The Ladybug is a White Hunter: finding Africa in Milan

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A few weeks ago I visited a great exhibit at FM Contemporary Art Center in Milan. I didn’t know about this very interesting space until I saw the flier of this event called “The White Hunter. African memories and representations” and I decided to have a look on a Saturday afternoon.

The exhibit started end of March during the Milan Art Week and it presented more than 150 works of contemporary artists (including my favorite African photographers Seydou Keita and Malick Sidibé) as well as pieces from anonymous traditional artists. The main topic is Africa just seen by different eyes and represented in many different ways. Maybe this is the reason why I couldn’t love it more!

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The black building hosting the exhibit and the calm space outside was perfect also for a short outfit shooting!

It was indeed the perfect occasion to wear my Madame Ilary African wax turban that I added to a very simple outfit: old boyfriend jeans from Topshop, frilled white shirt from Alexa Chung Archive Collection for M&S, simple Benetton black trench coat and Nike 4 & Other Stories white sneakers.

I also wore my new folk clutch bought at Archivio Vintage event a couple of days before!

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The Ladybug Goes Malian in Milan: A Night in Beautiful Africa with Rokia Traoré

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When I think of Rokia Traoré I remember exactly how I first “met” her: I was in Brussels, Belgium, winter 2004. I went to a Media Center and decided to get some CDs of artists that I didn’t know. I picked up her CD “Wanita” and I listened to it that same night. I was captured by her voice and sound and since that day I haven’t stopped following her.

For those of you who don’t know her, Rokia Traoré is a Malian singer, guitarist and songwriter and she is one of the most representative voices of the African continent. But her music goes over the barriers of a continent or a language. As the daughter of a diplomat, she’s traveled around the world. And her life, just as her music, has been influenced from different cultures and sounds.

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You cannot call her an “ethnic” singer: she goes from jazz (her version of Billie Holiday’s “Gloomy Sunday” was to die-for) to blues, from traditional African to rock, mixing tradition with modernity. She sings in English, French (“Zen” is one of my favorite songs by her!), and Bambara, the language of her community.

She arrived in Milan at Carroponte on the 15th of July to present her new album “Beautiful Africa” that will be released at the end of September 2013 and that I can’t wait to put my hands on it! It was my first time seeing her live and I was very excited: I loved her live performance. She managed to mix ballads, with rock and African dance, bass, electric guitar and traditional African instruments in a beautiful, captivating concert where I found myself dancing like a mad woman (recalling my old African dance classes when I studied in France in 2000) and crying for the beautiful words of wisdom that she spoke during the night (“The most beautiful thing in life is diversity”).

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For the occasion I wore a piece of Africa too: I wore this beautiful skirt (originally a dress!) from Lalesso, the ethical brand inspired by beautiful Kenyan fabrics and colors (www.lalesso.com).

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I paired it with an H&M denim shirt and Topshop flat sandals. I am also wearing vintage golden ’80s earrings and my adored Oxfam canvas bag!

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Cheers!

The Ladybug Puts Her Hand in Crafts: Touring The Handicrafts Fair in Milan (L’Artigiano in Fiera)

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Not tired from the Used Book Fair on Friday, I decided to head to another Fair on Saturday! My friend was coming for a weekend holiday in Milan, so I decided- instead of visiting the city center boutiques, it was time for us to go on a good stroll at the Handicraft Fair in Milan.

She knows I’m a very… alternative shopper, so she curiously accepted the invitation!  Many of my friends and colleagues went to this Fair during the week and all of them shared excellent reviews in the office the day later! For many of them this annual event is THE event of the year and all this excitement about it made me very curious.

You know that I’m all about handcrafts and that I support small business, so I couldn’t miss it!

The event is really big… and when I say really big I really mean that it is quite impossible to visit everything in a day… the influx of people was enormous and at some point it was quite impossible to walk within the crowd! The Fair was organized in a few big pavilions: for Italy, for Europe and for the rest of the World. No need to tell you from where we started, right?!

India, Africa and China are always my favorite areas, so I took advantage of the presence of so many stallers from those countries to make a good provision of teas (Artichoke tea from Vietnam, and Ginger, Chai and Coconut tea from Sri Lanka), spices (when I found the Colombo, my eyes went heart-shaped!) and tiger balm!

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It was also a great occasion to buy handcrafted objects and to make a good conversation with these stallers from all over the world… I got some African bangles, African and Chinese sticks for my rebellious hair and this lovely Chinese tea-set.

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We didn’t visit Europe at all, and as for the Italy we only headed to the New Designers’ area- which was very interesting (and there we spent a bit too much money as well!). The Italian area was almost all about food (probably what we do best!) and my native land (Sicily) had a great space with my favorite smells and tastes!

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A small yet very interesting area was dedicated to young artists and designers… It may have been one of the more interesting area of the whole fair. I love those unique creations made by amazing young artists: every piece is the fruit of their creativity and by buying them, you not only support creativity. but you also allow small business create a successful path.

I was very impressed by Opella (www.opellamilano.com) who sells beautiful handmade jewels mostly made with steel and Murano glass and I bought a lovely hat pin from her (actually it was a pin that I’m going to wear as a hat pin!).

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Another artist that I really liked was Pippy the Milliner (www.pippithemilliner.com): her beautiful handmade sartorial hats and fascinators made me shiver! Verena, the staller, told me that most of them were made by her mum, a wonderful fashion milliner with a gorgeous sense of retro style. Honestly, I would have bought at least four of the hats and fascinators exposed, but I ended up buying what KNAGUI calls the “Noah’s Arc Agenda” … “only two!”

This lovely navy 1920s inspired felt cloche and this gorgeous black hat that made me fall in love at the very instant it touched my head! I can definitely say that this is the most beautiful hat that I own so far!

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