Dethroned Myanmar Beauty Queen Refuses to Return Tiara Until Pageant Apologizes

Last week, Miss Asia Pacific World dethroned Myanmar’s first international beauty Queen, May Myat Noe, for alleged dishonesty and accused her of absconding with a $100,000 tiara and free breast implants.

Noe lashed back in a press conference held in Yangon on Tuesday.

“I’m not even proud of this crown,” She said after opening a blue jewelry box and setting the tiara on the table, “I don’t want a crown from an organization with such a bad reputation.”

Photo Credit: Soe Zeya Tun of Reuters

Photo Credit: Soe Zeya Tun of Reuters



Noe said the South Korea-based pageant lied about her age, stating that she was 18 instead of 16. According to the pageant’s official website, the minimum required age to enter the contest is 18, but despite this restriction, May Myat Noe was somehow still allowed to compete.

She also denied accepting breast implants as claimed by David Kim, director of media for Miss Asia Pacific World. Kim had claimed that the $10,000 tab for the surgery was picked up by sponsors in order to enhance the teen beauty queen’s budding singing career.

“I was put under duress to undergo head-to-toe cosmetic surgery, which I refused… I didn’t have breast implants, but I don’t want to go into any details to preserve my dignity,” Noe said.

Photo Credit: Soe Zeya Tun of Reuters

Photo Credit: Soe Zeya Tun of Reuters


She also said she boarded a plane back to her home country before getting word of her dethronement and did not intend to steal the crown. However, now that the Swarovski tiara is in her possession, Noe refuses to return it without a “sorry.”

I will return the crown only when they apologize to Myanmar, for the dignity of our country,” she said.

Among other allegations, May Myat Noe said the organizers asked her to escort business tycoons “whenever they required” her company in order to generate funds to produce her music album.

Y.C. Choi, the president and founder of Miss Asia Pacific World, denied these claims and told AFP that the organization had photographic evidence of Noe on an operating table for the breast implant operation.

“She has been lying. She also lied at today’s news conference. She must return the crown,” Choi said, adding that his organization is ready to consider a lawsuit if Noe “refuses to cooperate.”

When The Korea Observer asked Choi what drove him to dethrone Noe as Miss Asia Pacific World 2014, he argued that Noe disgraced the organization by borrowing money from a nurse to buy $18 bras after breast implants, complaining about not having schedules sent to her in advance, and her unwillingness to pay extra expenses incurred during her mother’s extended stay.

This is not the first time Miss Asia Pacific World had a controversy.

In 2011, Amy Willerton, a contestant from Wales, alleged that the contest had been fixed after the contestant representing Venezuela was apparently named runner-up of the talent round before she even competed.

During the pageant’s four-year history, there were also other contestants who accused the officials of asking the women for sex in exchange for better rankings in the pageant.


This story was originally published on 

Photos via NY Daily News

“Lucky” Editor-in-Chief Eva Chen: The Super Cool, History-Making Sister You Wish You Had


She’s the chicer, cooler older sister you wish you had — one with all the ins on the best stuff, one you want to have a glass of wine with. Sure, Eva Chen’s the first Asian American editor-in-chief in the Condé Nast publishing empire and the youngest EIC at a major American fashion publication, but don’t let her trailblazing, history-making ways intimidate you. The Lucky magazine #girlboss is redefining what it means to be an editor in the 21st century and leading the charge for print to thrive in an increasingly digital world, one hashtag at a time. 


Eva Chen has just returned from a trip. “I took a very long, long, long vacation,” she says. “It was approximately three days.

“But it was my first time really and truly away,” she quickly adds. At a destination spa in the Poconos, Chen says she tried fly-fishing, took an upside-down yoga class, attempted to meditate (“which is the opposite of my personality, so it was 25 minutes of agony”), went wine tasting to sample local Hudson Valley and Pennsylvania vintages, and finished two books. “I know you’re not supposed to be like, I accomplished a lot on my vacation,” she says, “but I do feel like I accomplished a lot during my vacation.”

Even during a short getaway, Chen is a to-do-list-checking master. But that just may be her modus operandi, especially since her ascent to the position of editor-in-chief of Lucky magazine, Condé Nast’s publication devoted to shopping and personal style. On any given day, six floors above Times Square, Chen may be finishing up one of her more than a dozen appointments, responding to hundreds of reader emails, getting primped for a photo shoot, holding a biweekly mentoring interview with a young future editor, or sifting through hundreds of photos, trying to decide, perhaps, which photo of Dakota Fanning should be the one to grace the cover of Lucky’s September 2014 issue.

These are just a few of her duties as the top editor, a position she describes as “four simultaneous jobs.” But the post ultimately comes down to making choices on stories and photos that will connect to the fashion magazine’s readers. If her choices result in an increase in the number of subscribers and website visits, that will surely make the publisher and advertising sales people happy. And it just might please her boss, the notoriously hard-to-please Anna Wintour.

But even here, in the rarefied publishing air at 4 Times Square, headquarters for the Condé Nast empire (which includes titles like Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and Bon Appétit), there’s one person whose opinion may hold even more sway: Chen’s mother, who follows her 34-year-old daughter on Instagram. The other 200,000-plus followers of Chen’s social media musings are eager to weigh in, too, on everything from pictures of her outfits (accessorized with her signature peace signs), the beauty products she’s gone through, her famous fashion friends who stop by her office, and her shoe-bag combo for the day posted on the commute to work. Chen gets thousands of comments, and she wholeheartedly welcomes the feedback.

“I’m cultivating Lucky into a lifestyle brand,” says Chen, “and I want people to get a sense of what it’s like to be a magazine editor.”



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It was the summer of 2013 when Condé Nast’s Artistic Director and Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour tasked Chen with rebranding Lucky and relaunching its website. In the process, Chen not only became the youngest editor of a major U.S. fashion magazine but also the first Asian American to hold the top editorial position at a Condé Nast title. Lucky, originally modeled after Japanese shopping publications, had changed the fashion magazine formula when it debuted in December 2000, but was hit hard by the 2008 recession and in need of a boost. Chen, who started as a beauty writer at Elle magazine in 2002 and spent seven years at Teen Vogue as beauty and health director, as well as special projects editor, now works directly with Wintour on the direction of Lucky. “She is the pre-eminent magazine editor, so to learn directly from her has been a great privilege,” says Chen.

But where Vogue is aspirational, Lucky is accessible, and that’s a reflection of Chen. As part of a younger generation of technologically savvy editors and writers (she organizes the twice-a-year Lucky Fashion and Beauty Blog conferences, a.k.a. FABB, that connects everyday style bloggers to celebrities, models and stylists), Chen knows the importance of stepping into the spotlight and actively making connections both in person and online. Her Klout score, which measures a person’s online influence on a scale of 1 to 100, is more than 70 (which is generally considered celebrity level). And from 2013 to 2014, Lucky saw a 34 percent growth in its social media footprint.

With the help of the virtual world, Lucky is being talked about again, as it brings in a new demographic. Currently, the average reader of the magazine is 38 years old, but according to Condé Nast metrics posted online, users of the website, for which Chen is still trying to work out the bugs from a recent redesign, are younger and more affluent. A year into her tenure, the total circulation of Lucky is at 1.1 million, and the website gets 22 million hits a month. As of May 2014, Lucky had added 18.7 percent more pages to its publication, with a 2.1 percent gain in ad pages and 41 new advertisers, including high-end luxury retailers Fendi and Louis Vuitton.

And it’s not just the advertising. Unlike most fashion magazines where high-fashion runway photos are staples, the editorial pages of Lucky are filled with street style shots and street style-inspired spreads. Fashion and beauty bloggers contribute regularly, and there is a distinctly more multiethnic look to the faces on the pages. As soon as she took the helm at Lucky, Chen asked the casting director to find a more diverse selection of models, and the change was evident from the start. Chen’s debut issue, September 2013, alone featured the Asian faces of fashion director Anne Keane, photographer Phil Oh, blogger Esther Quek, TV host Alexa Chung, magazine editor Caroline Issa, and models Pan Yan, Bonnie Chen, Tao Okamoto, Chanel Iman and Liu Wen. Chen is especially proud of the recent May issue, which features a particularly cool looking Indian model, Natasha Ramachandran, in a summer beauty spread called “A Look of One’s Own.”

“There are so many stylish women on social media that will redefine what beauty is,” says Chen, citing YouTube makeup sensation Michelle Phan and super bloggers like Aimee Song. “I hope that has a trickle-down effect. I’m really inspired by what they’re doing.”

Chen herself should be added to that list. When she posts a picture on Instagram previewing this cover story for Audrey and soliciting questions, she gets more than 600 likes within 10 minutes. Her followers want to know everything from where she got her adorable Hello Kitty iPhone case to how good her Chinese is. One follower writes, “Thank you so much for being so relatable — you’re a role model, and sometimes it makes me tear up when I think about you and other Asian American creatives … being visible for the little Asian American kids right now. They have you all to look up to, and that’s really something.”

“I always wanted a sister,” says Chen, whose only sibling is an older brother. “I think that’s why I always gravitated towards fashion and media, so I can be the older sister and dispense the advice.”



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Fashion and journalism weren’t always in the cards for Chen, however. Growing up in New York’s Greenwich Village with a Taiwanese mother and a Shanghainese father, Chen was an English and creative writing major on a pre-med track at Johns Hopkins University when she decided to change directions and pursue journalism. Her parents — whose immigrant story is fairly typical, with her father working at a restaurant in Chinatown before starting his own business, “making everything happen so that my brother and I could go to the best schools we had available to us” — were shocked and confused, but not necessarily disappointed.

“The lack of perceived stability [in the media world] can be intimidating,” says the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism alum. “My parents are very supportive because they truly want me to be happy. I think it helps I don’t ask them for money for groceries,” she laughs.

Despite having gone to an Upper East Side all-girls school with few Asian classmates, Chen has always embraced her Asian-ness, having served as president of the Asian American Association and then as vice president of the Chinese Student Association in college. “I’m always the first to say I’m Chinese American, first-generation American, child of immigrants, and my parents made everything possible for me,” she says. Her family speaks “Chinglish” at their regular get-togethers, where they still eat Chinese food “like almost every night.” And even someone in Chen’s position is not immune to your typical immigrant parent’s, shall we say, reticence to compliment.

“My parents’ generation of Asian parents are not the kind of people to say they’re so proud, or ‘good for you,’ or ‘congratulations.’” Chen adds, good-naturedly, “My mom very kindly sends me a critique of the magazine every single month. Yeah, she does that. It’s very Asian. Which is at once comedic and yet also still hair-tearing-out-y.”

That being said, Chen admits that if a young woman comes up to them at a restaurant and starts gushing, her parents “find it kind of bewildering, but I think secretly gratifying, even though I don’t think they would ever tell me that to my face.”

One way her parents are atypical is in their silence about her having kids with her British husband, Tom Bannister, whom she met while studying abroad at Oxford her senior year. “They see how I’m putting literally every fiber of my being into this position,” she says. “I’ve been at this magazine for nine months, which is about the time it takes to give birth to child, and I think they know how tunnel vision I’ve been about that.”

Being Asian has “always been a part of who I am,” says Chen. “I think in the fashion and media industry today, there are so many people pretending to be something they’re not — personality-wise, image-wise, lifestyle-wise. And for me, I am who I am. I’ve never really had a reason to question that. I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve never had to ask myself, ‘Did I not get this because I’m Asian?’”

Recognizing the tie to the growing Chinese market abroad, Chen sees fashion as being quicker to embrace the Asian face, not just the designers but in the modeling industry as well. She cites Liu Wen, whom she considers a friend, and Korean American Soo Joo Park, whose blond locks kicked off a trend. “But there are still not enough,” she says, adding, “The fact I can name every Asian working in fashion — is that a good thing or bad thing? I don’t know, but it’s a fact.”


But if fashion still has a ways to go, Hollywood, in Chen’s mind, is woefully in the dark ages. Though she calls herself “a very even-keeled person,” she speaks passionately when the conversation turns to the lack of Asian faces in Hollywood. “You know that classic icebreaker question: Who would play you in a movie? And I’m always like, ‘Well, I don’t know, maybe Morgan Freeman, maybe Melissa McCarthy.’ Because there aren’t enough Asians.

“It makes me really angry,” she continues. “I don’t understand how it’s still OK for certain shows to have humor that’s directed against Asians that would not be OK for many other ethnicities.” She mentions one sitcom with an unflattering Asian male character (though she admits she hasn’t watched in a few years, she says, “I watched that show once and I had to turn it off … I was horrified”), as well as a tech industry-based series that offends her “feminist streak” by its lack of female representation. “There’s one woman; she has a secretarial role,” she says. “That kind of thing I find outrageous, especially because I know so many strong, smart women in tech who are just changing the world.”

Chen hopes that Hollywood will one day catch up to other industries, like hers, that have more Asian Americans in positions of power. She can’t wait to sit down someday with Janice Min, the former editor-in-chief of Us Weekly who is now running The Hollywood Reporter. Chen has also recently chatted over lunch with Joyce Chang, the newly minted editor-in-chief for Self magazine.

Asian American women specifically, says Chen, start with a handicap of appearing quiet and passive. “It took me 30 years to get comfortable with myself. You have to work harder to be heard. Standing up for yourself is the hardest thing to do.”



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When Chen first landed the coveted EIC title, it was the minority designers who were among the first to reach out to her. Of course, she knows them on a first-name basis: Jason (Wu), Phillip (Lim), Carol and Humberto (Lim and Leon, respectively, of Kenzo and Opening Ceremony). And on the occasion of her Audrey photo shoot — which marks the first time she’s gracing the cover of a magazine — she called in only Asian American designers from the Lucky closet.

As she’s getting her hair and makeup done for the shoot, dressed in a chic sweater and Topshop heeled loafers that she’s already shown to her Instagram followers on the way to work, she is multitasking, a mock layout of the next issue taped on the adjacent wall. And who could blame her? In addition to editing the monthly magazine on a day-to-day basis, Chen is responsible for coming up with new ideas for the brand. (Condé Nast just announced a spin-off e-commerce platform, with Chen as its chief creative officer.) And yet she insists on nine hours of shut-eye a night, something she has previously called her secret to staying sane.

During a time when the magazine industry is in flux and struggling to stay relevant in a digitally fragmented world, Chen remains, as always, “glass half-full.” With each post and hashtag, she’s bridging the gap between consumer generations and breaking down barriers.

“For me, it’s been about bringing a fresh perspective,” says Chen. “Lucky’s a magazine about shopping, but it’s also a magazine about personal style. I think that’s the elusive thing that everyone’s trying to figure out right now.

“And we don’t talk down to you,” she adds. “The voice that Lucky pioneered was this friendly, accessible, we’re-your-best-friend voice. If you see us in real life, we’d invite you to sit down with us and have a glass of wine or go shopping with us.”

Though Chen admits she may be losing readers of a certain demographic — she cites a letter from a 52-year-old first-time grandmother who says she no longer identifies with the content — for every one letter like that, Chen gets three letters from 20-somethings who are discovering the magazine for the first time or former subscribers who are rediscovering it. “Every letter that I get like that — I’m not gonna lie — brings a tear to my eye and makes me so, so, so happy,” she says.

Chen still remembers being a 21-year-old intern at Harper’s Bazaar, walking through Times Square, with its tourists buzzing and giant billboards flashing, and passing by what was then a newly built Condé Nast Building, with aspirations of being part of the story- telling going on inside.

Thirteen years later, ensconced on its sixth floor, Chen looks like a pro, seamlessly changing from one outfit to the next for her photo shoot. But she retains the spirit of that 21-year-old intern, as she acknowledges that she’s still learning on the job. “I feel very grateful to be even in this position,” says Chen. “My entire career has been a great risk and a great adventure.”


This story appeared in Audrey‘s Fall 2014 issue — get it here.

Story by Ko Im, with contributions by Anna M. Park and Ada Tseng.

Photos by Conan Thai.

Makeup by Brian Duprey, hair by Chris Lospalluto.



Fall Street Style: Asia’s All About Casual Crewnecks


Summer is slowly withdrawing its balmy qualities for the cool, crisp days of our colder months. Much to our delight, this means a new wardrobe rotation begins!

For some simply bringing back their favorite fall items is satisfying, for others it means new retail therapy sessions—out with the old, in with the new.  If you do decide to revamp your closet staples, take a peek at this early fall tendency for Seoul city dwellers with all its variations: the casual crewneck sweatshirt.


The crewneck originated as an American football sporting garment in the 1930s, and now it has been diversified plenty of times with urban streetwear brands.   While some opt for a more fitted size, you can go oversized and layer away as the temperatures continue to drop into winter.  While heat makes it difficult to look fresh in the heavier fabricated sporty trends, it’s September so those who love to embrace the runway’s more workable options can break them out.

Graphic print sweatshirts are popping up all over Seoul’s streets.

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Others go for the more solid, classic look.

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Can’t get enough?  Check out these fall and winter 2014 collection crewnecks from a few contemporary womenswear designers and brands.

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Rag & Bone New York’s graphic chainstitch sweatshirt in grey heather. Available at: for $325

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The Agi Mixed-Media Sweater in cement marl and silver from All Saints. Available at for $250.

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Helmut Lang’s more unconventional Waft Sweatshirt in black. Available at for $275.

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Alexander Wang’s Paisley Pullover with contrasting sheer cutouts. Available at for $595.





Street Style With Korean Designer PARKCHOONMOO


Avant garde is meant to stand for an opposition to the norm in terms of both consumer and popular culture, but in a world where out-of-the-box innovation is now pushed as the “it” thing and everything is about being kitschy, I feel using that term isn’t suitable for describing the work of Korean designer Choonmoo Park.

Highly influential around the world, Park is described as being a leader in the avant garde category, but I see her as being conscious about her life experiences and translating them into a wearable collection.  With a background in industrial design studies, you can see how she applies the ideals of her previous education to her clothing. Industrial design rests on the ability to understand the relationships between form, function and products, and how these products are used within certain environments as well as the aesthetic appeal of them.  There’s an analytical approach to how Park designs her clothes.  No one can question the aesthetics and creativity of the line, but look closer and you’ll see the pieces with their complicated appearance actually have a graceful, unrestricted flow and are easy to wear.  Park never forgets the importance of functionality and kinematics.

Some may still prefer to describe her as avant, but I prefer the word experiential.  While based in Seoul, South Korea, Park has fans all over the world, and I found some great street style shots inspired by Choonmoo Park to share with you:

2NE1’s Minzy looks amazing in ParkChoonMoo’s previous fall collection.

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Here’s more designs from the PARKCHOONMOO collections.

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Finally, here’s designer Choonmoo Park.

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ASIA STREET STYLE: Menswear Inspirations


To the annoyance of my husband, I am one of those women who’d rather peruse the men’s section on shopping excursions; it’s not a matter of being anti-frill and fluff, but rather a curiosity to see how menswear styles change compared to the fleeting moments of its gender counterpart.

The persistent availability of tailored trousers with polished shirts and jackets are at the core of a less experimental framework that makes up the majority of men’s fashion. There is significance to the fact that the main components of suiting have been carried through from the 18th century until present-day, a continuum which doesn’t hold true for women’s styles if you ever decide to research historical fashion plates.

This unchanging calibre has made it’s way into inspiring designers for contemporary womenswear; the trend continues well into this year and will likely emerge again during the Spring and Summer 2015 shows that are about to kick off with New York Fashion Week next month.

To end my ongoing preoccupation with history and timeless quality in apparel, here are some of my favorite menswear inspired street looks from Japan and Korea.

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Tokyo Street Style: Midi-skirts


For those of us more timid about trying some of this season’s miniskirt variations, take a cue from these stylish Japanese women and opt for mid-length or midi-skirts. It’s a fairly laid-back trend compared to some of the more highly stylized genres within Japan’s modern street fashion world, but easily accessible in U.S. stores for the upcoming fall. How can we work the midi-skirt into our closet staples? You can find everything from classic A-lines to figure flattering pencil styles with contemporary detailing to amp up your fall wardrobe. Try taking a more fearless stance with bold footwear, interesting color pairing, or unique tops like the following women, whose adventurous nature can be seen in their clothing choices. Though their outfits may not fall into any specific category within Japanese fashion subcultures, it’s personal preference that makes each stand out.


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Looking to add a midi-skirt into your style rotation? Check out these finds below!

ASOS Pleated Midi-Skirt With Mesh Inserts. Available at for $77.

ASOS Pleated Midi-Skirt With Mesh Inserts.
Available at for $77.


In Check Pencil Midi-Skirt Available at for $58.

In Check Pencil Midi-Skirt
Available at for $58.

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Helmut Lang “Max” Asymmetrical Midi-Skirt. Available at for $230.


MSGM Printed Satin Midi Skirt. Available at for $575.

MSGM Printed Satin Midi Skirt.
Available at for $575.




Tokyo Street Style: Fashion Meets Food Courtesy of Rotari Parker


Writing this before breakfast was a terrible idea — my hungry monster keeps getting more upset at the visual deliciousness before me. My love of eating, especially snacks, has gained me the nickname “Snack Attack,” and I won’t deny that I dream of pantries full of crunchy morsels on a regular basis. Now combine this obsession with my daily street style hunts and we reach foodie/fashionista heaven, otherwise known as Japanese accessory line Rotari Parker.

The label has been around for a few years, breathing new life into typical grocery aisle fare, and is still releasing delectable accessories periodically under their “Eat Me” line. These hand-produced marvels are fitting given the eclectic street style of Tokyo, where wearable art garners more appreciation than seasonal fashion movements. I know this story isn’t quite promoting healthy living, but sometimes adorable things are difficult to pass up. That, and I generally take on the “you only live once” approach to eating.

How does Japan wear these sweet and savory finds? By stacking them up because just one won’t do. There’s nothing like being decked out in pretzels and pastries to engage people’s fascination.

And yes, in case you were wondering, this is all real food.

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If you check out Rotari Parker’s Instagram you’ll find their newest designs along with behind-the-scene photos of how they create this yummy invasion of food and fashion. As a warning, it’s best not to look if you are starving at the moment and suffer from “hangriness.”


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Summer Surfing: The New Alexander Wang Cage Installation


When you step into Alexander Wang’s New York Flagship store, you meet “The Cage.” Alone it may seem cold and uninviting, but Wang designed the enclosure to give customers a more stimulating way to view his designs by periodically switching up the artwork collaborations. He found a means to providing a fresh and original store image without having to deal with a complete redesign. In the past, the exhibitions included LED light graphics in fabric patterns, a ’90s pop culture throwback of old televisions and acclaimed florist creations.

This month, the newest installation combines the Haydenshapes Surfboard brand with sculpted sand. It’s a powerful display of creativity and hand-crafted precision developed by both Wang and Haydenshapes founder, Hayden Cox. Come live out the last days of summer with black marbled artwork, a looming wave and, of course, Wang’s must-have handbags and shoes.


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Wang’s black leather Bucket Bag and calfskin Lovisa Pumps ride the sculpted wave.

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A side angle of Wang’s artwork that was digitally printed on the boards.



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A more thorough angle of the cage installation.

For more inspiration from the recent Cage Exhibition, check out the short video filmed for it on Alexander Wang’s Youtube channel:



It’s Not Too Late — We’ve Found the Perfect Summer Sunnies


There is one accessory that is a complete necessity during these summer months: a solid pair of sunglasses to take everywhere. This practical means of protection holds an iconic place in the fashion world from Audrey Hepburn’s Oliver Goldsmith frames in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Ray-Ban’s Wayfarers that have been around for decades. Luxury designers produce lines of collectible and vintage worthy styles, but I’ve found a new favorite: Sunday Somewhere’s recent collaboration with biracial Japanese American fashion blogger Rumi Neely of

These aren’t your typical sunnies. The frames may have a classic shape, but nontraditional materials and interesting color combinations provide a fresh take on the handmade beauties. Neely described it best on her blog: “I really wanted to make the details special, to have them stand out from the average pair, and we did just that with rose gold detailing, an all-leather option and matte metallics.” 

Below is part of the collection currently available at Net-a-porter and Sunday Somewhere. And for more daily fashion inspiration be sure to take a peek at her Fashion Toast photo streams!

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Tokyo D-frame in matte acetate and rose gold-tone metal, at for $400.

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Paris Sunglasses in matte metallic gold, at for $320.

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Paris Sunglasses in leather and snakeskin combination, at for $320.



Of course, we can’t end without some fabulous images of Neely wearing her newest collab.

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