Sunday, September 28, 2014

Behind the scenes of a lookbook shoot

Doesn't it always feel good to finish a project?  There's a sense of fulfilment and accomplishment.  And, I find when it's a creative project, there's a certain excitement at looking back to see what you've created.

Such is the case with my latest project, styling and creating a lookbook for new clothing brand Baglady Basics.  

But let me back up a little.  Who are Baglady Basics?  How did this project come my way?  

Oh, what a story.  I met Shanya, a lovely girl from Trinidad with the most amazing Caribbean accent you've ever heard, at an event in the spring.  She had come over the border from Dongwon, China to visit Hong Kong and attend an Oroton HK event hosted by Geneva of A Pair and a Spare.  

Shanya and I hit it off right away and since then, on her monthly visa visits into Hong Kong, we've been meeting up to hang out.  I love her visits because not only do we just enjoy each other's company, but more than that, I enjoy hearing her talk about her process of clothing design and getting her business off the ground.  It's so exciting to be around such creative energy, and she's bursting with it.

Together with her business partner Vivian, Shanya has designed some beautiful pieces, sourced fabrics, found a lovely workshop who produce her pieces and launched her online website and blog.  Just click over to see what they're up to and take a look at the designs.

And along the way, she's asked me for my feedback on different aspects along the way.  Back in April, I introduced her to Paola and Ignacio of Tangram, who gave her some invaluable advice about getting started.  From here, Shanya and I have messaged weekly, even through the summer to keep in touch about where in her process she was.  

Suddenly famous, Kristine gets stopped by a tourist for a photo.

Needless to say, I was incredibly flattered that she asked me to take on the role of stylist and creative director for the lookbook to accompany the launch of her designs.

Oh the possibilities, to essentially play dress up with her lovely dresses.  Well, it was exciting and daunting.  It is such an important part of her business.  Could I do it?  Shanya and Vivian certainly thought so, and their confidence in me was all I needed to motivate myself.

They had put so much thought into the concept, Lipsticks, Rings and Things, providing plenty of images for inspiration and a clear vision for what they wanted.  The rest came relatively easy.  

I assembled my team:  Akiko, who shot the lovely pictures for my collaboration with Circuit Jewellery, and two seniors from my school who were ready to act as models for the dresses.  

I was so glad to have worked with these ladies because we all learned together about what it takes to shoot a lookbook.  Akiko and I brainstormed each look and matched them to four locations around Stanley.  Altogether, the shoot took place over three days (I forgot a dress on the first day, and we had to reshoot four looks).  We all learned about lighting, backgrounds and poses that highlight the best of each dress as well as the model wearing it.

Now we're in the photo editing phase, but soon we'll be able to say it's all done and dusted.  I cannot wait to share it with you.  Thanks so much to Shanya and Vivian for believing that I could do this important project for them.  Thanks again to Kristine and Ming for being so flexible with their time, and for enduring such heat while we hoofed it from location to location.  And a big thank you to Akiko for her extraordinary photography and editing (including some daring stunts to get a good picture) and for helping provide some awesome accessories for the outfits.  Follow @imanorbyah and @bagladybasics for other behind the scene pics.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Eco-chic Design Awards Finalists

Last week, Redress announced the ten finalists for the 2015 Eco-chic Design Awards.  

The EcoChic Design Award is the first international sustainable fashion design competition bringing together Asian and European fashion designers who have a shared goal of promoting an environmentally low-impact fashion industry vision.

The Grand Final to be held in January 2015 promises to be the biggest show yet.  I can't wait.  Ever since I met Redress founder Christina Dean and learned about her fashion NGO along with her passion for sustainability, I was super excited to have a role in sharing her vision with my readers.  I can go on and on about my concern for the environment and in particular our impact on it.  This NGO just gets it. Read more about what Redress (and Christina) have done, here.

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to interview two of the finalists for 2015, Veronica, Hsiao Huei Lee from my home country Malaysia and Laurensia Salim from neighbouring Singapore.  You'll be able to hear more about how they got started as well as what inspires their designs right here on my blog over the next month.

Stay tuned!

Monday, September 22, 2014


I guess I have a thing for #liftdoors?

Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know, I usually prefer the inside.  Especially when they have a reflective quality.  I find them just perfect for #ootd pics.

I don't know how many times I've just hopped into this lift, on my way down to my mum's house, and not stopped to truly admire this awesome shade of blue.  It's remarkable!

And, I thought it was the perfect shade to highlight this cool necklace that was gifted to me by my friend Mikka of Seek the Uniq.  You should seriously check out some of the beautiful and unique items she's curated in her online boutique.  I also received a beautiful maxi dress which I'm planning to wear while I'm enjoying my staycation next week!  Also coming up will be an exclusive interview with Mikka Padua.

This necklace was just what my Baglady Basics drop waist dress needed.  Stay tuned.  I'll be sharing a behind the scenes of my Baglady Basics lookbook shoot soon.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Feel Good Fashion: Emi & Eve

When I first came across Emi and Eve and met founder Cassandra Postema, I was immediately inspired by what she was doing.  Trained in fashion and a graduate of London's Central St. Martins College of Art and Design, she got her start upcycling vintage gems and creating designs from the fabrics she gathered along her travels.  It was the upcycling that caught my attention first along with the vintage interest next.  

What hooked me as a loyal supporter was her social conscience which has lead to her current Bullets for Beauty campaign.  The idea is amazing.  She uses bomb casings and bullets sourced in Cambodia to create beautiful jewellery and accessories.   But more than that, she founded an NGO after meeting a bomb recycling family on her first trip to Cambodia.  Together, they provide genuine work opportunities for people whose lives have been impacted by the aftermath of war.  She also incorporates traditional practices of handweaving (encouraging the art of Saori) to preserve those elements of Cambodian culture as well.

Cassandra is also leading the charge by offering her consultation services to other social enterprises.  She often seeks the feedback of her customers so that she can make her products better and more accessible.  I had the pleasure of participating in one of these sessions with her last spring and we gave specific feedback so she could improve her website, which she just launched this week.  Check it out here.  The idea behind her newest collection, the Sunrise collection, follows a couple of peacocks having wandered away one day from the circus where they live. They get lost and go to sleep only to wake up at dawn to find themselves in a temple garden.  Some of her items are available for immediate order while others can be pre-ordered on the site.

Last Christmas, I bought each of my sisters one of the lovely Peace Bracelets, so I know first hand how lovely her designs are.  This is why I'm so excited about her new Instagram campaign, in which you all will be able to take part for a chance to earn amazing discounts for her beautiful jewellery and accessories.  The details are explained above, but be sure to follow her on Facebook and Instagram for more updates.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The future of Circuit Jewellery

When I think back to this photo shoot from May, I have to admit that this set shot by my friend Akiko was my favorite.  Being by the sea and wearing a nautical-inspired outfit, the red, white and blue, the stripes of the dress, the crisp colors of the background.  I loved that we used Stanley as our setting because it's my home, but more than that, there's such juxtaposition of culture and aesthetic here.  

Old and new buildings (old buildings in new places, new buildings in old places).  East and west.  The British influence in Hong Kong.  The remnants of WWII, when the Japanese dropped a bomb but it didn't detonate, saving the temple by Stanley Plaza.  Expats and locals.  A local housing estate in amongst the flats and condos that expats live in.  A local preschool (where my girls started out) right next to a brand new Montessori school.

All that juxtaposition seemed perfect for a shoot that blends vintage clothing with modern jewellery.  To showcase a new company which aims to highlight beautiful pieces and the stories that accompany them and really make these new pieces feel like heirlooms.

And this little start up, Circuit Jewellery, is up to big things!    

Loris, one of Circuit Jewellery's co-founders, shared an exciting update with me.  Since our shoot, Circuit Jewellery traveled to Bangkok to meet up with new suppliers, one of which is Mosstories (now featured in their boutique).  They also met with other local Thai designers to see if some of their designs would be suited for their online shop.  Circuit Jewellery carefully curates their shop selection so that all designs featured are of good quality, follow their design aesthetic and have an interesting story behind them.  This is their concept, after all.  

Another exciting update is that Circuit Jewellery has been looking to expand it's selection of eco-friendly jewellery.  They've acquired designs from a small Balinese company which makes beautiful jewellery out of reclaimed wood and reclaimed inner tubes.  Ahh!  I love this.  Remember my Feel Good Fashion series?  Yeah, this fits right in. 

And, every good company needs a vision.  Theirs is to continue to build their business, expand their customer base and eventually begin creating their own designs.  I'll be behind them all the way!

If you haven't stopped over at their website, you really should.  They do free shipping worldwide!!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

What's your selfie face?

In my homeroom the other day, I spent a good fifteen minutes having fun with my students and talking with them about selfie faces.  Homeroom is meant for just hanging out with my kids, not teaching them anything meaningfully academic.  We hang.  We bond.

So, on the topic of selfie faces, one of my girls informed us all that there are different kinds.  The ugly selfie face should be for when you are sending Snapchats to your friends and family.  The uglier, the better.  It should be your go to selfie face.  This was the one we practiced.  Then, there is the pretty selfie face reserved for sending that guy you like a Snapchat.

I even found this article describing the 15 most common selfie faces.  Read it, it's funny.  And, I admit I use some of these.  Anyhoo, I thought I'd write about selfie faces (I do the duck lips a fair bit as well as the scrunched up face) and selfie occasions.  

There's the "we're catching up and we don't get to do it all that often" selfie seen here with my girl Shanya.  Look for more on the blog about exciting things coming from her line Baglady Basics.

There's the "OMG, what a small world and we know the same people let's send him a picture" selfie as seen with Emily and Samantha Wordsworth.  Groovy sisters for sure.  When are we hanging out again???

Here's the "we really did some crazy shit in college and had fun, so we're picking up where we left off" selfie.  How can those days be so long ago now?

Then there's the all too crafty "this is a selfie, but you won't know I actually took this picture myself" selfie (unless you really analyze my neck muscles straining).  It's really reserved for pensive moments, or super jet lagged ones.

This "we're just hanging out being goofy" selfie is one of my favorite kinds.  Coincidentally, we both whipped out our phones at the same time.  Great minds, they say!

How about the quintessential "new hair do" selfie.  There are two kinds, goofy (as seen here) or serious.  I've done both.  

This is a Hong Kong specific type of selfie, the "hey! we're at the Sevens!" selfie.

The "we are family" selfie.

This little girl kidnapped my phone one morning and I found her huddled up in the corner of my room in a little bit of a funk because she didn't know how to take a selthie.  So, despite needing to run out the door for school, we did a little on the spot tutorial.  So here is our first "mummy and daughter" selfie.

Think what you may about the selfie phenomenon, I just think they're a lot of fun.  As I look back through these, I think about the moments of goofiness captured on camera that make you smile when you see them again.  We are living in the Instagram, Snapchat generation now.  This is pop culture kind of stuff.  Some day we'll look back on these with the same kind of nostalgia that we do when we remember the days we used to get tangled up in phone cords as teenagers (oh, wait...I'm really speaking to those of you who were teenagers in the 80s and 90s).

Last week, my friend Akiko bought me a selfie stick after hearing me mention it several times.  Just wait. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Trying to stay afloat

I'm drowning.  In debt, in school work, in managing the anxiety of my children about their school work, in establishing routines and activity schedules for the kiddos, in trying to communicate with the hubby when it feels like we're going in opposite directions, in posts that I have planned but can't seem to find time to write, in ideas and inspiration with no way to channel it....oh, the list could go on.

This blog space and my Sisters in Vintage blog space have all but been neglected.  Believe me, there are half posts, pictures and titles saved, but posts that remain unwritten.

There are pictures taken, but not uploaded.

There are half finished projects.

And, at the moment, I don't see a time when this might change.  While at times this overwhelms me, I always try to see the silver lining.  That I'm glad I have so much going on creatively.  That my children have so many opportunities.  That I enjoy getting up and going to work.

But, sometimes the trying gets hard.  

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