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Making a Decision

You’ve still got time – make the right decision and head to the Hayward Gallery in London for one of the most interactive art exhibitions you’ll come across this year!The reason I try and encourage you to visit, is because the experience is definitely one for everyone! Whether or not you have background knowledge and understanding of art – the Decision exhibition from Carston Holler breaks down the boundaries that people sometimes feel that art constructs.The outside of the gallery has parts of the exhibition sprouting out and gives a hint to the amazing contents inside!About half an hour late for our time slot, Ruth and I headed into explore the exhibition that the Hayward Gallery had to offer!Tickets in hand (and having booked ahead of time playing to our advantage, and being able to enter the exhibit halfway through a time slot) we headed inside…The art of choice is presented right at the door – literally! Two doors stand side-by-side labelled ‘A’ and ‘B’, and your first role as a participant in the exhibition is to make a decision of which you would like to enter through.

We chose ‘A’ and ventured into the darkness of a winding metal tunnel…The tunnel was pitch black. It sloped steeply upwards, and then suddenly twisted and turned. We ended up clinging to each other in the darkness, happily tripping and stumbling our way through.

After finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (literally) we stepped out into, what seemed far more vast, a space that housed a giant turning sculpture of mushroom and mechanisms.We took turns to propel the turning of the different levels with a push of the lowest bar, causing the varied spin of the human-sized funguy!It is pieces like this that express a sense of whimsy, and thus a simplistic intent that just wishes to connect with an audience, rather than force an agenda onto them.From one open space to another, we moved up the steps and into a section of the room that was empty except for a giant pool of red and white pills.We very quickly pounced and dove our hands into the satisfying mound.

We could see from above a single pill drop from the ceiling into the center of pile – and were told that this happened consistently every 3 seconds!We were informed that the pile we had the pleasure of delving our hands into was an accumulation of all the pills that had dropped  since the opening of the exhibition.And again, the principal of choice was presented.

Ruth, the brave soul that she is, decided to take one of the mystery pills and neatly swallowed the bi-coloured vessel.(Of course, the pills are perfectly safe and are filled with a basic mixture similar to flour and plant extract – but where’s the fun in safety, right?)After satisfying our investigation of the pills, we progressed to the far side of the room, and decided to go downstairs…Downstairs, in a dimly lit and low ceilinged space, were a collection of various elements of the exhibition. From flashing wall light displays to robotic rolling beds – it was a jumble of mismatched eclecticism that simultaneously seemed to belong in the space!

(If you have an urge to splurge, or simply need an expensive bed for the night, you can actually pay to stay and sleep in the roaming beds overnight! Check out the full – and wacky details – here!)And at the far side of the room was a built in bench that offered virtual reality goggles and headphones. On the wall next to the installation was the first sign of Carsten Holler’s use of queueing in the exhibition. Because even though the Decision exhibition is freely interactive – it is still set in a British gallery, and what would a British experience be without queueingWe sat side-by-side and jammed the virtual reality kit onto our heads and sat silently enjoying the experience…If you want to know what we saw, you’ll have to visit the Decision exhibition and see for yourself!Once we’d had our fill of the lower floors, we ascended the concrete stairs to final floor of the exhibition…And stepped into the mirror walled room of assorted art pieces!

One of the central art works consisted of a large plastic perspex cube filled with the same pills we had seen on the floor below.We also found out that this is actually the source of the pills – this is the spot that feeds through the ceiling that drops a pill every 3 seconds!Next to the plastic cube was a white platform featuring two very overstuffed pink pythons! (The perfect example of random whimsy.)It was hard to ignore the enormous die on the other side of the room.And we found that if you positioned yourself at just the right angle, we could spy each other through the holes!Sadly for us, we were too tall to clamber inside – but if any of you readers take kids to the Decision exhibition, they might just have the chance to jump inside!As I said earlier, there is more than one location in the gallery where the audience is expected to queue in order to participate in limited access areas. We stood for only a few moments before stepping outside to don our heads with another set of headgear that would change our perception of our reality!With a pretty great rooftop view of the London Eye, I took the first go of having my world flipped upside down (again, literally)!The visor uses cleverly collaborated mirrors that reverse your everyday view upwards and flip everything on its head. This is particularly disorientating when outside on a rooftop!When outside experiencing the bizarre sensation of hanging off the face of the world, the Hayward Gallery’s signs change makes much more sense!  

Ruth then strapped on the head piece, and began to look around and take in the experience of a world turned upside down!I definitely recommend attending the gallery with a friend, as activities like this are made twice as fun when you can watch your companion stagger around confusedly on an open rooftop!Satisfied with our outdoor experience, we passed our visor onto the next in line wandered through to the remaining space of Carsten Holler’s exhibition.For those that are more seriously art inclined, there are installed elements of the exhibition to satisfy! One piece in particular, was a corridor section that was lined with heavy square television monitors displaying the faces of identical twins facing opposite each other.As you walked through the center of the monitors you became bombarded by the sound of the scripted phrases read out by the different halves of the twins. The artwork here becomes a(nother literal) reflection of identity, self expression and image.We were reaching the end of our exploration of Decision, but were too eager to slow down! So we quickly slotted ourselves into one of the wooden school-like desks against the wall and attempted to make our noses grow…Apparently, by applying vibration to a certain part of your arm in a very particular way, while holding the tip of your nose, you can confuse the body into believe the nose is either growing or shrinking!We attempted them one for sometime, but to no avail. If anyone else attends the exhibition or has tried this experiment before – comment below your success of failures!One look outside onto the other rooftop space and you could see another small queue waiting to take turns up on a rotating flying machine!Helmeted and suspended by the small of your back, you would swing through the air with all of London stretched out below and in front of you!This experience is no extra charge to your ticket, but I recommend booking your timeslot for the exhibition in the earlier part of the day if you definitely want your turn in the air!When we felt we had seen it all, we walked to the end of the room that housed the metal scaffolding and staircases that would take us to our exit point!Like our rather unconventional method of entering the exhibition, the exit was not to be outdone! Canvas sacks in hand, we scaled the metallic stairwell and positioned ourselves at the mouth of a multi-storied metal and clear top spiral slide.With a grin and a scream, we rocketed down the shoots to soft exercise mat at the bottom!

The exhibition is one that presents art from the perspective of solely the experience – created through the use of “perception a decision making”this was a time spent in an art gallery where not everything is as it seems, but everything is enjoyable!We deposited our canvas modes of transportation and headed for the doorway that would lead us out.And as always with any interactive experience – you are directed out through the exit, that just so happens to be a gift shop.However, don’t be fooled by the idea of cheap tat with nothing to do with your experience! The souvenirs for sale are all designed by Carsten Holler himself and feature the theme of of opposites and decisions. The chocolate bars were clever and sweet (nudge, nudge)But our favourites were the little button badges printed with the split opposites motif as well as a few nods to pieces from the exhibition itself!

The exhibition is on until the 6th of December. For more information on the Decision exhibition, or bookings, visit the Hayward Gallery website, here


Belleville Brûlerie {Paris}

When in Paris, the top priority is coffee (as well as the art, architecture, culture and pastries). But first, coffee…After landing in the French capital the night before, we had settled in our Airbnb apartment and wandered around the base of the Eiffel Tower that was just a few blocks away, and found somewhere to have dinner before heading to bed.This was my second visit to Paris, and I love to plan, so I spent a few weeks before the trip investigating more niche spots and events that were claimed to be “a must” in the city.

One of these was a visit to Belleville Brûlerie, in the area straddling the 19th and 20th arrondissement.

“Everything about Belleville Brûlerie epitomises a significant aspect of specialty coffee not only in Paris, but around the world.”Belleville Brûlerie hosts a coffee tasting on Saturday mornings at the workbench/tasting bar that stands in the centre of the small establishment. These tastings are for a maximum of 8 people and will set you back 20euro, but you’ll have a full bag of the Brûlerie’s coffee thrown in to take away after your serious caffeine injection of a taster session!

But don’t let the size and short opening hours of the little coffee shop fool you – the three barista owners are world class and run everything from hand roasting beans to manning the tasting bar.Less of a cafe to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee, and more of a space to appreciate raw talent and exclusivity of coffee beans available to buy that have just been freshly roasted! As well as purchase top of the line equipment for handling your coffee beans at home.The micro-roaster (Brûlerie meaning roaster in French) isn’t exactly a place to stop by for a latte or cappuccino. Instead, all you’ll find here are espressos and brewed coffee. They don’t even stock milk!

After having a number of tasters, I had to buy myself a bag of my favourite coffee and a new grinder to tote around bag in Britain! They were sweet enough to give us the coffee’s we had drunk for free as well!The team at the Belleville Brûlerie strive to craft coffee that makes you say “Damn, that’s good!” – and if you don’t believe me, check out their website to see their philosophy and maybe even buy yourself a bag of their specialty beans!

Little Tokyo

Little Tokyo is definitely a hidden gem of Leeds, and I would recommend it to anyone who loves asian cuisine.

If you haven’t heard of this little Japanese cuisine restaurant – don’t worry – this is a little insiders look and review for all the foodies out there!If you’re just heading to Leeds for a day trip, or don’t know the area really well, you’re in luck, because Little Tokyo is just two streets over from the main pedestrian shopping street that most come across first when walking from the train station!

The exterior front of the eatery is a sight that the casual passerby might not even take a second glance at – however, once inside, I was totally blown away by the interior detailing and furnishing of the little restaurant. Uncut/unfinished wood panelling hangs from the ceilings with the phrase ‘Eat – In’, and sets the tone for the material, interior style of the rest of Little Tokyo (see below; tables and consistent style throughout).

The walls and ceiling are designed in the white and black grid pattern similar to traditional early Japanese sliding door-walls interiors. The upstairs seating seems to be mostly a waiting area – there weren’t any other people around! To the left was a whole area that was in the middle of being refurbished, but it’s another reason I want to revisit this cute eatery!

(The unseen upstairs eating area featured a full sized Japanese garden with bridge to join the main seating to the slightly elevated seating area at the back.)One of my favourite pieces of the decor was the large hung kimono on the wall in the centre of the restaurant.

Oh, and the fish at the end of the bar, who I hoped was just a pet and not for dinner…!We were led downstairs and sat at a comfortable sized two-seater table. After ordering traditional warm saki, and a less traditional mojito we had to decide on what to order… (Click here to see a snapshot of the extensive menu!)

We were very greedy and had three different starters to split – all were worth it! These were a mixture of dim sum, soft shell crab tempura and a mystery close-your-eyes-and-point-to-a-random-dish-on-the-menu-that-you-can’t-pronounce.And then we each committed to a Bento Box set meal each. These babies are a (very affordable) “four course meal in a box”! You simply chose your “main course” that comes in the central box compartment of the grid tray, and the rest is made up of tempura vegetables, ginger salad, and rice with mishima (topped with tuna flakes and seaweed mix – no tuna for vegetarians)!Torn between a hot “main” and a cold “main”, we decided to order one each and try the variety offered in the other person’s box. We chose (right box) chicken katsu and the sashimi set. Yum!If you’re craving more specific dishes, like a plate of pure sashimi – Little Tokyo also has a separate section on the menu of just their specials! Plus; this place is super vegetarian friendly with tonnes of tofu and vegetable based alternatives and options!We ate so much, we had to turn down dessert – but rest assured, I can see another visit in the not-so distant future!

Check it out if you’re in the Leeds area for a visit or live near by. And if you’ve eaten at Little Tokyo before, leave a comment down below with your opinions!

Have Your Cake, and Eat It Too


An exhibition made entirely of cake – and I had the tickets to the evening event that meant I was going to get to tuck into the exclusive, hand-crafted creations too!A couple of weeks ago I eagerly bought tickets to the Edible Art Exhibition that was to be held in the Leeds Art Gallery, at Munro House, over the Indie Food Festival. About a week before the show, a letter arrived in the post. Hand inscribed, and hand wrapper; the bright orange envelope contained a glossy flyer for the event, and my tickets of entry – two pink forks! This was a special, one-day-only, event and I was now fully prepared!I decided to head to Leeds during the day and visit the exhibition before the exclusive evening event I had snagged tickets to. I wanted to see the cake art without huge crowds of people in the gallery space, as well as in their full glory before they were cut into! The gallery was smaller than I expected, but had very cool vibes – I’d definitely recommend a visit any day (even when there is not cake involved).

If you want anymore other info on the gallery, I’ll have more photos after the cake. But for now, let’s just get straight into the cake creations!The gallery is split up into roughly two spaces, but the flow between them is fairly fluid as you can move around the constructed walls through two different walkways. ‘The Menu’ was hung slap-bang on the wall facing the visitor when you come in the main entrance!

The Tattooed Bakers were commissioned by The Leeds Gallery, and Leeds Indie Food Festival officials, to create four, life sized, works-of-art by famous artist. Each creation was a different flavour/cake and ‘The Menu’ laid these out very clearly!

The first; a traditional shortbread with sugar paste letters and decoration. This piece is the recreation of ‘No Chance’ by Tracey Emin, exhibited in the 5th British Art Show in 1999.The second section of gallery housed the other three cakes, as well as a display of food themed photography and typography based prints!The next cake piece; a chocolate and prune fruitcake, covered in marzipan. This piece is the recreation of ‘Mr. S**t Sex’ by Grayson Perry, exhibited in the 5th British Art Show in 1999. The decorative images was created with sugar paste, printed rice paper and gold leaf! The third cake; a dairy free, lemon sponge cake with “buttercream” and sugarpaste frosting. Not quite vegan (because of the use of sugarpaste) but the creation of a dairy free art work meant the evening eating-fest was catering to a wide variety of people! This is a recreation of ‘Nud Cycladic 14’ by Sarah Lucas, exhibited in the 7th British Art Show in 2009.And the final, show stopper of all the cakes, created by The tattooed Bakers, stood in a coloured perspex box in the centre of the gallery space!

A cake version of lamb in formaldehyde; a rainbow sponge with vanilla buttercream and sugarpaste decoration. This is a recreation of ‘Away from the Flock’ by Damien Hirst, exhibited in the 4th British Art Show in 1994.The Edible Art Exhibition was designed to raise awareness that the British Art Show is coming to Leeds in October! Sections of the walls featured printed typography specifically for the big exhibition; promoting the gallery itself and the social media tag to advertise with!

The main walls of the gallery were lined with large framed photograph, and clever printed typography images hung up with large silver bulldog clips! Some prints featured unique forms of displaying ingredients or recipes, and all of them were exquisitely themed around food!

The main feature wall of wall typography advertising The Great Edible Art Exhibition could been seen from the cafe – known as Cafe 164. And since we had made our way through the main gallery, it seemed the perfect time for a coffee break and chill time in the cafe!Neon signs, decoration, funky lighting fixtures and free wifi; Cafe 164 is one rad place to hang out! I’m a sucker for neon lights as it is, and so the giant birthday cake hung above the leather booth seating had a special place in my heart after seeing all the cake art in the gallery!Cafe 164 is open for anyone to come, drink coffee, have a snack, and even work. A very cool spot to come is your free in Leeds! Before leaving, I decided to check out the ‘gift shop’ area for the art gallery that you could see through the window-wall of Cafe 164. The entrance hall area is designed with a 2-Dimensional illusioned living room interior, similar to printed Pop Artwork from Roy Lichtenstein…The ‘gift stop’ was spread across two rooms of space, and is basically the same size as the gallery! The shelves are crammed with unique arty creations for sale. Notebooks, stationery and loads in between with gorgeous designs and colour palettes.

The ‘gift shop’ has one of the widest selection of niche art magazines that I’ve come across in one location – I recommend a visit for anyone buying for an art-loving friend or loved one! There is loads of choice!The last room of the ‘gift shop’ has more for sale. When I visited there were beautiful printed, wall pieces for sale. These were themed around creative theoretical beer logos! This room had a very cool, minimalistic interior layout – definitely worth checking out!After looking through all that was on offer (and talking myself out of some very expensive limited edition hardback art magazines), it was time to head out for an early dinner and wander around Leeds before returning for the special eating-fest in the evening!

Keep an eye out later this week for the *second slice* of this amazing event – hope this blogpost has given you your fill for now!

Hard Magazine: Wanderlust Issue Shoot #2 (BTS)

With the countdown to the next edition release of Hard Magazine in sight, here is the first exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the second fashion photo shoot for the Wanderlust Edition!The Fashion Team met in the early morning to beginning the long styling process for the urban, safari chic themed shoot. Lots of hands on work and items collected from different store across York because of these hard-working people.Female model Alex in the khaki and neutral coloured look #1. Timberland boots are the designer style ‘hiking boot’ for any fashionista. This look paired these shoes with shorts and layered jackets to form the main silhouette of the styling. An oversized scarf wrapped around the neck creates the interesting visual of layers. The rest of the looks for, both models, follow similar styling patterns and colour palettes. Details of them can be found when the next edition it released!One of my proudest contributions to the styling of many Hard Magazine fashion shoots are the boundaries we push with hair styling. Here, I created cream string wraps around Alex’s bunches – these mirror the ropes and ties of any well seasoned traveller and our Wanderlust theme!Once styling is complete, the change of location means a small group trek with the Fashion Team to town. This particular shoot was on location in the STA (Student Travel Association) of York. (Above) Two of our Fashion Deputies arm-in-arm under an umbrella on the drizzly walk.The Hard Magazine team was very lucky to have the STA opened especially for the fashion shoot on a non-business day, that was Sunday. Once every member had arrived, we were set up and ready to go. Bianka – head photographer of the shoot – was straight in with direction and set up in front of the grind-planned world map!Layered bags, scarfs and jackets makes for the option of capturing Alex in motion as she models putting the pieces on and taking some off. These photos juxtapose the modern, safari traveller with the corporate establishment backdrop.Similarly, we styled male model Jack with urban, traveller chic and layered multiple storage bags around his belted waist before sitting him at corporate style desks with computers and brochures. An exceptionally meta shot of Head of Photography, Thom, filming extracts for the next Hard Magazine behind-the-scenes video.Throughout these shoots we love to try to capture instax Polaroid snaps to save and throw up on the website as teasers for up coming editions. This is one of the ultimate behind-the-scenes snaps of photographer Bianka and Editor-in-Chief Robbie directing away.Although this wasn’t a shot we caught by any of our main photographers, this very model-esque pose from Alex and Jack while playing about on the available stools and tables.Behind-the-scenes members are always on hand for more interesting snaps and shots of the antics the Hard Magazine team are getting up to during shoots!Photographers and Editor-in-Chief conversing over the next stage of shooting and ideas for setting and model set-up.More instant instax images – including the added snap of model Jack at his desk with globe under hand. A very worldly traveller look indeed!A quick sneak-peak of the makeshift campsite we set up in the corporate offices of the STA York with our wannabe traveller models chilling in a very casual ‘we’re like totally going travelling’ style!A final experimental angle for shooting was having our Wanderlust themed models laying on the floor surrounded by camping objects. This playful angle captures a whimsical nature of the over-the-top clothing styling as well as the setting of the shoot.And it was here we called an end to the second and last fashion shoot of the Wanderlust edition. Keep an eye out for the Hard Magazine release at the beginning of June – and with that, another blogpost of the shoot #1 featuring up and coming model Hannah Bennett!

Birds of a Feather

Only a few weeks ago, as part of my university course, we embarked on a day trip to the Bowes Museum, in Teesdale, near Durham and Darlington. The beautiful Bowes Museum was opened to the public in 1892, and is still filled with the art collection of over 15,000 items accumulated from 1862 to 1874 by the Bowes couple. The three floored, French architecture-style, mansion house stands proudly in it’s grounds and as you approach, easily dwarfs yourself and any modes of transport you use to get here.

We arrived at the Museum and were lucky enough to catch the temporary and exclusive Birds of Paradise: Plumes and Feathers in Fashion textile exhibition in the last few days of its display (click the link to the original page detailing inspiration behind the exhibition)! On the second floor, there is a room filled with original French door frames and wall mouldings that cover any available space – and it is this room that was transformed into the transitional space to the main Birds of Paradise exhibition. (Above) This is the really incredible, eye-catching piece that stood as the first part of the exhibition collection for viewers to see. The rainbow, scale-like body was held to the main body with a corset style lace type up in the back. And the main abdomen is where you can see the broadest hard tile pieces in a golden-yellow, of which blend into the crimson of the main chest decoration and finally into the deep blue-greens across the rest of the creation. One of the most bizarre materials used in the outfit is the presence of black horse hair hanging the sleeves of the dress and cascading down from roughly the knee down and trailing along the floor behind.

The impressive specimen is topped with the feather headdress which mirrors the colour blending of the entire ensemble, fading in a gradient from light to dark. The mannequin adorned with the breath-taking burst of colour has been situated specifically among the objects that already resided in the room – standing proudly, literally framed by the original 19th Century door frame and wall moulding.

Turn to your left and you see feathered examples of more wearable and 1920’s silhouetted textile design in vibrant colours. The layout of the clothing pieces naturally guides the viewer through the relatively permanent exhibtion space through to the textile rooms where the temporary extravaganza is housed. The collection and exclusive exhibition was even released in collaboration with a fully printed book (which I was very weak and ended buying a copy of in the gift shop of the Museum).

“The Textiles and Dress Gallery is a gallery dedicated to the textile and dress collections of the Bowes Museum. The gallery is designed to give a feel for fashions worn and textiles used in the home over the last four centuries.”

The collections of textiles as part of the art collection, also includes examples of European tapestries and embroideries – and this collection that was started by the Bowes couple has been established as one of the earliest examples of collections of fashion pieces! With this in mind, what better place to display an exclusive fashion exhibition that won’t feature anywhere else in Britain!?Like with the central focal point of the the rainbow armour-like dress, the really colourful piece in the middle of the first section of the textile room featured wings of like butterflies made from feathers. This open back dress with wings is one that could be envisioned on the catwalk as a real show stopper where the model approaches the end with the illusion of entirely black dress and on turning presents the burst vibrancy!The large glass cubes (that act as the main infrastructure for the Textile and Dress space) house mannequins stylishly dressed in outfits made entirely of feathers, or at least feather accents. And any details of specific pieces of attire could be found in the painstakingly designed information booklet to walk around with and keep.

The outfits standing behind glass showed a range of dress and style from a variety of time periods. These were able to blend, almost seamlessly, into the permanent pieces of the collection that are always on display!Once you reach the back of the exhibition, there stands a line of original catwalk pieces beneath a projection of footage from fashion shows and the textile designs on the models! The line of dress pieces are set in a demure dark and muted colour pallet, but the feather incorporation makes them still quite an incredible sight!The rest of the pieces on display in the Birds of Paradise exhibition feature exclusive looks at designs from Alexander McQueen (not even featured in the Savage Beauty exhibition in London over the course of this year) and Nina Richie!For an amazing insight in the curatorship and work put in to the presentation and layout of the Birds of Paradise exhibition, click here to be directed to the Bowes Museum wordpress page and the specific blogpost!If you fancy heading to the Bowes Museum, you’ll be lucky enough to catch the Milk Snatcher illustrations and cartoon exhibition by Gerald Searfe until the 7th of June. If you’re sorry you missed out on the Birds of Paradise exhibition, and want to get you’re excluisve fashion fill – the Bowes Museum will be exhibiting Style is Eternal by Yves Saint Laurent over the summer (11th of July to the 25th of October).

Plaid Ain’t A Fade

Here is a little outfit of the day from the previous blogpost (click here for a look at the beautiful parks and gardens on the outskirt of Leeds) that features some classic basics, a touch of plaid and a couple a variations. In this case – plaid ain’t a fade!

This look starts with an oversized, crisp, white collared button-up layered over the top of a fitted tartan/plaid knit mini skirt. This look has the danger of straying into the school-girl look, but manages to hold its own because of the choice of fit and length of the clothing pieces. Keeping the skirt fitted, with a straight up-and-down cut, makes it a more wearable piece compared to others that are A-line or pleated. Then the white shirt stays buttoned up to the top but isn’t fitted – juxtaposing the fit of the skirt gives the look a more concious adult styling. Black accessories act as a neutral plus to the look.

(Above) See the ability to add a black felt brim hat and structured black bag if desired.An alternative look (for a day when the sun isn’t beating down as hard as it is here – a plain black leather jacket basic. Wear this piece on the shoulders for a dynamic change to the expected style. Or (below) simply throw it on as usual and channel a little more rocker-chic!I’ve always loved the look of metal collars or bars that peak out from beneath collar points of a buttoned shirt. This little curved gold bar is actually on a silver chain, but the visible gold pairs beautifully with the gold chain that holds the purple tinted crystal shard. The rest of the jewellery is the standard stacks of silver rings that live on my fingers.

White collared shirt (size 12 to make it oversized) – River Island

Plaid skirt – The Sweater Shop

Black boots – H&M

Leather jacket – H&M

Felt hat – H&M

Bag – Vintage

Necklaces – Varied