adrienne Ley. Sweet, sassy, and full of energy, she gamely struck her best poses in different corners of her home during the shoot, both indoors and outdoors--even in the middle of the koi pond!

Adrienne, a budding entrepreneur fresh out of college, modeled like a pro. She crossed barefoot to the middle of the pond, slipped into her Schutz heels and prepped patiently as we set up the fan for that "wind effect" to get the perfect snapshot. She looked smashing! 


She seems to have inherited her eye for style from her mom, Linda Ley, who cheered her on as Yselle Reyes directed the shoot and photographer John Ocampo snapped awayRaymond Ko of L'Oreal Professionél created her wavy tresses while Jomel Razon did her makeup.

Above are two of my favorites among the sexily sophisticated outfits she put together for the shoot. Adrienne strikes a good balance between chicness and comfort with her selection's interesting back-baring details on soft, comfortable fabrics. She finished them off with edgy accessories and statement shoes, which she also prefers to be comfy. 

That explains her Jeffrey Campbell obsession. "You’ll feel like you’re in rubber shoes," she says of her kickass Jeffrey Campbell "Lita" platform boots in the right photo, which she wore with a top from H&M, a Givenchy skirt, a Zara vest, a Mango belt, and accessories from Mango and Bangkok. (Check out the feature for more outfit details!)

Here are a few tidbits from our chat that didn't make it to print:

You and your mom share wardrobes and exchange style advice. But how is your style different from hers?

AL: She won’t wear shorts or anything short, but since I’m in my twenties, I’m game for that. She won’t wear spikes ‘cause it’s not her thing. She would wear something encrusted, but not spiked. She won’t wear three rings all together, but I would. She’d never wear jeans, but I can wear jeans for work or for school. She won’t wear something that’s very revealing. Like, I’d wear a corset top and a body con bandage skirt. She’d wear a corset with a flowing maxi skirt or palazzo pants.

If you could raid anybody’s closet (aside from your mom’s), whose would it be?

AL: Divine Lee’s! She’s my idol. I’d love to raid her closet. I can relate to her because she also has big feet! I actually discovered my favorite Lita boots from Jeffrey Campbell when I saw her post on Tumblr! When she said they were available at SM, I immediately headed to SM! That’s where my love for the Jeffrey Campbell shoe collection started. I also like how she mixes high-low items. She’d have an Hermes bag but her outfit would be Topshop and H&M. So I take it from her that not everything has to be expensive. You can mix the high-end fashion pieces with high street items. And her formalwear is always fierce! 

Do you have style turn-offs in the opposite sex?

AL: I don’t like guys in jeans and slippers. If they want to wear sandals or slippers, they should wear shorts. It’s a turn-off when guys don’t dress up for the occasion. They should also look effortless, not over-the-top. I like it when guys look fresh, clean and classic. And they have to have well-fit pieces.

In your opinion, what is the biggest fashion blunder a girl can make?

AL: I think it’s copying off someone else’s style. When you copy what someone else is wearing, it’s not necessarily going to look good on you. Fashion is something that’s personal. It’s something that reflects your character, your interests, your passions, your personality.

I'm sure we're all looking forward to seeing a lot more of Adrienne Ley!

The CityLifeStylist

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Roads Less Traveled: Secret Shopping Haunts, Exotic Fare, Tournament Travel and More

Whenever I go on vacation, I consult friends or relatives based in the area to get tips on fun activities to try and interesting places to visit. But when you don't know anybody who lives (or has lived) in your chosen destination, it can be challenging to spot the places frequented by and the activities loved among the locals if you just ask around when you're already there--especially if there's a language barrier! One thing you can do before your trip is read local blogs, websites and online forums, and browse through local or community-based online magazines to get inside scoop on things like hole-in-the-wall restaurants, hidden shopping haunts, and popular shows and activities. 

Thanks to my friends, family, and online research, I've managed to compile several ideas that you might also find appealing. I haven't tried everything yet, but most of these are definitely on my list.

photo credit: and

1. Shop
The Philippines is a treasure trove for ladies who love personal adornments. Different places in the country offer precious and semi-precious jewelry as well as less expensive but stylish accessories sold on the cheap. Davao is popular for its pearls, though you can also find them in Manila at reasonable prices. The Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan has rows and rows of stalls selling pearls. In Cebu, there is a "hidden" strip of stores where you can buy accessories made of mother of pearl, wood, and stones like turquoise and corals, among many others. I do not have the exact address, but it is walking distance from SM City Cebu and is near the Natasha building. The search is part of the fun, don't you think? If you're an accessory freak, you'll definitely enjoy this treasure hunt! 

photo credit:

Countries with One Town, One Product (OTOP) programs such as the Philippines and Thailand offer items made of locally available materials that are produced by locals who have learned how to make their products from their elders. Their skills are passed on from generation to generation, ensuring the authenticity and good quality of their wares. During my last trip to Thailand, I stumbled upon beautiful handcrafted stuffed elephants made into toys and key chains as well as embroidered elephant purses in one of the towns we passed through. At OTOP product fairs held during some annual festivals, you can find different towns' offerings, such as food items, fabrics, and various handicrafts. You can check the Tourism Authority of Thailand website for festival schedules.

photo credit:

Hong Kong, one of the world's top shopping destinations, keeps a lot of "secrets" that fashion mavens may already be in on. But for HK newbies, these places can be a revelation. One is high-end bargain shopping haunt Ap Lei Chau, which has been mentioned on Hong Kong-based sites like Sassy Mama and ButterBoomIt has also been mentioned on the Vogue India website, along with accessories haven Wing Kut Street and Li Yuen Street a.k.a. "The Lanes" where you can find Vicky's, a store offering made-to-order shoes, and other stores that offer made-to-order clothes in fine silk and various fabrics.

photo credit:

2. Eat. 
If you're willing to eat anything offered to you in unfamiliar places, Anthony Bourdain would be proud. But if you have a weak stomach or if you're allergic to a lot of things (like me!) it is best to know your options beforehand. For food and restaurant recommendations, I refer to reliable sources like CNNGo and The New York Times Travel Guides. These references are very helpful because reviews are often accompanied by price range and other useful bits of information. 

3. Play. Competitions that are highly anticipated in certain places can be fun to watch, but participating is even better! Tournament travel allows you to take your hobbies a step further and explore new places at the same time.

One idea for those who love surfing and awesome Pinoy music is the Surf & Music Festival 2012 in Ilocos Norte, Philippines, which opens in a month. The event, held from October 31 to November 3, 2012, will have a surfing competition for beginners as well as performances from some of the best Filipino bands like Up Dharma Down, Radioactive Sago Project, Sandwich, and Sinosikat, among many others. (Check the poster above for more details.)

Another option that's perfect for poker fans is joining live poker tournaments. Ladies, take note that poker is no longer "a man's game" these days as proven by model, actress, and poker pro Lacey Jones, the poker Barbie, who shows us how to kick ass on the card table in style. Among the popular spots for poker tournaments are the Bahamas, Vienna, Barcelona, and Budapest, and the good news is that these competitions are just two to three hours long, leaving you a lot of time to tick off other activities on your vacay to-do list! Plus, there are websites that offer great tips on where and how to join. 


4. Engage. When I'm exploring a new place, I love learning about longstanding customs and traditions as well as the local pop culture. When I visited Thailand last year, I attended a monk ordination ceremony, checked out the goods sold at wet and dry markets, sampled authentic Thai cuisine, rode an elephant, explored the Khao Yai National Park, and trekked to the Haew Narok Waterfall. I also shopped at the famous Platinum Fashion Mall--which is pretty much like Divisoria Mall and 168 Mall in Manila but with more fashion-forward pieces at low prices. Oh, and even if I couldn't read the Thai editions of women's magazines Elle and InStyle and teen magazine Popteen, I still grabbed copies and got to discover local trends in fashion, beauty, and even lifestyle and entertainment.

I hope this post can help you come up with your own to-do list for your next vacay!

The CityLifeStylist

Sunday, September 2, 2012

MEGA's Biggest Issue Yet: September 2012

This September's MEGA is heavyliterally and figuratively. 

The Big Fashion Issue, also the thickest issue the magazine has ever released to date, is a 344-pager filled with style and beauty spreads shot in some of the world's most dazzling locations. From fashion features set in Manila, Jökulsárlón  (Iceland), and London, to beauty features shot in Vatnajökul and Skaftafell in Iceland, each page is sure to draw you in. Of course, the first thing that will catch your eye is the cover photo taken in London with The X Factor Philippines host KC Concepcion looking immaculate decked out in white. 

Fashion fever doesn't stop there. The latest arm party-worthy bags and accessories as well as an exclusive peek into Gucci's new collection will have you drooling. Plus, I interviewed Ann Jacobe and Adrienne Ley, who dished on their fashion favorites (and more!) in this month's MEGAWOMAN and Stylephile sections. Behind the scenes posts are in order!

MEGAMAN makes a debut in this issue as well, featuring the best in menswear and grooming for the modern man.

MEGA's September issue is definitely a collector's item, so make sure to grab a copy!

The CityLifeStylist

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Papas Rellenas, a Peruvian Favorite

In the August issue of MEGA, I wrote about South American cuisine, zooming in on Brazilian, Chilean and Peruvian food. My research for the article led me to portals and e-books featuring a variety of exciting recipes to try.

Among the ones I've experimented with thus far, the Peruvian Papas Rellenas proved to be a standout. It's an exotically scrumptious albeit uncomplicated dish. Save for the cilantro, the ingredients were very easy to find in Manila. As I wrote in the feature, they are "deep fried mashed potatoes stuffed with ground beef, hard-boiled eggs, olives, raisins, and tomatoes mixed with onion, garlic, parsley and cilantro." They are "crisp on the outside and soft in the middle, with a mildly spicy filling that tastes robust without overpowering the palate." The olives lend a tinge of saltiness while the raisins add some sweetness, creating the perfect balance of flavors.

So without further ado, here is the recipe I got from Yanuq, a website on authentic Peruvian cooking, with notes on the modifications I made:

Papas Rellenas (Peruvian dish)

from Yanuq
(Serves eight)

  • One (1) kilo white potatoes
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Four (4) eggs (1 fresh and 3 hard-boiled)
  • Six (6) tablespoons oil
  • Half (1/2) kg ground beef
  • One (1) cup chopped onion
  • One (1) garlic clove, minced
  • One (1) teaspoon paprika
  • Six (6) seeded black olives, cut in four
  • Half (1/2) cup tomato, diced, peeled and seeded
  • One (1) teaspoon minced parsley
  • One (1) teaspoon minced cilantro Note: I had to do away with this because I didn't have any in the kitchen, but my "taste testers" thought the end product was already great as it is. But of course, I bet it would be even better with cilantro!
  • Quarter (1/4) cup raisins

  1. Wash potatoes and place them in a medium size pan with salted water. Bring to a boil. Cook until soft. Remove from heat. Peel.
  2. Force potatoes through a strainer or a potato masher. Cool. Add an egg and knead dough until smooth and soft.
  3. Pour two or three tablespoons oil in a large size skillet. Cook onion and garlic until golden.
  4. Add ground beef. Add tomatoes and cook for five minutes. Add parsley, cilantro, olives, hardboiled eggs and raisins. Season with salt, pepper and paprika.
  5. Flour hands and take a portion (about half a cup) of potato mixture. Place it in the palm of your hand. Flatten it and place one tablespoon of filling (approximately) in the center.
  6. Fold it and close by pressing ends. It must have an oval shape. Flour croquettes and set them aside. Repeat this process with the rest of potato mixture.
  7. Heat oil in a medium size pan and fry each papa rellena until golden.
  8. Papas Rellenas are served with white rice and onion Creole sauce.
The first time I made Papas Rellenas, I only served them with rice, thinking the onion Creole sauce was unnecessary because of how flavorful the dish already was. When I tried to make some just for fun the second time I whipped up the potato dish, I was taken aback. I made some ingredient replacements but the result was a delightfully tangy and spicy accompaniment.

That said, you cannot truly enjoy Papas Rellenas without an onion Creole sauce. This is the recipe with notes on the ingredient alternatives:

Salsa Criolla (Onion Creole Sauce)
from Yanuq

  • Two (2) medium size red onions (finely sliced)
  • One to two (1-2) ají amarillo fresco/fresh yellow aji (chili), seeded, deveined, julienned  Note: I went with five green chili peppers. I chopped them up and kept the seeds.
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Juice of three (3) key limes Note: I juiced one whole lemon. I've also tried using calamansi juice, which also worked quite well. 
  • Vegetable oil  Note: The amount was not specified. I only went with a tablespoon after discovering online that other recipes for the sauce did not require it. I suppose it makes a difference in terms of the sauce's consistency. 
  • Cilantro or parsley, minced  Note: I went with the parsley.
  1. Soak the sliced onions in a bowl of water and mix well. Drain and let them dry.
  2. Place onions in a bowl and season to taste.
  3. Pour key lime (or lemon) juice, vegetable oil, and ají (or alternative). Mix well.
  4. Correct seasoning.

What I like about the onion Creole sauce is that you can tweak it to your liking, but the mix of the heat and the tang always makes it a winner.

The CityLifeStylist