Category Archive for Fashion

Join my Odigo travel blogging workshop! Tokyo’s weirdest bar, Guinea Pig Shinjuku.

harajuku crazy street fashion

Jump for joy — I’m heading back to Tokyo for the launch of Odigo! Wouldn’t you like to join me?

There’s a rare chance. On Feb 28, I’m hosting an exclusive travel blogging workshop in Tokyo. We’ll teach you all we know about travel blogs, journalism, TV, video, photography and more.

Read on the for details, and photos from the bloodiest, strangest, craziest theme bar ever!

odigo travel bloggers workshop

I’m excited to announce the official launch of Odigo, a site that lets you plan an exceptional journey to Japan. You can search for offbeat attractions — such as kawaii stores, theme restaurants — as well as more traditional spots. Odigo links everything together in an optimized itinerary, which lets you get from place to place with ease.

I invite you to sign up to be a contributor – anyone can share their finds on Odigo! And if you’re in Japan… come to my travel blogging workshop on 2/28. My professional photo/film team and I will give in-depth advice on travel writing, photography, TV and video production, social media, working with sponsors, finding a niche, and much more.

When: Saturday, February 28, 1:30-4pm (followed by a round-table and reception). Matador U is giving a workshop before us (see all details on the Facebook invite and MeetUp)
Where: Ryozan Park, 6F, 3-36-7 Otsuka, Tokyo (here’s a map. It’s a few minutes walk from Otsuka station on the Yamanote line).
Cost: Free if you sign up on Odigo and submit writeups for 10 spots. For everyone else, 5000 yen per person. Limited to 25 spaces, including lunch, resources and networking.

Curious about what else I’ll be doing, in Tokyo? Add Odigo on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to find out.

eyeballs in jars, horror bar

Thanks to Odigo, you can easily find info about the most bizarre and obscure places in Japan. For example, I did a writeup about Kabukicho bar, Guinea Pig. Look for a plain building with a winding staircase, and take the elevator up to a door with a barely visible sign.

guinea pig tokyo bar

This underground bar is for those with a bloody disposition. The decoration consists of such nightmares as chains, baby mannequins, and horror movie art.

(I’m wearing this Nanette Lepore: Runaway Stripe dress and a crown from my NY friend King Vulcanus Levi.)

asia horror movie bars

So, how do you get to Guinea Pig? The address is: 2-41-2 Leo Kotobuki Building 3-A, Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku, Tokyo (all this info is on Odigo!) 1000 yen cover. Opening hours vary; generally from 8pm to early morning. Phone: 03-3209-3455

weirdest tokyo theme bar

The bar’s decor is inspired by b-horror movies: zombie hands reach down from the ceiling, and a mannequin in chains sits at a table.

scary haunted shinjuku bar

The owner, a flamboyant fellow named Roxy, is hilarious and will make you special cocktails. He’ll also dare you to play with his live pet snake.

coolest cocktails tokyo

Our friends ordered Bloody Marys, while Yukiro and I got his specialty, a mix of grapefruit, rum, and maybe some voodoo potions.

japanese strange art

Strange art hangs on the walls. It’s a unique mix of dread and humor in this bar.

japan horror movie bar

Japan is well known for its weird theme bars, which I’ve written about extensively before. These include a visual kei bar, an absinthe Goth bar, and more.

guinea pig kabukicho

And here are all of my posts about bizarre theme restaurants, in Japan and elsewhere.

kabukicho bars

Some of these bars are one-act novelties, but I can go to Guinea Pig again and again. It’s a subculture hub — there are always interesting people drinking at the small counter.

goth bar japan

Yukiro was shooting a bad girl b-movie there, entitled ‘The Bloody Knockers.” I make a cameo in the bar scene! The movie is out now, and you can watch it here… if you dare.

japanese voodoo witch

If you’re a fan of Japanese horror films, and fetish is your idea of fun, then I have a feeling you’ll dig Guinea Pig too. You can look up more spots like this on Odigo.

japan club kids, street snaps night

All of these photos are by Tokyo-based photographer Said Karlsson. He took these candid snaps of Yukiro and me dominating the neon streets of Shinjuku.

shinjuku crosswalk, kabukicho lights

No, we’re not posing… we always cross the street like this!

maleficent cosplay, halloween costume

Every dark creature must stop to curtsy in front of evil queen Maleficent.

tokyo japan kids playground

We couldn’t resist climbing this Japanese kids playground equipment, and striking a pose. Funny, we did something similar in Berlin.

japanese convenience store interior

Antics in the convenience store. I’m not sure what we were doing in the magazine section…

haagen dazs sakura ice cream

We ended up getting special edition rose and sakura flavored Haagen Dazs ice cream. The pink looks nice against my Totoro nails.

feeding each other ice cream

In heaven, people feed each other rice with chopsticks. In hell, I suppose they survive on pink ice cream!

designer playground equipment

Have you been to any of Tokyo’s crazy theme bars? Which ones are your favorites?

I hope to see you at my Odigo travel bloggers workshop, on February 28 in Tokyo! Info is at the top of the post, and feel free to leave a comment if you have questions.

New Orleans Tree of Life, Audubon Park. Voodoo vampire shops, Jackson Square cats, Katrina homes.

la carmina hair, beauty, makeup

I’ve always been fascinated by how themes of life and death are expressed so vividly, in New Orleans. This is a city where locals party hard, and play jazz in the streets. At the same time, NOLA is famous for cemeteries, haunted houses, voodoo shops and vampires. 

To celebrate Mardi Gras, we’ll climb the Tree of Life…

glowing lights new orleans night walk

… and then wander through the French Quarter’s dark side. At the end, we’ll take a frank look at the Katrina aftermath, and the struggle to rebuild neighborhoods destroyed by the hurricane.

black fringe sleeve dress

– I’m wearing a dramatic KillStar dress, similar to this black dress with long fringe sleeves. You could also wear a black leather jacket with fringe down the arms for a similar look.

❤ Shop my style below ❤

audubon park bridge

My friends and I rode the historic St Charles streetcar to the Garden District, about 20 minutes from the stop near the Hotel Modern. It’s a scenic ride that costs only $1.25 each way.

We passed by grand Southern houses (some photos at the bottom of this post), the Eiffel Society, and the Loyola and Tulane university campuses. We got off at Audubon Park, and found ourselves surrounded by majestic trees and lakes.

audubon park duck pond

“I’m like a bird…” A variety of creatures make the park their home. We spotted a Great Egret soaring above the water, and a mother duck with a row of babies swimming behind her. Do you see the squirrel on my left?

new orleans lake

This land was once a plantation. In 1871, the city purchased it, and made it into a park. It’s named after John James Audubon, an artist / naturalist who lived in New Orleans at the time.

nola garden district park

The more time I spent in New Orleans, the more sides I saw of the city. I wish I could have stayed longer, to explore more of the outer neighborhoods and nature sites.

southern oak trees, louisiana

Like Elaine from Seinfeld, I don’t use the word “breathtaking” lightly… but it seems like the right word to describe this pathway, shaded by Southern oak trees. 

killstar model, goth dress

The twisting branches and soft, mossy canopies are a quintessential part of Louisiana’s landscape.

climbing tree of life

After walking for about 15 minutes, we reached the Tree of Life. This immense oak is the size of a building, and the branches dip to the ground — the ultimate invitation for climbing.

dress with fringe sleeves

Beneath these powerful, century-old branches, you can’t help but admire nature’s grandeur.

kill star model, alt modeling

I braided part of my hair, to show the contrast between purple and blue, over red. My hairstylist is Stephanie Hoy at Vancouver’s Stratosphere salon.

❤ Click below for details of my clothing ❤

black silver japanese boots

– My boots are from Japan, and similar to these leather buckle ankle boots by Jeffrey Campbell.
- Find cross print tights like mine here, as well as sheer crucifix stockings.

new orleans big tree

The Tree of Life is a popular spot for couples to get married. According to legend, someone planted this tree to honor his new wife, during the days when Audubon Park was a plantation.

girl yoga on tree branches

Molly (who took the photos of me in NOLA) says “I know nothing about Audubon Park from a history angle, but let’s just discuss how much fun I had climbing that tree.” 

paule ka purse leather

– I turned of the knobs into a make-shift hanger for my handbag. (It’s by Paule Ka and available here.)

wood sunglasses, pink floyd iphone case

– My wood cat-eye sunglasses are from British designers, Moat House Eyewear.
- The Pink Floyd “Division Bell” iPhone case is from SVNTYHere are more photos of me with my wood phone case.

hanging tree girl

Molly tried out some pole and yoga moves on the branches.

sleeping girl in tree

Nature makes the best seat in the house.

witch vampire dress

The trailing fringe from my dress mimics the strands of Spanish moss, hanging down from the trees.

giraffes audubon zoo new orleans

Next to the tree of life is Audubon Zoo. The giraffes are so tall that you can see their heads poking out from above the fence!

goth alternative girls

It’s disappointing when visitors to New Orleans never leave the French Quarter. Less than 30 minutes away, Audubon Park is a joyful place that shows a different slice of life.

fancy southern plantation home

The surrounding homes are stately antebellum mansions with columns and gardens. Since the Quarter and the Garden District are located on high ground, these upscale areas escaped the devastating flooding from Hurricane Katrina. 

hurricane katrina cross markings

Molly and I felt it was important to see the areas of New Orleans that were most heavily hit by Katrina. Taxi driver David Hammer gave us a 3-hour personal tour, which took us to the Lower 9th Ward, the breached levees, and more. (To arrange for one of his city tours, phone David: 503 931 0323)

A local who is versed in the history of New Orleans, David didn’t shy away from speaking about the ongoing problems with rebuilding. We saw homes marked with “X-Codes” or “Katrina crosses,” which rescuers used to indicate if there were hazards or deaths within.

katrina destroyed homes

Ten years after Katrina, many of these neighborhoods remain destroyed. Some homeowners came back and tried to rebuild, but lack of funds forced them to abandon their properties. We drove on bumpy roads, warped by the water. We passed overgrown and empty lots, followed by temporary housing, followed by ghost-houses like the one above — hazards for vermin, squatters and other dangers.

new orleans delapitated house roof

Molly reflects, “It was really painful to see a house, then a space where a house used to be, then a house, then more space. I kept thinking about what it must be like to come home to a house next to a space. Was it lonely? Scary? Do you wonder if Katrina will happen again? I used to not understand why someone wouldn’t come home if you could, but now, I think how do you come back to a place that completely fell apart? Aren’t there times where you just have to start over?”

katrina reconstruction houses

“So, I guess what I mean is that both the spaces and the rebuilding make sense to me.” Yet there is still so much that needs to happen, before these neighborhoods are livable again. There’s a lot more one can say about the impact of Hurricane Katrina, but I’ll wrap up with the photo above: a reconstruction attempt that was abandoned probably due to lack of funding, and left as a decaying shell.

new orleans misissippi river bank

That feeling of life, death and all the areas in between come to the forefront at night, in New Orleans. Not far from Jackson Square, you can buy a hot buttered rum to go (alcohol is allowed in the streets here), and walk right up to the banks of the Mississippi River. Yes, that’s a rainbow on the top right.

new orleans waterfront night

The streetlights give off an eerie glow. They illuminate the history of the city, from old rail tracks to new hotels.

st louis cathedral nighttime

The castle-like Saint Louis Cathedral is the oldest in North America, established in 1720. A horse and carriage raced across, taking us back several centuries.

mask shop window display

The spirit of Mardi Gras haunts the city all throughout the year. A feathered mask peers out of a window.

rev zombie's voodoo shop

I was keen to learn more about voodoo, which has roots in African spiritual/folk traditions, and took on a life of its own in Louisiana. We popped into Reverend Zombie’s Voodoo shop (723 St Peter St), which offers readings and rituals.

new orleans voodoo dolls

Gris gris (talismans or amulets), voodoo dolls, and powerful queens like Marie Laveau are part of this tradition. While some of New Orleans’ voodoo shops have a touristy feeling, there is a tangible power in the masks and dolls we saw..

occult new orleans esoterica

I was in my element, visiting these occult, spiritual, witchcraft and esoteric shops.

ghost vampire cemetery tours

Another way to experience the darkest side of New Orleans is by joining a ghost, vampire, cemetery and voodoo tour. Some are on the cheesier side, so I recommend doing your research and looking for niche tours run by insiders.

jesus statue shadow st louis church

How spooky is this image of New Orleans? It’s a marble statue of Jesus with hands aloft, casting an ominous shadow onto St Louis Cathedral. 

witch stores goth new orleans

Don’t be surprised if you run into skeleton hands and witchy-women, in the streets of the Quarter.

vampire shop

Vampires are a major part of the culture of New Orleans. This city is not just a setting, but almost a character in the novels of Anne Rice (Interview with the Vampire, Queen of the Damned) and Poppy Z Brite (Lost Souls).

new orleans vampire culture, store

We visited Boutique du Vampyre (709 St Ann St), a collection of all things bloody (fangs, candles, handcrafted gifts).

vampire wine

There’s also a strong vampire subculture here in New Orleans. Members belong to Houses, and some engage in ritual blood-drinking.

jackson square cats

I leave you with the stray cats of Jackson Square. Quite fitting that cats are associated with witches and the spiritual world.

new orleans stray cats

I hope you’ll come to New Orleans, one of the most fascinating cities I’ve ever encountered. Joyeux Mardi Gras, everyone!


Kimono & Issey Miyake couture: Torso Vintages at San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers.

vintage kimono

Do you remember when I visited Torso Vintages, the famed San Francisco purveyors of vintage fashion? I was swept away by their museum-like collection of hats, robes, purses and jewelry from past eras. If only I could play dress-up with their wardrobe…

Thanks to my dear Trevor and the staff of Torso Vintages, this fashion fantasy became reality. Enjoy this very special shoot, featuring a floral kimono, Issey Miyake set, and beautiful flowers!

conservatory of flowers, san francisco

San Francisco was a tad rainy, so Trevor and I scouted out an indoor location. We settled on the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park — a Victorian greenhouse that looks like something out of American Horror Story. Neither of us had ever been here before, which added to the anticipation.

japanese kimono model, fashion

This lush setting was a perfect match for the kimono and purse, which are decorated with flower and leaf motifs. Trevor was my stylist and photographer for the day (you can see more on his Instagram). Love the shape of the fringe top that he picked out for me.

purple orchid flowers

The Conservatory of Flowers is a treasure chest of rare flowers and plants. The skeleton structure dates back to 1878, making it the oldest in America.

san francisco greenhouse, garden

The wings have different climates and themes: Lowland Tropics, Highland Tropics, Aquatic Plants and more.

Trevor sits on a bench in the Potted Plants room, which was probably our favorite. We wished we could sit here all day, reading or meditating.

indoor garden, san francisco

In the Victorian era, upper-class collectors would display their exotic plants in greenhouses like this.

flower kimono robe

This round picture-window created the perfect frame for my Torso Vintages kimono.

issey miyake purple jacket

For my second look, I wore a dark purple Issey Miyake pleated top, jacket and skirt. The Japanese designer is famous for his high-tech, pleated garments.

vintage japanese coat sleeves

Close-up on the sleeves. What an intriguing, custom fabric. (You can get a similar Issey Miyake jacket here.)

三宅 一生 fashion

Pleats, please! The first outfit is traditional, the second futuristic, and both are quintessentially Japanese.

bell shaped plant

I wish I knew more about plant species (I confess I have a bit of a black thumb). I was mesmerized by the hundreds of exotic varieties in the Conservatory, like this trumpet-shaped one.

vintage japanese designer fashion

Follow me, and I’ll show you more marvels…

heart shaped leaves

… like heart-shaped leaves. Look at the delicate veins and strands.

rare issey miyake pleated skirt

It’s intriguing to see the influence of nature on man-made designs. Love the big collar, paneled skirt and shell-like curves of Issey Miyake’s coordinate.

tube shaped plants

Trevor and I could have taken a thousand photos inside the Conservatory. Those colors and patterns!

avantgarde japanese clothing

We kept remarking at how fresh the air was. I felt like my lungs had been cleansed from the inside out.

glass conservatory flowers

It’s a jungle in there. Towering, living, breathing.

blue purple red colored hair

The green theme matched my current hair color: an ombre that flows from blue to purple to magenta. My hairstyle / color is by extraordinarily talented Stephanie Hoy, stylist at Stratosphere Salon in Vancouver.

different shaped green leaves

I didn’t want to “leave”…

decadent green jewelry, bracelet

Details of this magnificent bracelet, which looks at home next to purple orchids.

black purse with flowers

Trevor picked out this velvet purse to match. The flowers and fashion make magic together, don’t you think?

tropics sign

Old-time elegance…

big pink ruffled flower

Explosive flowers… it was a vintage dream come true. Thank you, Trevor and Torso Vintages, for making this shoot happen!

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

There’s a lot to enjoy in San Francisco, no matter what type of traveler you are. (Here are all my SF travel tips, to help you plan a trip).

san francisco botanical gardens

The Conservatory of Flowers is a perfect example of a place that anyone can enjoy.

It’s open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am – 4:30pm, and admission is between $2-8. Address: 100 John F Kennedy Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118. More info on their website.

kimpton hotels robe, bathrobe

Another look at my blue-purple-red hair. I’m wearing an animal-print bathrobe — these are found in all Kimpton Hotels. (Remember when Rose and I wore these robes at the Seattle Kimpton?)

kimpton hotel prescott room

I stayed at the Prescott San Francisco, a boutique hotel in the SOMA district. It’s part of Kimpton, one of my favorite hotel groups. I particularly look forward to chatting with the staff — they give personalized recommendations, and wear bow ties!

My room was big enough for Trevor to spread out all the clothing he borrowed. The close-up of the purse reveals all the intricate detailing.

black silk retro cocktail dress

I wore long, black silk gown from Torso Vintages for the daily cocktail hour. That’s right: free local wines and cheeses. Yet another reason I heart Kimpton.

kimpton cocktail hour, decor

Kimpton’s decor has an Art Deco feel — yet the rooms are modern and the WiFi is  fast.

kimpton palomar hotel

We went for dinner at the nearby Palomar Hotel, another Kimpton property. The lobby’s light-box seat and bicycle are crying out for Instagram photos. (Yes, I took one of Trevor.)

kimpton hotels san francisco

The recently renovated Palomar has an artsy, hipster vibe.

hip restaurant dirty habit

The decoration is all about big, eye-catching visuals.

Dirty Habit san francisco

We had dinner upstairs at Dirty Habit, an inventive new restaurant that specializes in craft cocktails.

cool hipster san francisco restaurant

We’re adventurous drinkers, and tried the cocktail with a porcini mushroom infusion. Weird, in a great way.

steampunk clockwork wall decoration

Dirty Habit has a laid-back vibe and young clientele. The clockwork gears on the wall are a draw for Steampunk lovers.

dirty habit food san francisco

The menu is constantly changing, and is a mix of fine favorites (like seared scallops) and unexpected combinations (how about yuzu and bacon crumble on coffee cream?). For dessert, we had a memorable Pavlova with madras curry. It doesn’t sound like a combination that would work, and yet it does.

leather swing

It was a short trip to SF, but a fun one! I also did a TV interview with ABC Nightline while I was here, in case you missed it.

Do you wear vintage? What do you think of Torso’s couture collections?


PMQ Hong Kong: art studios, food & fashion. The Refinery, Aberdeen St Social.

hong kong design panda

Poor panda. Looks like he’s crying because I’m hugging him too hard!

Hong Kong’s contemporary design scene used to be scattered around the city. But now, there’s a massive glass building – PMQ in Central – that puts over 100 artists, fashion designers and chefs under one roof.

d*face pmq mural

PMQ’s industrial architecture and pop art mural (by artist D*face) are easy to find. The address: No.35 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong Island

PMQ 元創方

PMQ’s aim is to nurture young designers. Rent is high in Hong Kong, but this building gives them an affordable space to showcase their works. In return, the artists have an “open-door” policy to the public, meaning anyone is welcome to come in and even take photos.

duck print socks

PMQ opened in spring 2014, and already, most of the studios are occupied. My team and I love this creative hub so much that we visited three times.

elizabeth lau the refinery

Set aside at least a few hours to explore all the little shops and studios. If you’re short on time, I recommend heading straight to one of my favorites: The Refinery HK, a colorful and poppy fashion boutique. 

pancake fish shaped purse

Here, you’ll find unique quality accessories like pancake and taiyaki (fish waffle) bags. The Refinery HK carries various select brands, from both Hong Kong and worldwide designers.

pmq refinery fashion boutique

The boutique is curated by London designer Elizabeth Lau, who also has her own witty and playful fashion line.

hipster earrings

She had just gotten back from a buying trip to Paris Fashion Week. Every season, she hunts for creative pieces like the earrings above.

the refinery hong kong fashion

Elizabeth styled me in this outfit. Can’t get enough of the “Where’s Waldo” hat with a veil.

yellow ribbons hong kong protesters

In a city dominated by big brands, it’s a relief to see this spotlight on indie design. We saw yellow ribbons tied to the front of this jewelry shop, in support of the Occupy Hong Kong movement.

occupy hk yellow ribbon

John Skeleton wears one of these ribbons to support the student protesters. (Photos by me, Eric Bergemann and Melissa Rundle).

pmq building, architecture

You might have noticed that I wear this Shakuhachi dress a lot. The comfort and unique design make it an easy favorite. It’s from West LA Boutique; you can purchase this dress here

pmq green public space

PMQ stands for Police Married Quarters, since this was the previous incarnation of this site. Remnants of the historic building remain, such as an underground tunnel that show the old foundations.

shakuhachi future minimal dress

In urban Central, this courtyard is a welcome green space. The design is modern, while the Chinese bamboo adds a relaxing atmosphere.

chocolate rain pmq

I squished another panda at the Chocolate Rain studio and store in PMQ.

kawaii stores hong kong

As you’ve seen in my other travel guides to Hong Kong, “kawaii” cute design is big here. Chocolate Rain’s original mascots are on every imaginable piece of merchandise: toys, stationery, clothing, home goods.

cute toy store

The gallery space is all about interaction. Customers can take lessons on sewing, painting, doll-making, and more. The restaurant Eat & Play encourages fun with food, through cooking classes.

pmq artist design studios

How cool to see founder and designer, Prudence, painting designs right at the table.

sleepy bear statue

Chocolate Rain and I are currently taking part in a hotel decoration project in Hong Kong. Keep your eyes peeled for announcements, and maybe you can join us for the opening next year.

lotus necklace

PMQ’s artists work in different mediums, from bamboo to glass. Melissa got this unique lotus necklace in a Japanese ceramic studio.

rubber cat purses

If only I could show you photos from inside each store! I hope these visuals give you a sense of the fun, high-quality designs that you can find at PMQ.

aberdeen street social restaurant

The art hub is also home to several creative new restaurants. My friends and I were invited to brunch at Aberdeen Street Social. In the words of John Skeleton, “It’s the perfect place to have a relaxed meal, and take a break from the fast pace of Hong Kong city life.”

Jason Atherton restaurant hong kong

This is the latest venture of Michelin-starred British chef Jason Atherton, a protege of Gordon Ramsay. The restaurant concept encourages socialization, hence the name.

pmq restaurants, aberdeen st social

Two huge floors with outdoor terraces, set in a green garden — unheard of, in Hong Kong!

fresh pressed juices hong kong

We started with a trifecta of fresh fruit and vegetable juices.

lobster egg benedict

Atherton’s modern British cuisine takes the stuffiness out of fine dining. His brunch menu is a home-run of favorites, including the lobster benedict above.

avocado toast trend

John praises the “simple fare like the avocado on toast with poached eggs, to the amazing flatbreads featuring ingredients such as London cured smoked salmon, Iberico ham, and king oyster mushrooms.”

papadum unique cocktails

Save room for the house-made pastries, like the Sweet Social Cheesecake and Matcha Mascarpone (my personal favorite). And you can’t leave without trying at least one creative cocktail. I enjoyed the Indian-flavored cocktail with a papadum (above), and “What The Doctor Ordered,” served with a pill jar and prescription. 

hong kong brunch restaurants

I also ate at PMQ’s Chinese restaurant, Sohofama – here’s my review.

It’s obvious why PMQ is one of my favorite places to visit in Hong Kong. I’ll be back in HK soon for a new project and video… stay tuned for more!