Category Archive for Press

Grand Budapest Hotel by Wes Anderson: Lobby Girl movie costume! Odigo Japan startup launch party.

grand budapest hotel costume, lobby girl

I’ve taken on a new job in the travel industry… located in the imagination of filmmaker Wes Anderson. Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve become a Lobby Girl!

grand budapest hotel logo

My costume is inspired by the “Lobby Boy” character in The Grand Budapest Hotel,  which recently won four Oscar awards. Can you believe I’ve watched this movie about 10 times? It’s witty, charming, funny and stylish — Wes Anderson at his best.

moov magazine cover, wes anderson

I couldn’t resist doing a “Lobby Girl” cosplay, in tribute to the Grand Budapest Hotel. Shutterbug James photographed me in character… and it made the cover of Moov Magazine‘s “Best Of” issue!

Later in this post, I’ll share more photos from our shoot. But first, the Lobby Girl had a gala to host… in Tokyo, Japan. 

tokyo tech travel startup

Last month, I flew to Tokyo for the launch of travel start-up, Odigo. We threw a phenomenal party — thanks to my friends who celebrated with me!

japanese demon masks

What went down? Demon masks, an open bar, Italo Disco music, and a photobooth by ROMP.

jrock style fashion

Are we doing the “X Japan” Jrock sign, or “dame-ee” (which means forbidden, in Japanese)? Probably a bit of both.

tokyo party photobooth

I’m happy to officially unveil Odigo to you. The English-language site is for you guys: people who want to travel to Japan, and see all things offbeat and authentic. 

Readers tell me it’s hard to figure out Japanese addresses, and how to get around. With Odigo, you can easily plan a trip that’s tailored to your interests -- where it’s sushi or Sailor Moon.

keroppy maeda, bagelheads japan

Perhaps you’re intrigued by body modifications, such as bagelheads in Japan? Odigo can show you where to find them. (Hint: look for the man behind the bagel, Keroppy Maeda, above.)

japanese punks goths designers

Odigo also helps you discover underground designers like Ako of Blablahospital (far right). Remember I wore her punk fashions in New Orleans?

tokyo club party photos

It was wonderful to reunite with old friends, and meet new ones. We grooved to DJ Swiftt Edits’ Italo Disco playlist…

colorful hor d'oeuvres

… and nibbled on colorful hor d’oeuvres. Despite the rainy day, our party was packed!

odigo travel startup japan

Several attendees got prizes through the lucky draw. (My lace cape is from Black Milk Clothing.)

Streamer Coffee Company meguro

The event was at Streamers Meguro, a coffee house that brewed probably the best latte I’ve ever had in Japan.

Kilo Shop Tokyo meguro

Upstairs is Kilo Shop Tokyo, which has a large selection of vintage designs.

tokyo vintage dresses shop

Payment is by the kilo, rather than per item.

blue purple hair color

The whole team has been working day and night on the launch, and it’s paid off.

takamasa kawasaki, red horse, embracing diversity

How does my Lobby Girl outfit fit with the site’s mission? In my speech, I explained it represents Odigo’s personalized approach to helping travelers plan “an extraordinary journey” to Japan.

(Above, I’m with founder Takamasa Kawasaki, who wrote a book called “The Power of Embracing Diversity.”)

japan cross dress

Like the concierges of the Grand Budapest Hotel, we’re passionate about sharing the best spots and creating a seamless itinerary, which you can download to a mobile phone and simply follow along.

la carmina and friends

Anyone can contribute travel tips to the site, and build upon previous journeys. I encourage you to check out Odigo and add their Facebook to find out more.

lobby boy costume halloween

Now, let me share the photoshoot we did for Moov Magazine’s cover and spread! Funny enough, I actually stayed in a grand hotel in Budapest, in 2013. This setting, however, is the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Vancouver.

wes anderson oscars best costumes

This movie truly is a must see (here’s a link to the digital download). The cinematography, set design and costumes are outstanding: look at the colors! Those military buttons!

grand budapest hotel, hair makeup

We wanted to re-create this feeling, in our images. Huge kudos to my photographer Shutterbug James, assisted by Amy Kay. My crimped hair is the magnificent work of Stephanie Hoy, of Stratosphere Salon in Vancouver, Canada.

concierge, lobby boy outfit

The Lobby Boy’s hat is integral to his look. I DIY-ed a “Lobby Girl” version of the cap — using felt, fabric and letters, which I painted with gold sparkly nail polish.

lobby boy hat, clothing design

My dress is by Spider, the Hong Kong Gothic Lolita / alternative / cosplay fashion brand by Natalie Lam.
These gold-flecked tights are by Gal Stern.

crimped hairstyle

The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver was the ideal setting, with its gilded interiors that date back to the early 20th century.

lobby boy hat, jacket

The interior is full of symmetry and decadent shapes, which would please Mr Anderson. I’ll gladly help guests plan a fun trip…

grand budapest hotel exterior car

… but I’ll let the lobby boys do the heavy lifting. (Above is the hotel exterior, in The Republic of Zubrowka.)

wes anderson halloween costumes

If you haven’t already, you must see the Grand Budapest Hotel (available online!). It’s become my favorite Wes Anderson movie.

lobby boy character costume

The soundtrack by Alexandre Desplat is also wonderfully evocative. The CD is available here; it won the 2015 Oscar for best original score.

goth doll modeling shoot

Cheers to Shutterbug James for the fun photoshoot.

The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver lobby

Do you think we capture the feeling and aesthetics of the movie?

mendl's bakery box

I even made a Mendl’s Bakery box, and we shot this at a nearby patisserie!

wes anderson fans costumes

Thanks to Moov Magazine for putting this Lobby Girl on the cover.

odigo travel launch event

And gratitude to my friends who came to the Odigo launch event.

streamers coffee shop japan

Fashion One wrote an article about my “Tokyo takeover” — soon, you can watch my “day in the life” TV segment with this style network.

tokyo photo booth photographer

And there’s a lot more Japan coverage coming up, including an DecabarZ 80s club night, and a peek inside the Pokemon theme cafe.

trip planning japan tours

If you’re interested in traveling to Japan, check out Odigo. You can plan trips, submit your own spots, and be part of the fun.

What do you think of my Grand Budapest Hotel costume? Are you a Wes Anderson fan like I am?

Oakland Cat Town Cafe, first to open in USA! ABC Nightline TV interview, Shinjuku Tokyo Robot restaurant.

san francisco Cat Town Café

So many maooos! Last December, I was honored to be interviewed on ABC Nightline, the long-running news program that is broadcast worldwide. The network flew me to San Francisco to be interviewed in a segment about cat cafes and the spread of J-pop culture to America.

If you missed this ABC Nightline episode, don’t fret — you can watch it below and on my YouTube channel. It includes footage of the psychedelic Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku, bikini-clad fembots and kawaii maid cafes!

The TV crew and I filmed at the first cat cafe to open in the USA: Cat Town Oakland (near San Francisco). Unlike Japanese kitty cafes, this one has a meaningful mission: to save at-risk abandoned felines.

Want to peek inside Cat Town and a J-pop mall in San Francisco? Then read on.

erbert chong leather skirt

First, details of what I wore on my TV appearance. There’s a mao-mao peeking out from my striped top! It’s actually a dress by Mandycat in Hong Kong. (Here’s a similar striped top with a bat on it.)

Click the items below, to build an outfit like mine!

japanese cute goth shoes

My long, leather skirt is by the young Hong Kong-based designer, Erbert Chong. Everyone is raving about his leather, edgy yet wearable designs for women. I can’t get over the materials and finish of his pieces — they’re some of my favorite items in my wardrobe right now.

My white creeper shoes, with a pirate bear, are Peace Now. This Japanese brand has unfortunately shut down…

cat silver ring

My coiled, silver 3D bracelet is from Angelica Brigade.

Everyone should have a cat ring, in my opinion! Here’s where you can get a cat-faced ring like mine.

cat town cafe, oakland

Trevor joined me for the ABC Nightline TV news shoot at Cat Town (address: 2869 Broadway in downtown Oakland, California). Not a bad job, playing on-camera with a dozen kitties. (Watch the video here).

Like the Shinjuku cat cafe, the space is creatively decorated with all sorts of climbing platforms and toys.

cat town adoption, cafe oakland

Japanese cat cafes — cute as the concept is — tend to operate a bit like petting zoos. These cafes bring in rare purebred species, like exotic shorthairs, for the customers to enjoy.

In contrast, Cat Town is a partnership with Oakland Animal Services. The cafe provides a stimulating environment for shelter cats, especially the ones who are the least likely to be adopted. Volunteers help to run the space, and the goal is to let these abandoned cats blossom and find permanent adoptive homes. 

funny cat in suit portrait

As soon as you step into Cat Town, you feel that the operation is full of heart. The humans who work here puts the needs of the cats first (and the decor reinforces their prime position!)

cat decorated cookies

The coffee shop is separate from the cat-petting area, but you can bring your latte inside and sip it while playing with cats. The cafe focuses on supporting local businesses, and sells small-batch pastries from a local baker, like cookies laced with “Cattitude.” 

cat cafe rules

Like in the Tokyo cat cafes I visited, there are rules to follow, which keep the cats safe. However, unlike in Asia, guests don’t take off their shoes before entering, nor are they required to sanitize their hands.

(Do you see the Scottish Fold drawing in the top corner? It’s the only fold at the cafe, since this round-faced breed rarely ends up in animal rescues.)

abc nightline tv show reporters

I’ve been chatting with ABC Nightline’s team for some time now, and gave them travel tips when they went to Tokyo. As a follow-up for their Tokyo pop culture stories, I appeared on the show to give background and context on maid, cat and robot cafes in Japan.

Here I am with ABC News presenter Cecilia Vega, and producer / director Nick Capote. They’re so sweet, and we had a fun day together!

Oakland Animal Shelter cats

Cecilia and I wandered around Cat Town, and played with the cats. It’s great to see the strays thriving in this cat-tastic environment.

interior cat cafe oakland california

You can grab a cat toy, and they’ll pounce all over it. The walls are covered with colorful murals, including artwork of Grumpy Cat, Totoro, Nyan Cat and more pop culture icons.

first american cat cafe

The custom-built playgrounds are a tip of the hat to San Francisco’s landmarks, like the Tribune building.

cecelia vega, abc news reporter

Cecilia Vega and I chatted about the appeal of cat cafes, the spread of Japanese concept cafes to North America, and more. Watch our conversation on the ABC Nightline segment. 

oakland cat town

Peekaboo, I see you! The cats have a private room in the back where they can escape the crowds and sleep.

A few of the kitties couldn’t take their paws off our film equipment. Several took a nap in a camera bag.

adopt cats, cat cafe usa

Rescuing and re-homing cats continue to be a challenge in cities worldwide. Animal shelters do great work, but are over-crowded and stressful.

So far, Cat Town is succeeding at giving them space to thrive. 

abc nightline tokyo theme cafes

Already, adoption rates are up: customers will play with the cats and fall in love with one. All the adoptions go through a screening process, to make sure the pets go to secure homes.

cat town, first american cat cafe

The volunteers genuinely care about the cats, and do the best for them. As an example, I noticed that they feed the kitties Wellness — a byproduct-free, grain-free brand that I feed my own Scottish Fold baby, Basil Farrow. The staff told me that they turned down sponsorship offers from big-name cat food companies, since this mass-produced food doesn’t contain the best ingredients for their health. Go Cat Town!

steampunk cat tattoo

Another instance of dedication: co-founder Adam has a tattoo of their coffee partner’s logo (Bicycle Coffee), with cat-ears and whiskers. On the left, Trevor strokes a black cat, which matches his look.

san francisco cat animal shelter

For these reasons, I’ve been recommending Cat Town to everyone who visits San Francisco. It’s the first cat cafe to open up in America, and hopefully sets the standard for a meaningful, adoption-oriented approach.

Entry is by donation; you can reserve a guaranteed visitation time with a minimum $10 donation. Every hour, about 20 people are allowed into the space, and you can play with about 10-15 felines.

waraku ramen, japantown san francisco

Trevor, the ABC team and I took a quick lunch break in SF’s Japan Town. I’m still thinking about the ramen at Waraku, it was that good!

japanese street fashion couple

We continued filming for the episode at New People World, the Japanese fashion mall. (The address and a tour of the boutiques are in my San Francisco shopping guide.)

maruq store, new people world

MaruQ, located on the first floor, remains my favorite store in the Jpop mall. So much cuteness in one room, including brands like Ayammy, Omocat and Liz Lisa.

rilakkuma toys, cute japanese mall

Raise your paw if you love Rilakkuma the bear! (Sadly, this segment was cut from the ABC Nightline feature, but I still wanted to share these images with you.)

japantown san francisco clothing shops

Cecilia and I walked around the store, and chatted about the growing popularity of Japanese street fashion in America. Can you spot Trevor in the background?

cat print dress, japanese goth tattoos

Gothic tattoos and a rainbow cat dress: spooky meets sweet, that’s how we roll.

san francisco gyaru, jpop

The shop girls are adorable as ever. They’re modeling a variety of looks from Japanese style tribes.

yellow heart shaped sunglasses

Trevor couldn’t resist getting these sunglasses. “And I won’t break your heart shaped glasses.”

For more info on where to get Goth, vintage, alternative and kawaii clothing, check out my San Fran shopping guide.

furry rainbow backpacks

A million “arigatos” for the ABC Nightline team, for having me on the program!

new people world fashion mall

Please take a moment to watch my interview on ABC Nightline! The segment includes crazy footage from the Robot Restaurant in Japan (with robot-women performers), maid cafes, and cat cafes in Tokyo and California.

scottish fold cat cafe

Have you ever been to a cat cafe? Would you want one to open in your hometown?

Shop my ABC TV outfit below…

Asia fashion magazine Kirameki: cover model! Japanese kabuki makeup.

la carmina makeup, kirameki asiatique magazine cover

I don’t often do editorial photoshoots, with avantgarde hair and makeup… but when the opportunity arises, I go all out. Kirameki Magazine asked me to be the cover model for their 10th anniversary issue, and I brought in my talented Vancouver team to create these images.

We’re happy to announce that the Asiatique issue of Kirameki Magazine is out now — featuring me on the cover, and in a spread and interview!

moi meme moitie dress print

I’m so happy with how the images turned out. All the credit goes to my team:

Photographer: Shimona Henry
Makeup artist: Jennifer Little of A Little Artistry
Hair stylist: Stephanie Hoy at Avant Garde Hair Studio, Vancouver
Assistant: Katherine Dockrill

ophelia makeup, hair flowers

Kirameki is a fashion magazine with a theme for each issue. We interpreted “Asiatique” with makeup and styles from a variety of Asian influences.

japanese goth hairstyle, victory rolls

This look is inspired by kawaii Harajuku anime-eyes, and Japanese street fashion. The two hair rolls almost look like cat ears — the look is very “me,” don’t you think?

asia gothic model, japanese fashion modeling

I’m wearing a Moi-meme-Moitie graveyard dress (the print is called Sleeping Garden), bought in Tokyo. This brand was created by Mana, guitarist/leader of Malice Mizer and Moi dix Mois, if you aren’t familiar with it. I also wore this EGL (Elegant Gothic Lolita) dress to the LA Oscars party.

japan goth girl, egl dress lolita

Ankle boots: hair stylist’s own
Tights: Jonathan Aston

japanese hair color, la carmina

We collected fresh flowers and placed them all around the bed. Downtown Vancouver’s Georgian Court Hotel generously let us shoot these images in one of their suites. (I previously reviewed this luxury boutique hotel; it’s one of my hometown favorites.)

swimming pool modeling photos

The Georgian Court even let us shoot in their whirlpool, resulting in these dramatic underwater images!

skeleton swimsuit dress swimming

Black lace dress: c/o Salsit (I wore it in my cherry blossoms outfit post)
Skeleton bathing suit: c/o Little Wicked’s Emporium (I wore it in Bangkok)

japanese kabuki makeup mask face

Forever grateful to makeup artist Jennifer Little, who went into the water to help me float — or else I wouldn’t have managed these poses!

waterproof makeup

Stunning, the kabuki-like mask that she painted on my face.

modeling in swimming pool

Jennifer also did my makeup for Alt Noir Gothic magazine and more. Check out more of her works, including award winning bodypainting, on A Little Artistry and her Facebook.

silk japanese kimono, wet hair

Kimono robe: makeup artist’s own, a vintage silk number.

chinese sequin cheongsam dress

For the third look, I’m wearing a traditional sequined Chinese dress called a cheoungsam. I got it in an Asian fashion boutique.

traditional chinese dress, makeup hair

My hair got some poof thanks to a 1980s crimper. The blue color, cut and styling are by Stephanie Hoy — ask for her at Avant Garde Hair in Yaletown, Vancouver!

chinese cheongsam flowers

Love the mood captured by Shimona Henry, who runs Pin Up Perfection in Vancouver. As the name indicates, she’s a pro at pin up and alternative portraits. She’s fast and fun to shoot with, and I’m excited to do more with her soon.

modeling behind scenes

A behind-the-scenes peek at Jennifer, me, and Stephanie. Wish we could have had a slumber party at the Georgian Court.

Hugs for my team — I love how the photos and concept came together, and couldn’t have done this without you!

la carmina hairstyle, goth model

And thank you to Kirameki Magazine for honoring me with the cover. I hope you’ll order a copy of the magazine – both digital and print copies are available. You don’t want to miss the full spread and extensive interview with me, along with other inspiring Asia fashion features.

Which of these three styles do you like best? What do you think of these more dramatic looks on me?

Shinjuku Hello Kitty store: Sanrio clothes & Tokyo cute food! Hong Kong Express Airways magazine cover.

hello kitty dress, shinjuku fashion, tokyo street snap

I know you love cute Japanese characters, so I captured tons of photos during my TV shoot in Tokyo earlier this year (hence the pink hair). I’m actually in Japan right now, for yet another TV filming, so there are many more photos on the way…

For now, enjoy these images of Totoro donuts, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu contact lenses and more kawaii — as well as another magazine cover, for a Hong Kong in-flight magazine!

shinjuku street, buildings, tokyo kabukicho

Last spring, I had sakura-colored hair. Before the TV crew arrived, Naomiyaki took some street snaps of me in Shinjuku. The colorful energy of this entertainment district (which holds Christon Cafe, Marui One, host clubs and more) can’t be beat.

Miffy the bunny cape: from the TwoPercent x Miffy store in Hong Kong
White dress: gifted by Gloomth, my dark fashion friends in Toronto
Lolita lace purse: Spider, Hong Kong

hello kitty statue, sanrio store shinjuku, Sanrio Gift Gate

My Hello Kitty shoes are ridiculous: red and white, with a big plump bow! They are part of the KiLaRa Hello Kitty fashion collection in Hong Kong.

I’m hugging the iconic giant Hello Kitty statue, who sits in front of Shinjuku’s Sanrio Gift Gate shop. (Address: 1st Floor, Korakuen Ad Hoc Building, 3-15-11 Shinjuku). It’s one of the many Hello Kitty shops you’ll find in Tokyo.

However, probably the largest and scariest source of Sanrio goods is Puroland, the Hello Kitty theme park

hello kitty nail art, keroppy nails, japanese cute gel nail art

Glam Nail Studio Vancouver decorated me with pastel nail art, ringed with glitter and topped with a Keroppy. As always, I use Bio Sculpture Gel (the polish never chips, but also doesn’t damage the nail as acrylics do).

my melody megane, bath balls, hello kitty products

As you might expect, there are Hello Kitty products all over Tokyo. The products in the official Sanrio shops are often pricier, but you can find little souvenirs (like these My Melody bath balls) in Don Quixote, Tokyu Hands, and even 100 yen stores.

totoro cakes, totoro pastries, cute donuts

When you walk around the city, you’ll surely encounter cute decorated food! These Totoro pastries, from a Nakano North Exit bakery, were among the most adorable. I also found Anpanman and happy face buns nearby. (Offerings change constantly, so your best bet is to pop your head into bakeries and see what’s currently available.)

mr donut lion, cute face donuts

Mr. Donut’s Pon de Lion mascot brightens up this snack. They recently released a Halloween Hello Kitty donut, and currently offer Snoopy and Woodstock ones.

anman, cat bun, cat face bread

Even convenience stores like 7-Eleven have kawaii food. In Cantonese, this cat bun would be called a “maoo baoo”!

white cat sake, japanese kitty rice wine

In a ramen shop, I spotted this white cat on a bottle of sake. It’s “Nigorin Sake with Lactic Bacterium” — a light, milky sour made from fermented rice alcohol. Even though the bottle is adorable, I didn’t dare try it.

don quixote japan, japanese kawaii cosmetics

Don Quixote is a “general store” with locations all around Tokyo. (The iconic location is on Yasakuni-doori near the Shinjuku Station east exit.) Here, you can pick up cosmetics, beauty products, homewares and even electronics for excellent prices.

kyaru pamyu pamyu makeup, hairstyle, kyary contact lens, eyelashes

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is the present It Girl, and poster child for a line of circle colored contact lenses.

japanese hair dye, junie moon doll, palty, fresh light

Even Japanese hair dyes have pretty packaging. The “Fresh Light” brand is modeled by Junie Moon dolls (remember my photos of the Junie Moon doll store in Daikanyama?)

french maid costumes, tokyo cosplay outfits, maid cafe costume

There’s no better place to pick up a French maid or Japanese schoolgirl costume.

japanese circle contacts, contact lens, novelty lenses

Turn into a living doll with the help of colored contacts (like the ones I wore here).

rilakkuma slippers, kawaii bear

Rilakkuma fans, you may go a bit crazy…

rilakkuma crane game, shinjuku game center

This plush bear is a popular sight all over town. There must be hundreds in this crane game machine.

rilakkuma stuffed toys,japanese teddy bear

Who are your favorite Japanese kawaii characters? Have you tried making food in the shape of Hello Kitty and friends?

For recipes and tips on how to “cook cute,” I invite you to check out my book, Cute Yummy Time (Penguin Books USA). Perhaps it might be a good Christmas gift.

hong kong express airways, uo magazine

PS: In addition to Rebelicious, I’m on another cover this month: the very first issue of UO, the in-flight magazine of Hong Kong Express Airways. This is a newly-launched airline, with routes from Hong Kong to nearby destinations such as Tokyo, Osaka, Phuket, and Penang.

chinese airline magazine, hong kong airlines

Thanks to this youth-focused, short-haul airline for making me their cover ambassador, and interviewing me about my favorite places in Tokyo. You can read UO Magazine online here, in both English and Chinese. (Photos by Said Karlsson, hair by Kukukachoo, more images from this shoot here.)

I’ll likely be doing more with HK Express soon, so stay tuned for that… and loads of Japan winter coverage!