Ki Hong Lee’s Debut Film “The Maze Runner” Premieres Today

 

On a cool summer afternoon, Ki Hong Lee casually types on a laptop at a small coffee shop in the heart of Koreatown. Sipping tea out of a plastic to-go cup, the rising star looks relaxed as he greets me with an easy smile, ready for one of many interviews surely to come for the young actor.

Lee is standing on the edge of major success. On September 19, the Korean American actor will appear on big screens across America in the 20th Century Fox film The Maze Runner, based on the bestselling young adult sci-fi trilogy by James Dashner, alongside fellow actors Dylan O’Brien, Will Poulter, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Patricia Clarkson.

Lee stars as Minho, one of the many boys trapped in an area known as the Glade, which is surrounded by a large maze. The boys send “Runners” into the maze to find an escape from the Glade. However, the puzzle isn’t the only obstacle they face; “Grievers,” large creatures with multiple mechanical arms, stand in their way. Minho is the Keeper of the Runners and is brave, smart and levelheaded. When another boy, Thomas, is sent to the Glade, Minho befriends him and together, they set off on a thrilling, action-packed adventure.

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For Lee, landing the role of Minho was a dream come true. But getting the part was like navigating through a different kind of labyrinth.

“I went to read for the casting director several times,” he says. “We got close to booking, but it didn’t happen. Then we sent a final tape to the producers around Christmastime [in 2012]. I was literally sitting at home waiting by the phone. … But there was no answer. So when 2013 came, January and February goes by and still nothing.”

Then Lee got a call from casting director Denise Chamian. She told him to buy the book and start reading it. Lee was “pumped and excited.” From there, Chamian sent Lee on a series of seven or eight more auditions.

“It was tough,” he says. “But then I got the call from my agent that I got it. Throughout the whole process, Denise and [director] Wes Ball pushed hard for me; they had my back. I can’t talk about this movie without thanking them.”

 

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Born in Seoul, Lee left the peninsula and moved to Auckland, New Zealand, when he was 6 years old. Two years later, Lee’s family made their way to the United States. They ended up running Tofu Village, a Korean restaurant in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo.

While attending school and waiting tables for his parents at the small eatery, Lee also went to church. During a retreat, Lee got roped into acting in a skit for his congregation.

“I loved it,” he remembers. “But I never took a theater class in high school. I don’t know why; I just focused on school, and I was more into sports, [like] basketball and tennis.”

While Lee did act here and there for his church, he didn’t seriously think about it until college. Lee majored in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, but not wanting to go to graduate school, he turned to acting instead. He took an acting class and decided to give it a try for one year.

“That was so naive of me,” he says. “I soon realized I had a lot to learn, and I still do. Acting is the same as any other profession; you have to put your work in.”

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With the support of his parents, Lee worked hard. He studied Korean and American actors. He learned that he had to do his job well and not expect things to just magically happen. He knew he had to put himself out there and go on multiple auditions.

Lee also had to surmount his ethnicity and pursue roles that weren’t just the stereotypical Asian character. He believed that if he could hone his craft well enough, he would stand out among his peers and people wouldn’t see the color of his skin, but rather the quality of his acting. Lee pushed himself and, despite the initial rejections, stayed the course.

His tenacity paid off. In 2010 he began acting in small parts. In 2011, Lee landed a major role on the short-lived ABC series The Nine Lives of Chloe King. “I was like a kid in a candy store,” says Lee. “I got to go to work every day on a television set and live my dream. … I learned so much.” Lee’s next project is a pilot for an ABC sci-fi drama, The Whispers, set to debut next year.

But for now, expect Lee to be swept up in the whirlwind that is the press tour for The Maze Runner. And if things go well, expect a sequel, The Scorch Trials (director Wes Ball just announced that they may start shooting in the fall), in which Minho also prominently features. As for Lee, his expectations are more modest: “I’m taking everything day by day, and I’m trying to improve as an actor with each project I do. Being given a chance to do what I love is the best job I can have.”

 

– STORY BY CAROL PARK
This story was originally published in our Fall 2014 issue. Get your copy here

 

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Get to Know Singer-Songwriter Malea McGuinness

 

HERITAGE: Korean, Irish, Scotch

BORN: Killeen, Texas; raised in Long Island, N.Y., and currently based in Los Angeles

CLAIM TO FAME: The classically trained musician, who got her start on Broadway and once toured with Kenny Loggins, has reinvented herself once again with a recent Top 20 hit on Billboard’s Dance Chart for her song “Give (Promise Land Remix).” Her 2013 hit “Rainbow Girl (Papercha$er Remix)” has already reached more than 50 million plays, and she is currently in the studio with Dutch songwriter-producer Tearce “Kizzo” Keaz.

 


My go-to karaoke song: I’ve only done karaoke once, in Koreatown, and I sang “Sweet Child of Mine” very badly.

Last time I cried: Watching The Normal Heart on HBO, about the start of the AIDS epidemic.

What always makes me laugh: My dogs and my baby girl.

My go-to comfort food: Pizza.

Last thing I ate: Cuban food from Versailles: plantains, beans and rice with this amazing garlic sauce.

Currently on repeat: Kiesza’s “Hideaway.”

A guilty pleasure I don’t feel guilty about: Crashing out in front of the TV at the end of the day.

Current favorite place: Cross Creek in Malibu.

Favorite drink: Vodka mojito, extra sweet.

Pet peeve: Drivers with the “Only I exist” syndrome.

Habit I need to break: Diet Coke.

Hidden talent: Mind control.

Talent I’d like to have: Bellydancing.

Word I most overuse: “Like.”

Most treasured possession: They’re not possessions, but I would say my two dogs, Tc and Jonah.

Favorite hashtag: #too#many#hashtags. I tweet to stay in touch with fans, but I really hate talking about myself all the time.

Motto: I would/wouldn’t like that person in my foxhole.

What’s cool about being Asian: Asian don’t crack.

My job in another life: Astrologer … or working with animals.

This story was originally published in our Fall 2014 issue. Get your copy here

 

 

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Top 7 New York Fashion Week Style Favorites

 

Catwalk galleries and runway shows are important when it comes to fashion weeks, but the real highlight may be the different and unique styles people bring out.

Although the New York Fashion Week came to a close last week, we have to show you these eye-catching looks from some of our favorite editors, bloggers, models and celebrities.

 


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Photo courtesy of www.fashionblender.com.au

1.Susanna Lau (a.k.a. Susie Bubble)
The queen of mix-matching prints showed a more subtle look during the NYFW with her distressed denim that had a piece of red bandana fabric sewed in. Her final touch was red glitter ballet flats that made the casual look not too basic.

 

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Photo courtesy of www.fustany.com

2. Eva Chen
Eva Chen was on point, sporting her smiley face hard-shell clutch that totally stood out on her black and white outfit.

 

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Photo courtesy of www.Koreanmodel.tumblr.com

3. Irene Kim
There’s never too much ruffle when it comes to NYFW.

 

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Photo courtesy of www.nypost.com

4. Margaret Zhang
Margaret was all bundled up for fall and winter with layers and a furry bag held tightly on her arms.

 

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Photo courtesy of www.vogue.com

5. Lily Kwong
Summer ain’t over till Lily says it. Her colorfully printed mid-split, midi skirt paired with her everyday denim jacket is everything.

 

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Photo courtesy of www.popsugar.com.au

6. Shay Mitchell
Shay surely did this year’s NYFW black and white best when she made an appearance at the BCBGMaxaria show with her white dress and a long black vest.

 

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Photo courtesy of www.popsugar.com.au


7. Jamie Chung
Jamie stood out at the BCBGMaxaria show with her pretty little black skirt and her western-inspired BCBG Runway Mira Cape.

 

 

Which one is your favorite look?

 

–STORY BY MICHELLE KIM

Son Sings His Heart Out For Deaf Parents Who Both Have Cancer

When asked by the judges of Superstar K6 for his reason behind auditioning, contestant Kim Jung Hoon could hardly hold back tears as he revealed a heartbreaking story about his family.

“Both of my parents are deaf,” Kim said in his pre-audition interview. He added that both of his parents lost their hearing during early childhood and currently have cancer: his mother suffering from thyroid cancer and his father from colorectal cancer.

“It felt like the world was falling apart,” he said.

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Despite their disabilities, Kim’s parents came to the audition to show full support for their son.

“When we see our son, even though we can’t hear him sing, we believe that he can succeed,” Kim’s father said through sign language. His wife agreed, saying that they believe in their son whether he sings well or poorly.

Once Kim took the stage, he proved that he could sing not only beautifully but also with powerful emotion. His rendition of Lee Sun-hee’s “Fate” moved some of the judges to tears.

Watch his performance below:

–Story by Reera Yoo

This story was originally published on iamkoream.com.

Find Out Why We Love Kimiko Glenn, The “Orange is the New Black” Actress Behind Brook Soso

 

Orange Is the New Black, Netflix’s trailblazing prison dramedy, which just released its second season, highlights a multiethnic cast, as well a variety of gender and sexual identities. However, despite all of the diversity in season one, the only Asian inmate was Chang (played by Lori Tan Chinn), a hilarious but rarely seen older woman with a thick accent. So when Brook Soso, played by biracial Japanese American actress Kimiko Glenn, dressed in prison orange, walked wide-eyed into Litchfield Prison, she turned heads on and off screen. Because this was one of the rare occurrences where a character in a mainstream show had their Asian identity explored in a non-stereotypical way.

Glenn, an Arizona native, began doing theater when she was 10 years old. Halfway through her first year at the Boston Conservatory, she was cast in the first national tour of Spring Awakening and subsequently moved to New York to continue to pursue theater, including originating a role in Julianne Moore’s Freckleface Strawberry.

Orange Is the New Black (OITNB) creator Jenji Kohan had caught Glenn’s performance in the musical adaptation of Love’s Labour’s Lost in Shakespeare in the Park and asked Glenn to perform a Meredith Brooks sing-along as one of her contributions to her first season on the show. “Singing is one of my stronger suits, so I think maybe that’s why it was written in,” says Glenn. “It’s nice that I got to sing. But I didn’t sing in my real-person- Kimiko voice; it was in my Brook voice.”

Although a self-described TV newcomer, Glenn holds her own with veterans like Kate Mulgrew and Taylor Schilling. With perfect comic timing, Glenn performs some of the funniest lines of the season: “You seem so calm. Are you a murderer?” she inquires with earnest, child-like sincerity. Glenn describes Brook as “a chatty social activist who wants to be loved and understood.” Indeed, her character, nicknamed “babbling Brook,” is so misunderstood and grating, that you don’t know whether you want to hug her or throttle her. Nonetheless, Glenn defends Brook, saying, “She makes points in ways that annoy people, but she’s often right. The conditions in the prison are terrible, and Brook brings that to light.” And it cannot be denied that, despite Brook’s seemingly flighty nature, she stands behind her convictions, be it a hunger strike or a refusal to shower, much to her fellow inmates’ chagrin.

No one is more conflicted about Brook than the show’s lead, Piper Chapman. Initially nurturing to Brook, Piper later turns on her. “Sometimes when you see yourself in someone, who you used to be, you reject it,” theorizes Glenn. “I think that’s part of what’s going on. Also, she’s irritated by Brook because the moment she gives me a little warmth, I latch onto her and she pushes me away.”

Glenn has a lot of fondness for Brook and begrudgingly admits that she relates to her character’s neo-hippie lifestyle. Glenn once went on a silent Vipassana meditation retreat and regularly oil pulls in the morning. But unlike Brook, Glenn says she is “not nearly as aggressively vocal. I’m pretty shy at heart. Not to say that I can’t be talkative, but I err on the side of caution before speaking my mind.”

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Glenn describes the process of shooting for TV as “wildly different” from theater. “You do a scene for two hours and then you’re done with that scene. You can be on a run of a play for years and do that scene over and over. It was very strange to figure out how to memorize this, stay open, try new things, all in a few takes. It was a lot to adjust to.” But she did like one thing: “You can whisper.”

It was in the midst of binge-watching OITNB that Glenn, who is friends with Uzo Aduba (Crazy Eyes), received a casting notice. “I thought I was seeing things,” she laughs. “It was nine pages of sides, and I thought, ‘Oh god, I have to do really well, because it’s such a good show.’” The next day she auditioned, the following day she booked it, and the day after, she was on set at 6 a.m. to shoot her first sex scene ever with Natasha Lyonne.

Although comfortable with her body and the nudity required for the role, Glenn was concerned. Lyonne gave her pointers. “She told me it was technical and not sexual at all,” says Glenn. “At the end of the day, people want you to feel comfortable, do well and get out of there. She gave me some good advice.” Glenn also appreciated that “the producer, a woman, was very understanding and made it clear they wouldn’t make me do anything I’m not comfortable with. We agreed upon a mapped out scene and decided what it would be. It wasn’t as daunting or crazy as you might think.”

When she told her parents she was on the critically acclaimed and occasionally graphic show, her mother wrote on Facebook, “Kimi is doing this show. Excited but apprehensive, haha.” Glenn explains that her parents were “aware that it is a racy show. Either way, they are really proud of me.” And they have a lot to be proud of. Brook is also in season three, slated for release next summer, of the successful show, which to date has received 12 Primetime Emmy Award nominations and a Satellite Award for Best Cast in a Television Series.

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The show’s unique blend of dark humor, dramatic heft, flashback structure and vivid characters sets it apart from any other show out there. Glenn remarks that the casting process for her role was ethnically unspecified. “The show’s creative team knew Brook’s characteristics, but in terms of looks, they were open. A lot of people auditioned who were all different colors, shapes and sizes, and then they landed on me.” Once Glenn was cast, Brook’s hapa identity was written into the script.

All too often, when Asians are represented in popular culture, they speak in broken English or are defined by common tropes such as geisha, ninja, opium dealer, manicurist and so on. On the other side of the spectrum, when we do see a hapa on film or TV, the actor often passes for white or their ethnic identity is never discussed. However, confusion over Brook’s Eurasian appearance is addressed in one of her first scenes. Brook is given a tribal welcome toothbrush by the overtly racist Morello, who usually reserves kindness for white inmates. “I don’t normally bend the rules like this, but you don’t look full Asian,” she says, looking Brook over.

OITNB’s openness to casting is refreshing to Glenn, who has encountered her share of difficulties and discrimination in her many years auditioning. “There were times where I was told I wasn’t cast because they wanted a blond, to put it nicely,” she says. “It was disheartening as a kid to grow up knowing that. In the real world, there is room to cast more openly, but it’s still a big issue and something that I deal with on a daily basis. This show is a great example of colorblind casting. They cast who’s best for the part. The women on the show are not the kind of people you normally see in Hollywood. I think OITNB is opening people’s minds about what they want to see.”

Catch Kimiko Glenn in season two of Orange Is the New Black on Netflix.com.

 

–Story by Susan Soon He Stanton
This story was originally published in our Fall 2014 issue. Get your copy here. 

PHOTOS BY EMILY SOTO; HAIR BY LAURA SHELLEY FOR EXCLUSIVE ARTISTS; MAKEUP BY JESSI BUTTERFIELD FOR EXCLUSIVE ARTISTS.

“The Real” Host Jeannie Mai Talks Divorce, Plastic Surgery, Fashion and More

 

Last week, we brought you our Fall 2014 feature on the beautiful and successful Jeannie Mai who is currently a host on The Real. But clearly, that wasn’t enough. You asked for it, so here it is! Check out Jeannie Mai discussing everything from gay marriage to Asians going blond.


 

On divorce:
“I’m a faith-driven woman, so I love that the Bible encourages one not to get divorced. But I’m a very liberal woman, too, and for me the decision has to be the best choice for both parties, especially if children are involved. It’s not a black and white situation; it’s gray all the way. You have to decide what’s best for both parties and the children as well.”

 

On plastic surgery, especially in Asia:
“Do you. And if you are gonna ‘do you,’ do it in Thailand because it’s cheaper and they’re awesome!”

 

On gay marriage:
“I have three words that will save the economy. Gay Bridal Registry.”

 

On Asians going blond:
“I would say do it right and not to be white, number one. Number two, learn about the importance of toner. Period. Toner is your best friend if you’re gonna go blond.”

 

On going too far with makeup:
“Put it this way — when you’re not feeling like you can overcome the biggest challenge you face, you haven’t gone far enough.”

 

 

On marijuana:
“Personally, I’m not a user myself. But if any addiction, whether it’s coffee, shopping or drugs, keeps you from reaching your potential in life, I don’t see a good reason to continue it.”

 

On 3D printers that print makeup:
“My heels are clicking for joy. We women get stuck in ruts and forget that style and makeup are excuses to transform into any unique version of ourselves. The more advanced this industry becomes, the more opportunities for women to strut forward with themselves.”

 

On illegal immigration:
“If the U.S. Navy didn’t help bring my parents here from Vietnam, I probably wouldn’t be in this fortunate place of being interviewed. I am thankful for the immigration opportunities, but I understand that in order to preserve the value of the U.S. and respect the needs of residents, we have to abide by regulations. I’m trying to learn more about this to understand the options, and pray for a solution that can unite nations and provide positive growth for the United States.”

 

On whitening skincare:
“I get that different cultures appreciate different appearances. I don’t see Americans getting judged for tanning their skin, and I don’t judge people who prefer to stay fair-skinned. At the end of the day, it depends on the individual’s perspective of herself.”

 

On the worst fashion trend:
“Too much boob. It’s never been hot. It’s always trashy. Keep it sexy, ladies. That’s all.”

 

 

–Story by Jeline Abutin.
This was originally published in our Fall 2014 issue. Get your copy here

 

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Fashion Shenzhen Turns Heads At Their NYFW Debut

 

Debuting at any of the four major fashion capitals (Milan, Paris, New York and London) during the renowned industry fashion weeks is considered a substantial success for any designer that has been pouring their life into creating garments that will impress top-tier editors and buyers. More work than we expect goes into a rather quick ten minute show. Years of planning and learning the trend and color schematic forecasting is a daunting task in itself because no one wants to make too much of an unfavorable misstep. Then of course pushing that success into a second year with critics all around shows strength in branding and design, which is why Fashion Shenzhen has many of us talking as they continue to make waves throughout the industry.

For the Chinese labels Lizzy, Haiping Xie and Ellassay (all collectively chosen to be shown together under the name Fashion Shenzhen), hard work is beginning to pay off after years of trying to garner a larger presence within the industry and showing in London quite often before New York. While Ellassay enters its sophomore year, it still carries the excitement of a first debut. The Director of Shenzhen Garment Association, Shen Yongfang stated during her interview with CCTV News last year when Shenzhen’s designs first walked the runways of New York, “China has a unique and ancient culture, and this is a great asset. Our designers are the best, so I don’t see why we can’t make it to the world stage.” To a full house, Shenzhen delivered unforgettable designs that represented their blend of Eastern and Western influences, but each with their own artistic nature.

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Haiping Xie kept to the flora and beauty of China’s rich history and culture. There was nothing subtle about Xie’s collection. Boldly printed dragon graphics were a powerful display to the flowing sea of organza and silk layers in just as powerful hues of blue and orange. While Lizzy presented sophisticated bead work in a stunning display of gowns with oceanic themes and fittingly cut in mermaid A-lines. The crystal work glistened with models’ movement and felt reminiscent to the intricacies of underwater coral colonies. Taking a step away from couture evening wear, Ellassay delivered modern dresses and trench coats that are easily wearable and fitting for our daily wardrobe. Opting for another interesting grid lined pattern once again, Ellassay’s trench coat can be used to amp up the simple elegance of the dresses shown.

With such an impressive showing in New York, these three designers help pave the way for the rest of Shenzhen’s growing design field and continue to bring the recognition that Shen Yongfang speaks of with such hopeful words. Personally, I feel they’ve already made it on the world stage and only good things will continue to come with such determination and drive to be at their best. I look forward to seeing what designers the Fashion Shenzhen group will present next season.

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Gown By Haiping Xie.   Image Courtesy Of Mediacenter.smugmug.com

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Gown By Haiping Xie.  Image Courtesy Of Nyfw.net

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Gown By Lizzy. Image Courtesy Of Fashionsdigest.com

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Gown By Lizzy. Image Courtesy of Fashionsdigest.com

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Dress By Ellasay. Image Courtesy Of Missyonmadison.com

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Trench By Ellassay. Image Courtesy Wwww2.pictures.zimbio.com

 

– STORY BY MIN A. LEE

 

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Fashion Blogger Chriselle Lim’s Maternity Fashion Tips

 

About a month ago, fashion blogger, wardrobe stylist and editor Chriselle Lim announced her almost-five-month pregnancy on her Instagram and her blog, The Chriselle Factor. By watching her touching video (below), you get an intimate look into the rough period Lim endured last year due to her miscarriage. But the strong woman was able to get back up and share her inspiring story which has been helping many women renew their souls.

Lim is now focusing more on her health and on the special gift inside her. In fact, she has become so much more positive about life and about her pregnancy that she has decided to combine her pregnancy with something else she is passionate about: fashion. Here are several of Lim’s outfit ideas that all women going through maternity can pull off without falling behind the trend.

 


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1. Oversized Button Down Shirt

The oversized cotton white button down (a.k.a. WBD) shirt is a classic staple item that every girl can wear around different occasions. Lim — halfway through her pregnancy — still looks chic in her oversized WBD that is paired with simple jewelry and maybe a nice pair of skinny jeans. Regardless of what she wore for her bottom, her classic WBD makes her look iconic.

 


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2. Drape Front Dress

There’s nothing more comfortable than a laid-back loose fitting dress. During pregnancy, it’s better to wear softer, stretchy and comfortable clothes, especially since the belly is not getting any smaller than it already is. On her Instagram, Lim mixed and matched the turquoise draped dress with a darker hue of embedded gladiator sandals that even makes running errands look glamorous!

 

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3. Crop Tops

Who says you can’t wear crop tops during pregnancy? Fashion is all about breaking norms and creating new looks. Lim shows off her black crop top paired with a stretchy high-waisted bow tie skirt that totally rocks her baby bump.

 



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4. Shirts-Tied-Around-the-Waist

This 90s trend has been poppin’ for the past couple years and it’s no exception for those going through maternity. Lim wrapped her denim jacket slightly around her waist, right below her adorable baby bump. Not only does it bring the fashionable aspect of the outfit, but also enhance the waist to look much slimmer.

 

 

– STORY BY MICHELLE KIM. 
All photos courtesy of Chriselle Lim’s Instagram and blog, The Chriselle Factor. 

 

 

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New York Fashion Week Recap: Zang Toi

 

New York Fashion Week is well underway and contributor Mariana Leung’s got the inside scoop on the shows. Here, her recap of Zang Toi’s Spring 2015.

Fashion Week favorite Zang Toi celebrated 25 years in business with his Spring 2015 collection.

While the designer has often looked to exotic global locations as his inspiration, his silver anniversary collection used America as his muse; he wanted to pay tribute to the country that embraced him. He showed day looks in his favorite color combination of black and ivory. He then used bright emerald, red and purple as a throwback to the colors from his first season.

The highlights of the Zang Toi show were the evening looks of the show. My favorites were ballgowns featuring beautiful silk print that depicted giant blooms of orchids. There were even a few styles that featured heavily beaded/jewel encrusted patterns that showed classic glamour.

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––Story and photos by Mariana Leung, publisher of MsFabulous.com

New York Fashion Week Recap: Vivienne Tam

 

New York Fashion Week is well underway and contributor Mariana Leung’s got the inside scoop on the shows. Here, her recap of Vivienne Tam’s Spring 2015.

 

Vivienne Tam is a master at mixing traditional Chinese themes and interpreting them in contemporary techniques. For spring 2015, the designer took her inspiration from the Forbidden City in China. Specifically, she referenced motifs found in historical artwork and handicrafts and executed them onto her collection in high-tech fabrics.

Landscapes and nature patterns, like waves and clouds, were printed onto handbags and blouses. Birds, flowers and trees were embroidered onto athletic fabrics like power mesh. Printed neoprene was cut and appliqued onto other fabrics in a bright modern effect.

This season also saw Vivienne Tam trying her hand at wearable tech. There were handbags that charged your phone when you put it inside. Unlike many of the clunky pieces that many tech companies produced, the accessories on the runway were so stylish, fans would be happy to buy them on design alone, and the functionality would just be a big bonus.

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––Story and photos by Mariana Leung, publisher of MsFabulous.com

 

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