For my 27th birthday, I embarked on a once in a lifetime solo adventure to the city that never sleeps – New York City. My dear friend Florence asked me to spill the beans on the treasures I discovered here. - Marie-Line Vancaester.

Street smart style 

Marie-Line: Packing light was the mantra for this short but powerful trip. Embracing the minimalist ethos of the city, my suitcase was filled with the following items: high-waisted pleated noir trousers, my beloved killer Cora top, my red Macha scarf to artfully wear draped into a chic top, black high boots, ballet flats with a heel, a long wool dress and coat anticipating the city’s sudden winter metamorphosis.

Throughout my journey, I observed a certain symphony among New Yorkers. On weekdays, New Yorkers dress with sophistication for work, drawing inspiration from the timeless elegance of the 90s (think: Gwyneth Paltrow, Carolyne Bessette Kennedy). During the weekends, they prefer athleisure complementing their never standing still lifestyle. Suddenly, yoga pants appeared on my wishlist. 

Layers MIA Pinafore

“Embracing the minimalist ethos of the city.”


Cultural pursuits 

Marie-Line: Venturing through different neighbourhoods, I discovered the Upper East Side's Museum Mile, Soho's vibrant streets where I stayed in Public Hotel, Queens for the highlight of my trip, and Brooklyn for its new place to be “Dae”.

The last time I visited New York City, I was able to see the MET museum. This time, I bought a ticket to explore the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Although the current exposition, "Going Dark," sought to unravel the tension within contemporary society—where the desire to be seen clashed with the yearning to remain hidden—I found myself more captivated by the museum's structural grandeur and its pulsating vibe.

Queens unveiled the Noguchi Museum, once the studio of Isamu Noguchi, an American artist with Japanese roots. I was captivated by his sculptures and enamored with the Akari lights. These lights are made out of washi paper from the inner bark of the mulberry tree with bamboo ribbing. His belief that a room, a tatami mat, and an Akari light are all one needs to start a home resonated deeply as I am starting to decorate our own home. Leaving Queens with a profound appreciation for Noguchi's artistry, I brought home an Akari lamp, two insightful books about Noguchi's life, and a letter holder – each item now a cherished part of our home office.

Isamu was married to Yoshiko “Shirley” Yamaguchi, a Japanese actress. For their wedding reception, Isamu designed Yoshiko’s kimono and waist sash. Yoshiko found kimonos very stiff and heavy as a traditional kimono usually exists out of multiple layers. Isamu made a kimono for Yoshiko using less material. According to a documentary that’s playing in the museum, he created a separated top and bottom for his wife 

Epiphany in the city 

Marie-Line: Reflecting on my journey, New York City became the canvas for a realization: the true essence of life’s experiences lies in sharing them with loved ones. As an extraverted introvert, I enjoy time by myself but quickly realized that precious shared experiences with family and friends is far more valuable to me than being on my own. Fortunately, I was able to reconnect with a friend and witness the flourishing of her family amidst the hustle and bustle of the city, which meant more to me than anything else. 

New York City guide 

Morning: The Corner Bar in the Nine Orchard Hotel, Russ & Daughters cafe, Kettl Tea, Frenchette Bakery, Levain Bakery, L’appartement 4F, Raf’s

Noon: Il Buco, Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria, Misi, From Lucie, Dae Brooklyn, Lodi

Night: La Mercerie, Gem Wine, Veronika, Le Coucou, I Sodi, Ella Funt, Rolo’s, Estela

Sleep: Nine Orchard Hotel, The Ludlow Hotel, 11 Howard, New York Edition, 1Hotel Central Park, The Greenwich Hotel

Shop: The Row, Bode NYC, Gohar World, The Conservatory

See: Modernlink Gallery, Raisonné Gallery, Noguchi Museum, Guggenheim