Category Archive for Fashion

Asia pop culture tours, African safari & Owl cafes: my top fashion & travel memories of 2014.

tokyo tower glowing at night

I’m glad you enjoyed the first half of my Year in Review! In this post, we’ll look back at the last six months of 2014, which took me to eight different countries for various work collaborations.

We’ll begin with this magic moment, in front of the glowing orange Tokyo Tower. I’ve lost count of how many times I have been to Japan, but each time, I fall in love with the country once again.

pechakucha speaker, presentation

This year, I began working with Odigo.travel — a startup that lets travelers plan “exceptional journeys” to Japan, by creating trips and getting offbeat tips from insiders like me.

In June, Odigo flew me to Tokyo to give a speech in front of hundreds at PechaKucha. I spoke about my bizarre journey from blogging to TV presenting, writing and traveling worldwide. << Curious about my presentation? Watch my Pecha Kucha speech.

japan owl theme cafe

I’m excited for the official launch of Odigo early next year, and invite you to get a sneak peek here. Odigo lets you discover the coolest attractions in Japan — such as the adorable owl cafe — and put together a customized trip with all the addresses, maps, hours and info in one place. You can also contribute your own write-ups and images; take a look at Odigo, and I hope you’ll enjoy using the site.

teal lace party dress

As part of my mission to find Asia hotspots, I flew to Taipei for the first time. Here’s a Nanette Lepore outfit post from Taiwan’s Humble House boutique hotel.

taiwanese modern art

Taipei’s cheeky, modern art scene impressed me. Looks like the resident caveman (at Le Meridien) is trying to apologize to me. Perhaps he tried to steal my cat… << All the photos and outfit details here.

hello kitty friendship festival

Did you think “kawaii” cute culture was found only in Japan? In fact, Hello Kitty is possibly even more popular in Taiwan. She has a theme cafe in Taipei, and Sanrio had an interactive exhibition while I was there. (I haven’t blogged about this yet — I know, I’m always backlogged — but you can peer inside the Hong Kong Hello Kitty cafe.)

travel writer, travel magazine writing

I keep busy with a variety of different projects. I was in Hong Kong for a big TV shoot with Pro Sieben (German television). Can’t say much about this yet, but I’ll show you the photos and clip when they air next spring.

I wrote a number of articles for magazines this year, like Sunday Times Travel UK. I also have my own column in each issue of Hong Kong Express Airways’ in-flight magazine (scans above).

fashion blogger modeling posters billboard

As I mentioned in the last post, my focus is now on coverage I find meaningful — hence the stories about travel and underground culture worldwide. I’d feel empty if I followed the typical fashion blog format: outfit photos, consumption-oriented roundups, and little else of substance.

Nonetheless, I’m still passionate about style when I can express it on my own terms. I love to support designers who do things differently: slow fashion, alternative styles, eco materials, vintage. Moat House’s sunglasses are a perfect example, and I was honored to model their frames on a life-size poster in Paris.  

upper house hotel room

I returned to Hong Kong, which remains one of my favorite cities thanks to my friends and relatives here. I organized an influencers dinner for Odigo, and took Yukiro around to my favorite boutiques and restaurants.

luxury hotel bed

Things got Miffy-crazy in our Hong Kong penthouse, at the Upper House Hotel… You’ve got to see this epic blog and video, if you missed it!

wwf panda bears exhibit

My Pirates and I went to the new art center: PMQ in Central. At the time, there was an exhibition of 1600 panda bear statues. A powerful (and cute) way to get word out on the WWF, and their work in protecting endangered animals.

japanese sashimi salad

Oh, and the delicious food we ate in HK! Above was one of the best meals of the year, a melt-in-your-mouth sashimi salad by Harlan Goldstein at Sushi To. << Check out all my Hong Kong restaurant reviews.

eat your kimchi youtube studio

My Asia journey didn’t end there. I went to Seoul for the first time in over a decade, and it’s changed so much. Fortunately, my friends Eat Your Kimchi gave me pointers on where to see the best of K-pop culture. << Wander inside the EYK YouTube studio.

kpop beauty fashion blogger

I couldn’t get enough of the youtful university district, Hongdae, filled with coffee shops and Kpop fashion shops. I posed with the modern art in Itaewon

dongdaemun design plaza, seoul

… and got beamed up into the Dongdaemun Design Plaza. Now that’s what I call space disco architecture!

cape town bo kaap street

This year, I realized more than ever: you only live once, and opportunities may never come again. So when Cape Town Tourism invited my film team and me to go to South Africa, we had to say yes — even though it was happening during an insane travel period. We weathered a sleepless schedule, trans-continental flights, lost luggage, and other fiascoes along the way.

But as soon as we stepped out onto the colorful streets of the Bo Kaap, I knew we made the right choice. We had so many wonderful moments on this trip — jazz in townships, Stellenbosch wines, street art, hanging out with local artists.

yawning lion, south africa safari

I also went on my first safari, and it was as magnificent as I imagined. We took photos of elephants, rhinos, zebras and this pride of lions.

aquila safari, game reserve

Perhaps you’ve been wondering: who is “we”? Or rather, who goes on these trips with me? Since my jobs require high-quality photos and videos, I’m not a solo traveler.

For the most part, these comrades are Eric and Melissa, my close friends and seasoned filmmakers. With each project, we aim to improve the quality of everything we produce. I hope you’ve been enjoying the recent visuals and stories — we’ll keep on upping the ante in 2015.

yuan chonghuan, 袁崇煥, 袁崇焕

In the late summer, I was honored to be the cover model for Kirameki Magazine, wearing a Moi-meme-Moitie dress. << See all the photos and credits from this shoot.

Also, fun fact: I found out I’m a direct descendant of 16th century Chinese military leader, Yuan Chonghuan (袁崇焕)! His story is rather heavy metal… In the Ming Dynasty, Yuen was a revered commander who twice defeated the Mongol army, but was later betrayed and killed via Death by a Thousand Cuts. His enemies in Beijing rushed to buy and eat his body parts, but his loyal friend She managed to rescue the head. For the past 300 years, She’s descendants have been guarding my ancestor’s decapitated head. I’m not sure where it is today, but my family still has an ancestral plot of land in Dongguan, his southern Chinese hometown…

philippines traffic, driving

After a bit of sunshine in Vancouver, I was back on the plane to a new Asian destination… Cebu in the Philippines! The streets were a jumble of colorful jeepneys.

white hippie dress

This time, my Pirates and I were collaborating with sáv Hospitality. I judged the Miss Scuba beauty pageant, a competition that gets the word out on ocean conservation…

goth model, lace dress

… and we did a showcase of their gorgeous Pacific Cebu Resort (travel video to be released soon).

travel blogging, beach destinations

Jet lag, what’s that? The small annoyances are all worth it, when you get to experience a near-perfect day like this one. << Look back at my boating and beach adventure in Lapu Lapu. 

the bund, shanghai skyline

We flew a few hours north, and wound up in what seemed like completely different universe: Shanghai, China. Here’s the glowing Bund, which captures how fast the city’s developed in recent years.

cachet hotels china

I went to the mainland a few times when I was growing up, and it never looked anything like this. I still have more to show you about Shanghai’s young design scene, hip restaurants, and French Quarter. << For now, here’s an outfit post from Cachet Boutique Hotel.

purple blue red hair color

Before the end of the year, I made two final trips: to New Orleans, and San Francisco for a TV shoot with ABC Nightline. I haven’t had a chance to post about these adventures yet, but here’s a preview at my new hair color (a blue-purple-magenta ombre by Stephanie Hoy). You can look forward to these stories and several new travel videos, beginning in January.

Middle East, Africa, Asia… what’s next? I hope you’ll continue to join my journey in 2015, since I have big plans up my kimono-sleeves! Check out @lacarmina on Instagram for day-to-day images, and to hear announcements like reader meet-ups. 

Thanks for being with me on my journey — I read all messages and comments, and am grateful for all the love you give. It’s amazing to connect with like-minded people who believe in what I do. See you next year. Let’s make it the best one yet!

Best of 2014! Favorite outfit posts, travel highlights, Petra Kitchen cooking lessons.

kabuki japanese makeup eyes

It’s almost the end of 2014! So much has happened this year, especially behind-the-scenes. New friends, wild times, and a renewed focus on the type of work that (I feel) truly matters.

In 2015, I’m committed to keep focusing on this bigger picture. So you’ll keep on seeing first-hand stories about alternative beauty, innovators pushing boundaries, underground travel and subcultures all around the globe. I think my work makes the biggest difference when it encourages people to challenge preconceptions (about topics like body modifications or drag queens), and express themselves as they wish to be — without fear.

israel fashion blog, style blogger

In terms of meeting these goals, 2014 was a Very Metal Year indeed. Let’s get retrospective, and highlight some of my favorite destinations and stories from the first six months.  I also have some bonus material from Jordan, which I never got around to posting until now. (Above, I’m with Tel Aviv fashion blogger Korin Avraham.)

dan tel aviv hotel israel

At the start of the year, my travel filmmakers and I went to Israel, by invitation of the tourism board. We’ve been eager to come here for a long time. I’m fascinated by ancient destinations that have a surprisingly modern and creative culture.

tel aviv beach sunset

Talk about reversing expectations: I imagined a Moses-like landscape of sand dunes. But from my hotel room at the Dan Tel Aviv, I had a perfect view of the beach. I sat by the window and watched the waves glowing at sunset.

tlv tel aviv style tours

One of the highlights was going on a Tel Aviv style tour (see all the photos in part 1 and part 2). Galit (right) took us to meet designers whose work perfectly matched my interests, such as upcycled vintage and unicorn wedding dresses. It felt like going shopping with a friend, and I still stay in touch with all the designers she introduced.

masada jewish fortress

I was blown away by Israel’s edgy nightlife and fusion cuisine. To get a deeper look at the history, we took a cable car to Masada fortress, and dipped into the salty Dead Sea.

thigh pattern print tights

Since some of you requested a summary of outfits from 2014, here are a few more photos of what I wore in Israel. (Details of what I’m wearing here).

One of my favorite days of all of 2014 was exploring Jerusalem. I did a very special photo diary about our day in the Holy City, and why I feel travel is so important.

Perhaps you’re wondering… whatever happened to our Israel video? Around the time we completed it, the country was unfortunately experiencing conflict. My editors felt it would be most respectful to wait until later to run this upbeat travel episode. Hopefully, we can share it with you soon — stay tuned.

pella, jordan

I take thousands of photos in each trip, and not all the stories make it onto this site. It seems wrong to deprive you of Miffy-ness, so here’s an outfit photo from our Jordan journey with Ya’lla Tours.

jordan archaeological ruins, pella

Our private driver took us to Pella, one of the country’s most impressive archaeological sites. These ancient ruins date back 8000 years, and were part of the Decapolis (the 10 centers of Greco-Roman civilization in this region).

amman jordan streets

One of the benefits of traveling with Ya’lla: we had our own driver and guide, who told us about the history as we journeyed. In Jordan, there wouldn’t have been any easy way to get around on our own, especially with the ruin sites located far apart.

visit jordan tourism board bloggers

On this 3-day road trip, we crossed through Amman. Through the window, I saw Roman columns, sunsets, children running towards us from Bedouin villages… and a whole lot of rocks.

petra kitchen cooking lessons

The tour included unique experiences, like a cooking class at Petra Kitchen in Wadi Musa. The friendly chefs came by each table, shook their heads in mock-frustration, and demonstrated how the vegetables were supposed to be cut (ours were too big, or misshaped)…

middle eastern cooking school, petra

We learned how to prepare a number of Jordanian dishes, including baba ghanoush and fattoush. At the end, all the Petra Kitchen students sat together and shared the meal. I love activities like this, which let you put your hands into the local food culture, and would come back again.

petra outfit post, fashion blogger

The next day was a dream come true: visiting the lost city of Petra. << All the photos here.

famous petra building architecture

Here’s the Treasury of Petra, which you may recognize as the site of the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I never expected I’d be able to visit places like this.

two buns japanese hairstyle

The next months were also spent traveling, but on more familiar terrain. I stopped by LA to attend Oscars parties. My Mickey Mouse two-buns hairstyle got quite a bit of attention.

goth band performing

Then I went to Toronto for meetings, and caught up with friends in the Goth alternative scene. I finally got to see Amy’s Arms perform at Lee’s Palace, where Scott Pilgrim had an epic battle or two.

toronto lolita fashion, western lolitas

The girls and I did a photoshoot wearing Gloomth, the Gothic Lolita Victorian label by my friend Taeden. (All photos from this shoot here).

san francisco zen center courtyard

Growing up, I was fascinated with 1960s hippie culture and took university classes about Buddhism. It was a joy to stay at the San Francisco Zen Center, especially after hearing so much about it. I particularly loved the courtyard with a fountain and hidden Buddha statues.

goth clubs, parties san francisco

My friends and I had a reunion in San Francisco, and held a performance event at Wicked Grounds. Thanks to everyone who came out to meet us! If you’re visiting the city soon, you might enjoy my San Francisco Goth clubbing and bar guide

new york rooftop graffiti

Off to another much-loved US destination: New York City. Even though I lived here for years (while in school), I discover new places each time. This time, I did a shoot at the Paper Factory Hotel. I couldn’t help but smile as I gazed at the Manhattan skyline, from the graffiti-marked rooftop.

cosplay event, costume contest nyc

I was in NYC for a secret filming project, which will all make sense soon (fingers crossed that I can spill the beans in early 2015!)

For one lively scene, I judged a cosplay competition at Maid Cafe NY << Check out the impressive handmade costumes, and see who won the contest.

ny underground clubs

I also hosted an alternative club night with King Vulcanus Levi and NYC friends. He crowned me with one of his feathered creations. << Peek into the madness.

That’s already a lot for one post, so I’ll end this here. Next, I’ll summarize the second half of the year, where I went all around Asia and to Africa for the first time…

How do you feel when you look back upon 2014? What are you aiming to achieve in 2015?

Happy Holidays! Winter kawaii outfit post: Meemers Scottish Fold cat hat, Eat Your Kimchi.

la carmina and scottish fold cat

Happy Nightmare before Christmas! Basil Farrow and I send you lots of snuggles.

Like many of you, we’re taking this time to be with family and friends. If you’re looking for holiday outfit inspiration, then this post is for you. I’ll also share the elegant Xmas decorations I saw in New Orleans, including the Anne Rice house.

vintage designer winter coat

“Baby it’s cold outside….” But that doesn’t mean you have to wear bulky, unattractive jackets this season. What’s the stylish solution?

My friends at Alice’s Pig sent me this retro-inspired coat from their latest collection. It’s got a unique zig zag front with double-buttons, and is lined to keep you warm. I haven’t seen a design like this anywhere else, and have been wearing it non-stop.

♥ Psst: here’s where you can buy the exact same coat! ♥

miffy rabbit purse handbag

Basil looks like he approves of my Miffy purse. It’s from the 2% Miffy store in Shanghai (here are photos of the Hong Kong location).

killstar occult leggings

This is my go-to winter outfit: a big graphic-print sweater and leggings. Comfortable, warm, and J-poppy. “The Bitter End” is by Japan’s Banana Fish, which is sadly no longer in business.

My witchy tights are from Killstar. This brand is so awesome that they make an Egyptian print maxi dress!

 Shop my outfit and favorite labels below:

basil farrow, scottish fold cat

If you’re still feeling chilly, Basil is ready to warm you up with a furry hug.

kpop hair color, purple blue braids

What a sweet teddy bear. Here’s a profile view of my new hair color, by Stephanie Hoy in Vancouver. It’s an ombre fade from blue to purple to red.

la carmina's cat, basil farrow

My Scottish Fold kitten may not have ears… but my purple winter hat makes up for it. (We call this a “tuque” in Canada.)

Do you see a folded-eared cat on the brim of the skullcap? That is Dr Meemersworth, the Scottish Fold companion of my Seoul friends, Eat Your Kimchi.

eat your kimchi meemersworth hat

Anyone who lives with a Scottish Fold can attest that they’re very special creatures. They have quirky personalities, love to cuddle, and want to take part in everything you do.

cat kissing girl

Look at that round head, and those sideways-paws! More photos like this are on our Instagram — @lacarmina.

meemers eat your kimchi tuque, skull cap

You can get this kitty cat winter hat from the Eat Your Kimchi online store. They have a Meemers canvas bag too, and more.

santa rubber ducky

Since we’re in holiday mode, let me share some photos I took of Christmas decorations in New Orleans. On top of a home near Audubon Park, I spotted “Santa Ducky.”

new orleans christmas house decor

In NOLA, the stately manors get dolled up with lights, wreathes and bows. Or in this case above, nutcrackers.

anne rice house new orleans

Above is a home formerly owned by Anne Rice, author of vampire novels. It is now House of Broel, a Victorian mansion and dollhouse museum.

new orleans homes, christmas wreathes

I couldn’t get enough of the elegant Southern architecture, particularly in the Garden District.

garden district new orleans houses

Can’t wait to show you more from my New Orleans travels. Cemeteries, voodoo shops, and devil parties are on the way.

scottish fold cat

Until then, Basil sends you warmth and cuddles.

kpop oversize sweater

We hope this gave you some inspiration for what to wear, in cold weather and to holiday parties. Merry Festivus, or whatever you celebrate!

(Shop this look below):

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How to visit Hong Kong’s Buddha Statue: Tian Tan, Ngong Ping cable car, Lantau Island.

ngong ping 360 cable car

I’ve been to Hong Kong over 20 times. Many of my relatives live here, and in recent years, jobs have taken me to HK at lest once a year. Despite my frequent visits, I’ve never visited one of the biggest landmarks: the giant Tian Tan Buddha statue, on Lantau Island.

hong kong big buddha statue

On our last trip, my film friends and I had the perfect excuse to pay Buddha a visit. We were shooting a video for sáv Hong Kong, a new hotel in Hung Hom centered around the theme of love. What better place than Tian Tan to represent loving kindness?

hong kong subway, line characters

First, here are instructions on how to get to Tian Tan, located on Lantau Island.

1. Ride the subway to Tung Chung station. Since this is the end of the line, give yourself time (from Hung Hom, it takes about 45 minutes). If you’re like Line Friends Moon and miss the train, don’t worry, they run every few minutes!
2. Walk out of Tung Chung station through exit B, and follow the signs to Ngong Ping cable car.
3. Purchase a ticket for the cable car: there are options for standard, private cabins, and glass bottom ones. We went for the standard ($19 round trip) and the three of us had the lift to ourselves anyway.

lantau island cable cars

The ride takes about 30 minutes. We sat back and enjoyed the 360 degree view of the Lantau Island mountains, South China Sea, and praying big Buddha in the mist.

lantau island cable car, tian tan

I wore a plum tiered Valance dress from Gloomth & the Cult of the Melancholy. You may recall that I met up with designer Taeden in Toronto.

My sunglasses are these exact ones by House of Harlow 1960: Nicole. I’m carrying a bouquet of violet flowers to offer to the Buddha.

po lin monastery village

We arrived at Ngong Ping Village, which held traditional Chinese jewelry shops, tea houses and other cultural attractions.

tian tan buddha temple of heaven

The enlightened one is still a good 15-20 minute walk away. The Buddha is 34 meters tall, and constructed in 1993.

bruce lee theme park

Since the cable car station was built not long ago, some of the attractions are quite touristy. There’s a live action Stage 360 that celebrates another Hong Kong hero, Bruce Lee. Here, you can watch stuntsmen perform martial arts sequences in front of your eyes.

po lin monastery monks

However, the adjoining Po Lin monastery dates back to 1906. Anyone is welcome to visit the monks, and join them in the kitchen for a vegetarian meal.

lantau island wild cows

Who else lives on Lantau Island? Wild cattle and buffalo!

lantau island buffalo

I offered a cow a flower, and she chomped it down. Suddenly, I was surrounded by hungry cows trying to bite at my bouquet of flowers! They fenced me in and I had nowhere to escape. Somehow, I got out of this fiasco unscathed.

wild cows hong kong

Filmmaker Melissa learns from my mistake, and keeps a safe distance from this cow and her feeding calf. (Photos in this post by La Carmina, Melissa Rundle and Eric Bergemann.)

hong kong buddhist statue

Buddhist deities pointed us towards Siddhartha. This funny one has a rooster on his head, and appears to be doing a Saturday Night Fever disco move. 

hong kong buddhist temple

Buddhism x Goths? Why not. How nice to run into two of my friends here, Lam and Hin Ng. (Remember them from my Upper House penthouse party?)

climbing stairs buddha statue lantau

Here we are, at the base. Now we have 268 steps to climb, in the drenching humidity.

寶蓮禪寺

The Buddha sits on a lotus, and raises his right arm in blessing. Such a serene expression on his face.

lantau bodhisattva statues

On each side him, three Devas give offerings. I bowed to them and extended a flower (you’ll see how this all fits in with the video, once we release it.)

hong kong buddha tour

We saw some Buddhists circling the platform and kneeling in front of the statues.

flower offerings for buddha

We went inside the statue, and saw a collection of traditional Buddhist art. After giving away most of my flowers to strangers — as a symbol of bringing love into the world — I left the rest for the Buddha.

lantau island scenery, sunset

Landmarks can be cheesy, which is why I try to avoid them. However, the scenic Lantau Island and Tian Tan Buddha were a pleasure to visit.

hong kong cable cars, landmark

On the ride back, we saw the sky turn pink as the sun set over the mountains, just like an ancient Chinese painting.

Hong Kong is known (and loved) for its fast-paced lifestyle and trendy shopping, which I’ve written a lot about. But if you want to see the serene side of the city, I encourage you to spend a half-day with Buddha and his Bodhisattvas. (Note that the last cable car descends at 6pm on most days, so try to go early.)

scottish fold cat face

I leave you with my own big Buddha: Scottish Fold kitten, Basil Farrow! Cats are naturally Zen-creatures, aren’t they?