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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

NYFW: Zang Toi Fall 2024 Pays Tribute to His Brother See Luon

NYFW Fall 2024 was a season of deeply emotional collections. Last night, Designer Zang Toi's fashion show served as a celebration of life for his beloved brother, See Luon. A beautiful rendition of "Amazing Grace" was sung at the end of the runway. At the same time, the House of Toi family gathered on the runway with roses. Show guests and models were personally invited to pay tribute as well. You may have read my previous runway reports of Zang Toi shows and how they are loved by the photographer riser. One of the many reasons the House of Toi is devoted was the famous curried chicken sandwiches, often handmade by See Luon himself to nourish photographers who often waited hours to shoot the collection. 

Tonight's riser was a reunion of longtime press corps photographers, many of whom traveled to the city from far away to shoot this show specifically after skipping many other designers for NY Fashion Week. 

 The collection itself took inspiration from vintage Parisian glamour. Long fishtail gowns in velvet, luxurious brightly colored furs, sparkling jeweled details. The palette was a romantic black, red, hot pink, and rich orange. Motifs of roses were woven throughout in prints and embroidered appliques. The daytime looks had graphic prints with the same color palette and ladylike vintage silhouettes. Beauty-wise, deep red lipstick, and a red accent in the slicked-back hair was the season's look. 

For anyone who doubts that fashion design can be meaningful or therapeutic, just sampling Fall 2024 collections should answer that inquiry. I want to think that See Luon was watching the show from above, loving the gorgeous work that he supported and inspired, and saw a room full of people there to appreciate his contribution.

Photos by Mariana Leung
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Monday, February 12, 2024

NYFW: The Blonds FUEGO


The Blonds brought the heat to the Starrett Lehigh runway Saturday night. Their collection, FUEGO, was a tribute to Latin culture, the fiery, the strong, and the stylish figures who inspired them. Design-wise, this manifested itself into dimensional flame appliques in snake patterns and metallic leather and crystal-encrusted details. 

The Blonds as a label is not for day-to-day lifestyle wardrobes. They are one-of-a-kind statement pieces favored by the biggest entertainment icons like Beyonce, Lady Gaga, and Miley Cyrus. You need charisma (and some strong muscles) to carry off any of these larger-than-life looks. You need a hefty budget for the handmade pieces, but consider it an investment for your worldwide tour. 

If you were a nightlife fixture in the 1990s, this aesthetic would seem familiar as a muse. Legendary club divas like Diane Brille and drag queens were in the audience, as well as entertainers like Becky G.

The hair and makeup of course had to be on the same level. I watched the wigs, which were as sculptural as the clothing, being built up backstage. I have never seen winged eyeliner ready to take flight more than the models on this night.

Watching this runway, I felt nostalgic for a time in New York when going OUT was a production. Sure, a chill night at home is appealing, but I miss when the process of getting ready was as much fun as the destination. The Blonds will forever capture that era.

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Saturday, February 10, 2024

NYFW: AdoreMe's Romantic Takeover, Plus, Ashanti!

Are you ready for romance? AdoreMe's inclusive lingerie collection opened and got NY Fashion Week off to a sexy start. When this brand first came on my radar, I was impressed that it claimed to have over 60 sizes. As a technical designer, fitting intimate apparel is already tough, let along for an extensive range of sizes as they claimed to offer. 

I first tried their offerings in 2020 when I was a different size. I tried them again in recent seasons. I am not proportional, finding bras particularly hard to find. I must say, for their cute, themed collections, cut-outs, straps, etc. Their fit was spot-on! Their prices are reasonable, which is another tough thing to do for detailed lingerie. 

While many companies claim to be inclusive in their sizing, they don't show that in their marketing. This runway appeared to show models that flaunted their full range of sizing in all shapes with great attitude. 

The lineup was divided into three moods, with the design director narrating the runway in the style of "Bridgerton". The first was ready for Valentine's Day, the second had a more tropical palette, the final group had a bridal theme. 2023's bow trend was going strong as the top accesory for hair, bras and butts.

As a surprise, the fashion show closed with a surprise performance by superstar Ashanti. The glowing singer slayed the stage in a sexy leather outfit and jewel-studded microphone. The entire crowd joined in singing with her in the after-party. 

Happy Valentine's Day!
Photos by Mariana Leung

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Friday, January 19, 2024

NYFW: Custo Barcelona SS24


When I think of SPRING 2024 collections from this past NY Fashion Week, Custo Barcelona's SS24 runway was the first to come to mind. The sunny rays of yellow, sky blue and statement shades from the runway are exactly what I needed on this frigid, snow-filled week. I am looking forward to warmer, brighter days, hopefully in the coming weeks! 
Many of the looks were breezy, sheer and flowing. While I shiver here in the show, I daydream of these Custo Barcelona outfits on the beach boardwalk in warmer times. I always loved this brand's mix of patterns and color. This spring, the design details also include sexy cut-outs, continuing a popular trend from recent seasons. Also, some sparkly embellishments accent daytime looks. While the silhouettes are can be more relaxed, the designer wanted to make sure that casual, athleisure is a thing of Covid past. This label has never been for the wallflower, and that's what makes is so fun. Bring on the sun!

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Saturday, December 30, 2023

NYFW: Ashlyn So Spring 2024




Ashlyn So is proof that talent and age are not exclusive. She has the distinction of being the youngest designer to have shown at NYFW. Her inspirations run deep, perhaps surprising for someone so young. Her creations were a response to working through thoughts around mental health this season. That translated into avant-garde silhouettes, innovative textures, liquid fabrics that could be interpreted in abstract way. The cellist playing on the runway provided a thoughtful, contemplative ambience to the presentation. 

Ashlyn So could be racking up the press mentions for her designs and age, but more impressively, her work as an activist is what she is remembered for. Her collections are reactionary to issues like anti-Asian discrimination and #StopAsianHate. Another recent collection for Paris cited Asian icon Bruce Lee as muse. She is as comfortable taking a bow on the runway as she is speaking at the United Nations. 

I can't to see what else Ashlyn So has in store for us next on the world stage!





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Monday, September 11, 2023

NYFW: Dur Doux Spring/Summer 2024


It is September and hot and humid as hell. It would take a stellar collection and event to get me to wander out in the thunderstorms. and the Dur Doux show Saturday night was it. Mother and daughter designers Cathy and Najla Burt presented "Sous-Marine" a collection that pays tribute to the delicate marine life of their native Florida. 
Dur Doux has been a label committed to sustainable practices and this season features eco-friendly Italian knits fabrics certified by OEKO-TEX.
The reds, pinks, and golds evoke the corals, flamingos and sunsets. The body-conscious silhouettes are the best of beach-worthy glamour. 
I will always be a sucker for any fashion label that brings family together. Just look at that hug from the finale!
All photos by Mariana Leung

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