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Things I Learned From Instagram This Week

…that I really must get myself down to DIFC’s newly-opened Firebird Diner to stuff my face with their Elvis French Toast, comprising peanut butter, caramelised bananas and lemon creme. Worthy of the name by the sounds of things.

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Discovered via @jadestyledirector

…that Hannah Al Rasekh is my newest crush – in many, many ways. Wardrobe, mainly. See also: life/ career/ interiors. If it sounds creepy, it’s because it is.

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Discovered via @hannahrasekh_official

…that a Cereal Killer Cafe is opening in Dubai – next month, no less. I can’t imagine it will incite riots in quite the same way as it did in Old Street, but I might get a bit lairy if they run out of chocolate milk and marshmallow toppings.

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Discovered via @cerealkillercafe

…that Rough Rugs is my new favourite way to spend money I don’t have. The Rotterdam-based brand do a mighty fine line in keffiyeh dresses, printed bomber jackets, customised army coverups (like the one in the holding picture above) and even some pretty sweet woven pillows and rugs too.

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Discovered via @roughrugs

…that @shesvague is the new @gabriel_held. MARK MY WORDS, the perma-tanned, Juicy Couture-d, supremely bedazzled heydays of Paris, Nicole and X-tina Aguilera are on their way back, in no small way pioneered by NYC stylist Gabriel Held and, my newest obsession, She’s Vague. She describes herself as a bored, wealthy housewife living in Melbourne although I’m not entirely sure she’s not actually just me using the other 90% of my brain whilst I’m asleep.

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Discovered via @shesvague

Cake Stalking. It’s A Thing, Trust Me

From beards to shoes to beaches, my Instagram stalking trajectory has been both complex and cerebral at the best of times. I think I’ve finally settled on a last obsession, however. Cake. (Or, to paraphrase Rihanna, cake cake cake cake cake cake cake cake cake cake). There are so many talented bakers out there – Sydney seems to be a particular hub – but here are the top 12 that are giving me scrolling RSI. And I don’t even mind.

Un-Birthday Bakery

Look at this beautiful beast below. Just LOOK AT IT. Popcorn, gold leaf, bits of Twix bar, iced gems, petals, flowers, hundreds and thousands… This must be what happiness looks like.

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Katherine Sabbath

Like the above, Katherine’s also based in Sydney and describes herself as a ‘dessert creative’. Possibly the best job title in the world, no? Also: I would live in her fridge.

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Lily Vanilli

An established name on the cake scene, Lily Vanilli has been making me fatter but happier since 2008. I’ll no doubt be poorly attempting to make these glittery cherry cupcakes at some point in the near future.

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California Donuts

From Fruity Pebbles to m&m’s and dried fruit, you name it and California Donuts have shoved it on one of their joyous confections and sent it out into the world to make all our lives better.

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Drake On Cake

The internet melted when it got wind of New Orleans-based @joythebaker’s offshoot Instagram account, Drake On Cake. Simply, she pops his lyrical stylings onto baked goods and we all go nuts. Understandably.

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Studio DIY

A little ray of sunshine pon de internet, LA’s Kelly Mindell makes cushions and costumes alongside sweet treats, and she deserves recognition just for the fact that she’s managed to combine two of my favourite things: breakfast, and cake.

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Fondant Fox

Working out of East London, Carla Fox’s creations are witty and pretty and eye-poppingly beautiful all at the same time. Round of applause for these killer strawberries below, please.

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Again, based in Sydney (maybe there’s something in the water out there), Nathan makes candy-coloured fairy floss and fashions it into fantasy desserts. Unicorn Poop Macaron, anyone?

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Vicky’s Doughnuts

Anyone who shoves a cocktail umbrella in a doughnut and calls it a party is a-ok in my book. Vicky’s East London Donutterie has not only done that, but also pizza slice-shaped versions and the ultra-pretty pastel ones below.

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Cakes by Cliff

“Sydney office worker by day, cake decorator by night.” Cliff, you not only make my mouth water, but you make me wonder what I would choose if I were to begin moonlighting.

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The Purple Cupcake

Who knows if I would eat it if actually ever faced with one of The Purple Cupcake’s mini masterpieces. I might just stare at it for hours instead.

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Bakedown Cakery

Best name ever, right? Also in Sydney, also responsible for half of the fancy-pants cakes on the internet, Bakedown Cakery’s Jen describes herself as a ‘merriment maker’. How can you not fall for that?

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5 Dubai Brands Whose Instagrams You’ll Love

When I first moved from the cultural hotbed that is the Holloway Road out into the desert, I did wonder if it marked the end of my life tripping over East End pop-ups and smugly showcasing niche bracelets made in a mate of a mate’s airing cupboard. (Note: to my knowledge, I have never actually worn a bracelet made in an airing cupboard. But I like to think that if I had wanted to, it would have been easy to procure).

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My point is, I thought that moving to Dubai would be the exact opposite of this; devoid of any emerging local talent, with the only brands able to take root in such an arid sandscape being the ones able to water themselves – the likes of Prada, Gucci, Saint Laurent etc. And while the big boys have certainly stamped their authority all over the malls, happily, there’s life outside them too. Mostly on Instagram. I found these five running riot on social media, proving that a) we’ve got serious game and b) days of my life spent zoned-out and scrolling have not gone to waste.

All Things Mochi (@allthingsmochi)

Artisan embroidery, Bardotesque off-the-shoulder tops and pom poms for days, Mochi founder Ayah Tabari has cornered the market on “Oh this? I just picked it up in a market in Goa” chic. Not only does the brand have legs (ASOS bought it, then Harvey Nichols-Dubai), but its Insta is a guaranteed jolt of sunshine.

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Gaelle Khouri (@gaellekhourijewellery)

So Gaelle is technically based in Beirut (still Middle East!) but I’m commandeering her as one of our own. Especially since it was marvellous, Dubai-based bag designer Nathalie Trad (also her sister-in-law) who told me about her. Although I’d been following her on Insta already because I’m clever like that. Gaelle’s high-end jewellery comes with a dark side and I am more that ok with it.

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SOH Art + Beauty (@sohdubai)

Shop-gallery-salon hybrid Soh is exactly what Dubai needs more of. Things that pleasingly aren’t really sure exactly what they are but they’re going for it full throttle anyway because who needs restrictions, man? Have your hair dyed purple whilst some chancer* paints your Birkin with a jaunty slogan.

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*probably not a chancer. More likely to be an exceptionally talented pop artist who’s a dab hand with a paintbrush.

Tales Of Rebels (@talesofrebels)

Ok, this one I have a confession attached to. I didn’t actually find them on Instagram, they found me. But thank God they did, cos otherwise I would have never met the incredibly charming and impossibly cool founder, Camilla. She’s also the first woman who convinced me that I could rock an abaya. A leopard-print one, mind, but still.

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Hussein Bazaza (@husseinbazaza)

Another Beirut baby, Hussein has just won the Arabia fashion prize for awesomeness. It’s always encouraging to see a high-end ready-to-wear designer coming out of the region – someone with formal fashion training, a real in-depth knowledge of their craft and a completely fresh eye that has the potential to take them the whole distance. Someone like Elie Saab, for example, who – incidentally – Hussein used to work for. It’s about time we had a new-gen Elie, and my money is definitely on this young man.

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