Calling All Fashion Minimalists: Designer Ann Kim Proves Less Is More

 

By chance, I stumbled upon an amazing 14 karat gold cuff featuring a black diamond by Andy Heart and Mirlo New York, and I decided to do a little research about who was behind this basic yet stunning design. What I found was the addictive style blog of Los Angeles-based designer, Ann Kim, whose fashion preferences are a minimalist’s heaven.

Simplicity is a key element that has continued since her very first posts. Her style isn’t dictated by fast changing trends, but rather by her own personal preference for impeccable tailored fits and all things black. If there is one thing I must note, I love that she never over-accessorizes. Kim proves that less is truly more.

 

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I love Kim’s straight forward ensembles. Head-to- toe in black can flatter any figure or skin tone.

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Uncomplicated accessories give off an elegant appearance even with the tough details of a biker jacket.

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A timeless look that is perfect for being outdoors in the heat with its tastefully cut draping.

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Finally, the cuff that started it all. This collaboration piece between Kim and Mirlo New York can be found at Sweetheartsociety.com for $585.

 

– STORY BY MIN A. LEE

All photos courtesy of Andyheart.com

 

“Rich Kids Of Beverly Hills”‘s Dorothy Wang: A Peek Into the Life of a Billionairess

 

For most of us, we can only dream of what it would be like to win the Powerball lottery or to be whisked away on a private jet to a private island, but that’s truly the fabulous life of billionairess Dorothy Wang, one of the stars on the E! reality show Rich Kids of Beverly Hills. Growing up as the daughter of Roger Wang, CEO of Golden Eagle International Group, which, among other things, owns a Chinese mall chain, Wang rarely heard the word “no.” “I’ve never been put on a budget because I’ve never needed to [be],” says Wang, who nonetheless says she does get a nudge from her parents about her spending every now and then. “There’s a constant ‘well, just try harder next month.’”

Self-described as ‘funemployed,’ Wang lives a socialite’s dream, most recently partying at Coachella with the likes of Paris Hilton. Though she doesn’t need to work, when she’s not shooting for the show, she keeps to a structured morning routine to keep her productive. She spends a good hour and a half each morning answering emails and organizing her day from her office — in bed. “I prefer to not start my day until at least 1 p.m., so I can have my ‘me’ time,” says Wang. Currently, she’s working on her website and a few product lines. “I want to do things that are nice and high-end, but at the same time, I want every high-end collection to have a line that is more affordable,” she says. “I love bathrobes, and so I want to do a type of robe line, at different price points.”

 

 

With not much of an appetite in the morning, her breakfast usually consists of hot water with lemon and apple cider vinegar because “it’s good for your skin and it’s supposed to make your metabolism move faster.” Add in five almonds, a teaspoon of chia seeds and a handful of blueberries and there you have the Dorothy Wang breakfast. Oh, and if she’s super hungry? Wang says, “I’ll push it to six almonds.”

As expected, her closet is a mass of shoes — every girl’s fantasy and her housekeeper’s worst nightmare. “Every time I want to get ready, I have to look through all of these shoeboxes, and there are lids and shoes everywhere in my room. Sometimes I can hear [my housekeeper] when she comes into my room after I get ready and she gasps,” says Wang. With at least 50 pairs of heels just to start, she says that her go-to daytime look is comfortable and casual with Chanel flats or motorcycle boots. When she’s ready to glam it up for a night on the town, her faves are Christian Louboutin and Gianvito Rossi. When asked how many Hermès Birkin bags she owns, she responds, “That’s something I can’t reveal, but it’s getting up there.”

With more than 352,000 followers and mostly selfies posted on her Instagram account (she considers herself a master of the art form), it’s no surprise that Wang got the attention of casting director Doron Ofir (Jersey Shore), who approached her about being on Rich Kids of Beverly Hills. Wang brought in an instant cast with her best friend, Morgan, and her boyfriend, real estate whiz Brendan; songwriter Jonny and interior designer Roxanne. “We’ve literally known each other for at least six or seven years,” says Wang, describing the show “as more Clueless and less Mean Girls.

 

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Take an episode in the first season, when Wang and Jonny get into a tiff when he finds out he can’t participate in a blood drive Wang is hosting because he’s gay. In a heated discussion, Jonny tells her she wouldn’t understand as she’s not a “minority.” Wang, incredulous, gestures to her face. “I’m Chinese!” she responds. When asked how she feels about being in the public eye as an Asian American, she says she feels honored, but admits it’s not always as easy as it looks. “I’m the first to admit that maybe I’m not the best example of every Asian American person out there,” says Wang. “Maybe I’m not the way that everyone wants to be represented, but at least I am an Asian face that will hopefully open up the scope [of what] people see.”

Season 2 of Rich Kids of Beverly Hills premiered on E! just earlier this month.

 

– STORY BY LORNA SOONHEE UMPHREY 

 

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

 

 

Why Do Asians Throw Up The V-Sign In Photos? Finally, An Explanation

Ever wondered why in photos, East Asians always make the ubiquitous V-sign? (Also known as the peace sign or “fob sign.”)

According to Time, the hand gesture entered mainstream consciousness through the 1968 manga Star of the Giants (Kyojin no Hoshi), which follows a young baseball player with father issues. Before a big game, the dad throws his son a “V” sign as a gesture of approval. The volleyball manga V Is the Sign (Sain wa V!) was created after that.

But the V-sign didn’t become popular until American figure skater Janet Lynn performed her long program at the Olympics in Sapporo, Japan in 1972. The shaggy-haired 18-year-old, heavily favored for the gold medal, collapsed on the ice after failing to land on a jump. But instead of frowning, Lynn sprang back on her feet and smiled. People in Japan were in awe. “They could not understand how I could smile knowing that I could not win anything,” Lynn, who took a bronze medal, told Time. “I couldn’t go anywhere the next day [in Japan] without mobs of people. It was like I was a rock star.” During media tours around Japan, she would flash the V-sign, and a cultural phenomenon was born.

 

In the next decade, Japan’s pop culture flooded across East Asia, much like Korea’s Hallyu Wave that we’re seeing today. The V-sign became cool and fashionable in South Korea, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Since then, flashing the V-sign in photos has become second nature.

“I think the practice is a testament to the power of media, especially television, in postwar japan for propagating news tastes and practices,” Jason Karlin, an associate professor at the University of Tokyo and an expert on Japanese media culture, told Time. “The V-sign was [and still is] often recommended as a technique to make girls’ faces appear smaller and cuter.”

STORY BY STEVE HAN

This story was originally published in iamkoream.com.

Hollis Wong-Wear’s Crazy Fear, Bad Habit and New The Flavr Blue Video

 

You may remember Hollis Wong-Wear from our Spring 2014 issue. Although she was first known as “that girl singing the hook in ‘White Walls’ by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis,” in a matter of months, she has quickly created a name for herself escalating her far beyond just “that girl.”

Hollis’s collaborations with Macklemore and Lewis were undeniably successful and she became one of the few Asian American women rappers in the Seattle music scene. But instead of continuing on the expected R&B/hip-hop route, Hollis is going synth-pop with her band The Flavr Blue.

 

 

“I’ve never felt like I fit into a box, so I’m always pushing myself to be daring and different,” Hollis told us in the interview. “In the seven years that I’ve been making music, I’ve done rap, R&B, dance/electronic music and super lounge-y soul. I’ve sung in a jazz quartet. I’m way more motivated to do something I’ve never done before than to perfect one particular type of music.”

Well, she certainly caught our attention with her hypnotic sound in The Flavr Blue’s “We Can Go Blind” music video, which was released earlier this summer. The song, off The Flavr Blue’s latest Bright Vices EP, “is haunting and heartfelt, aching and ephemeral, a song that I’m proud of and a video I’m *extremely* proud of,” says Hollis. Check it out below.

In the meantime, a quick peek into the everyday life of Hollis.

Full name: Hollis Audrey Wong-Wear

Age: ’87 baybee

Ethnic background: Hong Kongese + White

Where you were born? Petaluma, CA

Where you were raised? North Bay Areuhh

Your go-to karaoke song? “Kiss From A Rose” by Seal

Last time you cried? I cried just a little bit watching Beyonce do her thing at Safeco Field on Wednesday for “On The Run.” Just a lil’.

What always makes you laugh? Mitch Hedberg

Your go-to comfort food? Noodles of any kind!

Last thing you ate? A banana.

Currently on “repeat” on your ipod? Wut iPod? I have Mapei’s “Wait” stuck in my head!

A guilty pleasure you don’t feel guilty about? Working from bed :)

Current favorite place? Mmm … Seattle in the summertime!

Favorite drink, alcoholic or otherwise? Coffee

Current obsessions? Seinabo Sey and FARIS jewelry

Pet peeve? ccing instead of bccing on email

Habit I need to break? Biting my nails :/

Hidden talent? Remarkably adroit whistler

Talent you’d like to have? Fluency in Spanish and Cantonese

 Word or phrase you most overuse? “crackin'”

Most treasured possession? The dress by Mark Mitchell that I wore to the Grammys (CHECK IT OUT HERE!)

Greatest fear? An oversized moth :/

Motto? Why not?

What’s cool about being Asian? Being part of the diaspora, culturally interconnected with people across the globe. What’s cool about being Chinese is internalized astronomical expectations and dim sum.

If you weren’t doing what you are doing now, what occupation would you be doing? Trying to make it as a journalist or getting my PhD in cultural studies.

 

 

An Adorable Dog Shopkeeper, China’s McDonalds Meat Scandal, and Other MUST READS OF THE WEEK

1) This adorable dog is our most favorite shopkeeper in all of Japan (READ HERE)

 

2) SHOCKING: Australian couple abandons their baby after discovering he has down syndrome, leaves baby with Thai surrogate. (READ HERE)

 

3) An in-depth look into the internment of Japanese Americans in Hawaii (READ HERE)

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4) Meet the newest K-drama star: Sazal Kim, a.k.a Sazal Mahamud (and yes, he’s Bangladeshi) (READ HERE)

 

5) An inspiring update from conjoined twins who were separated 10 years ago (READ HERE)

 

6) You may not want to know why China’s McDonalds had to stop serving hamburgers (READ HERE)

 

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7) The harsh reality of trying to become a K-pop star (READ HERE)

 

8) Get to know volleyball player Sabina Altynbekova who is apparently so beautiful, she is now a viral sensation  (READ HERE)

 

9) First their were cat cafes, then there were vampire cafes. Now you can line up for Japan’s new Owl-cafe (READ HERE)

 

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10) These peaches wearing sexy underwear kinda give us the creeps (READ HERE

 

Asia Street Style: Yes, You Can Do Bomber Jackets In Summer

Some people love shoes while others love handbags. As for me, I have a terrible obsession with jackets and especially the diversity of bomber jackets. This creation from aviation history is continually being revamped for mainstream pop culture. New cuts are constantly seen on the runways at fashion week and in collections by contemporary designers. Southern California weather is not very conducive to this infatuation of mine, but it seems warm weather doesn’t stop Asia stylesetters from donning outerwear.

Image Courtesy of www.streetper.co.kr

Image Courtesy of www.streetper.co.kr

There’s nothing like an awesome childhood throwback to get my attention.  I love Peanuts, so seeing a jacket with Snoopy splashed all over has me on Google trying to find who designed it. Prints are a great way to make your personality shine. It’s human nature to want to express ourselves and some of us love to do so through what we wear.

Image Courtesy of www.streetper.co.kr

Image Courtesy of www.streetper.co.kr

Minimalist styles are always a smart option if you’re not into flamboyant prints.  Textures like quilting and woven jacquard can add some punch to an otherwise quiet design. I appreciate the bright contrast of the collar on this jacket as a standout feature against muted blue.

 

 

Photo Courtesy of instagram.com/imtedlike

Photo Courtesy of instagram.com/imtedlike

Here’s a perfect example of a more contemporary approach, perhaps even a bit on the avant garde side. While keeping the standard clean lines and solitary zip closure, this jacket forgoes the shorter length and elastic bottom hem. The longer cut and flowing fabric is reminiscent to sporting a lightweight trench coat. With this you get the best of both classics in one.

Photo Courtesy of Iamalexfinch.net

Photo Courtesy of Iamalexfinch.net

Finally, a superb way to combine my love for jackets with this SoCal summer heat is a completely sheer bomber. Not only does it provide a creative gateway to showcasing fun prints and colors underneath, a cool breeze can still be felt, making this style of bomber jacket ideal for warm climates.

– STORY BY MIN A. LEE. 


Feature photo courtesy of anecdoche.com.

ASIA STREET STYLE: Street Smart Suits For Men!

Womenswear trends tend to be my go-to when sharing Asia’s street fashion, but I often find myself examining menswear distinctions between the United States and Korea. Suits are a timeless classic that I’ve grown accustomed to seeing the standard dark solids and ties being worn, but check out these diverse approaches to suiting found on streets of Seoul. I can’t help but appreciate the adventurous styling choices.

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When summer temperatures along with humidity are unbearable, consider going for shorts.  The thin, woven seersucker facilitates heat away allowing air circulation, and despite the fabric’s natural wrinkled appearance it still provides a polished, clean look.

 

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Well mixed prints always catches my attention, but in this case what drew me first to this street portrait was the lapel pin.  Sometimes simply using a small accessory can add prominence among the already bold motifs.

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Certain rules are meant to be broken.  Conservative suiting conventions call to cut the pant hem so it slightly skims the shoe and laces, but the higher cut hems on this suit give an ultramodern feel.  Opting for bright socks outside of the coordinating colors is daring and brilliant in this fashion forward style.

–STORY BY MIN A. LEE

Photos courtesy of www.streetper.co.kr

 

Rescue Beauty Lounge Nail Guru Ji Baek Is Enjoying the Good Life in Paris … Because She Can

 

There was a time when Ji Baek’s salon, Rescue Beauty Lounge, was the place you went to get your nails done in New York City. The commitment to hygiene was unparalleled, prices weren’t outrageous, and Baek, the petite, stylish woman behind the business, knew how to take care of her customers (W Magazine once described the clientele as a “continuous conga line of high-powered editors, well-heeled bankers, and Park Avenue wives”).

When she opened in 1998, Baek says there was nothing like Rescue out there. “Every entrepreneur looks to provide something or make something that doesn’t exist,” she explains. “Back then salons had, you know, the fluorescent lights. They were chop shops, basically. They were dirty. Everything seemed cross-contaminated.”

Baek, who worked in the restaurant business at the time, was on her feet, often in heels, for 15-hour shifts. She just wanted “an amazing pedicure” to help get her through, but the salons she visited fell short. Eventually, she had an epiphany. She would open one herself.

Her family was shocked by her decision to go to nail school. But Baek recognized the potential of the salon industry. She knew there was money to be made. “When I opened, people said, ‘Oh, you’re going to touch people’s feet? That’s so gross.’” Baek remembers. “And I said, ‘I’m going to do it like you’d do it in a doctor’s office.’ So I want to have an autoclave. I want all the girls to wear gloves. I don’t want to have a whirlpool. I want to have a cool setting, cool music. I wanted to defend the technicians because there are owners who won’t give them gloves, and they contract all these skin diseases from other people. I’m all for protecting the client and the technicians.”

Word traveled about Rescue’s methods, and business grew. One store became two. In 2008, they expanded to the Meatpacking District. “We were the first ones to open there, before Theory or any of those other stores came in,” she says.

 

But physically, it was becoming very demanding. So Baek and her husband, happily married for 18 years, reached a mutual decision. “We said, ‘You know what? We work so much. We really need the weekends off. We don’t need so much money,’” she says. “We had an offer to open another place that would have been this money-making machine.” They turned it down and soon after, closed their doors altogether. Some clients cried when they found out.

“I still get emails saying ‘I hate you. I’m sitting here, getting a manicure and my cuticle’s bleeding.’ And I’m like, ‘Thank you. Thank you for hating me,’” she says.

But Baek, who turned 44 in April, insists she’s happy with the decision. She’s since turned her attention fully to her product line, Rescue Beauty Lounge. Her nail polishes are long- wearing, free of toluene, formaldehyde, DBP and animal testing. It took her two years of hard work to get it exactly right, but she’s done it.

Today, Baek lives in Paris for half the year because — well, because she can.

There’s nothing tying her down anymore. “I can work anywhere in the world now,” she says. “It’s very freeing. In Paris, I see these bundled-up American tourists — they’re in their 70s, freezing in the rain — and I tell my husband, ‘How lucky that we’re doing this now!’ Why do this when you’re 70, when you can do it now?”

Baek’s own parents emigrated from South Korea when she was 12 years old. “In Korean families, the girls have to do music,” she says. So she learned to play the piano and viola. Music was her life until, junior year of college, Baek developed tendonitis. Her dream of being a musician quickly ended. “It was devastating in the sense that I had my whole career path laid out for me,” she remembers. “I was supposed to audition for the Philharmonic, and then all of a sudden, I couldn’t play.”

But looking back, she calls the change in trajectory a blessing in disguise. “After it happened, I saw my life open up in a way I couldn’t have imagined,” she says, insisting that everything happens for a reason. “And I’m so lucky. Every day, I just feel so blessed.”

Want the inside scoop on Ji’s picks from Rescue Beauty Lounge’s summer collection? Click here.

–STORY BY HILAL ISLER 

 

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

 

 

Ji Baek’s Nail Picks From Rescue Beauty Lounge’s Summer Collection

 

The summer collection from Rescue Beauty Lounge gets its inspiration from the world of Korean dramas, says Baek, who admits to being a diehard fan of the genre. She started watching the television series Boys Over Flowers a few years ago, as a way to improve her Korean. The plot (“Basically, Gossip Girl for Koreans,” she explains. “I recommend it for first-timers”) pulled her in immediately. Soon enough, she was introducing clients to her new passion. “I got so many beauty editors in New York into it. And they don’t even speak Korean,” she says.

“The spring/summer runways featured the ubiquitous floral print, wearable art from Prada, and even Celine’s minimalist queen Phoebe Philo opting for heavy prints,” says Baek. “So taking a cue from Alexander Wang’s play on dark grays with pastels, nails are all about weighing down and counterbalancing. Go dark with Rescue Beauty Lounge Nail Polish in Stormy, A Lonely House or Small, Dim, Summer Stars.”

 

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Small, Dim, Summer Stars.

 

“If you’re allergic to the print trend and you want to add little attitude to your usual urban palette of neutrals, black and white, pair it with a surprisingly neutral mustard yellow like Rescue Beauty Lounge Nail Polish in Footpath or the gray-green Mosses Mars,” says Baek.

 

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Footpath.

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Mosses Mars.

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


TOKiMONSTA On Being A Female DJ In A Male-Dominated Industry

Just as she steps onto the red carpet to pose for a row of photographers, what had been a light sprinkle suddenly turns into a downpour. A member of the press rushes to grab an umbrella, but TOKiMONSTA, one of the four stars being celebrated that night for the premiere of the Mnet America reality show Alpha Girls, laughs and says, “Good thing I have this hat on.” A black fur-trimmed hat sits atop her shock of blond hair — she’s been known to experiment with color over the years, mixing blues and purples at one point — and though a pair of oversized black shades cover 50 percent of her face, TOKiMONSTA stands out. It’s a part of a life she’s become used to, especially now that she’s one of the few well-known Asian American female DJs in the music industry.

Jennifer Lee, better known by her aforementioned stage name, has risen to the forefront of the electronic dance music scene with two albums, a number of EPs and high-profile appearances at festivals like Coachella and SXSW. The Torrance, Calif., native, who is of Korean descent, was ranked by LA Weekly as L.A.’s top female DJ in 2010 and was a part of the Full Flex Express Tour in 2012 that had her performing alongside electronic music gods Skrillex and Diplo. Not too shabby for a girl who began producing music in her college dorm while studying business at the University of California, Irvine.

In a crowded L.A. beat scene, Lee’s music stands out, like the recently remastered “The World Is Ours,” with its softer, chiller beats (it’s the stuff midnight dreams are made of). But what also makes Lee unique is her success in an industry that has always been dominated by males, and non-Asian males at that. It’s what made her the perfect candidate for the Asian pop culture channel Mnet America’s new web reality series, Alpha Girls.

Alpha Girls, which premiered in February, follows Lee, Korean artist and illustrator Mina Kwon, Korean American supermodel Soo Joo Park and Filipina American fashion designer Lanie Alabanza-Barcena in a series documenting their journeys in the worlds of art, music and fashion. “I joined [the show] because I loved the idea behind it,” says Lee of her Alpha Girl status. “Alpha Girls shows the rest of America that, hey, Asians can choose careers outside of the medical field, and they can still be successful.”

TOKiMONSTA (Jennifer Lee)

Lee’s segment on Alpha Girls follows her as she takes South Korea by storm, performing in her motherland for the first time. She jets around the country in stylish streetwear and looks completely at ease performing in the middle of jam-packed, ear-numbing clubs. “It was scary because I didn’t know whether Korean audiences would be used to my music,” she says, “but I ended up having a blast. I hope girls can watch this show and see us all doing our thing and know that they can succeed at whatever they want to. I didn’t discover the underground scene until college, and now here I am in Korea playing my own music!”

Catch full webisodes of Alpha Girls on Mnet America’s YouTube channel or at alphagirlstv.com. 

 

–Story by Taylor Weik

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