My Favorite Place by Love Vdo

I'm not sure if you've ever tried exploring by yourself but you really should. Currently, I'm living in Florence which has been a really enlightning experience and I've been able to visit other places that I probably would have never even visited before this is my second time in Italy but when I did come to the lead when I was around 15 I really only this did the big spots like Rome and the Amalfi Coast. However, living in the place is different than visiting a place for short time. You have to go through a sense of acclamation and integration into any environment that you otherwise wouldn't have been exposed to otherwise.  For a lot of people your instinct is to connect with something familiar. Like what reminds you of home. I did not want to leave having not immersed myself as much as I could and through that I found my favorite place.

Every Thursday I travel outside of the city center and work in a Middle School near Talenti. But this isn't about that it's about the path I take to get there. I have to pass through a park to get to the school. This park used to be owned by a wealthy family and it was an estate. It's vast and there is a building on the property that functions as an information center I believe. I like to sit in this park and just enjoy the quiet. The are is much more different pace in the neighborhood than the city center that is often full of tourist. Personally, I haven't been able to find many spots with a vast green space like this park.

I am glad I found it and it's been a place where I can really think about life and being in a different place like Italy. I'm going into my final 5th year of college and transitioning into another phase of adulthood. So it's kind of been like an oasis for me and I never really see people there especially since I go early.

Anyways It's a great place to just slow down.


Learning Something by Love Vdo

I am not sure where I am going, so let's get into this and hopefully, we can both come to the end having learned something. This mantra aforementioned is how I try to go about every new situation and I think this mindset can benefit many.

Confidence is the ability to be sure of oneself or prospects and embrace the uncomfortable. I also know that if you have a gift and someone asks you to display that then you have a responsibility to it. I have been privileged to go abroad and learn in a new environment from different people.  In a little over 3 weeks, I will be back in the states and I am processing the experiences I have had, isolating what I have learned and how I can share that knowledge when I get back. This is what I know interacting with others on a common goal makes you grow.

I went to an all women's private college preparatory high school and that focused more on STEM than STEAM. Much of my work focused on a career in engineering so the work I pursued in higher ed and what I am doing here is a large departure from that.

I am an industrial designer but while I am here I have been learning about traditional baroque straw hat making and leatherworking. It has been a blast.

last week, I was tasked along with my peers in two of my courses to provide workshops on techniques we have learned in leatherworking and straw hat making. What I can say about the two classes is that the dynamic is completely different. For my leatherworking course, there are 5 students including me and they are all women. For my other 9 of us with the majority leaning towards male with one extra male in the class. I can tell you the dynamics of the courses are very different: subjects and personalities. All of the women, for the most part, come from a design background specifically fashion and the men business.  The men bring a jolt of energy and excitement to the class that I can only describe as full.

I am used to being in an environment that is relatively quiet and calm where everyone works by themselves on individual design problems. However, because of their lack of knowledge on the topic, it's like we are almost required to all work together so everyone can produce the best outcome. That what is exactly what the event was like. Even though I am someone who is quiet and often prefer to work by myself just as a matter of habit was forced out of my comfort zone be the boisterous personalities of my male peers. I would be liìying if I said that I was not annoyed at first but their jokes lightheartedness and lack of knowledge in the material allows them to be more experimental with their work and I love that. Even though their work is not the best technically, it is probably the most interesting and eye-catching work. My favorite is this fascinator one of them made inspired by paper planes. Cool! Right?

They're a great example using their gift when needed. They were able to engage visitors at the event and keep everyone in good spirits when it got busy and our professor needed help. Not everyone can do that. It seems small but the ability to engage with people and get them wanting to learn more is important. I guess why that's why they are in Business.   


The Gucci Garden Open by Love Vdo


This past January The Gucci Garden opened. It is a rotating gallery. This means that every month or so pieces are brought in on display and put out for others. They keep an archive: all rare and antique pieces from the Gucci Dynasty. If you didn't know Florence is actually where Gucci began.  The first store of Gucci actually was here in Florence it's not at the current location that the Gucci store is now located at Via de' Tornabuoni and 6 locations in Florence. At the Gucci Garden, you can expect to a bookstore clothing shop and restaurant all connected by 3 stories of gallery space. 

Reservation for the restaurant has to be made well in advance because of the high demand the store sells a limited collection of items that range from rare vintage pieces to a collection of one of a king bomber jackets and clothing that is designed and only available at the Gucci garden for purchase. 

I took a visit and went on a tour.  I  was brought through the Collection that is currently up on display. Much of Gucci theme revolves around nature. This is reflecting in the ornaments, textiles, and forms of the garments/ accessories. In each of the galleries, there are old pieces juxtaposed by with newer works. The pieces range from Luggage and handbags to animations, garments and so much more. 

Guccio Gucci founded the House of Gucci as a shop in Florence in 1906. The first designs focused on luggage. He used to work in a hotel and was inspired by the luggage the rich guests used. This was his first customer base.  Currently, Alessandro Michele is the creative director of the brand and it is way more than with its origins were.

I went with a class to gain inspiration for designs we are working on for an assignment. Like the name of the space, a lot of the Gucci work is inspired by flora and animals. The pieces on display were rich in color. A lot of the works are apart f the couture collection. These, in particular, require a lot of technical skills. Sequins, fur, and leather wear a unifying motif.

This would be a nice place to visit while you are in Florence since it is one of its kind. Especially if you are an artist/designer looking for inspiration.
It is open 7 days a week from 10-7:30 pm and 8 pm on Saturday and Sunday. If you are a student you can get in for free with an ID!   

Finding Your Place in a Different Space by Love Vdo

My home institution is in Boston, Massachusetts. It is surrounded by communities made up of families who have spent generations in their homes and immigrants looking to start fresh in the States. This is Roxbury, and if you visit Boston you would not find this as a location to visit in a brochure for historical and relevant spots, even though it is very much of Boston’s core residency and carries a long history.

Back at my home institution I was President of my schools BSU, Secretary of Student Government executive board, and lead many initiatives for my institution to be inclusive of its ALANA students and the Roxbury Community it sits on, that is very much populated by ALANA.  While I was there I focused on researching immigration and the immigrant experience and how it relates to education. All most all of the work I was truly passionate about landed in this realm.This is no coincidence because I am an immigrant in the US and attending university.  

When I decided to study abroad in Italy it was to gain more design experience, however, I did have anxiety. It is the type of anxiety many people face because of systematic societal constructs: stereotype threat. I am twenty-one and in my senior year of college, I was able to truly find a place I felt my most comfortable with myself because I found a likeness in those around me and that happened because I created those spaces.

However, I found that when I came here to Florence I was entering a phase of cognitive dissonance. My beliefs and much of what I worked for back in the States were not reflected in my actions. I had to make sure that in the way I carried myself drew a clear difference from those who I saw working on the street who looked exactly like me.

I believe that this is a very true reality for a lot of ALANA students coming from the US to study in a place like Florence, which is fairly homogeneous. I cannot ignore that Italy also has a complex relationship with race relations that we can see reflected in the recent news like Slavery in Libya.

Considering all of this, I decided at the beginning of the semester to switch one of my courses and opted for one that would allow me the ability to work in schools in Florence teaching English. I wanted to be able to get more in tune with Italian culture that went beyond the superficial, like the sites and food.  Two weeks ago was my first class. I have taught in course assistantships before and tutored children in a community inner-city after-school program in Boston. However, I found I was nervous like I had not done this before. The children I am working with range from ages 10 to 13. By far it was the most positive experience I have had in Florence. There is a reason why I am so heavily involved in education because it set the precedent for the future.  Gen z is tapped into resources and in information that even I was not able to access because everything is transparent. They have the ability to shift and interpellate cultural and societal discrepancies we are only just coming to uncover.

Moreover, these students have an energy and curiosity for getting to understand each other on a human level that makes them able to transcend language barriers that a lot of adults would not even attempt to overcome. I can say that I am learning a lot from those who are younger than me.   

I realized that what is most important to me is to gain knowledge about the human experience because I do not live in the world alone. I want to bring that with me to the states and the work I continue there.

A combination of this experience and conversations with mentors have provided me the ability to identify that I really need to spend time on self-care and focusing on me. Then I am able to create work better work that I relate too.


Here are some links if you want more content on some of the themes I am referencing.


The Humming Bird by Love Vdo

When I was a child, I was taught the story of the hummingbird. It went something like this: Once there was a forest fire that drove all the animals out. They stood watching the fire burn their home. Then the hummingbird seeing a river decided to take a drop of water and put it on the fire. The hummingbird did this over and over again. The other animals watched the hummingbird do this and said why do this you can not put out the fire. You are too small. The hummingbird answered I am doing the best I can. The other animals saw this and decided to join in and together they put out the fire.

What I learned is that when work is one in a collective effort true change happens. I want this to reflect in everything I do.

So this spring break I took a course in Eco- Friendly Textiles and Design.I am interested in working in fashion and textiles but I also know that the Fashion Industry is very complicit in pollution. The fashion industry is the largest contributing franchise to pollution. There are initiatives that have been made to shift this but still human right issues. Rana Plaza is a prime example of this. 1138 people when a factory in Bangladesh collapsed. This was Rana Plaza Factory and many companies that a lot of people know of had their products made there.  Much of these problems are a result of Fast Fashion post-industrial revolution.


Knowing this, I want to be mindful of the work that I do and design. This also means that I need to advocate for Fair Trade and worker rights. Globalization consequently produced a demand for more, faster and cheaper. What is unfortunate is that certain regions benefit while others starve. In the seminar, we focused on this problem and looked at other alternatives.

As of currently, we can completely erase our carbon footprint however it can be greatly reduced. Alternative materials are definitely better for the environment. We need to think about things like recyclability, biodegradability, and sustainability. For My project this coming week I'll be creating two collections. I'll be upcycling materials to create a garment. I'm focusing on upcycling materials and using bulk fabric that is often discarded if there is no use for it.

It can be difficult for young people to afford what would be considered more sustainable and Fast Fashion industries like H&M and Forever 21 provide what people want at a premium price. However, the market controls what producers make and a conscious effort despite what the impact you think you may have is working like a hummingbird.

Links to look at.



Modeling Modo Design by Love Vdo


At the beginning of the semester I met Gaia Poli, who happens to be the head of the Fashion Department at FUA. Gaia manages Fly (Fashion Loves You) the vintage shop. She asked me if I would be willing to model and I said yes.

This past Tuesday, Fly and its student interns helped organize a fashion show for a local designer here in Florence. The designer was Modo Design I modeled for this event along with 4 others. We as models had a two week preparation before the actual event along with a final rehearsal the day of. The initial fitting I had to try on the outfits and then had my walk recorded so they could determine where to position me in the show. For the show they wanted a casual video and image someone from New York.  There was no smiling and the point was to be focused on the end rather than the people taking photos. To put it in Gaia’s words, we had to ‘’act like a warrior who is resting’’. For the show they designed a task for each of us to complete when we reached the end of the “runway.” My task was going to be to walk a dog and feed it biscuits but in the end I had to undo a flower bouquet of Lilies and then arrange them in a vase before going to the end and helping build a pyramid of boxes.


On the day of the show I had to come in early to get my makeup done. The makeup artist was Veronica and she was Italian. I asked her about how she got into makeup and she told me how she studied in london under someone as an apprentice and at an academy till she ended up joining a group of artists. The group has over 30 artist and they travel around Tuscany doing makeup. Usually, their clientele consists of brides. Veronica said she would get married in Tuscany because it is just so gorgeous.


After makeup I got into my outfit which consisted of a skirt, top, and shall. For accessories I wore a bum bag and a necklace. My favorite two pieces where the dress for Katie’s outfit and the pants from Frieda’s. Frieda wore the only outfit with trousers and I just loved the pocket detail the designer incorporated. I am not usually a fan of dresses personally but I like the pattern and cut and sew quality of the garment Katie  wore and it was simply accessorized.


What I enjoyed the most was being able to learn about the designer and how things are organized for a show. They were  so nice and even made each of the models a gift! I was so surprised and from my past experience it was not something that really happened in the states. I had modeled before for designers in Boston like Janea Couture and Erin Robertson but it was cool to do it in Florence in a new environment.  


Visit Fly to see theri vintage collection and right now they have pieces from Modo Design in stock for purchase.




International's Women's Day by Love Vdo

This week was International Women's Day. To celebrate m museums in Florence opened It  themselves up for free admission. It also happened to be the warmest day out so far which was great because just the week before it was snowing  I decided to visit Basilica of Santa Maria Novella. I had seen the back of the Basilica many times while taking the train at the only train station which happens to be named after the church in Florence, but I had never actually seen inside of the Basilica. The church has a museum inside dedicated to it. It  houses various different art works and Relics.The more precious works are the frescoes that were done on cloister cloth. What I understood after visiting the exhibit is that much of the work has gone through various different trials being that in 1966 there was a flood that damaged a lot of the chapels facade and frescoes. Because of this there have been various different initiatives put in place to maintain the artwork and restore it to its its previous condition. Where was most surprised about was actually how large the Basilica is. It has to Courtyard Chapel Tower and the Architecture is absolutely amazing.


The current building is actually built on top of another church that had been taken down and rebuilt to look like what you would see currently today if you go to visit. The church also has tombs dedication to various different highborn Florentines who were able to afford it. I would suggest that if you are visiting Florence you should not miss this opportunity even though it may not be the most obvious place to visit on your destination like the Duomo.

Fashion Week by Love Vdo

One of the positive things about studying abroad in Europe, especially Italy, is that you are in a region of the world that you may have not been able to explore yet. It may be your first time by yourself traveling without it being a trip led by either your parents or  program. You have an opportunity to dictate where you go and what you see.



While in florence I am taking some fashion classes and in one of my courses I made friends with a classmate. She had mentioned that she had always wanted to visit milan and I felt the same and Fashion week was coming up as well. We decided to plan a trip and organized all the details. If you are going to be traveling it is important to do some research on where you are going. Lodging, meals, and transportation are obvious to planning. However, it could be more complex if not done right. Milan is a large city so luckily there was public transportation that was easily accessible and transit ticket machines also allow you the option of switching the language. Food was also easy to come by but we had specific goals for the trip and did not want to overspend especially, since we were relying on public transit to get around the city. We used an app. You could use something like Moovit. It provides times and outlines your navigation by public transit. It makes things much easier. Lastly we stayed in an Airbnb. It was in Parabiagio a suburban area outside of the city. However, we planned and checked if it was close to public transportation to get into the city because we knew we did not have a car. I recommend getting an app like Moovit. It's great at providing information on public transit in whatever city you are visiting.


We went for 2 days and 1 night. The first day we visited a showroom for Fashion week. We met some really nice people also visiting for fashion week that were from Madrid, Stockholm, Turkey, France, and more. The next day we hit spots like the Duomo, Galleria, Triumphal Arch, and another showroom featuring brands like Zibra, Musher, Bamboo, Sira Milano and more. I liked Sira Milano’s collection overall and Musher because of its accessibility. I could see anyone incorporating one of their pieces into their wardrobe naturally.


Sira Milano’s capsule was pastel and transitions from day to night parallel white and black and pink and red as counterparts. Musher primarily focuses on outerwear specifically leather jackets. While I could see Sira Milano played out traditional as feminine Musher aligned itself more androgynous.


Overall, this was a great experience and networking opportunity. I was able to meet the designers of the brands and I plan on attending New York Fashion week for Spring Summer.