Category Archive for Fashion
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!
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.”
I couldn’t believe it: the lavish suite was 160 meters square. Enough room for a whole crew of pirates, and then some.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cachet hotel had so much character. Originally, this was a building from 1920s Shanghai.
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).
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.
The custom rugs and dark wood floors made the suite feel cozy.
Above all: the art was awesome. Asian meets avantgarde, such as this tall frame by the door. (Longans are a local tropical fruit similar to the lychee.)
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.
This almost could be a portrait of me. I tried to imitate the pose of the Gothic ball-jointed doll.
My filmmakers and I couldn’t get over this golden bathroom. “You could fit eight people in that tub!”
Same goes for the King Midas shower.
The entire hotel is art-focused. Cachet’s ground floor has an in-house gallery, hung with contemporary Chinese works.
Most of these artists are young and use new mediums, like this visual installation by the doors.
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.
And I love this leather bear on a hook: fetish meets cute. The manager told me his name is Tristan.
We felt so inspired by the interior decor. Photography by Melissa Rundle, taken with a Sony A7 mirrorless camera.
I had fun matching my West L.A. Boutique outfit to the art.
Thanks to the staff for taking such great care of us, from bringing up sandwiches to drawing us maps to art districts.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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 Osaka, Farplane 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.
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.
“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.
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.
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?
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.”
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.)
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.
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.
You can’t help but smile at the theatrical performances on stage. The event alternates between DJ sets and performers.
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.
Light colors, lace and living-dolls abound.
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.
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.
Love the hair-horns, pink eyebrows and layers of eyelashes on this girl.
The queen in motion. DSF performs drag at other events in Tokyo, which you can see on her Facebook.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
Inspired by Cebu’s energy and color, we wanted to take images with a Wong Kar Wai night-time feel.
A lighting store created an interesting mood.
(Photography by Melissa Rundle and Eric Bergemann.)
As the sun set, we drove to the Mandaue city center. I wonder what type of street food they are selling here.
In the Philippines, traffic can get congested, so people travel on two or three-wheelers. These “motorized tricycles” or auto rickshaws are everywhere.
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.
Despite the “free for all” streets, we felt safe driving through Cebu. There’s a laid-back attitude here. No road rage.
We passed by a “Ferrari” building, lit up with these neon lights. We couldn’t resist stopping here for an impromptu photoshoot.
A perfect match for our Wong Kar Wai mood. Ever-changing neon lights, in saturated colors.
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.
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).
Florescent lights, Asia comes alive at night.
The name and logo say “Ferrari”… but is this actually a luxury car dealership?
Not quite. This Wanted sign reveals what actually lies inside — a girlie nightclub. I wonder if I qualify as a “pleasing person?”
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.
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.
For dessert, the waiter served this cute surprise! Pear, ice cream, caramelized cake — it was delicious.
Can’t wait to show you more from this Cebu paradise, including scuba, snorkeling and beach time.
Thanks to Stephanie Hoy at Vancouver’s Avantgarde Salon for this “oil slick” hair, a gradient of purples, greens and blues!
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?
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…
… 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.
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.
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.
My look fit right in with Illopetals’ bold character design.
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.
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.
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!
All the passengers were polite and engrossed with their smartphones. I wonder what these Korean schoolboys were looking at.
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.
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.
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…
… 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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)
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.
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).
Time to visit another space-disco district: Dongdaemun. The famous DDP (Dongdaemun Design Plaza), designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, glows like a spaceship.
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.
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…
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.)
Not sure what this giant ball is for, but I did my best to find out.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?)
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.
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.