Fashion

Blonde Asians

by Liz on August 3, 2013

in Fashion,Opinion

Model Xiao Wen Ju. Photographed by Tim Walker


There’s a new breed of Asian trendsetters in fashion magazines and on the streets, and they seem to pop up everywhere.

Asian blondes are probably nothing novel. No matter where you go these days almost all people dress as they please and dye their hair to their tastes.

It’s a bit harder to say why they are increasingly visible.

I think about Saskia Sassen’s theories of transnationalism and how globalization’s most potent effects manifest themselves in the denationalization of the national. The networks of surveillance and biofeedback that holds the threads of commercial civilization together have become so embedded in the daily life of even the most atomized individual they allow her (or him) to defy the heavy gravity of national identity and join the floating world of mobile apps, sound bytes and downloadable movies.

Some may say the mimicking of European hair color among Asian women is a post-colonial kow-towing to a Western standard promoted by Vogue or Swiss watch advertisements. I don’t entirely disagree with this observation. But if we are increasingly shedding the old Orientalism and trading it in for something a bit more cold, unblinking and sterile, we realize the blonded Asians are a visual metaphor for experimentation, though one that’s boxed in and limited to the superbrand sponsorship that has the final say about everything, including, dare I say, the color of our hair, no matter how off-key it may appear to the untrained eye.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Graphic Origami | Kenzo Spring 2012

by Liz on November 29, 2011

in Fashion


I’ve been trying to figure out what it is about Takada Kenzo that I’m so drawn to, and I think what it really comes down to is the designer’s legacy of color, vibrancy, and fabric expressions of a love for life. The sway of a Kenzo skirt or a floral scarf flapping in the wind is certainly the material substance of good advertising, or a glimmer of a reason to get up in the morning, but if there are fashion editors out there who try to justify their work by conveniently suggesting fashion designers are the harbingers of things to come, or a thermostat to the reckless mood of the times, then the House of Kenzo should give them a reason to think again. For Spring 2012, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim paid tribute to Kenzo’s legacy with a no holds barred display of color, cut and proportion. Theirs is a fashion universe of orderly cheerfulness, an interesting concept to play around with in a world where we must constantly worry about what tomorrow may bring.

Fashion, like any other creation, seems to tell a story about a designer, or in the case of the Spring 2012 collection, his legacy. For decades Kenzo has been a Japanese designer shrouded in the whirlwind that is Paris couture, but for his fans he always stood out with his ever-so-subtle expressions of Japanese aesthetics. For myself, it’s something of a guilty pleasure to find a hint or two of Eastern influence in the mist, like the accessories shown here, re-envisioned for a fashion crowd with a discerning eye. The House of Kenzo is a rest stop for the weary, perhaps even the fashion-weary. And I wonder if it’s because this collection is a nod to influences in the designer’s childhood, when he read through his sisters’ magazines in Japan. It’s an outlet of happy escapism that looks backward rather than forward at one designer’s transcultural legacy.

A reminder that sometimes even nostalgia is enough to move us forward.

All photos courtesy of Vogue.com

{ 1 comment }

Prabal Gurung FW 2011

by Liz on August 28, 2011

in Fashion


It’s interesting to think what scientists have proven to be true — that viewing a beautiful work of art can affect the brain as much as being in love.

Apparently art triggers a surge of dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter, that results in feelings of pleasure. Perhaps even happiness.

If that’s the case, I really should be paying more attention to fashion designer Prabal Gurung, a Nepalese New Yorker who began his own breathtaking collection as recently as 2009. And he’s been gathering accolades like berries off low-hanging trees ever since.

And who could blame those who worship at his feet? Gurung clearly knows what he’s doing.

For Fall Winter 2011, Gurung sought and found an unlikely muse in classical literature. The dresses in this collection were inspired, he says, by the heartbroken Miss Havisham of Great Expectations. To Gurung, heartbreak is something that’s also transcendently beautiful.

I love the dresses and the accompanying details, and the bold use of red, a color in Himalayan and Tibetan prayer flags that denotes fire. Here it seems to highlight Gurung’s passion for what he does. There’s also black leather belts anchoring many of the pieces in place, a latter-day nod to the Japanese obi that also have all the elements of timeless chic.

(All photos via Vogue.com)

{ 0 comments }

(From L to R, top to bottom) Chinese supermodel Ming Xi, a peaceful protest in Dalian, a Geisha of nylon and styrofoam, modern architecture in Korea, a basketball brawl, and KARA's new Japanese commercial

@Evan Osnos witnessed history in the making, as Vice-President Joe Biden made the rounds in Beijing, all the while doling out some quirky, off-hand comments to his Chinese counterparts.

@Peter Foster of the Daily Telegraph reports on a middle-class protest in northeast China that ended peacefully, where everybody went home safely after getting what they wanted.

@FP Passport summarizes the ugly but mesmerizing brawl between two basketball teams. Hopefully this isn’t an augury of U.S.-China relations.

@Speaking of ugly, self-entitled reviewers on Yelp can now have their fifteen minutes of fame, thanks to a new satirical Tumblr.

@Change of topic: the Beijinger has an inspiring story of two expats who founded a shelter for visually impaired orphans in 2002.

@More inspiration: 15-year-old Madison Gunst won the first annual K-Pop contest in New York, and her K-pop idol Jang Woo-hyuk wants to meet her!

@On the subject of K-pop, girl group KARA is now starring in a Japanese television commercial for a diet, vinegar drink, but something tells me that’s not the only reason they stay so enviably thin.

@More diaphanous women: Chinese supermodel Ming Xi smiles shyly for Bonae’s Blog in Central Park.

@dezeen magazine showcases a nature-centric, modern residence in Gyeonggido, Korea, away from the madding crowds of Seoul. Very nice.

@Trendland profiles a Brazilian sculptor with a sense of fun when its comes to nylon rope and Styrofoam.

and…

@I just started a new Tumblr, #KoreanPeopleProblems, and frankly speaking, it’s been very cathartic. Very.

{ 0 comments }

(From L to R, top to bottom:) Pearl Buck, a Karakuri puppet, Japanese Izakaya food in Beijing, Singaporean designer Peir Wu's FW 2011 Collection, Korean thriller 'Poongsan', and the cast of Korean musical '200-pound Beauty''


@The great train tragedy in Zhejiang China continues to unfold. The death toll is now 40, and the government has decided to nearly double compensation for the families of victims.

@NYC’s MTA Chairman Jay Walder announced to quit in October, and who can blame him, when Hong Kong’s subways look like this.

@Great news for book lovers. ‘Pearl Buck in China‘ (Simon & Shuster, 2010) is now out in paperback. Buck, by the way, is probably the most fascinating “blond-haired, blue-eyed Chinese girl” who ever lived.

@LaughingSquid posted a video of Karakuri, or the Japanese art of clockwork puppets that run without electricity. Let’s just say these puppets blow me away!

@WOWSAN introduces SAI, unusual shelving system from South Korea that’s customizable and perfect for city dwellers.

@Koreaboo reports hit romantic comedy ‘200-pound Beauty’ will be remade into a musical that will then ambitiously begin a tour across Asia. Kara’s Gyuri and Supernova’s Sungje are involved.

@Hollywood Reporter likes Poongsan (2011), a Korean thriller that “injects new life into Korean North-South espionage thrillers with its edgy portrayal of a mysterious man.”

@Whatever happened to luxury brand Chloé’s online push in China?

@Hip fashion mag Dazed profiles London-based Singaporean designer Peir Wu whose latest collection is based on an “alien tribe of men from an imaginary planet.”

@The Beijinger reviews a new Izakaya restaurant in China’s capital, with a nice woodsy Izakaya vibe but where the food is a little bit hit-and-miss.

and…

@Shanghai Shiok! blogs about how Singaporeans are frowning at the latest influx of Chinese immigrants. But Singapore, isn’t that how you got started?


Quantcast


{ 0 comments }

2011: The Year of the Chinese Woman

July 26, 2011

2011 has not proven to be an easy year, not for Japan, Norway, or even China, despite that country’s rising reputation as a juggernaut of growth. Politicians falter. Media empires crumble. So who’s going to run the world now? I’ve been keeping up with the news, and am now led to believe the heir apparent […]

Read the full article →

Asian American Visionaries

May 29, 2011

I won’t lie. I’m an evangelist for the globalization of Asian culture. And I’m not just referring to Hallyu in Thailand, or kimchi taco trucks multiplying in prolific numbers. I’m talking about seeing more Asian faces in the movies, the media, and magazines in America. Imagine, for a moment, a more equitable representation of humanity […]

Read the full article →

Global Asianista’s Week in Review

November 28, 2010

@The New York Times has a very succinct summary of the work and life of Dr. Chalmers Johnson (1931-2010), the renowned Asia scholar and Korean War veteran, whose work on Japan, China and the United States is all too relevant today. @David Pilling of the Financial Times captures Dr. Johnson’s scholarly essence in a neat […]

Read the full article →

Asian-American Fashion Designers on Front Page of New York Times

September 5, 2010

Early bird that I am, even on a Labor Day weekend Sunday, I stopped by the neighborhood bodega to pick up a copy of the Sunday Times, which in the Internet Age is purely irrational behavior. Why drop hard earned money in the bucket to read articles available online and outdated by the last paragraph? […]

Read the full article →

Dior’s China Gamble

August 13, 2010

The couture houses are obviously in love with China (see here and here), but like an awkward adolescent fumbling for expression, their odes of love are also getting tangled with clumsiness and impulses of another kind. If it’s not Prada’s implacable mandarins, then it’s Chanel’s take on take-out! Clearly, these companies are trying to break […]

Read the full article →