Cachet Boutique Shanghai: a swank, stylish design hotel in China.

cachet boutique hotel shanghai

China’s come a long way since the days of Chairman Mao. Today, Shanghai’s swank, and I was keen to see the changing city for myself.

Cachet Boutique Hotel invited my team and me to experienced the modern side of Shanghai. Let’s hop through the mirror, and find out what’s happening on the mainland!

luxury design hotels china

You know I love art hotels, so I was excited to team up with Cachet, a group known for its fashionable accommodations. A driver picked up my filmmakers and me from Pudong Airport, and the manager welcomed us at the door with a big bouquet of flowers. And he said those magic words: “We’ve put you in the biggest penthouse, with a full kitchen and bar.”

cachet hotel group

I couldn’t believe it: the lavish suite was 160 meters square. Enough room for a whole crew of pirates, and then some.

urbn shanghai hotels, cachet

But I was even more impressed by the way Cachet researched my interests, and left little surprises in my room to make me feel at home. I’m a fan of Miffy the bunny, so guess who was sitting in the throne chair. The stationery box even had Miffy pens, and a gift bag contained a Gothic mask and sunglasses.

shanghai art hotel

It’s the small things that show they really care for their guests. From left to right: fresh fruit and champagne, a studded leather teddy bear, and a DJ booth with an electronic music playlist.

house of harlow big sunglasses

The balcony gave me a view of the stylish street below. Cachet Boutique Hotel’s address is 931 West Nanjing Road — right by the Bund, French Quarter and lots of designer stores.

cameo crop top, shakuhachi skirt

I thought this outfit from West LA Boutique matched the mood of the space rather well. Their online shop (with a physical location in Dubai) keeps wowing me with their ever-changing selection of chic clothing and accessories.

I’m wearing House of Harlow 1960 Nicole style sunglasses, a black Cameo crop top, and a uniquely cut Shakuhachi skirt with sheer panels.

steelground shoes goth footwear

Matching the carpet are my Steelground Shoes. They’re masters of alternative footwear, and unlike some other alternative brands, these ones will last. You can see the detailing in the fabric and soles of these platforms.

shanghai penthouse suite

Cachet hotel had so much character. Originally, this was a building from 1920s Shanghai.

hotel balcony west nanjing road

I couldn’t believe this is China — it felt like Ginza in Tokyo. So clean and cosmopolitan. Right by the hotel, there were some of my favorite fashion stores including Izzue and Miffy (I’ll show you photos soon).

most expensive hotels shanghai

I’m a bit picky about interior design, and didn’t know what to expect from accommodations described as “classical Asian meets modern glam.” But as you can see, Cachet pulled it off.

design hotel shanghai china

The custom rugs and dark wood floors made the suite feel cozy.

interior design china

Above all: the art was awesomeAsian meets avantgarde, such as this tall frame by the door. (Longans are a local tropical fruit similar to the lychee.)

penthouse bedroom boutique hotel

Doesn’t this look like my own bedroom? That’s what makes a stay with Cachet such a joy. They personalize everything, even the art above the bed.

chinese anime girl, living doll

This almost could be a portrait of me. I tried to imitate the pose of the Gothic ball-jointed doll. 

gold bathroom, big bathtub

My filmmakers and I couldn’t get over this golden bathroom. “You could fit eight people in that tub!”

luxury shower hotel

Same goes for the King Midas shower.

modern art gallery shanghai

The entire hotel is art-focused. Cachet’s ground floor has an in-house gallery, hung with contemporary Chinese works.

上海 cool hotels

Most of these artists are young and use new mediums, like this visual installation by the doors.

ball jointed doll painting

However, my favorite painting remains the one above my bed. Here’s a closer look. The Goth Alice in Wonderland motifs are exactly my cup of tea.

leather teddy bear

And I love this leather bear on a hook: fetish meets cute. The manager told me his name is Tristan.

chinese street style, fashion blogger

We felt so inspired by the interior decor. Photography by Melissa Rundle, taken with a Sony A7 mirrorless camera.

west la boutique top, black skirt

I had fun matching my West L.A. Boutique outfit to the art.

shanghai modern apartment suite

Thanks to the staff for taking such great care of us, from bringing up sandwiches to drawing us maps to art districts.

entrance exterior cachet hotel

Cachet Group also has an eco-friendly URBN hotel in Shanghai, and is opening more locations soon. Can’t wait to experience their new property in Bangkok, Thailand. 

china dj turntables

DJ bunny party! You can find out more and make a reservation on Cachet Boutique Shanghai‘s website (they have 48 rooms, including 2 top-floor penthouses.)

rayli magazine, ray li china

Speaking of China… You may have noticed I’ve been doing more in this market recently. “Xie xie” to Ray Li magazine (the leading Chinese fashion publication) for interviewing me about beauty in the October 2014 issue.

flat nosed cat

Do you spy a smooshy-faced cat in the top left corner of the RayLi article? That’s my Scottish Fold — or as they say in Chinese, “jip yee mao”! More cute Basil Farrow photos on his cat blog.

china fashion travel magazine

Finally, a shout-out to Hong Kong Express Airways magazine, who just celebrated their first anniversary. I’ve been writing a travel column for them since they launched, and will keep doing so. Above is a scan from the last issue, featuring me and my Taipei-based friend Boris Tsai (蔡伯璽).

Have you been to Shanghai, or anywhere in China? What was your experience like? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments. Will share more from the city soon.

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Heavy Pop, Harajuku fashion club night! Tokyo Japan Halloween Goth parties.

types of harajuku fashion, style

Halloween 2014 is creeping closer… do you have your costume ready yet? How will you be celebrating?

If you’re in Tokyo, Japan for Halloween, there are a number of dark and alternative events this year. These include Midnight Mess’s 12th anniversary Goth dance party on Oct 25, and Tokyo Dark Castle Zombie Halloween on the same day. In OsakaFarplane Night is having a cabaret festival on Nov 1st.

But for Japanese spooky kids, Halloween is every day of the year! So every month, they congregate at Heavy Pop (へびぽ), a club night that celebrates cyber, Goth, Lolita, drag and other alt fashion tribes. As you can see from the group photo, it’s one colorful party.

tokyo club fashion, makeup

Heavy Pop changes its location and exact date each time, so check their Facebook for the next event (I’m not sure yet if they’re having a Halloween extravaganza). I went to the anniversary celebration at Hell’s Bar in Sangenjaya. The tiny space was packed, hence the face-fanning.

cute japanese costume girls, cosplayers

“Hebipo” generally takes place on the last Sunday of the month, around 3pm to 11pm (so that partygoers can take the last train home, as it stops running around midnight). Come here if you want to dance to Jpop while surrounded by youths, dressed in experimental-kawaii fashion.

japanese maid idols dancing, jpop singing

Each event features a roster of DJs and performers. I watched these two cute Japanese girls dressed as French maids, singing and dancing a frenetic “para-para” on stage.

へびぽ hebipo

One of the regular artists is… Yukiro, in his evil guise as drag queen Die Schwarze Frau! That’s reason enough to check out the club night, don’t you think?

crazy monster costumes japan

Most of the guests dressed in some sort of alternative street style like kawaii, fairy kei, or Gothic. I saw some wild makeup and hair in the crowd. This lizard-monster, made of full body rubber, gets my medal for “craziest costume.”

heavy pop, hell's bar

As you can see, there isn’t much room to make giant hand motions. Wear layers so that you can take something off if the room gets too hot. (Even the reptile took off his head at one point.)

harajuku club, nightlife

Everyone’s welcome at Heavy Pop, but I suggest you join the Jpop spirit of the party, and dress up. Wigs, crowns and hats add a fun touch.

japan photographer dj ray ochiai

Don’t forget to take a picture at the photobooth, and say hi to Die Schwarze Frau (she won’t bite) and organizer / DJ Ray Ochiai. He started this party a few years ago, and it’s built up quite the following.

cute japanese girl singing

You can’t help but smile at the theatrical performances on stage. The event alternates between DJ sets and performers.

independent stores tokyo fashion

The side of the room has a line-up of vendor booths, run by independent designers. Shop here for neon face masks and other oddities.

japanese living dolls

Light colors, lace and living-dolls abound.

funny famous japanese dj

Can you feel the energy of the music? All these images are by Said Karlsson — give him a shout if you need a photographer in Tokyo.

goth dancing

The drag theatrics of Die Schwarze Frau always get attention. Stand too close to the front, and you might get whipped by her flailing skirts.

harajuku eye makeup, horns hairstyle

Love the hair-horns, pink eyebrows and layers of eyelashes on this girl.

tokyo drag queen dancer

The queen in motion. DSF performs drag at other events in Tokyo, which you can see on her Facebook.

nanette lepore striped dress

I’m wearing a feathered crown from my friend King Vulcanus Levi (remember when we teamed up in NYC?) and a Nanette Lepore striped dress (here’s where you can purchase it.)

cross dress performer japan

Don’t you want to be at this fabulous club night too? Keep track of the next Heavy Pop party on their Facebook page. Entry fee varies; it’s generally 1500 yen and a drink if you RSVP on Facebook.

cute blonde asian girl

How do you like the Harajuku fashion and makeup featured in this post? Do you have Halloween plans yet?

If you’re in Tokyo in late October, be sure to check out the Gothic nightclubs and bars, listed here and at the top of this post.

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A Goth in Hot Weather: Philippines! West LA Boutique outfit, Wong Kar Wai neon lights.

ksubi sunglasses, multicolored hair

Goth Tropicana, here we go! I had a wonderful time in the Philippines. Fell in love with the people, beaches, food, and spectacular Pacific Cebu Resort.

What was I doing here? And how do Goths dress in hot weather? Read on for an electric outfit post featuring West LA Boutique. 

wong kar wai photoshoot

Perhaps you note a change in the image quality. I now have a Sony Alpha 7 (A7), a mirrorless DSLR camera. The full-frame sensor rocks, yet the body is half the size of a normal DSLR. Perfect for bringing on my travels.

For Love & Lemons Corset Mini Dress

sáv Hospitality brought my 2 filmmakers and me to the Philippines, to experience and showcase their newly-renovated Pacific Cebu Resort. I was also a judge in the Miss Scuba Philippines beauty pageant, which raises awareness about marine conservation.

steelground shoes, goth platforms

On Day 1, I danced around the pool in my fabulous Gothic lace-up heels, from Steelground Shoes. They’re a Portuguese alternative footwear brand, and I’m super impressed by the quality of their materials. You can check out their range of men’s and women’s shoes — creepers, furry pink boots and more — on Steelground’s site and Facebook.

tropical goth, philippines style

How can one pull off a darker look, in hot and humid weather? West L.A. Boutique came to the rescue, with round Ksubi sunglasses and a For Love or Lemons mini dress.

west la boutique fashion blogger

The dress has a corset-like boned top, but the lace material is light and airy, making it perfect for a South East Asian climate. The sunglasses have a retro-Goth feel. I completed the look with cross-top tights and the platform buckle heels.

Can’t wait to show you more of my outfits from West LA Boutique. They have a store in Dubai, and you can easily place orders internationally, from their site (brands include Boy London, Unif, Lazy Oaf.)

cebu city cars, traffic

On our first day in Mactan, we had to run to a store for an errand. Pacific Cebu Resort got us a driver, and he took us through the chaotic streets of Mandaue (one of the urban centers). So much to see, outside my window! Driving in the Philippines is an “anything goes” adventure, filled with the honks of horns.

philippines streets, jeepneys

Sidecars, jeepneys and motorcycles criss-crossed our path. Families of six piled into the back of a truck. Schoolgirls in long uniforms walked by, wearing pink backpacks. The words “authentic randomness” came to mind when we saw people barbecuing by the side of the road, and playing basketball with a hoop made from a tree.

cool round black sunglasses

Inspired by Cebu’s energy and color, we wanted to take images with a Wong Kar Wai night-time feel. 

ksubi bellatrix circular frame sunglasses

A lighting store created an interesting mood.

modern gothic clothing, model

(Photography by Melissa Rundle and Eric Bergemann.)

philippines sidecar, Auto rickshaws

As the sun set, we drove to the Mandaue city center. I wonder what type of street food they are selling here.

filipino cars, motorized tricycle

In the Philippines, traffic can get congested, so people travel on two or three-wheelers. These “motorized tricycles” or auto rickshaws are everywhere.

jeepney public transportation

Locals ride “jeepneys” as public transportation. These were originally converted from American military jeeps after the end of World War II. Today, these tricked-out, kitschy rides are a symbol of the Philippines. We saw a pink one with a demented Hello Kitty on the side. If a jeepney is filled to capacity, riders will stand on the back platform and hang on for dear life.

philippines driving motorcycles

Despite the “free for all” streets, we felt safe driving through Cebu. There’s a laid-back attitude here. No road rage.

colorful lights modeling

We passed by a “Ferrari” building, lit up with these neon lights. We couldn’t resist stopping here for an impromptu photoshoot.

wong kar wai lighting, composition

A perfect match for our Wong Kar Wai mood. Ever-changing neon lights, in saturated colors.

crazy lights architecture cebu

This is one of the best aspects of travel: even if you do research up to your nose, you’ll never really get a sense of a place until you’re actually there. As you explore, you’ll be hit by unexpected scenes and inspirations. Before coming to Cebu, I never thought we’d come across a sight like this.

bright nightclub wall

If you’re liking this outfit, you can check out more inspiration on West LA Boutique’s website (they’re constantly listing the latest arrivals — I’m eyeing their leather mini skirt).

ksubi bellatrix sunglasses

Florescent lights, Asia comes alive at night.

ferrari club, Philippines

The name and logo say “Ferrari”… but is this actually a luxury car dealership?

love or lemons corset dress

Not quite. This Wanted sign reveals what actually lies inside — a girlie nightclub. I wonder if I qualify as a “pleasing person?”

mandaue, jollibee

Onward to the city center, which has a church, park and a Jollibee — the fast food chain of the Philippines, with a big bee as the mascot.

tanduay white rum, calamansi

And finally, back to our home base, Pacific Cebu Resort. The staff went all out to welcome us, beginning with a green drink made from pandan leaves at check-in. Later, we had a tasty dinner that included adobo chicken and unlimited drinks. I’m a fan of trying local flavors, and adored the gin with calamansi (a local tart citrus), and fresh mango smoothie with Tanduay rum.

welcome dessert

For dessert, the waiter served this cute surprise! Pear, ice cream, caramelized cake —  it was delicious.

pacific cebu resort sav

Can’t wait to show you more from this Cebu paradise, including scuba, snorkeling and beach time.

purple green blue hairdye

Thanks to Stephanie Hoy at Vancouver’s Avantgarde Salon for this “oil slick” hair, a gradient of purples, greens and blues!

sav hospitality hotels cebu

For previews of my South East Asian travels and outfits, you can peek at my @lacarmina Instagram.

Have you ever been to the Philippines? How do you like my “Goths in Hot Weather” outfit of the day?

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Cool Seoul art districts: Itaewon & Dongdaemun! Leeum museum, Zaha Hadid design plaza.

rainbow top, colorful shirt

I heart Seoul! I dressed up like a rainbow bird, and flew through two of the artsiest districts: Itaewon and Dongdaemun.

Let’s go inside a spaceship-like design plaza, Lotte fashion mall, Samsung’s new Korean art museum

rainbow goth, fashion blogger

… and I’ll show you my “outfit of the day” along the way. I’ve truly been embracing colors lately. Show Me Your MuMu sent me this fabulous Hope Sunset top, with flowing sleeves. They make a pretty white ruffle top too.

x japan, madison square garden ny concert

But first, a quick announcement: X Japan are playing in NYC on October 11! This is the Jrock band’s first appearance in NY since 2010, and trust me, you don’t want to miss out. X Japan will be playing both new songs and hits from the past decades, like “Endless Rain.”

Tell all your friends, and pick up concert tickets here (Sat Oct 11, 8pm at Madison Square Garden in New York City). For a hint of the experience, check out my review of X Japan’s 2010 show in Vancouver.

itaewon Blue Square theater

Back to Seoul, Korea. I loved walking around the Itaewon district of Yongsan-gu. It’s filled with modern architecture and public art, like this Blue Square in front of the movie theater.

korean street art

My look fit right in with Illopetals’ bold character design.

seoul colorful mural, illopetals

The bunny and girl are depicted in a cute style, yet it’s distinct from Japanese “kawaii” aesthetics. There’s more of a street attitude in these works.

seoul subway doors, passengers

To get around, I rode the Seoul Metropolitan Subway. There’s a huge number of stations, forming a snake-like system. I found the metro rather slow, and the stops were not conveniently-placed… I often had to change trains several times, even to go between main areas like Hongdae and Itaewon. Be sure to allow a lot of travel time when you’re in Seoul.

inside seoul subway, metro

On the positive side, the subway cars are clean and high-tech. Near the tracks, I noticed cabinets filled with gas masks and oxygen tanks, in case of terrorist attacks!

korean schoolboys in uniform

All the passengers were polite and engrossed with their smartphones. I wonder what these Korean schoolboys were looking at.

modern avant garde korean art

Itaewon Station is a stop on the brown-beige Line 6. When I stepped out, I knew I was in a hip area: I spotted modern cafes, giant bird and bear sculptures, and murals like this one.

la carmina, korean mural

Although we didn’t visit it, there’s a part of Itaewon known as “Hooker Hill.” This area also has an underground gay nightlife, since LGBT culture still tends to be hush-hush in Korea.

seoul art district itaewon

I got in touch with DJ Plastic Kid, and he recommended some of his favorite hangouts in Itaewon. My friends and I walked a short distance, and arrived at…

Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art

… the LEEUM, or Samsung Museum of Art. (Address: 747-18 Hannam 2-dong.) This modern building is dedicated to Korean art, past and present — and believe me, it’s a must see.

삼성미술관 bubble sculpture

The Leeum’s courtyard has large-scale installations; it used to hold the Maman giant spider sculpture, and now has a tower of stainless steel bubbles.

Takashi Murakami statue, korea

Seoul loves futuristic design, and the museum interior reminded me of a space pod. There’s a cafe in the lobby (they serve a mean mocha and earl grey cake), and a Takashi Murakami sculpture of a girl, boy and puppy.

The first section houses traditional Korean art, from the Joseon and Goryeo dynasties. The museum design blew me away: the ceramics sit in stark boxes, and are illuminated to cast shadows that bring out their forms. Words can’t describe the powerful effect: these 13th century celadons looked like abstract grey-green pods from the future.

leeum art museum sculptures

Through these displays, the Leeum made me think of ancient artifacts in a whole new way. They felt just as modern as the high-tech pieces in the second section, which showcases contemporary Korean artists.

show me your mumu hope muami top

My mint and violet shorts, with frayed ends, are from Hyoma Izzue in Hong Kong. The blue-green hair color is by Stephanie Hoy at Avantgarde Hair, Vancouver.

itaewon restaurants, cafes

After, we walked around Itaewon and glanced inside the cute cafes. This one features a boy and his bunny. We stopped for a drink at Glamorous Penguin Cafe, which has penguin decor and statues inside.

Warning: drinks and baked goods are extremely sweet in Seoul. Ask for your smoothie or mocha to be made with less sweetener, or you’ll end up with a major sugar high.

Seoul Post Poetics art book store

DJ Plastic Kid also recommended Post Poetics, an art and photography bookstore. There were images of Patti Smith at the Chelsea Hotel, moving optical art, South African township portraits… I could have browsed here all day. Looks like I’m smiling at a book about film director Wes Anderson!

parc itaewon, korean restaurant

Time for dinner at Parc, a modern meets homestyle Korean restaurant that he also suggested. This type of interior decor is Itaewon to the max. (Address: 서울 용산구 한남동 743-1, Yongsangu, Hannamdong)

modern cool korean food seoul

Like with traditional Korean meals, the courses began with small plates of kimchi (fermented cabbage), pickled vegetables, and soup. We ordered jellyfish in cold wasabi sauce and it was pleasing to both the eyes and tongue.

bibimbap restaurant seoul

Parc makes a creative version of Bibimbap (the signature Korean mixed rice dish): spicy Denjang style, with river snails. I washed it down with Hallasan soju (clear white rice wine).

dongdaemun design plaza, ddp

Time to visit another space-disco district: Dongdaemun. The famous DDP (Dongdaemun Design Plaza), designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, glows like a spaceship.

seoul street fashion, kpop model

Standing in front of the curving metal pod, I thought, this is Neo-Seoul. This is why everyone is talking about Korea as the world’s most exciting high-tech destination.

dongdaemun plaza shops, design stores

Beam yourself in, and you’ll find yourself in the Design Lab, a collective of art and interior design shops. We also spotted a playroom full of colorful balls, but it was locked so I couldn’t take pictures…

dongdaemun interior, piano

The Design Plaza also has seminar rooms and lecture halls. Visitors are encouraged to tinker on this decorated piano. (I actually can play, and sight-read some Korean songs.)

seoul Zaha Hadid building

Not sure what this giant ball is for, but I did my best to find out.

lotte fitin dongdaemum shopping mall

Across the street is Lotte Fitin Fashion Mall, a shopping complex for the trendiest Korean clothing. The top floor holds Klive, where you can watch K-pop stars performing as holograms!

seoul fashion mall

Of course, I sat on the Devil throne outside Lotte Mall. Photography by Ken Yuen and Jacqueline Kwok of noircorner, who is sitting in the Angel chair.

dongdaemun food market

One more stop: the Dongdaemun Night Market. The stalls that sell hanbok (Korean traditional robes) and silks were closed. But the street food stalls were just opening up.

seoul korean food markets, vendors

So many characters here, preparing and eating food! This woman was remarkably nonplussed about taking photos. Ken and Jacky sat down for Korean pancake, and a set of sashimi.

trick art korea

Time to take the subway home. This man from Korea’s past needed a light, so I obliged. (This is an optical illusion image that people can pose with. Remember when I went to the Tokyo Trick Museum?)

blue hair korean girl, makeup

What an inspiring day! If you have limited time in Seoul, I recommend spending a day discovering these two design districts, as they are not far from each other.

kpop artists, painting

Seoul has become one of my favorite cities. Next, I’ll give you a tour of Hongdae and Myeongdong.

Did you know Korea was so future-pop and colorful? PS: if you’re in NYC, don’t forget to check out X Japan’s concert on Oct 11.

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