San Francisco Photo Diary

“Take another little piece of my heart…”

San Francisco is the only other city I’ve lived in besides Philadelphia.  A few years ago I drove across the country with a friend and when I got to San Fran I fell in love with it and decided I wasn’t leaving.  The vibe of the city is unlike anywhere else – a unique blend of creativity, individuality and a bit of artistic madness. It always brings to mind the Jack Kerouac quote:

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”

There’s a reason he, too, was drawn to the musical beat of San Fran.

The city is alive with music, all hours of the day and night – when I lived there it wasn’t, “what are we doing tonight?” it was “what show are we going to tonight?”  It’s a place where you never feel lonely, because even if you are alone you’ll always meet someone on the street or in the park or on the barstool next to you with a smile and a friendly ear. And it’s a city where no matter how big it is, or even if you’re at a festival with thousands of people, you can still run into an old friend.

Philly is my home but I will always love the city by the bay.

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Festival Fashion at Outside Lands – Day Three

Outside Lands 2011 has come to a close and what a magical weekend it was… Sunday was another gorgeous sunny day in Golden Gate Park and once again Free People was everywhere we looked. The girls in San Francisco definitely know how to do festival fashion right! Read More

Gelato al Bacio

With this month’s catalog shot in Venice, I thought I’d give you all a recipe for one of my favorite Italian foods – gelato. This is a recipe that my grandma or aunt will whip up almost every time I visit them in Italy. I never really make it at home, so it’s earned a spot in my heart as one of those special treats I get whenever I visit my favorite place in the whole world. It’s made with hazelnuts and chocolate, like the Italian candy, Baci, from which it gets its name. More familiarly, it has a nutella-like flavoring, but whatever you relate it to, it’s a dream that melts in your mouth. Now that I have a vat of it in my fridge, it’s been really hard to stay away.

Try it out for yourself if you dare =P

Ingredients:

1 Egg

1 1/3 Cups Whole Milk

100 Grams of Dark Chocolate

¾ (generous) Cup of sugar

¾ Cups of ground hazelnuts

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

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Directions:

Beat egg, 1 cup of milk, and vanilla extract together in a large bowl.

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Place sugar, chocolate, 1/3 cup of milk, ¼ cup of hazelnuts into a pot, and place over a low flame. Keep stirring until chocolate is fully melted and sugar is dissolved.

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Pour melted chocolate mixture into milk/egg mixture, add remaining hazelnuts, and stir vigorously until fully blended together.

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Pour into a bread pan, and let cool for a bit. Once it has reached room temperature, stick the whole thing in the fridge over night.

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After a night in the fridge to freeze, it should be ready to serve nde

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Festival Fashion at Outside Lands – Day Two

The weather could not have been better today at Outside Lands! Uncharacteristically, the sun was shining all day and burned through the San Francisco fog.  Also? Free People was everywhere! We ran into so many girls wearing FP duds and carrying our tote bags. Here’s a look at the fashion on day two shot by Erin of calivintage.com!

The striped lace inset top from last year!

Love this combo of leopard, fringe and our seed bead necklace.

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One of my favorite looks from today.

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Love how she knotted our pieced together maxi!

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Free People bag and Joe lace up over-the-knee boots!

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Natalie, looking amazing in our forbidden garden mesh maxi!

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My favorite photo of them all :)

More coming tomorrow!

Photo Credit: Erin Hagstrom, calivintage.com

Festival Fashion at Outside Lands – Day One

Outside Lands kicked off today in Golden Gate Park and attendees were definitely rocking their best festival fashion! Everywhere we looked there was amazing style, with lots of maxis, boots, braids, funky accessories and of course Free People! Read More

Style File: Merchandise Assistant – Knits

I first met this week’s style file girl when she was still an intern. We had one of those classic intern moments with a broken copy machine, ten different types of toner, and too many blinking arrows. We ended up figuring it out while chatting back and forth a bit.

She has now been promoted from intern, to merchandise assistant for knits. She loves her job, but admits that she didn’t always know that she wanted to work in fashion. Her career began as an international business major in college from where she went to teach English in Japan for three years. She traveled all around Southeast Asia and fell in love with Japan and fashion while she was there.

In talking with her, she gave me interesting perspective on what it is about the fashion there that interested her so much – no matter how funny or different it is, the people really dress however they want. They stick out as an individual, which is an interesting thing to see expressed in a society that is so strongly community based. To further explain, she shared two of her favorite Japanese street fashion blogs with me: style-arena and Japanese streets. I’ve added the blogs to the list of blogs that I follow I found them so interesting. The style is far out, but totally cool and inspirational.

As is her own fashion! She’s a bohemian queen, but mixes in quirky vintage pieces that at times give her outfits a sense of humor. Check out her personal style and what she wore this week ;)

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This week at work she was scrambling a bit because her buyer was out on vacation which left her to cover duties she’d never dealt with before. Her department (buying) serves as a central coordinator for planning, design, wholesale, and production, which means there can be a lot to do. On the day that I caught up with her to hear about it she was entering in orders with an archaic looking system (although it’s not) to be sent to our producers. This is a highly detailed process involving lots of codes. When placing an order everything is considered from cost, color, and fabric to delivery method, ship date, and unit count. It’s amazing how fast she can do it at this point. Any one of the components can get messed up at anytime, anywhere in the supply chain, and a lot of her job also involves cleaning up the mistakes to make sure that the customer gets what she wants when she wants it.

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I know you’re already intrigued by how interesting this girl is, but to further interest you – here is her survey. (How cute are her doodles? They made me smile (= )

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Free People’s Guide to Venice – Part 2

Here is part two of the Free People Guide to Venice, put together by our producer! Read on for our tips on where to eat and more of our favorite things about Venice, and if you missed it be sure to check out part one of the guide featuring where to stay, landmarks, gondola riding tips and more fun stuff!

It’s always my goal when arriving in a new city to find the best local joints. Venice is a hard city to get to know due to its “tourist-y” nature, but all it takes is a little wander away from San Marco and the Rialto (make sure you see those too!) to get to know the real Venice.

It was recommended by a friend of a friend to eat at Alle Vedova – we didn’t end up finding it until our last night, but I think I can speak for all of us in saying that we wish we had made it there sooner! After a week of sub-par and expensive Italian food we found just what we were craving at Alle Vedova.

I think that it was more the experience than the food itself, though tables of  fresh squid, local veggies and homemade pasta weren’t so bad! Alle Vedova is settled in at the end of a small dark alley, but the rumble of local chatter makes it clear when you are headed in the right direction! Once you put your name in they give you small glasses of red or white wine for while you wait and homemade meatballs to tide you over until your table is ready. One of my favorite touches was the napkin lampshades! What a sweet idea!

Its spritz o’clock!

It seems to be a Venetian tradition to take a break in the middle of the day for a Spritz. I think it’s the most beautifully colored cocktail I’ve ever seen and it is the perfect drink for a hot summers day.

Here is how to make it for yourself …

1/3 white wine (ideally prosecco)

1/3 aperol or bitters or select (pick your favorite!)

1/3 seltzer water

Throw in an olive; find some sunshine and lounge by a canal… you’ll blend right in with the locals!

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I’m not sure even where to begin talking about gelato! I think that a few of us ate it breakfast lunch and dinner during our long shoot days. Our local producer claimed that Gelati Nico was her favorite in Venice, and though I agree that it was delicious I believe that gelato is heaven anywhere you eat it in Italy, it may just be a matter of price … more expensive does not equal better in this case!

I’m sure a lot of you are wondering what the difference is between gelato and ice cream and I am here to tell you that they are not at all the same thing. The ingredients are similar but the process of making it, the ratio of ingredients in it and the temperature at which it is served are completely different. It is smoother, tastes creamier and I am happy to tell you has less fat then ice cream.

… it’s making my mouth water just thinking about it now!

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Oh boy… every little detail makes me smile… and the color combinations are inspiring to say the least <3

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Venice kills me with its rich color combinations and patterns … for a city that is known for its decay, it has the richest detail elements! Look at these samples from the home that we shot in… All of these patterns were found in the living room alone!  Just thinking about it makes my heart melt a little.

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These shoes aren’t mine but I sure do wish they were! They are the perfect flat shoe… casual and dressy and oh so comfortable.  I can’t wait for them to come out in the catalog so I can snatch up a pair for myself!

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Venice comes alive at night, and I recommend to everyone that you go out and enjoy it! We often worked late which meant that we didn’t eat until around 10 or so which seemed to be the norm at most of the places we ate.  After our meal we often opted to wander back to the hotel instead of taking a water taxi and we saw the most beautiful things along the way!

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Our last night in Venice was my favorite.  We combined all of my favorite things into one last hurrah! We ate great food at Alle Vedova, had fun drinks at Bar Paradiso Perduto (Cannaregio 2540, Venice), played dice along the canal, met up with old friends, made some new ones, wandered endlessly and laughed even more so… certainly a night to remember and how I recommend ending every trip! Well, think of it this way… a late night before the flight home helps you sleep on the plane :)

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We hope you enjoyed our guide to Venice! If you’d like, visit our flickr page and download the whole thing. Ciao, Venice!

*All photos by Thomas Northcut except for pages: “All about the details,” “Patterns” and “Shoes I Love”.

Outside Lands 2011: Greetings from San Francisco!

After a long day of traveling I have arrived in San Francisco for Outside Lands 2011! I am staying downtown and I must say when I took the subway from the airport and got off at Powell street, the famous spot where the cable cars turn around, so many memories came rushing back from when I lived here.  I can’t wait to get over to Haight Ashbury and Golden Gate Park! Read More

Thursday Poll: Cup of Tea Accessories

It’s no secret that Free People has some of the best jewelry around. Unique, ethnic-inspired pieces are aplenty on our website. I love the small curated collection of jewelry, Cup of Tea, that is live on the website now, but as usual with Free People jewelry, I’m a bit overwhelmed by the amazing options, and cannot chose one. What do you all think?

The Amalfi Coast Pendant

Saldana Chunk Ring

Veda Stone Ringveda stone ring

Bergamo Onyx Ring

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Behind the Scenes: Venice Unmasked

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Behind the scenes of our August catalog shoot in Venice with Guy Aroch and models Marloes Horst and Darla Baker. Photos by Thomas Northcut.

Did you guys see that we’re selling the Italian masks now? They’re amazing – go see them in our accessories shop.

View the August Catalog.