My stay in Taipei was a joy — because I got to experience this modern boutique hotel, Humble House. The design reflects the mix of busy city life and lush nature that is unique to Taiwan.
What better place to debut this mint-colored lace dress, sent to me by Nanette Lepore? Let’s give it a twirl!
Humble House opened last December, making it one of Taiwan’s newest hotels. The design has a sleek grey aesthetic, but without feeling stark or robotic. Quite the opposite: it puts the focus on organic forms and green spaces, like this sky garden.
The outdoor pool has a perfect view of Taipei 101, formerly the world’s tallest building. This district, Xinyi, is the center of government and business. I recommend staying around this area, since it’s central and near some of the hippest bars (which I’ll show you soon).
Inside, the choice of contemporary art is inspired by the Tagore quote, “Let Life be Beautiful like Summer Flowers.” These works ponder the relationship between nature and civilization, expressing them through modern mediums.
My first impression of Humble House was this ground floor installation, custom-created by Paul Cocksedge. Suspended from the high ceiling, these electroluminescent sheets twirl in the wind, as if I threw them in the air.
Outfit details: NY-based designer Nanette Lepore sent me this Beach Breeze dress from her summer collection. I love the lace overlay and elegant high neckline, and this mint color is my current favorite.
My shoes are Camper Allegra sandals.
In most hotels, you hardly remember the art on the walls. That’s not the case at Humble House, which has thought-provoking works like these by Yang Yongliang. They seem to be photos of flowers, but if you look closely, the parts are made up of skyscrapers, highways and other city life.
Climbing the stairway to heaven. The angles turn it into an M. C. Escher vision.
This trippy LED piece, by Polish artist Piotr Uklanski, makes it seem like you’re staring down into a black hole. In fact, it’s an optical illusion and the work is only a few inches tall.
Much of the art has a sense of fun, like Paola Pivi’s “Crazy Ball,” made from miniatures of famous chair designs.
Taipei is known for its food, and some of my favorite meals were at their Italian restaurant, La Farfalla.
We wanted to join in the fun: so photographer Ken “hacked” the breakfast buffet! He gathered ingredients — honeycomb, ice cream, beets, Asian fruits — and concocted this dessert plate. He even made his own eggs Benedict and Hollandaise sauce, from items found in the buffet.
Lunch at Farfalla is a semi-buffet, meaning that you order a main, but build your own appetizer plate from the generous spread…
… which includes seafood, cheeses, salads and of course desserts.
As for the mains, the photos speak for themselves. This is steak with a potato block and basil oil drip.
I died over the pan-seared Hokkaido scallop with sea urchin risotto. Oh, creamy glory.
A healthier option: Dover sole with caper basil and cherry tomato.
And braised Australian beef cheek, with mashed potato. All photos by Ken Yuen and Jacqueline Kwok (noircorner).
On the terrace, I danced next to the butterfly statue by Zadok Ben-David. Called “Natural Tower”, the corten steel changes color as the temperature changes and time passes — making the butterflies seem alive, and in harmony with their environment.
“Peony,” by naturalist Sugiura Yasuyoshi, lets guests to get closer to nature, while staying in a cosmopolitan city.
Nanette’s dress is made for twirling in the lobby. You may be wondering: why is this fabulous place called Humble House? Asia has a culture of modesty, and the hotel focuses on unobtrusive service. Every need is taken care of, without fuss.
I loved staying at Humble House, a high-tech hotel full of soul. You must at least come up to the terrace for a cocktail, to take in this view.
Did you realize Taipei was so modern and design-oriented? I hope my travel posts continue to surprise you.
Coming up: I’ll show you the pop culture side of Taiwan, from Hello Kitty exhibits to apothecary bars…
Yikes, I’m extremely back-logged with blog posts… but they’ll come hot and heavy from now on, I promise.
Let’s go back in time, to our Wicked Grounds drag performance party. Then I’ll run through the best Gothic, alternative and LGBT nightlife in San Francisco. Sounds good? Strike a pose, vogue, and let’s go-go-GOTH.
You’ll recall that some of my best friends and I gathered in San Francisco over Memorial Day Weekend (you can read all our SF adventures to date).
We learned a big travel lesson: it’s extremely stressful to travel during this American public holiday, since the rest of the country is doing the same. Hotels were booked solid, traffic was choked up… It took far too many hours to pick up this birthday cake with a boot on it (don’t ask why) and drive the short distance to the venue.
Still, Die Schwarze Frau managed to get dolled up, and vamped in the alleyway before her big American debut.
We got to Wicked Grounds, the San Francisco kink cafe, and immediately felt at home. The space is a gathering-place for the alt community, and has regular events such as themed munches. Plus, they serve yummy food and drinks.
We took full advantage of the human-sized cage, and tested out the selection of floggers…
Die Schwarze Frau’s performance was tiger-fierce. She whirled around, screamed at skulls, stripped, and did drops to the ground. I’ll show you more photos from her Tokyo performance soon, and perhaps a video!
To open the show, Naomiyaki did spooky live drawings on bodies, such as an overturned bottle of poison. (She also took most of the photos in this post.)
Naomi asked the audience to participate and made body-art the spot, based on this girl’s personality. Thanks to everyone who came to our event, and to Wicked Grounds for hosting us: we loved meeting you, and hope to be back soon!
After, the shenanigans continued at Dark Shadows, a much-loved San Francisco Gothic night at Cat Club. Such a pleasure to meet many readers and friends at this event.
We’re quite the motley crew to party with. Can you spot in this photo: a bear, blood, Covenant, unicorns, Frankenstein?
The DJ played some of our favorite synth-Goth tracks, like Mylène Farmer’s Désenchantée. On the right: “Despite all my rage, I’m still just a… bat in a cage.”
If you aren’t ready to commit to a permanent tattoo, Goth body-art lets you be expressive for a night.
Things with Trevor got a bit blurry…
I’m wearing a hakama, or traditional Japanese skirt as seen on samurai. It’s a modern interpretation by J-Goth brand Despair.
The MUNI (San Fran subway system) was an easy way for us to club-hop. We weren’t in town for Death Guild at DNA Lounge (every Monday), but we managed to see Bianca Del Rio at Trannyshack. Remember this post about how we met the RuPaul’s Drag Race winner?
I adore retro culture — can can dancers, top hats, burlesque — so we stopped by an Absinthe Party to honor Autumn, the designer behind San Francisco’s Dark Garden Corsetry.
She was traveling to Paris to further study the art of corset-making. (Soon, I’ll do a post about the shops we visited in San Francisco, including vintage and Jpop boutiques).
We raised a glass of the green fairy, and bid her bon voyage.
On another night, we went to Bondage-a-Go-Go, held every Wednesday night at Cat Club. BaGG has been running for 21 years, and is a fixture in the “kinky, fetish-y, gothy, nerdy, punky, leather-y” San Fran scene.
Photos aren’t allowed unless you have special permission, so be assured this is a safe and private space for play. That night, we saw dungeon demos by people in masks, and Go-Go dancers in cages.
The only San Francisco nightlife that didn’t live up to our expectations… was the Castro gay district. Long lines, unfriendly bouncers, and a slightly dingy atmosphere. Stick to the Goth / alt scene, and the lively T-shack drag shows, and you’ll have a grand time in this city.
Have you experienced San Francisco’s clubs and bars? How do they compare to the scene in other cities?
If we missed out on anything in this round-up, let us know in the comments! Coming up: coverage from New York, Cape Town, Taipei, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul…
I don’t often do editorial photoshoots, with avantgarde hair and makeup… but when the opportunity arises, I go all out. Kirameki Magazine asked me to be the cover model for their 10th anniversary issue, and I brought in my talented Vancouver team to create these images.
I’m so happy with how the images turned out. All the credit goes to my team:
Kirameki is a fashion magazine with a theme for each issue. We interpreted “Asiatique” with makeup and styles from a variety of Asian influences.
This look is inspired by kawaii Harajuku anime-eyes, and Japanese street fashion. The two hair rolls almost look like cat ears — the look is very “me,” don’t you think?
I’m wearing a Moi-meme-Moitie graveyard dress (the print is called Sleeping Garden), bought in Tokyo. This brand was created by Mana, guitarist/leader of Malice Mizer and Moi dix Mois, if you aren’t familiar with it. I also wore this EGL (Elegant Gothic Lolita) dress to the LA Oscars party.
Ankle boots: hair stylist’s own
Tights: Jonathan Aston
We collected fresh flowers and placed them all around the bed. Downtown Vancouver’s Georgian Court Hotel generously let us shoot these images in one of their suites. (I previously reviewed this luxury boutique hotel; it’s one of my hometown favorites.)
The Georgian Court even let us shoot in their whirlpool, resulting in these dramatic underwater images!
Forever grateful to makeup artist Jennifer Little, who went into the water to help me float — or else I wouldn’t have managed these poses!
Stunning, the kabuki-like mask that she painted on my face.
Kimono robe: makeup artist’s own, a vintage silk number.
For the third look, I’m wearing a traditional sequined Chinese dress called a cheoungsam. I got it in an Asian fashion boutique.
My hair got some poof thanks to a 1980s crimper. The blue color, cut and styling are by Stephanie Hoy — ask for her at Avant Garde Hair in Yaletown, Vancouver!
Love the mood captured by Shimona Henry, who runs Pin Up Perfection in Vancouver. As the name indicates, she’s a pro at pin up and alternative portraits. She’s fast and fun to shoot with, and I’m excited to do more with her soon.
A behind-the-scenes peek at Jennifer, me, and Stephanie. Wish we could have had a slumber party at the Georgian Court.
Hugs for my team — I love how the photos and concept came together, and couldn’t have done this without you!
And thank you to Kirameki Magazine for honoring me with the cover. I hope you’ll order a copy of the magazine – both digital and print copies are available. You don’t want to miss the full spread and extensive interview with me, along with other inspiring Asia fashion features.
Which of these three styles do you like best? What do you think of these more dramatic looks on me?
Readers often ask me: “Where can I buy Jrock CDs and Visual Kei memorabilia in Tokyo?”
In this post, I’ll take you to some of my favorite musical haunts in Shinjuku: Book Off, Closet Child Mens, and Pure Sound. At the bottom of this post, you’ll find more info about J-rock stores in Harajuku and Ikebukuro.
My shopping partner of the day was Yukiro Dravarious, wearing signature purple and lots of kitty-cat influences.
Who says Goths can’t rock neon? The Japanese taxi in the back matches the look.
I hadn’t brushed out my curls yet, but this gives you a sense of the blue-green shaded color. The scarf is by Sex Pot Revenge, and the sunglasses are old ones by Salvatore Ferragamo.
We first stopped by Book-Off, which has various locations. One is located near the Southern Terrace and Shinjuku station south exit.
Inside, you’ll find tons of used music and magazines. We picked up recent copies of Kera and Gothic Lolita Bible, and Yukiro even found Malice Mizer cds for about $2 each!
We walked to the West side of Shinjuku station, and spotted these rock-style boys looking at music posters. Obviously, we were in the right place…
Here is a map of Closet Child Men’s; you may need to walk around a bit to find it.
On one side of the small store, you’ll find tons of J-rock and Visual Kei memorabilia, including special edition CDs and concert booklets. Many young people hang around, browsing for treasure, like this green haired girl.
Note: only the Men’s and Ikebukuro branches of Closet Child sell music as well as clothing.
On the other side, there’s a nice selection of Goth, punk and alternative men’s fashion. These brands include unisex ones like Super Lovers and Sexy Dynamite.
Right next door is Pure Sound, a Jrock-oriented music shop. When you see the giant posters of boys with teased colored hair and makeup, you’re there.
Pure Sound often has special events, such as band signings. If so, the shop may be temporary closed, and there could be a long lineup of fans.
All your favorite VK music is sold inside, like Penicillin, The Gazette, Golden Bomber and more.
Tip: pick up the free band flyers at the front of the shop. You can used these to decorate your walls.
A smaller rock music shop nearby also sells some used Lolita and Harajuku fashion.
The best place to shop for secondhand Goth Lolita Punk clothes, however, remains Closet Child. This is a snap of the upper “rock” floor of the Shinjuku location. (For more info about the various branches of CC, see my Tokyo shopping guide.)
I leave you with some close-ups of Yukiro’s cute accessories. A zombie doll…
… a cute faced plush cat.
Bright pink sneakers and mis-matched socks, a Harajuku staple.
Want more Jrock posts? Check out my collection of concert reviews including Dir en Grey, X Japan and Moi dix Mois.
There are also more Visual Kei merchandise stores in Harajuku; I’ve listed a few at the bottom of this comprehensive guide.
Which bands are currently on your playlist? Share your favorites with us in the comments!
Tons more Tokyo coverage coming right up — including the owl cafe, Heavy Pop Harajuku party and a horror themed bar. Be sure to add my Instagram for previews of my Asia adventures.