Categories
Culture

Dear New York, I Miss You

Roughly a month ago, I was lucky enough to call you home – except I didn’t know how lucky I was until I was given two days to pack everything, arrange a storage company, and return to my country.

As grateful as I am to be well and safe at home with my family in the midst of a global pandemic, I can’t help but realize how much I miss everything about living in New York City.

Some say it’s dirty, some say it’s loud, some think it’s overrated, but I think it is THE best. The image of the city without its lights on and the impact of the news we get each morning on the spread of the virus are truly heartbreaking.

In this time of crisis, I had way too much time in my hands to contemplate on a decision I made last year, precisely, the decision of attending NYU. The more I think, the more I realize how lucky and right I was to make that decision. The more I think, the more I realize how much I love New York City and its synonym: NYU.

There are numerous things I miss about the life I had a month ago and they are not fancy, occasional events I got to attend, they are daily habits I had the privilege to form.

I miss my dorm, the dorm that was located so conveniently that I found myself in the mesmerizing streets of Soho in just 30 steps.

I miss Washington Square Park, the one that surrounded my school, and I miss walking to class with the serenade of the guy playing the piano in the park, the sight of a dozen skaters, artists, bands, and, well, the man with 50 pigeons on his shoulders.

I miss the people of New York. I miss the freedom of walking around for hours just because I was entertained solely by the act of observing my surroundings. I miss being inspired by passerby, their clothes, behavior, and interactions…

I miss the precious ability to have brunch in some hype Instagram spot on a late Monday morning in between classes, and the privilege of knowing we will never run out of the endless scroll of options.

I miss the excitement and motivation that emerged from the unknown, of what the next day – or hour – will bring. I also miss jumping on to every other opportunity I found. I miss the luxury of always being somewhere, doing something, meeting someone.

I even miss the lines. The lines that often lasted for hours, you know, just to get seated — for coffee. Or more likely, I miss having the opportunity to wait in line for a place so highly demanded by New Yorkers.

I miss the Subway, the occasional guitar player, napper, conversation- starter, and the one person who is just as confused as me. Oh, and I miss the construction sites as well, preferably without the noise.

I miss my friends, those who I saw on the streets and chatted for half an hour even if we had to be somewhere else, those whose company I could rely on for the next museum opening, and those whose mere presence would immerse me into in an entirely different culture. I really miss being around unique, goal-oriented overachievers and being inspired from each one of them.

Well, I think I simply miss the luxury of learning just as much – if not more – outside the classroom as I did during a lecture, which is hard to get on Zoom. So, I hope remote education stays as a temporary “new normal” and doesn’t extend into a lasting one.

Categories
food

Six years after its opening, Dominique Ansel Bakery still has a line outside its doors – But not for the Cronut

About six years ago, foodies – New Yorkers and tourists alike – were bedazzled by the taste and photogenic appeal of the Cronut when it was introduced by Dominique Ansel Bakery in 2014. The shop, the lines, the cronut went viral and the line formed as early as 6 a.m. Today, the croissant with a donut exterior sustains some of its hype but the shop’s savvy owners have come up with a new product: the DKA, a small caramelized croissant with brown sugar. 

The Instagram-famous Cronut was famous for the taste of its cream filling, the freshness of its smell, the variety of its flavors and the elegance of its decoration. Today, there is still a line for Cronuts in front of the store but it doesn’t take more than 10 minutes to get inside.

The lines are shorter partly because Dunkin Donuts offers a $2.49 “croissant donuts” versions of the $6 Cronut and partly because the original Cronuts are now available online, where customers can buy six pastries at once as opposed to the two-units limit in the store.  

Among those who waited in line on a sunny New York afternoon were kids impatient for their desserts, girlfriends already taking pictures for Instagram and tourists checking off another item from their bucket lists. They were all first timers and were disappointed to find a sign inside saying: “Cronuts Sold Out for Today.” 

Apparently, limited production and high demand is what sustains the line: “It takes three days to make a Cronut, so our daily production is limited to 500 items, and they are sold out before 12 p.m. everyday” said Khalid Sirjue, who works as a waiter.

In response to the continued demand—and as a marketing strategy to keep customer coming in the afternoon after cronuts are sold out—Cronut inventor French Pastry Chef Dominique Ansel created Dominique’s Kouign Amann, (DKA). The small Cronut-shaped pastry attracts regulars as well as newbies who can’t get a Cronut fix.

The bakery got so popular that it hires greeters to tell people that the line to enter the store starts outside. The interior is quite simple and the pastries speak for themselves. Seating is available inside, starting from the register all the way back towards the open kitchen, and at the terrace where a floral wall serves as a designated Instagram spot.

Marcelle Danza of Florida was waiting on line one recent early afternoon, sadly too late. “It is kind of devastating that they are sold out but the other options are just as great,” she said, as she took a bite of her DKA.

Dominique Ansel Bakery is no stranger to special occasions with its unique pastries: “It is my birthday today and my boyfriend decided to take me here,” said Kinjal Patel, who blew out the candle on her stack of DKA’s. “I’d prefer this over a traditional birthday cake every day,” she said.

Categories
fashion

Is the In-Store Glossier Experience Glossy enough to wait 30+ Minutes?

Glossier is a beauty brand founded by Emily Weiss (NYU’07) who, after years of blogging, launched an e-commerce site in 2014. Today, the digital-first brand has a physical SoHo store that is reminiscent of the many other immersive experiences New York has to offer – But unlike those, entry is free and you purchase at your own risk.

            In order to attract customers into the store at this digital age, any brand needs to get creative and generous to make sure the in-store experience exciting enough to compensate for the easiness of the alternative – online shopping. Since it started as an online platform, the expectations from Glossier were even higher.

            Apparently, the brand managed to satisfy the expectations because the line in front of their store is no joke. There are employees giving away logo stickers, bodyguards checking on the crowd, and about sixty people per 30 minutes in line.

            The testers of their products are displayed throughout the space and customers are highly encouraged to try them out. There is also a sink area to put on masks, make-up, or whichever product stood out for you, really.

At its core, it is a store that sells beauty products; what makes it different is how it operates. There is no register and they are cashless, accepting only credit card and Apple Pay. If you like something, you consult to the employees – all dressed in the same pink jumpsuit – and once they answer your questions, they become the register. You pay to them in any part of the store and the transaction is completed at the ease of an iPad.

Following the payment, you head towards the front desk to receive your bag. This is arguably the best part because your order arrives in a custom gift bag that is pulled from a mechanism by employees.

Oh, and the product tester they put in your bag becomes the icing on the cake. Perhaps, what makes Glossier attractive is its modern twist on shopping; you go in and shop but you feel like you went to a fun museum, sort of.

Since an immersive NYC experience would remain incomplete without an artistic wall that doubles as an Instagram spot, there is a colorful logo with Glossier symbols right before you leave. Overall, the store offers customers the opportunity to try out all Glossier products as everything is on display and enables them to learn more through interaction but the outcome is yet again consumption.

            Glossier, like most immersive experiences, is worth seeing the first time but it is not exciting enough for you to pay a second visit. And if you are not really into make-up, you can just go about your life and avoid the store altogether – While I appreciate the experience, I don’t think Glossier’s permanent store is a must-see. Plus, if you’ve read thus far, you somewhat experienced it, so you are welcome.

Until next time,

Yaprak

Categories
fashion

NYU’s Fashion Panel Addressed Media and Streetwear as Complements

Guests from Highsnobiety, Complex and Surface gathered at NYU on Wednesday to discuss how media intersects with streetwear — a combination of California surf skate culture with New York hip-hop fashion.

The panelists colorized the room, having dressed for the occasion in sweatshirts and baggy pants with layered fabrics and patterns, and of course, futuristic sneakers.

http://nyulara.com/archives
The NYU Stern Undergraduate Luxury and Retail Association

 “Streetwear is a bit like sportswear, you don’t wear sportswear just to the gym and streetwear is not just in the street, it is more like a lifestyle,” said Tom Garland, senior manager of strategy at Highsnobiety, speaking at the panel collaboration between NYU’s Fashion Business Association and Luxury and Retail Association.  

 “The creative flexibility in streetwear allows for unique combinations that inspire media content,” said Hunter Mak, style editor at Complex.

“Streetwear dictates social media and social media dictates streetwear.”

            Noting stylists now pair couture dresses with sneakers, Garland addressed media’s influence as a bridge between luxury and simplicity. He gave Prada’s recent partnership with local florists as an example because they put the Prada logo on ordinary brown flower wraps.

Just as “Prada’s creative idea messed with people’s perceptions, streetwear has a similar effect on consumers by reversing norms and changing perspectives.”

“Streetwear shapes your social media feed and your social media feed influences your style.”

Damien Scott, vice president of content and development at Complex believes that Gen-Z’s easy access to inspirational platforms give them more space to get creative with their style. He addressed media as a helpful source of influence, not as a dictator of a certain style.

Disagreeing was Brett Dalzell, art director at Higsnobiety — He argued that overwhelming number of websites cause a digital fatigue.

“There are just too many sources available online, we are going back to print because it makes our content more exclusive and special.” 

Before concluding the discussion, Fardad Sabzevari, brand development and strategy specialist at Surface told students that the death of influencers is an upcoming trend that concerns both media and fashion. 

“If you have 10k followers, you need to have a comparable rate of engagement in likes and comments,” he said. 

“More than half the so-called influencers lack such engagement so their influence will soon fade.”

Categories
Culture

Galentine’s Day: An Unromantic Celebration of Love

Because Your Friends Love Surprises and You Love Your Friends

A nail spa retreat for two, a waffle-brunch date, a bottle of champagne and a pink heart-shaped chocolate box are not just things you get every day; they are things you gift or receive on Galentine’s Day. In an era where Ice Cream Day is a national holiday, don’t close girlfriends deserve a day of their own too?

Ten years ago, ‘Galentine’s Day’ originated from an episode of sitcom “Parks and Recreation” during a girls-only mimosa brunch.  Now the festivities have become big business, just like Valentine’s Day. Celebrated on February 13, Galentine’s Day is a girls-only celebration among supportive friends to show their appreciation for each other.

The rising popularity of this female-friendly holiday caught the eye of modern-day businesses as Hallmarks began selling special Galentine’s cards and Auntie Anne’s started offering free delivery with promo code GALENTINE on checkout.

 “Galentine’s Day is an awesome day to celebrate friendship in my opinion,” said Carrie Chen, an NYU Freshman. “It’s important because we are used to celebrating our romantic relationships, but we should spend time celebrating friendships as well.”

Chen started celebrating the day back in high school even though some of her friends had boyfriends. “I would totally celebrate Galentine’s Day if I had a boyfriend,” she said.

The celebration is not part an anti-Valentine’s Day movement. Still, while being single is not a requirement for the celebration, not having a romantic significant might act as an incentive to cherish friendships.

“I think it is really sweet for friends to go and have fun, especially if they are lonely and don’t have boyfriends,” said Natasha Kozaric, a freshman at NYU. “The company of other people makes them feel better and there is nothing wrong with going out with friends.”

Kozaric went out for dinner with close girlfriends and exchanged small gifts like boxes of chocolate. “We don’t have boyfriends but it is fine, we have fun and support each other,” she said.

Categories
Culture

New York Fashion Week: A ‘Simple’ Breakdown of a Hectic Week

This week was by far my busiest since moving to New York, but it was undoubtedly the best. I was fortunate enough to be hired by an organization for NYFW SS’20 and I couldn’t be more humbled about it. Tears of joy, beats of excitement, and tons of responsibility.

Imagine a bunch of diversified teams blending in a pool of passion. Fashion is an industry where on time is late and perfect is inadequate – A rule of thumb is to overachieve or leave.

It is crazy backstage, but in the best way possible: Everyone’s running, taking directions from one another and being assigned a new task before digesting the current.

Sounds overwhelming, yet, somehow, everyone is more than willing to be a part of this mania better known as Fashion Week. I know because I was, am, and likely always will be.

 In its simplest form, being part of the glamour on and off stage is so inspirational, flattering and intriguing that the 5 am call time is a compromise well worth the struggle.

Imagine 50 hairdressers —51 with rainbow-dyed hair and 50 make-up artists—51 with triple nail extensions. Their time is very limited and there is absolutely no tolerance for wrongdoings so everyone brings their A-games on. 

The space is stocked with unopened boxes sponsored by cosmetics brands and the walls are decorated with mood and vision boards that are both visually appealing and artistically insightful.

You learn to pick up trash if necessary and blend right in, offering help to whomever needs you for whatever purpose, whenever and wherever. It is not all rainbows and smiles but it all adds up to something spectacular.

            Models arrive, find their make-up seats, try not to move as 5 people pull their hair to different directions, scrolling through Instagram as their nails are painted.

Once the glam part (or at least the time arranged for it) is over, dressers make sure the models’ looks are complete, helping them change as quickly as possible during and in between shows.

            One by one, guests start to arrive, each more extravagant and fashion-forward than the other. The ushers and greeters smile as they direct them towards their seats.

Front rowers check out their customized gift bags, take pictures and post them using the hashtags reserved for the shows — the more publicity and social media recognition, the better.

            This is the moment for the DJ’s to really hype out the crowd, so they deliver. It is now about time the show begins.

Front row guests are kindly instructed to unfold their legs, put their bags under their seats, avoid flashes, and enjoy the show!

            Lights go off and boom: Models flow on the runway. Every guest aims for the perfect shot, some complain about the angle.

Everyone walks just fine, no one falls, no hair loses volume, no dress unzips. The show is a success and everyone is glad.

            The designer closes the show with a final appearance and a proud smile that further intensifies the loud round of applause.

            The guests are kindly instructed to leave immediately as the area should be prepared for the next show.

Months’ worth of work and hours’ worth of preparation end in 12 minutes, but the process is magnificent from the inside out.

You are extremely humbled to be present there at that moment, having somewhat contributed to the occurrence of a real-life dream.

Until next time,

-THE END-

If you haven’t already, check out my Instagram stories for exclusive behind-the-scenes and on-the-runway content: @yaprakugurses

PS I would like to clarify that I chose to leave out details regarding the workplace, its operations and employees, having signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement by the organization I choose not to specify for confidentiality purposes and I acknowledge that this is content is fully subjective.

Categories
Culture

The Not-So-Usual Streets of New York

Where a Brief Walk in a Random Street is Worth Countless Movie Scenes

The intersection of Broadway and Prince Street hosts an organized chaos of pedestrians seemingly in a rush: A pink-haired woman with oversized red glasses navigates on her electric wheelchair, a small dog trying to keep up the pace; twins in strollers push through with great difficulty, and a couple refusing to unclasp hands press into the overbearing crowd. Their impatience skyrockets as yet another set of cabs approach along a touristy Big Bus. 

Once the lights switch in their favor, the New Yorkers hustle to the opposite side of the street where a halal stand offers chicken biryani and shish kebabs, with a strong smell that draws some in and others out. 

The white-bearded vendor in a navy apron keeps the window of his stall slightly open to avoid discouraging customers from ordering, but keeps it closed just the right amount to stay warm and read his newspaper without distraction. Making sure to check the crowd every now and then, he waves at a gentleman whose outfit matches the yellow and blue umbrellas of the cart. 

Seven steps ahead of the stand is a street artist showcasing his paintings on subway maps, accompanied by rap music so loud, it attracts a crowd. Somewhere between his speaker and his art equipment, the artist begins to dance and so do his potential customers and passerby. 

 The corner becomes a party spot as a man in a designer outfit and a purple-haired friend are joined by a little girl with a shiny pink bag. 

A man in cargo pants and a hoodie purchases two posters from the artist, whose words: “Thanks again man, appreciate it!” echo along the ongoing rap ‘concert.’

Twenty steps and fifty pedestrians later, a professional photo shoot is staged. A supermodel in black vinyl pants and a matching crop top, holding a metallic clutch poses for a photographer in an all-white outfit lying on the dirty sidewalk to capture the perfect shot.

The photographer keeps guiding the model to “tilt her head a little bit more to the left, and gaze at anywhere but the camera.” 

Two girls pass through the fashion scene as they try to figure out which direction Google Maps is pointing towards, and right behind them are a father and a son enjoying the last bit of their ice cream. 

A few seconds later arrives a man with long white hair and a matching beard, reaches the trash can to collect plastic bottles, and looks deep inside the can once again to make sure he has all. He slowly heads back on the road with two bags overfilled with garbage…

One random place and one incomplete hour yet countless faces and numerous stories unite to unravel the harmony behind the chaotic image of the city.

Categories
Culture

Reflecting on my First Semester

Now that I have officially completed my first semester in New York, I have decided to share some of my most remarkable experiences!

First things first: I had a delightful move-in day and welcome week, met extremely unique individuals, had numerous coffee dates, memorized and forgotten hundreds of names, and made many friends from all around the world.

@NYU Kimmel Center

Besides being in a Macroeconomics class with 491 other students, I have joined NYU’s Fashion Business Association and became the editor of our Zine issue, signed a living agreement with my roommate, rushed for sororities, became a laundry expert, managed to survive with 5 hours of sleep, became a mentee at NYU Luxury and Retail Association, had the pleasure to meet and network with H&M and Lululemon executives, joined a conversation with Microsoft President Brad Smith, put myself on a major challenge and joined a robot workshop, learned some basic software, became a devoted member of our yoga club, attempted to attend some meditation sessions, showed up in the library about 3 times, interviewed random passerby for journalism purposes, pitched new articles weekly as a staff writer for the school newspaper, danced with strangers on Washington Square Park on my way to my dorm, made my peace with squirrels, had my first real thrifting experience, evacuated for three weeks in a row as a safety precaution at 2 am, had the coolest class trips to the VOID and my marketing professor’s agency, had some issues navigating the subway system, saw Kim and Kanye, got thrown away by their bodyguards, accidentally found myself in midst of various protests on my way to class, became a pescatarian (a vegetarian who eats fish), had breakfast next to Rosie H. Whiteley, saw a Yankees game, joined an extended coffee workshop at Stumptown, volunteered to read and edit 50+ short stories, partnered with a senior and pitched a hypothetical business model, hosted my parents for the first time as they paid me a visit on my birthday, joined the Halloween and Thanksgiving Parades, went ice-skating at the magical Rockefeller Rink, went to more attractions and museums than I could keep track of, had my first on-campus job as a backstage prop manager, and received my first official paycheck!

And these barely reflect half the attractions…

I surely did learn and experience a lot, and more is yet to come.

Until next time!

Best,

Yaprak

NYC Village Halloween Parade

New York’s 46th; My 1st Encounter With the Annual Halloween Parade

Thursday, October 31 was not marked as Halloween but rather as the Parade on my calendar after hearing about the iconic organization held conveniently (from campus) on 6th Avenue North of Spring Street to 16th Street. The distance itself was enough to convince me but the event was so highly promoted and advertised across platforms that not attending was not an option, and it was so for a good cause.

From customized head to toe metro card outfits and people in IT costumes looking creepier than the movie character to families dresses up as the Addams Family and out-of-this-world make-up skills displayed in various forms, you name it, the parade had it.

The visual feast opened with what felt like an immersive invasion of likeable skeletons so powerful for engaging the crowd that it certainly boosted everyone’s mood and righteously set the expectations high.

Even random passersby were dressed as if they have been working on their costumes for the past five months, which a considerable majority of them likely have. What separated this particular parade from any other is the fact that it is has its foundational basis on the involvement of the public. In other words, the people marching, singing, dancing, cheering, or just standing to watch and film were all New Yorkers showing off their extravagant and unique styles in the best platform humanly imaginable.

This is America so Hong Kong Protestors, Warren Advocates, and LGBTQ+ Activists were obviously immersed in the crowd yet their messages didn’t surpass the spirit of Halloween by any means. The rides provided lasting entertainment for the crowd through their much-needed providing of energizing music and interactive approaches. There was just the perfect balance between spookiness and joy; it was very colorful and inspirational yet also creepy and unexpected.

At the end of the day, the effort put into this organization and the extent to which the general public took Halloween seriously deserves to be respected and appreciated at the very least. The amount of freedom, the level of diversity, and the means of interaction were all very specific to the culture of New York and the parade really reflected the uniqueness of the city since a majority of the bold looks couldn’t be handled by most societies.

The Halloween Parade was certainly a benchmark on my process of Becoming A New Yorker as it was a great example of partial culture shock and major admiration of the city but more and more examples are yet to come so make sure to stay tuned!

Until next time,

Yaprak