Wow. What a whirlwind. Literally. I think that everyone can agree that the defining aspect of Art Basel 2015 was the constant, torrential, gloomy, beautiful, stormy, windy weather. As an LA gal, I was having a bit of an internal struggle with accepting the wet and soggy elements. It was totally ruining all my amazing outfit plans!! But, I hadn’t been in real thunder and lightning rain storms in a very long time, so it was actually pretty magical. You could definitely feel the electricity in the air.
When we arrived in Miami, it was overcast, but the rain was holding off for the moment. We sat in the courtyard of our hotel, the Freehand Miami, and ordered some delicious punch and some falafel wraps that really hit the spot after a pretty brutal red eye flight (with a 5AM connection in Dallas - not highly recommended) across the country. The Freehand is a pretty unique spot in Miami, as it doesn’t subscribe to the typical South Beach aesthetic. Instead of a massive white marble lobby, you enter into a cozy common area, complete with barista station and Mexican blankets draped over just about everything. It felt more like a scene out of SXSW than swanky South Beach Miami, but vibes were great. A corkboard was hung with the week’s events tacked up as well as a homemade, glitter and pom pom adorned sign which read ‘Art Camp’. This definitely seemed like the spot where young artists and Miami hipsters were most at home.
Elise in Valfré at The Freehand Miami
After getting settled in our room, we put on some cute, colorful looks and headed out to find the art! We headed south and came across the front lawn of the Bass Museum. A giant deer and a bright red crescent which slightly resembled lips caught our eye before we got caught in the first of many rainstorms that weekend. We hopped in an uber and made our way to meet up with one of our close friends and unofficial Mayor of Miami, Jacques Smith. He was staying with resident artist Aileen Quintana who had transformed her entire apartment into a livable installation. From astroturf floors to painted ceilings and towers of tvs in the bathroom, the whole place was a playground for inspiration (and instagram photos). A little defeated by the rain, Aileen’s place breathed some new life into our very tired and jet lagged veins and we decided to soldier on in the name of art and check out the Pulse Art Fair.
Jacques and Aileen at her Open Art House
Quick side note, as an Art Basel first timer, I wasn’t exactly sure which shows to check out and where they even were, so my time in Miami this year was primarily just getting a lay of the land and checking out what we could find. Pulse was the only tented art fair we ended up attending and I thought it was pretty great. Granted, I didn’t have anything else to compare it to, but there were a lot of pieces I was inspired by, some I thought were pretty meh, and a couple I was head over heels in love with. The stand out for me at Pulse was artist Joaquin Trujillo who captured everyday objects with a slightly twisted and mildly repulsive tone but ultimately creating hypnotizing, beautiful images. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about his work since. Another highlight of Pulse was the wall of 200+ two sided trolls that spun around to mimic the shape of your body as you passed by. I mean seriously? Who doesn’t love trolls? And an army of them? Dead.
Army of trolls
Feeling like we got our fill of art for the day, we started the walk back to the Freehand to get ready for the nights festivities. You’ll never guess what happened on our walk back… it started pouring!! We bought a couple shitty umbrellas and braved our way down the flooded Miami sidewalks back to home base. We had a little trouble feeling inspired when getting ready, as literally ALL the clothes we brought were light and silky pieces fit for balmy Miami nights. What we were facing was pretty much hurricane weather to us LA folk. After slathering a nice, thick layer of Major Moon Shine gold glitter all over our bodies (and for me, all over my face) we started to feel better and get into the groove. The rain had even let up so we headed out on the town with a renewed sense of excitement!
Jenelle at Pulse
Our first stop was Basement, the club at the Miami Edition, to see one of our favorite DJ duos, Horsemeat Disco, who were playing some records with Giorgio Moroder. To be honest, it was a shit show. The dance floor was so crowded you could barely move, but everyone was in a great mood so it did little to dampen the vibe. If you stepped outside to have cigarette, you were undoubtedly going to get soaked, so everyone was packed inside and living life to the fullllllest. After a few hours and about 10 drink tickets later, we decided to make moves and check out the Life and Death party at MANA over in the Wynwood area. I’m not sure what that space is used for normally but it was basically and airplane hangar sized room that had been turned into a festival-meets-mega-club vibe. The music was some of the best techno I’ve heard in a while and spirits were high. We stayed until things started winding down at 5AM and decided to keep the night going at the Electric Pickle which was apparently nearby.
Our Miami Mayor Jacques assured us the walk wasn’t bad and we opted to skip out on the 4.9x surge rate Uber was offering us and make the trek ourselves. In 6” gold glitter YRU platforms. Super smart. And then… it started raining!!! So fun guys. So, so fun. Let me tell you, that walk felt like we were walking clear across the entire city of Miami and then when we got there… it was just closing and we were redirected to another club. At that point I was pretty much soaked, my feet were about to fall off and I was more than ready to call it quits, but I was encouraged not to lose hope and give this next place one last shot. We decided any Uber, even five times the normal rate, was worth it and high tailed it over to a place called Libertine. And Im so glad we did because you guys, it was SO FUN. The club was just starting to fill up when we arrived… so our group of sexy ladies sat down at a prime table that seemed to be open. After a few minutes, we were told that if we wanted stay there, we would have to buy a bottle… so we balled so hard and ordered wine bottles to the table for $40 each. And then proceeded to have the coolest all girl table at the club getting wine drunk at 5:30 in the morning. No boys were allowed at our table unless we said so. Duh. Ive never felt more bo$$y in my whole life you guys. It was definitely a true Kelis moment. Finally, at 9AM we decided we should probably go home and try to get some rest, so we gathered the crew and waited (in the rain, of course) for our Uber. Pretty good start to the trip if you ask me.
Alexandra in Valfré (photo Nick D’Orazio)
After our Friday morning nap, we woke up and got ourselves ready for The Well pool party (which had actually turned into an indoor house party vibe at the Broken Shaker, thanks to, yep you guessed it, the rain.) My partner in glittery crime, Elise Welch aka Cocodisco, was DJing the party so we spent what was left of our (late) morning putting together chic, rainy Miami disco looks from the bits and pieces of hot and spicy pool party outfits we had initially planned. Once appropriately clothed and covered in glitter, we made our way over to the venue where we spent the entire day shaking our booties on the dance floor and drinking (all) the amazing pink punch. The Broken Shaker is known for their innovative mixologists and downright delicious cocktails so we were in a cozy, boozy, disco heaven. They garnished the punch with this crazy herb from their garden called cranberry hibiscus mint (I think) and it totally blew my mind. If you can find it, I highly recommend trying that shit out! The punch was definitely working its magic and I was dancing around the whole place, telling everyone to ‘call me on my shell phone’ à la Drake while waving my Valfré Shell Phone case around in the air. By the end of the day, everyone was singing it with me and feeling very on theme for Miami.
‘You used to call me on my Shell Phone…”
There were also some really cool bad ass lady vendors at the event that I fell in love with. One babe from NYC was named Farrah and she was selling her dope AF capsule collection with Modern Vice called the Donna Summer. Its basically a line of metallic, disco/festival/every day/every night boots for the modern dancing queen. With a few different ankle heights and sole options, I swear there is a variation for every single girl on this planet. Of the local vendors, there was a little cutie named Kristin Marino who brought some of her pretty awesome geometric metal and natural stone jewelry pieces. Everyone was trying everything on and feeling like real Studio 54 divas all day long. We spent the last hour of the event having a big dance party to the musical stylings of Mr. Navid Izadi of Crew Love, before we had to dip out and head to the next event.
A few months back, Cocodisco and I had been part of a very wild, almost surreal experience in the LA area that involved a lot of beautiful, talented babes and Ellen von Unwerth capturing the whole thing. She titled the series ‘Wilden' and was debuting it for the first time at a house not too far from our hotel. The rain had let up for the time being so we walked over, had a few drinks, caught up with friends and checked out the artwork. The images were absolutely stunning, as Ellen’s work always tends to be, and truly captured the raw energy that we all remembered from that incredible evening. Eager to get our night going (and put new outfits on, now that the rain had stopped!) we made our way back to our hotel and got ready for Miami nights, round 2. After a few more glasses of punch and a quick but necessary photo sesh, we grabbed an Uber back to Mana (that airplane hanger-y place) to see Jamie XX. Jamie played a great set - and eclectic mix with a bunch of crowd faves thrown in - and of course brought his GIANT disco ball along for the festivities, which rained multicolor sparkling light down upon us all night. We stayed for a couple songs into the next artist’s set, but our energies were dwindling and we wanted to cruise by the Electric Pickle before heading home for the night.
Navid Izadi playing at the Broken Shaker
Surprisingly, the rain had actually let up for the evening and we deiced that walking over there that night might not be so bad (plus Ubers were about 5.9x surge so… yeah.) Our walk could not have been more different from the night before. It seemed like EVERYONE was out on the streets of Wynwood. Music was playing from tents, store fronts, people’s cars - its was like a giant block party. The energy was vibrant and people were living for warm, dry-ish weather. When we got to the Pickle, the dance floor was pretty empty but the disco was
A few months back, Cocodisco and I had been part of a very wild, almost surreal experience in the LA area that involved a lot of beautiful, talented babes and Ellen von Unwerth capturing the whole thing. She titled the series ‘Wilden' and was debuting it for the first time at a house not too far from our hotel. The rain had let up for the time being so we walked over, had a few drinks, caught up with friends and checked out the artwork. The images were absolutely on fire. Some of the best disco i heard all weekend actually. Unfortunately I didn’t get the name of the DJs playing but it was two guys going back to back and I was loving every minute of it. I finally reached a point where my big toes and third toes on each foot were completely numb from all the walking, dancing and platform wearing and figured it would be in my best interest for the rest of the trip if I called it quits for the night.
Colorful Wynwood Walls against a gray sky
Street art style painting in Aileen’s Open Art House
Saturday was another grey and rainy day but we weren’t going to let that stop us! I met up with my friends Jenelle Oldham and Nick D'Orazio and we decided to go check out the Wynwood area during the day. The energy had been so great there the night before! We’d also heard from several people that Wynwood is the up and coming area in Miami with lots of awesome street art covering the walls and young artists featured at the fairs and galleries. The rain made it difficult to just wander around like we had planned, so after a bit we decided to grab a snack and a drink and regroup. Running from the latest downpour, we found a Peruvian spot called GK Bistronomie that looked like it would do the trick. Everywhere was a hectic Saturday morning brunch fiasco but GK was calm and peaceful. We waited out the rain with tequila drinks and appetizers and when the rain let up, we headed out to finally see the Wynwood walls. It was actually really energizing to be surrounded by all the colors and stories painted on the walls, especially juxtaposed with the endless grayness of the skies. I found an amazing wall with titties all over it and thought it would be the perfect spot to snap a photo with my Valfré look. We popped in and out of galleries along the roads, but didn’t really see too much to write home about. The street art was definitely the highlight for us. As the rain started to pick up again, we grabbed and Uber and head back over towards South Beach to stop by the Galore party.
Alexandra Mandelkorn in Valfré in front of the Wynwood walls
We walked in the house where the Galore party was being hosted right as Jaden Smith got on stage to perform. It was pretty crazy in there so we didn’t see too much but it sounded like people were pretty into it. Everyone’s favorites badass Granny Ms. Baddiewinkle was hosting the party, as she was the calendar girl for the Dec issue. I was actually the one who styled her for the shoot, so I was very excited to see her and her great grand daughter Kennedy. They are such nice ladies! After catching up with Baddie and Kennedy, we shook our booties to some hip hop on the dance floor and then snapped a few photos at the photo booth - typical party stuff. It was beginning to get dark and we had the whoooooole night ahead of us so off we went back to the Freehand.
Saturday night was our last in Miami, but boy was it a good one. It was an all out Crew Love party at the Electric Pickle with Nick Monaco, Navid Izadi, Pillow Talk and more, hitting the decks from 11PM until almost 6AM in the morning. Apparently, Crew Love has been playing the Electric Pickle for years, so it definitely had the vibes of a family affair. Everyone knew each other and were getting down under a half-dome disco ball surround by arcade lights. Spirits were at an all time high, outfits were on point and everywhere you looked people were dancing and laughing and partaking in the magic of the night. We stayed until the very end of the party, hugged all our new and old friends goodbye with promises to return next year, and headed toward the beach, for our last morning in Miami.
Baddiewinkle and Jacob Dekat
Alexandra in Valfré, Baddie and Kennedy
The weather that morning was wild. Its was SO windy but thankfully, no rain anywhere in sight. In fact, it even looked like the sun was trying its hardest so stab through the thick, grey, billowy clouds. The water was a milky, teal blue from all the white sand churned up by the choppy waves. We lay in the beach for a while, exhausted but happy, reminiscing on the past few days and laughing at the ridiculous things we had experienced. We probably would have laid there forever had the hunger pangs not set in. Dragging ourselves off the sandy beach, we made our way back to the Freehand, packed up our things and headed off to to what was probably our nicest dining experience: brunch at the Edition. We snuggled into the deep, plush cushions of the outdoor patio area, ordered a couple Bloody Marys and watched the palm trees sway in the wind. By the end of brunch, the sun had made some real headway at breaking up those clouds so, for our final few hours in Miami, we actually got to lay on the beach and bask in the sunshine we had been so desperately missing. I frolicked along the beach in my Valfre Butterfly dress and splashed around in the warm, blue water. It was the perfect way to end our first year at Basel.
Alexandra at the beach in Valfré (photo Jenelle Oldham)
Even though the weather definitely put a damper on some of our best laid plans, Miami still left me inspired, invigorated and ready to explore even more next year.