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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Fashion Designers Pivot to Sewing Masks for Healthcare Pros

Christian Siriano led the charge to answer Governor Cuomo's plea for help. In turn, he inspired me, and many other fashion designers into sewing masks for healthcare professionals who need them. My little fashion accessories brand is part of the NY Handmade Collective. Our team members are furiously cranking out cotton masks that will be used by medical facilities, seniors, and other vulnerable people. There is a drastic shortage of N95 masks that are needed to protect against the Coronavirus. The grassroots efforts by me, many of my industry colleagues, design studios, crafters, sewers are a great way to stay productive and help the front line workers during the crisis. Personally, being able to do something active to help went a long way in helping my anxiety and feeling helpless.
Craft stores like Jo-Ann's are offering pre-cut fabrics to anyone who wants to sew them for free at their stores.
Facebook group Sew the Curve Flat has a running list of facilities that need masks and lots of resources for best practices and patterns. It's also just a great group for support.
I am so touched at how many people shared my original social media posts and have come forward to volunteer. Even those who don't sew were keen to contribute. There is a website designer who would create a site for donations. Another was a food truck influencer who volunteered to pick up supplies and deliver masks. The goodwill here was exactly what I needed in contrast to the media reports of hoarding, ignorant politicians, scary statistics, and xenophobic attacks I felt overwhelmed with.
In a time of global crisis, kindness is the one thing that we can all participate in together, and ultimately will be what saves most of us. We can't control politicians or science, but we have complete control over how we choose to act towards others. Take back how you spend your time and how you perceive the world around you. Find something to do that makes you happy right now and brings you fulfillment. If it also helps others, that's good karma that you can use too.

This post was featured on Links à la Mode fashion roundup by Independent Fashion Bloggers.
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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Couture Combats COVID-19


There is no one in the fashion industry that I know that hasn't been affected by COVID-19. Many, like myself, have lost work as a freelancer for the foreseeable future. Photographers, writers, designer consultants, producers, models, everyone connected to the industry without a salaried job, and works in the gig economy will be hurting financially. Others are working from home for brands that are losing millions in sales, so their job security is threatened. Some are risking their lives because their clients and managers are forcing them to work onsite and travel. I could go on and on, but I would instead highlight where fashion brands are doing something to fight the global pandemic:

Prada donates ICUs

Italy was the first European country to be crippled by the Coronavirus. Much of that had to do with an aging population and a lack of facilities. In response, the Prada family contributed “two complete intensive care and resuscitation units each to Milan’s hospitals of Vittore Buzzi, Sacco, and San Raffaele.” Other Italian designers contributing to the efforts include Donatella Versace and Giorgio Armani, who made financial donations.

LVMH Fragrance Division Making Sanitizer to Donate

Parent company to Louis Vuitton, Bulgari and Moet & Chandon, LVMH is leveraging its fragrance factories to make hand sanitizers instead. They will be donating the hydroalcoholic gels to health facilities in France to battle the shortage of sanitizers around the country.

Nike donates $15 million

The Oregon-based company has about 12 000 employees in the state, and the HQ is closed at least until the end of April. Nike is donating the majority of the 15 million dollars towards relief efforts in their local community, with some of the funds also going towards the Boston, Memphis, and overseas offices.

Christian Siriano Pledges To Make Masks

New York's governor made a plea for manufacturers to produce masks to combat the dangerous shortage of protective gear for workers on the front lines. Designer Christian Siriano pledged his team, manufacturing capabilities to help make this happen.

So what can you, as a fashion fan, do to help the many people around the world affected by the Coronavirus? If you are in a position to hire someone remotely, even if it is not fashion, that would be great. Fashion writers, photographers, marketing pros adapt quickly to other industries. For independent brands, do some online shopping! If you need to try clothes on in person, you can always buy yourself or friend a gift certificate and spend it later.  Not in a financial position to shop or hire? If nothing else, send your fashion friends some online support, a good review, social media shoutout, or just call them. Stay connected. Hell, you can try on all your favorite outfits via video chat and get some feedback. Together we can all conquer COVID-19.


This post was featured on Links à la Mode fashion roundup by Independent Fashion Bloggers.
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    Tuesday, February 18, 2020

    Zang Toi Fall 2020 - New York New York

    New Yorkkkkkk! Zang Toi's fall 2020 collection brought all the glamor home this season with a tribute to NYC.
    Toi's NYFW shows are usually a classic, escapist fantasy inspired by jet setting destinations. Classical music, big band, aristocratic soundtracks often accompanied his elegant runways.
    For fall 2020, his muse is his adopted home of New York. While the clothing was no less luxurious, it had a distinctive, urban, sharper, almost grittier appeal?
    You could hear the change before the first model with a thumping contemporary soundtrack, beginning with Jay-Z's now-iconic New York duet with Alicia Keys. It continued with other rappers who expressed their love for Gotham, only ending with Frank Sinatra's New York, New York, for his final bow.
    The day looks had chic shades of gray tweed, black, representing the elegance of the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The architectural looks gave way to lots of black (the unofficial uniform of the NY fashion set) paired with ultra-bright pop colors like red, fuschia, purple, green, blue inspired by the Downtown art scene. The color palette brought me back to the urban glam and polished looks that dominated billboards in 90s New York.
    Most stunning were the looks incorporating the New York City skyline with intricate embroidery and beading.
    Zang Toi has been somewhat controversial the past few seasons by having members of the Trump family as guests and having Rudy Giuliani sit front row for this show. While I can't vouch for his politics, Giuliani WAS mayor of the city during one of its most difficult times. 
    In the previous season, the show was held at the Women's Republican house, which made non-Republicans uncomfortable. Zang expressed how Ivana Trump was an early supporter of his business, as well as the rest of the family, and he wanted to show his appreciation of his opportunities, politics or not. 
    Here is where I learned a lot about diplomacy from Zang Toi: As an immigrant and employer of immigrants, he made a point of having all of the guests stand for the Malaysian national anthem, in a room of barely concealed MAGA hats. The collection that year was of traditional Malayasian silhouettes and textiles, giving guests an instant education on another culture whether they liked it or not. Third, while the Republicans stocked their seats with GOP trophy wives, Toi likely brought more diversity and inclusiveness from HIS guest list (like me) than that building has ever seen, forcing everyone to mingle and socialize.
    As a designer, you can choose to ignore all politics. You can choose to design your collection and make the clothes an instrument of political messages (like Pyer Moss). You can choose to make your presentation an expression of your beliefs like Naeem Khan. Zang Toi, as a designer chose a fourth option, to use fashion as an occasion to bring disparate groups together to appreciate something together, the beauty of style.
    I plan on voting and urge everyone who cares about their fellow human beings to vote. We all know which party and which candidates do and don't care about people from their actions and words. Keep it classy. Keep it kind. Make Zang Toi and his beloved New York Proud!
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    Thursday, February 13, 2020

    Sukeina Fall 2020


    I love discovering new labels. Sukeina is a favorite of supermodels like Naomi Campbell and Natalia Vodianova. The glamorous statement looks are the creation of Senegalese designer Omar Salam. Like me, he is an alumnus of Parsons School of Design. His resume before launching his own label include Sonia Rykiel and Christian Lacroix. 
    Salam's Fall 2020 collection brought in neon brights, bright pastels, and primary colors. Luxe details included embroidery on sporty mesh. Voluminous ostrich feathers brought high drama to this runway for his evening looks.
    origami folds
    For Sukeina day looks. The suiting and tailored looks sported a signature pleating detail with origami folds. These were a great way to elevate "work clothes" from utilitarian to wearable art. 
    I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next!
    Photos by Mariana Leung


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    Monday, February 10, 2020

    Pornhub x Namilia Fight Asian Stereotypes at NYFW

    namilia asian nyfw
    asa akira runway model
    Kung Pao! Me So Horny. Namilia designers Nan Li and Emilia Pfohl struck out against the fetishization of Asian women in pop culture and adult entertainment. Their partner in this mission? None other than Pornhub.com and adult film star Asa Akira. 
    This dynamic runway featured an all Asian model cast. By Asian, this didn't mean only East Asian or South Asian, the models spanned all shades, colors, shapes that represent the diversity within the community. The tongue-in-cheek collection skewered (sometimes literally) the various fetish, submissive, objectification of women are subjected to in entertainment and in real life. Whether the microaggressions have to do with food, racism in regards to the Coronavirus, characters like Chun Li or Dragon Lady cliches, the looks on the catwalk mocked them in sexy, stylish fashion.
    The message the models got across was that they would crush these stereotypes and the idiots that imposed them in their claws or under the considerable, big heavy shoes and feet (a deliberate contradiction to dainty bound feet I'm sure).
    To be honest, when I first read "Pornhub," I chuckled, wondering how a site where clothing seems irrelevant would be anything more than a stunt collaboration. After seeing Namibia's sex-positive, woman empowered history, and Pornhub's record of "woke" adult entertainment (check out their campaigns for environmental conservation and saving the bees), this collection was very timely.
    Many of my community are celebrating Lunar Near Year this week. As an Asian-American, of course, I have dealt with the stereotypes both professionally and personally, so this collection resonated with me quite a bit. The fact that the fashion is fun and sexy is a bonus.
    Rock on, ladies!

    This post was featured on Links à la Mode fashion roundup by Independent Fashion Bloggers.
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    Sunday, February 9, 2020

    Badgley Mischka Fall 2020

    This is the week of romance for NY Fashion Week. The Badgley Mischka Fall 2020 collection was exactly what I wanted to see ahead of Valentine's Day. There were my favorite fabrics of velvet and silks. There were tons and tons of opulent embroidery on long sweeping gowns. Big pouf sleeves are all over the runways I have shot so far and continued here. Most of the silhouettes were very curvy, with a mermaid or trumpet silhouettes. The shapes were generally slim, with no giant ballgowns. 

    Look at this elaborate embellishment. I am drooling. There were big chunky jewels used. Also, fabric flower appliques, handmade, cut, torn, and then stitched. In the world of fast fashion, it is decoration like the pieces in this collection that separate luxury from the masses. 
    Do you see this beautiful headpiece? This was the signature accessory of the Badgley Mischka fall 2020 collection. There were several variations of this jeweled, beaded vine-like headpiece that wrapped around the back of the head to frame the pulled back topknot hairstyles.
    The designer duo is clearly gunning for the red carpet and gala crowd here. They deserve it.
    Which is your favorite look?

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