Asians in Fashion: Ming Xi for Zac Posen’s Pre-Fall/Winter 2014 Collection

Chinese fashion model Xi Meng Yao, more commonly known as Ming Xi, was featured in a series of breathtaking shots for fashion designer Zac Posen’s Pre-Fall-Winter 2014 lookbook in French Vogue. 

The lookbook, shot in both color and black-and-white, offers 26 dramatic photos of Ming in sweeping gowns and sharp silhouettes. Posen, known for his sophisticated style and penchant for deep and metallic hues, doesn’t let his fans down with this pre-collection. Ming poses in a variety of navy blue, gray and (of course) black dresses.

“I had no preconceptions about this career, I tend to just go with the flow,” Ming has said in an interview with CNN on her success in the fashion world. The model has walked in shows for countless high fashion brands, including Christian Dior, Alexander Wang and Givenchy. “I never really gave [being a professional model] too much thought before. That said, I absolutely love what I’m doing now.”

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Adorable Asian Babies Who Dress Better Than You

Our faithful Audrey readers have made one thing clear to us: they love adorable Asian babies. Of course, we don’t blame them. Who can resist squealing over those round eyes and chubby cheeks?

To appease our readers, we brought you the Adorable Asian Baby Overload, Asian Babies With Puppies and even A Halloween Costume Edition. Looks like we’re all out of cute babies, right?

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Don’t you worry. We noticed one thing in particular with these children who reach social media fame. Many of them have a killer fashion sense. That, or they have parents who understand how much we eat these pictures up. Some people complain that these fashion-heavy photos are simply parents vicariously living through their children by dressing them up to reach viral fame. Others claim that these parents simply enjoy the idea of a well-dressed toddler. Whatever the reason may be, they certainly caught our attention.

Here are kids who make the playground their runway and lower our self-esteem by dressing way better than we ever did during our toddler years.

 

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Audrey’s Top Ten Stories of 2013

2013 was quite the year for Audrey Magazine. Not only did it mark our ten year anniversary, it was also the launch of our revamped website. While we’re more than excited to kick off this new year, let’s take a moment to look back on all the stories of style, beauty and inspiring Asian Americans of the previous year.

Ranked by which stories were the most popular of the year, we bring you Audrey’s Top Ten Stories of 2013!


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1) Breaking The Asian Myth | Asian Hair
“If there’s one Asian stereotype we’re all very familiar with, its Asian hair. No one knows when this actually happened, but at one point people began thinking that all Asian women had the same kind of hair…”


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2) Not For Weak Stomachs: Removal of a 25-Year-Old Blackhead 
“In September we showed you the results of sleeping with makeup on for an entire month and called it a horror story. Now we take that back. We take it all back. Apparently, that wasn’t a skincare horror story at all. This is…”


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3) Korean Twin Sisters Unrecognizable After Plastic Surgery 
“It’s no secret. In Asia, plastic surgery is becoming more and more common. In fact, double eyelid surgery is so typical that many girls have been known to receive the procedure as a graduation gift. Aside from these minor procedures, just how far has surgery entered Asian culture? According to some, surgery has become a very serious ordeal…”


2013 d4) World’s 15 Most Followed Asian Female Celebrities on Twitter 
“1. Indonesian entertainer Agnes Monica (@agnezmo) — 8,326,171 followers
2. Japanese-Swiss-Polish Brazilian TV personality Sabrina Sato Rahal (@sabrinasatoreal) 3. Indonesian singer Sherina Munaf (@sherinamunaf)…”


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5) Korean American K-Pop Star Embroiled in Nude Photos Scandal
“Korean American singer Ailee has been receiving enormous attention from the Korean media after nude photos of the K-pop star surfaced on the Internet. Allkpop, a popular New York-based K-pop website, published censored versions of the photos last night, igniting a firestorm of controversy…”


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6) The Ultimate Guide to EXO
“EXO is separated into two subgroups, EXO K and EXO M, which promotes in Korea and China respectively. But together? This boy band totals to 12 members. Overwhelming? Just a bit. As much as we wanted to get to know the line-up for KCON, was learning all 12 members worth it? YES. The answer to that question is a very enthusiastic yes…”


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7) False Rumor: Philippines Disqualified From Pageants For The Next Two Years 
“In the midst of all this good news for the Philippines, a strange rumor has begun to spread. According to The Adobo Chronicles, the  Association of Beauty Pageant Franchise Holders (ABPFH) has disqualified the Philippines from international beauty pageants for the next two years claiming that Filipina candidates had an “enormous advantage” this year…”


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8) Asians in Fashion | EXO-K for Ivy Club Autumn 2013
“With the rise of EXO’s popularity, we can confidently say that  Ivy Club made quite a good decision to have the boys model and endorse their Autumn 2013 look…”


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9) Extremely Racist Responses to Olympus Has Fallen
“Its no secret that we still face racism today. Every time I start to believe that I live in my ideal/equal world, acts like this bring me back to the reality that we still have a long way to go…”


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10) Where I Went and What I Bought: Seoul
“I took a dream vacation last month. Not to some tropical hideaway surrounded by crystal clear waters. Not to a romantic European capital overflowing with crumbling palaces and fine wine. No, I went on a shopping vacation. To Korea…”

 

Celebrity Style Guide: Padma Lakshmi Accessorizes with Leigh & Luca New York

We know what you’re thinking. She’s gorgeous. But aside from her beauty, Padma Lakshmi is quite talented. The 43-year-old Indian American is a cookbook author, actress, model and television host.

Known for her award-winning cookbooks, Lakshmi has been the host of the reality show Top Chef since 2006.

Here, Lakshmi is seen taking a break from hosting to relax on a beach in Miami. What caught our eye was her gorgeous way of accessorizing her scarf from Leigh & Luca New York. The official Leigh & Luca New York website describes their pieces as:

Highly addictive expressions of individual style that beg to be worn in a variety of ways. LEIGH & LUCA’s alluring collection captures the essence of ancient spiritual cloth with modern motifs and patterns, season after season. The relevant and trent-driven designs are sensuous, edgy and modern, capturing that downtown vibe with uptown notes of luxury and style.

 

 

Creative Director Susann Luca travels the world looking for inspiration and more and is inspired by the less structured garments that stem from exotic cultures such as Asia and Africa. Each piece is woven on antique wooden looms using the highest quality cashmeres, silks and cottons, and can take up to a full day to make. Embellished with innovative hand embroidery, printing, and flocking techniques, the oversized scarves are made with love in Inner Mongolia.

Utilizing the color contrast of the scarf with her bikini top, Lakshmi wraps the scarf around her waist like a sarong. Although it may be a bit too cold for you to venture off to the beach during the winter time, there are many other ways to wear Leigh & Luca New York scarves.

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For more information, visit the official Leigh & Luca New York website.

Get That Look: Cold Weather Looks à la Our Favorite Style Muses

With temperatures slowly dipping and chill factor slowly increasing, this means we’re busting out our favorite cold weather gear!.  But take note, warm holiday sweater ≠ Cosby sweater (unless you want it to, of course).  In any case, take some cues from some of our favorite Asian and Asian American fashionistas and end the year in style.  Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 4.20.44 PM1 – Madewell Shirttail Skirt; 2 – Milly Jacquard Plaid Skirt; 3 – Rebecca Taylor Dolman Sleeve Cropped Knit; 4 – Topshop ALPY Velvet Lace Up Boots; 5 – SoleSociety Delancey; 6 – T by Alexander Wang Stretch-Cotton Top; 7 – H&M Long Shirt; 8 – LNA Cotton Flannel

In the past few years, plaid has made its resurgence as a go-to pattern, no longer being reserved for lumberjack and woodsmen. But rather than just wearing the print as a button-up, pull inspiration from the ’90s like style bloggers Jenny Ong, who’s channeling Cher Horowitz with her plaid skirt and sweater combo (avoid looking like a schoolgirl by picking a non-pleated skirt), and Tricia Gosingtian, who adds a bit of punk flair to her feminine outfit with clashing patterns and a plaid wrap-around.

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1 – Topshop Hooded Bomber; 2 – Modekungen Bomber; 3 – Rag & Bone Lily Pullover; 4 – Nasty Gal Back in Action Boyfriend Jeans; 5 – Superga 2750; 6 – MSGM Wool Cape; 7 – Kohl’s Honee Mixed-Media Trench; 8 – Rag & Bone Moto Leggings; 9 – Topshop Milla Lace Up Shoes

Like models Sui He and Shu Pei, play with the idea of volume with your outerwear, especially if it’s in military green (a virtual neutral, if we do say so).  Take a more relaxed look like Sui He and couple a bomber jacket with a boyfriend jean, but keep the look clean and downtown-ready with a knit sweater, sneakers and perfectly coiffed hair.  For a more streamlined look like Shu Pei’s, couple a more fitted jean or legging with a bulky wool coat for balance.

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1 – Topshop Hooded Bomber; 2 – Modekungen Bomber; 3 – Rag & Bone Lily Pullover; 4 – Nasty Gal Back in Action Boyfriend Jeans; 5 – Superga 2750; 6 – MSGM Wool Cape; 7 – Kohl’s Honee Mixed-Media Trench; 8 – Rag & Bone Moto Leggings; 9 – Topshop Milla Lace Up Shoes

As the most practical (and logical) winter wear trend, layering has become standard in chilly temperatures.  Avoid looking and feeling frumpy by picking pieces in different textures, weights, patterns and lengths; for instance, make like model Fei Fei Sun and K-Pop star Nana and couple a light collard shirt with a sweater (the perfect way to keep using that chambray!).  Pair a light, slightly oversized knit (like cashmere — Uniqlo’s is only $20-$30!) with a long cardigan like Fei Fei or if wearing a heavier coat like Nana, a thicker knit.

What will you be wearing this December?

Indian American Waris Ahluwalia Stars in Gap’s Latest Holiday Campaign

San Francisco-based retailer, Gap, has quickly created a positive buzz with its latest campaign. Designer/actor Waris Ahluwalia, arguably one of the most prominent Indian American and Sikh figures in the fashion world (just check his Style.com pages), is one of the campaign’s featured faces.

Just released at the start of the month, the campaign stars a slew of personalities including Ahluwalia (as well as this year’s Unforgettable host, Lisa Ling) and has drawn a number of positive comments for the diversity in its casting.

Seen alongside artist and filmmaker Quentin Jones, Ahluwalia is seen modelling the mega-retailer’s latest holiday fashions — a puffer vest and a button down shirt.  But it’s not just the clothes that have created a buzz.  In an industry that often draws flak and criticism for its lack of diversity, the conscious decision to cast and feature Ahluwalia as one of the faces of a globally-recognized brand is undoubtedly a needed change, a powerful statement on representation and tolerance and a much-needed step forward.

Many fans have been quick to show their support.  On Gap’s Facebook page, the photo featuring Ahluwalia has already garnered over 700+ likes and quite a few positive comments.  A sampling of which is below:

Keenu Hundal Saw this ad in teh (sic) downtown San Francisco store and literally stopped in my tracks. I was so happy to see you all select a Sikh male in your new ad campaign. We need to make the Sikh male image more mainstream in order to educate the general public on who we are, so that ignorace does not breed hate any longer. Thank you, Gap!

Charu Kapoor Deshpande You guys have truly raised the advertising/marketing bar … Bravo for making a statement by setting yourselves apart and recognizing how the world had changed and is changing! Best campaign I have ever seen because you stepped outside the box!! Bravo

 

Suvraj Mandeep Thank you Gap. It’s such a proudest moment to finally see that major designer store has choose Sikh as there Frontwall model who is actually a pure Sikh (the one who wears Turban and has full beard). Truly, a vary proud moment for all the Sikhs. Finally, putting Gap to my top list for shopping this holiday!

 

With such a positive response, we can only hope that this helps mark a new, more diverse, more representative era in the often-exclusionary world of fashion.

 

Flashback Friday: Small Boobs Unite! (And Find the Right Bra for You)

I think when I say that I have problems finding a good fitting bra since I am so petite, some of you would probably nod in agreement because you feel the same way. Yes, I have a small bust and I was ashamed of it. Going to bra shops and trying on the smallest size they carry, usually a 32A, and realizing I can’t even fill those up only added to my insecurity. Ladies, if you experienced the same situation, please know that we all come in different shapes in sizes. You are beautiful no matter what size you wear and I am excited to tell you that you no longer have to worry about being “too small” because there are shops that carry petite lingerie so you’ll finally be able to wear a bra that’s the right size for you.

First of all, it’s important to find out exactly what size you wear. Lingerie companies tend to use different calculations to arrive at your bra size, but they always take the same measurements: the under-bust area and the fullest part of your bust. If you personally visit a lingerie shop, ask them to measure you, or for those who are shy, tell them your two measurements and they should be able to tell you your size. If you buy bras online, be sure to check their fitting section since they tend to vary.

When fitting, you should be fastening your bra at the outermost hook because the band tends to stretch overtime and you can move in a hook when this happens and still fit the bra fine. After you put it on, pull the back of the band outwards and it should only stretch out 2 inches. Go up or down a band size depending on how much it stretches out. Do take into account that cup size changes with band size: when going up a band size, go down a cup size (e.g. the cups of 30B and 32A should be the same).

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From left: Wireless Push-up Bra ($36.00); Azaria Bralette & Azaria Thong ($48.00/$30.00); Isabella Demi Cup Bra ($54.00). All from Lula Lu Petites.

Lula Lu Petites Lingerie

Some of you may be comfortable and proud of your petite breasts. You may not want to pretend to have more than what you own with major push-up bras but can’t seem to find small bras that fit you without thick padding. Ellen Shing’s lingerie collection, Lula Lu Petites, feature bras that are unpadded to lightly-lined. Sizes range from 32AAA-36AAA, 32AA-38AA and 32A-36A.

The Little Bra Company

From left: Lucia ($56.00); Sascha ($60.00); Angela ($52.00). All from The Little Bra Company.

The Little Bra Company (TLBC)

For those of you like me who don’t have a whole lot in the chest area but would still love some cleavage, Emily Lau from TLBC has the solution. Their bras do not contain a whole lot of padding but the size and fit are able to miraculously give you enough push for a desired shape. They carry bras that range from 28A-36B in either smooth or lace cups.

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From left: Signature Bra ($50.00); Bralette ($42.00); Removable Pad Bra ($60.00). All from Itty Bitty Bra.

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Jane Alden Hodgdon understands that grown small-busted women do not want to be searching the teenage section for a fitting bra. Women like us need a bra that not only provides support, but is also stylish and comfortable. They carry bras in sizes 32AA-36B.

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From left: Embrace Lace Petite Push-up Bra by Wacoal ($69.00); Bahia Demi Cup Underwire Bra by Aubade ($82.00); Just Peachy Lace Padded Balconette Bra by Figleaves ($22.53).

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Figleaves does not specialize in petite lingerie, but they do carry small sizes, such as band size 28 and 30. They bring together bras from many different companies so there are plenty of options.

Two other stores that you might want to check out are LoveStruck Lingerie and Eve’s Apples.

 

Jee Kim Designs Bags for Men on the Go

Story by James S. Kim. 

Men and Their Baggage
Designer Jee Kim, founder of Peasants & Travelers, creates stylish and functional bags for men, who were actually quite the bag innovators a few centuries ago.

 

It doesn’t take a fashionista to understand the relationship between women and bags. Synonymous, symbiotic, or both—it just takes a quick walk down the street of any downtown urban center to spot these two going hand in hand, or perhaps, on the shoulder or across the chest. Purses, totes, carryalls and clutch bags and more make up the diverse world of women’s bags.

It’s hard to imagine now that men once dominated the bag scene. But that’s where Jee Kim, designer and founder of the San Francisco-based men’s bag company Peasants & Travelers finds inspiration for her work.

Jee Kim. Photo by Narith Ta.

Jee Kim. Photo by Narith Ta.

“Back in the 18th century, it was the peasants who carried their owners’ belongings in makeshift satchels during travel. It was also the men who traveled long distances alone before women could, thus making them the first true carriers of ‘bags,’” she said.

Her company, as well as its name, pays homage to these early bag innovators.

Peasants & Travelers looks to bring together the oft-mutually exclusive qualities of fashionable and functional in men’s bags. Pay no heed to the jeers of “man purse” and the like. There’s something else for men besides the standard backpack or briefcase. Despite what many may think, there is a growing market for men’s bags, and Kim has built a solid footing for herself as a designer and businesswoman.

Kim, who grew up in Maryland, said she had high dreams of being in fashion and running her own business.  After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York with a merchandising degree, she secured a job with Gucci, the first of several brands that she would eventually add to her resume.

For over 10 years, Kim worked at brands that included Neiman Marcus, Banana Republic and William Sonoma. Her work took her all over the world, but it was her travels in Asia, specifically Hong Kong, Japan and Korea, that kindled her artist’s spark.

“I’ve always had a fascination with bags [and] their function,” she said. “A good shoulder bag [for example] frees your hands for multitasking. I noticed that men [in Asia] utilized bags as a fashion statement. The bag was a prominent part of the outfit. They didn’t seem to peg the bag with a gender, but embraced it.

“It was only a matter of time before American men would follow and expect more stylish bag options.”

Kim acquired valuable operation and production experience during her years in the fashion industry. The concept of Peasants & Travelers came to fruition and felt conceivable, she said, with the experience she had gained.

The company officially launched in August 2008, and Kim found herself initially running nearly all aspects of the company. Tapping her former colleagues in China, she was able to find partners in product development and design, and she would travel there for two to three weeks at a time to pick out fabrics, trims, zippers and whatever materials she would need. After finalizing the products, she would take the samples back to the U.S. herself, then haul them along to trade shows to showcase them to retailers.

The first collection shipped in March 2009. The 12-piece collection, which featured various bags, totes and carryalls in three different color waves (olive, brown and navy with black accents), began garnering attention in fashion media, including Urban Daddy, Thrillist and the New York Times. Notable retailers such as Urban Outfitters began carrying Peasants & Travelers products.

None of them, however, gained as much acclaim and popularity as Kim’s reimagining of the classic doctor’s bag.

“It put us on the map,” she said.  “It was versatile enough for work and/or for the gym. I [still] get emails requesting them.”

The bag takes after the classic doctor bag with the split-handle design on the top. However, Kim’s modernized interpretations are sure to draw glances with its unusual fabrics like cork, as well as the fine leather trim and the addition of shoulder straps.

“I think in the fabrics and the trim we use, it definitely updates the bag,” she said. “The strategy is modernizing a classic bag and making it comfortable for a guy who wouldn’t normally consider carrying a doctor’s bag, making them consider it and easing them into a style that is a bit more out there.”

Kim in her workshop. Photo courtesy of Jee Kim.

Kim in her workshop. Photo courtesy of Jee Kim.

She noted that cork is a material often used for shoes, and people don’t expect to see it in a bag. “That’s an element of surprise,” she said.

Unfortunately for potential buyers, the doctor’s bag has been sold out for quite a while, but they can look forward to a revamped, sturdier version in the spring 2014 collection.

The collection continues Kim’s vision of “fashionable and functional,” led by the weekend/gym bag, which features a separate shoe compartment and enough space for a weekend trip.

“As a creative person, you always have a storage of things that you like in the back of your head,” Kim said. “You always kind of are looking at things in a visual way. I think one of the strategies going in was, when a guy is carrying a bag into work and he’s also travelling, what are some styles that are classic but haven’t yet been interpreted in a modern way?”

Men who may be hesitant about checking out bags because of any “man purse” label shouldn’t have to worry. Men have long used bags, and now, thanks to Kim, they have some stylishly functional options from which to choose.

This story was originally published in the October 2013 issue of KoreAm Journal.  

 

Paris Fashion Week: Sarah Baadarani’s New Look

British Lebanese designer Sarah Baadarani has made a name for herself in evening wear since launching her brand in 2010. During Paris Fashion Week, Baadarani gave Audrey a peek at her Spring/Summer 2014 collection, in which she’s shifted her focus toward versatile daywear pieces in cotton and jersey. Though trousers, blouses, and jackets have taken center stage in lieu of her signature gowns, Baadarani’s ethereal style prevails.

Inspired by the concept of elevating daywear with an infusion of elegant drapery and feminine details, the collection features a juxtaposition of structure and flowing fabrics. Pieces range from structured trousers with a generous sash around the waist, to blazers with billowing sleeves, chiffon pieces peppered with a three-dimensional print of hand-painted roses overlaid by embroidered jewels, and versatile cotton dresses that are cut in such a way that they can be worn three different ways.

Baadarani has taken the brand in an interesting new direction by playing around with material and structure to create a collection of visually intriguing pieces. All in all, she has succeeded in preserving the accessibility and comfort of daywear in the pursuit of evening wear elegance, resulting in a thought-provoking collection that questions the boundaries within fashion.

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NewbarK Presents The Most Comfortable Pair of Flats EVER

Audrey gets up close and personal with Paris Fashion Week. 

These days, fashion brands looking to cut costs turn increasingly to overseas manufacturing or cheaper materials. NewbarK makes a point of doing the opposite. Founded by stylist sisters Marjam and Maryam Malakpour, all NewbarK shoes and bags are handmade in Los Angeles. Flip a pair of their flats inside out, and you’d be hard pressed to find a hint of glue. We got up close with the NewbarK Spring/Summer 2014 collection at Paris Fashion Week.

Artisanal quality aside, NewbarK dedicates itself above all to comfort. Models favor the brand for its durability, often wearing the same pair of flats for several years before needing to replace them. Their debut collection featured foldable flats you could take “from shoot to shoot” and a market tote roomy enough for all the gadgets and knick knacks one could need in a busy day. Their newest showcases an aesthetic expansion of the brand’s original practical designs. Wedges and flip flops have joined the original flats, which now come in metallic shades of calf-hair and suede. As for bags, NewbarK SS14 introduces more structured satchels, as well as its much-loved hip bags in new colors and textures, including snakeskin.

With the evolution of the brand, NewbarK has also turned its attention to weatherproofing its products. Though the brand’s hometown of Los Angeles is rarely hit with extreme weather, the designers have now incorporated waterproof materials for fans elsewhere, further solidifying NewbarK’s place as a champion of durability, quality, and comfort.

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