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Sunday, September 8, 2019

NYFW: Chromat Babes - Spring 2020

chromat ss2020
breast cancer nyfw
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All hail the army of Chromat Babes that stormed the NYFW runway last night. This was by far the most inclusive cast of models I have EVER seen at a major fashion show. The incredible diversity and inclusiveness is a mission of this hot swimwear and bodywear brand, not a pandering gimmick that other designers have shown.
Instead of the token few people of color, or single model of non-stereotypical size, the Chromat show truly represented a range of ALL women, gender fluid fans and male allies. The models represented all the sizes the brand sell. The body types had super curvy, athletic, slim, top-heavy, bottom-heavy, short, tall, maternity, breast cancer survivors, mature fashion divas, babies, you name it.
The looks were very body-conscious, showcasing the body lines of every model with pride. There were some fun cage-like accessories made from covered boning. These pieces acted as dramatic framing for some looks as well as some outfits that lit up (see our YouTube video for Chromat).
The inclusiveness didn't stop at the casting. A significant announcement at the show was that the company was changing its business model. They would no longer sell wholesale, opting to sell directly to the customer as a way to make their pricing more accessible to more fans. Chromat only works with fair trade and ethically produced suppliers, so they couldn't compromise on their production price. That is a massive change for a brand and one that won't be easy.
This was another 9 PM show that completely energized the crowd, had guests dancing in their seats. The goodwill from guests, fans, designers, and producers kept the hype going all night. The finale included a performance by Rico Nasty. Rather than the creative head director or financial owner taking the bow at the end of the show, entire teams from different departments took a bow, showing inclusiveness starts at "home."
Bravo Chromat, for showing NYFW and the fashion industry at large it can be done!
All photos by Mariana Leung

NYFW: Cheetos Fashion Show - House of Flamin' Haute

ami goodheart
Yes, my friends, there IS a Cheetos fashion show at NY fashion week. Chester Cheetah has styled himself the Karl Lagerfeld of snacks and launched The House of Flamin' Haute. 
This was, by far, the CHEESIEST NYFW event I have attended, and it was a whole lot of fun. Guests were invited to get a cheesy makeover, with Cheeto-fied salon services like sparkly flame motif eye makeup, orange manicures and hairstyling with Cheeto branded hair accessories.
Guests could then have a custom Flamin' Hot Cheetos bag made up for them to snack on, and dine on "Flamin' Haute" cuisine in the form if Cheetos crusted sushi, dusted watermelon canapes and such.
The fashion itself was inspired and style by a handful of influencers, from The Hungry Hipsters to Stylist J. Bolin. The final look was a creation made by costume designer Ami Goodheart. The artisan creation was made from the snack itself and upcycled Cheetos packaging. 
The event was topped off with a performance by rapper Saweetie in hot pants (of course) and cute Cheetos hair clips.
The gift bags included branded nail art decals, hair scrunchies, more Cheetos and a big package of hand wipes for that inevitable dust (thoughtful!). It is always entertaining to see non-related fashion brands get in on the NY Fashion week mania. They don't always work, but this one embraced the silliness and made it campy and fun. 
my type rapper
photos by Mariana Leung

Thursday, September 5, 2019

NYFW: Victoria Hayes Spring 2020 Fly Girls

Photos by Mariana Leung

Hey Fly Girl! Victoria Hayes Spring 2020 show at NY Fashion Week was a high energy tribute to the 1990s.
It didn't have literal 90s fashion references, unlike some designers who often put out greatest hits of a particular decade.
The collection was more about the attitude. Think In Living Color's Fly Girls and Jennifer Lopez at her start morphing into the Glamazon diva she would become in the decade after. Big shoulders, swinging toppers, a peek of toned abs were a theme. There were lots of shiny materials, whether it was the faux patent leather, metallics or iridescent. I remember lots of these fabrics being the favorite of design students when I went to Parsons in the 90s.
The difference being the fabrics used here were noticeably upgraded from the club kid looks in my day. Note the prominent jeweled embellishments giving them a luxe edge and paired with multi-layered statement necklaces.
The gigantic spiked hoop earrings in pop colors look like were broken off from the captain's wheel of a ravers' ship. It's like they were intended as a parody of the big hoop earrings of the 1990s.
Usually, the 9 PM slot on the first day of NYFW is a kiss of death. Photographers and editors are fatigued (Ok, I was fatigued). However, seeing the energy of the models and enjoying how fun this collection was, it woke me up and got me cheering at one point because the models were just that fierce. 
I love the signature detail of the giant curved tab feature both on skirts and the huge tote handbag. The stripe effect made by the long hanging tabs and the curved shape was a clever way to show off some leg AND update the fringe look.
Congratulations to Victoria Hayes on an awesome collection for Spring 2020!

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Zang Toi Fall 2019 - God Bless America

Yep, God Bless America is not a happy, carefree statement anymore. Zang Toi, accomplished designer, immigrant, is wonderfully proud of the opportunities he has had. Zang Toi's Fall 2019 collection was a celebration of that in an elegant display of red, white and blue. As always, the clothing was an unapologetic display of luxury for all the guests to dream of.
Sadly, even aspirational, beautiful fashion, and someone who is showing pride for the country that he loves is now a contentious political matter. Sitting front row of this show was Marla Maples and Donald Trump Jr. I know some guests and photographers had decided not to attend because of that. Donald Trump Jr's and everything he represents, all of the disgusting, evil things his father and administration have done churns my stomach. You know what? All of those things have NOTHING to do with the fashion show in front of me. I was there to support an accomplished Asian designer who has shown only support for a diverse bunch of photographers. Zang Toi is a generous, sweet soul who casts the most striking models of all ethnicities, many of whom are also immigrants.
Sumptuous silk velvets dramatic capes and ballgowns, super-luxe denim for daytime. What says American style more than a pair of jeans and sneakers? Season after season I fall in love with a collection that ignores the ugliness outside and creates an elegant ideal for how many people would like to see instead.
The showstoppers were the draped American flag gowns that held an air of World War II pinups and patriotic posters. The hair and makeup were all about vintage Hollywood glamor. If Rosie the Riveter were on the runway this season, her headscarf would be luxurious silk, and denim jumpsuit would be tailored to all of her curves.
I wish fashion could be only about art and beauty, but the country is always in danger of losing both now. Zang Toi's Fall 2019 is taking a stand not to let that happen.
All photos by Mariana Leung

Friday, May 31, 2019

Sichuan Street Style - Throwback Hanfu Fashion

chinese street style
My Dad is traveling around the Sichuan province of China this month. He sent back a few photos of the Chinese street style trend he was surprised to see. Young students everywhere were donning silky robes in the style of historical Hanfu.
While most vintage fashion lovers rarely wear clothing dating back more than the last century, the Hanfu styles of this trend have not been worn in 400 years. The fashion fans are not wearing ancient ancestors garb, many are shopping for updated versions readily available online. They are not wearing them like cosplay. I initially thought perhaps they were emulating historical soap operas.
According to students interviewed in the South China Morning Post, Hanfu fans wear this trend as a way to connect with their roots and past. It is a sense of pride in their identity.
It is hard to imagine Americans dressing up as pilgrims on the street, heading to class or office. That doesn't stop designers from trying to send pilgrim fashion and prairie style down the runway every few years though.
Whether you are knowledgable about the Han people or Chinese history, the style of the Hanfu fashion is quite pretty. Flowing robes and embroidery look elegant and comfortable as far as style trends go. I also like the idea that students are wearing these outfits as a way to identify with their past and ancestors. With the way the United States is divided right now, I am wondering how fashion influencers here would incorporate patriotism and history into their street style, and whether that is possible without controversy?
What do you think of wearing traditional dress as your go-to work outfit? Could you pull off a vintage style that is four centuries old?
I can't wait to see what other trends emerge after Hanfu fashion for Sichuan street style.
photos by David TW Leung

This article - "Sichuan Street Style and Hanfu Fashion" - was featured on Links à la Mode fashion roundup by Independent Fashion Bloggers.
More fashion articles:
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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Met Camp - Met Gala 2019 Exhibit

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gucci met camp exhibit
What is Met Camp? No, it is not a pretentious summer getaway for the fashionably inclined. The Met Gala 2019 exhibit titled Camp: Notes on Fashion explored the various themes of what makes fashion campy based on the ideas put forth in Susan Sontag's essay. Sontag describes camp as “something of a private code, a badge of identity . . . among small urban cliques.”

The curators and directors at the Metropolitan Museum of Art put together a beautiful collection of pieces they consider display the "camp aesthetic." Gender role subversions were a constant theme, from historic female impersonators to drag to emphasizing genitals like Christopher Kane's bodysuits to none at all. If there were a mascot for camp, a drag queen would probably be it. There were glammed up wigs and accessories on display.

While female impersonator Frederick Park from 1868 was credited early on in the exhibit, icons of modern camp aesthetic like Divine, RuPaul, John Waters, legendary performers of drag balls in Harlem, etc. were not acknowledged except for a video clip of Willy Ninja's Deep in Vogue. At least Met Gala guest Lena Waithe sought to correct that with her suited look with "Black Drag Queens Invented Camp" embroidered on the back. Pose's Billy Porter arrived at the gala carried on a platform in full glittering Egyptian God glory. At least ONE look from Dapper Dan was represented at the exhibit. The Met still struggles with diversity and inclusion with both their guest lists and catalog, but at least they are trying with baby steps.

High-end responses to pop culture, from Japanese designer Undercover's beautiful rendition of the twins from The Shining to Heatherette's dress of Hello Kitty dolls. Moschino featured heavily, as did Vivienne Westwood and John Galliano. Bob Mackie (pictured with me below) is a master costume designer who created many of the iconic looks of performers that defined camp as well. Some designer vignettes, like the "Artifacts Past Its Prime" looked very pretty, but I didn't see what was considered campy about them. Balenciaga and Gucci (main sponsor of the show) pieces were beautifully pieced floral looks, but how were they counter-culture to anything?

Personally, I believe what is considered camp is more a mindset than a defined aesthetic, and traditionally, it is the opposite of tasteful, expensive and Haute Couture. It is often a satire, a parody, a vulgar response to the establishment. Designers that an overwhelming percentage of society cannot afford is hardly the most inclusive representation of that. I would have loved to see examples of homemade costumes and looks of individual artists, drag queens, who were truly making a statement as art were represented, instead of just commercial collections. The fans lined up outside across from the museum, barricaded behind gates hoping to see their favorite celebs on the (pink) carpet sported DIY looks that were in the true spirit of the theme in contrast to the designer-clad editors at the press preview.

The Met Camp: Notes on Fashion exhibit was another glossy, gorgeous themed fashion of the elite designers of the last century. A triumph for the team behind it, putting a commoner's idea on a pedestal.
bob mackie met gala

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