Thursday, August 27, 2015

Common Threads: Exhibiting Australian Fashion Talent

I admit that while I claim Australia as one of my homes (I have a passport to prove it), I can't claim to be a local or to really know the Australian experience since I only lived there as a baby.  Sure, we travelled there in the summer time (their winter) to visit friends and family, but that isn't the same thing. Nonetheless, I am incredibly nationalistic when it comes to promoting anything from Down Under.

That said, when I saw an opportunity to cover the Common Threads Pop Up, an event sponsored by the Council for Textile & Fashion Industries of Australia and aimed at supporting Australian designers, I couldn't wait. At the event, eleven designers would be showcasing their designs and looking to network with people in fashion here in Hong Kong to make connections and explore new business opportunities abroad.

The networking event was Monday evening and it was my first fashion event since returning from summer holidays.  In addition to catching up with some friends, I met a lovely designer, Viviana who is the creative lady behind Basquesse (ready to wear, couture, made to order and millinery).

Originally from Lima, Peru, but transplanted to Sydney, Viviana's designs captured me because of their feminine, vintage feel.  Though not actually vintage, her designs certainly take inspiration from vintage clothing.  What first drew me over to her booth was a gorgeous floral fascinator sitting on display. What kept me over there was our conversation in which I got to know the designer, what inspires her and what she holds important.

I think back on that conversation fondly and especially remember two key parts of it.  First, when I asked her about what inspires her designs, she spoke of her Aunt Flora (actually her great aunt).  Clearly she was a stylish and graceful lady with gorgeous frocks and hats who made a big impact on Viviana. She also spoke about her own daughter, who modeled in her most recent lookbook (I got to see a picture). It was nice to hear how important family is to her (we even spoke about a dream she'd had before her first daughter was born) and see the role family takes in her work.

The other part of our conversation which was memorable was her passion for nature.  She explained that part of her profits go right into conservation and preservation of the natural environment and resources of Australia.  She sources her materials thoughtfully, and has a real focus on sustainable fashion (you can read more about that here).  She also incorporates this love of the natural world into her designs.  The dress next to Viviana in the first picture was inspired by the ocean foam. She explained that on the day of the look book shoot, there was an incredible storm kicking up on the beach, which provided quite a dramatic backdrop for her designs while at the same time threatening to postpone the shoot.

I love stories, and I love a designer who has stories for each of her pieces.  At the end of our conversation, she quickly picked up the floral fascinator I'd eyed when we first met and said, I know you really like this, so it's my gift to you.

Thank you again, Viviana. Your pieces really are wearable treasure as your customers say.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Bendable eyewear?

We've all had it happen to us.  We chucked our favorite pair of sunnies in the purse only to discover that they're broken (a lens pops out, an arm breaks, etc) when we take them out again.  It's so frustrating. 

And devastating, too! Why? Because finding the right pair can be as exhaustive as the hunt for the perfect pair of jeans.  Don't get me wrong, I know what I like, but everyone's face shape is different.  In my case, I have an awkward nose because there's a weird bump right where sunglasses sit on the ridge that makes it hard to find a pair that actually sit on my nose (more info than you probably wanted, I know).

Enter Baendit Eyewear.  I first heard of this brand via the Print House who stocks them in their shop in Stanley. We also featured this company in our Stanley Night Market a few months back.  I was intrigued, to say the least, about this idea of modular sunglasses.  And the bendable part well, I wondered how sturdy they would be.

I was thrilled this summer when they asked me to try out their sunglasses so I could see for myself. I'm always excited to learn more about and to support local brands.  The Founder/CEO of Baendit Eyewear hails from Lugano, and started out in law.  Having lived in Hong Kong for the last ten years, his brand has been making waves in HK Fashion since their launch.

I think what I like most about these sunglasses is that they're fully customizable. There are two designs, the Ned Kelly edition (which I am wearing) and the Salvatore Giuliano edition.  From here, a person can select what color nose piece, what color arms and which frames they like to create a fresh looking pair of sunglasses.  They're unisex, so everyone can wear them.  I also love how comfortable they are.  And, because they are fully bendable, you can adjust the fit as you wear them.  For convenience, you can wrap them around your wrist, neck or anywhere to store them until you need to wear them again. No need to worry about these sunglasses breaking.  There are no hinges!

I love local brands with interesting start up stories.  I look forward to following up on this post with an interview with Baendit Eyewear's founder. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Get Redressed: Laurensia Salim video & what's coming up

Over the summer, Get Redressed sent over an exclusive video from Singapore finalist Laurensia Salim's visit to John Hardy in Bali.  You may remember the interview I wrote up of her trip here.  Now I'm thrilled to be able to share the video of her visit.

Exciting things are coming up from Get Redressed. First up is another Pop Up Shop event in September.  You'll definitely find me there.  I can't tell you how many gems I've picked up at their previous pop ups.  Details can be found in the poster below or you can join the event on Facebook.

Finally, here is a teaser for the next season of the Eco Chic Design Award.  I look forward to seeing what the next round of designers has to offer, don't you?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

In a fog

If you're in Hong Kong, you wouldn't believe me if I told you these pictures were taken in the spring.  Since returning to Hong Kong earlier this week, we've been inundated with the typical August weather. Rain.

And thunderstorms.  And foggy, misty, humid air.  Like a steam room.  I'll pretend it's good for my skin and that the sweat on my face is actually my skin glowing in a young and dewy way.


The weather kind of works with my state of mind at the moment.  I'm in a fog of jet lag.  In a blur of school prep.  In waves of overwhelming stress and procrastination.

But nevermind all that.  If I can at least look put together, maybe I can fool people into thinking that I am put together.

Stick with me. I'll get back to normal soon, and I'll probably be wearing outfits like this from the spring.  Only minus the hat.  It won't be hat weather for a couple of months.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

LO Summer Voyage: Crystal Lake

We're all packed up and ready to head back to Hong Kong tomorrow. It's funny how the summer holidays seem to vanish in a whirlwind towards the end, isn't it?

One of the best things about this summer is that it was filled with loads of catch up time with good friends. Where last year we seemed to struggle to make the timing work for meet ups, this year all the stars aligned. And, I'm so glad.

One of the places I'm glad we had plenty of time for was Crystal Lake, in Lodi, Wisconsin. It's the lake we spent much of our younger years wake boarding and water skiing on and now our kids are out carving their way through the water.

We spent a good week with college friends and their kids enjoying the quiet serenity of the lake from the pier. It made me laugh to think about how times had changed. When we were fresh out of college, we used to run around taking care of our dogs. Now, we were doing the same thing, only with kids.

My Louella Odie beach wraps got their day in the sun, finally! (Remember that we had a rainy start to summer?) When I envisioned this summer collaboration to showcase the wraps by using them by the water, I hadn't anticipated that so much of the water would be in the form of rain!

My dear high school and college friend Susie was a reluctantly willing model on this sunny evening in June. We had a good giggle as you can see.

We'd been out on the paddle boards and were grateful for two things: the warm sun (golden hour, too!) and these light summer beach wraps. They were just the thing to keep us cozy on the pier after a cool dip in the water.

I have these memories and more to keep me smiling about this holiday.  I know when I get back to Hong Kong I'll be happy to see it again, but I'm kind of wishing this LO Summer Voyage wasn't over so soon.

Sunday, August 2, 2015


 There are plenty of articles out there on the internet written by so called 'experts' who seem to have figured out what goes when it comes to appropriate attire for (fill in the blank here). Take this one called 24 Things Women Should Stop Wearing After Age 30 by a Ms Kallie Provencher. Read it if you want to get annoyed like I did a few weeks ago when I stumbled onto it in my Facebook newsfeed via Not Dressed as a Lamb, but I can save you some time by summing up parts of it here.

 There are also just as many articles on the internet providing tips and self help techniques for how to feel more confident, or happy, or sexy, etc. Does anyone see a connection here? Why is it we allow others to tell us how we should dress, or what we shouldn't wear, etc and then wonder why we don't feel good about ourselves?

Here's the thing, though. I don't bother with these kinds of lists anymore. If I read them, it's only for amusement. Otherwise they just frustrate me because they usually say the most preposterous things. Take for example, Ms Provencher's list.  In it she claims that women over the age of 30 are expected to be more mature and to dress that way, too. Like with crop tops, apparently even if we have a "bangin' body' we're meant "to leave these shirts to the young folks." My ass. Whatever. If I have abs after giving birth to three kids then you better bet I'm showing them.

Or another one, American Eagle Outfitters..."sure their jeans fit perfectly, but that doesn't make it trendy for women over 30 to be wearing them." Really? I mean, to be honest, I haven't shopped at AEO since college, but if the jeans fit perfectly, why shouldn't I be able to wear them if I want to?

I say I can. Rules or lists are just suggestions.  I found Ms Provencher's one more offensive than most because of her tone. I mean, mini skirts? She says "by this age, women should know better to leave something to the imagination." Well that just tells us that younger women don't know better.  Nice. A sneaky insult.

And glitter eye shadow. Save it "for things that should actually sparkle" Wow. Thanks. Another insult. We women should stick together, so I'm always disappointed when we don't.  Enough judgement comes at the hands of others; we should have solidarity amongst ourselves.

I'm thinking (hopefully) that she isn't 30 yet, because if she was, she would know that your thirties are the best decade, ever.  For me, living through my thirties helped me really feel comfortable with who I was because finally I really understood myself. In my thirties, I was less afraid to take risks. I feel like I stopped having goals to change myself because I was happy and settled with where I was then and where I am now. There are probably things on that list of 24 that none of us should be wearing any longer, but who am I to say?  If a woman feels good, they should go for it.

 I'm not the only woman with these thoughts. Fellow blogger Catherine (@notlamb) and I chatted about responses and she created a fun way for us to prove naysayers wrong.  In addition to other bloggers who are writing their responses, Catherine has dedicated the hashtag #iwillwearwhatilike and a fun list of items of her own for us to wear in the month of August.

I know I'll be taking part in the fun.  I hope you will, too.  Check out my Instagram feed (@imanorbyah) and follow the hashtag to see what we all come up with.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Stanley Market side streets

The longer this summer holiday goes, the more I find myself thinking of what's happening back at home in Hong Kong. Not in a I can't wait to get home way but more of I hope it hasn't changed too much.

It's the nature of where I live, but it never gets easier. Being in America reminds me of how quickly things change back in HK. No matter how long we stay away from our home in Madison or the small town where the hubby's parents live, it's comforting to know that for the most part it stays the same between visits.

It's not that change is bad. Change is good, but the change in this market is often at the expense of all the character and local charm that I love about it or the people whose families and livelihood has been there for years.

Lately though, the changes taking place are exciting and creative. We have street art. We have public art installations. We have pop up markets (and not just our Stanley Night Market). Dare I say there's a scene? Or at least a vibe? My friends at Print House HK and I are hoping so.

For as many years as I've been using the market and it's little alleys as a backdrop for outfit pictures, it never ceases to amaze me when I find a new spot. Not that this is a new spot; I've just never used it for pictures on the blog. It's the steep alley I call the hardware store lane (where the hardware store is, of course) that can be taken for a side entry into the market.

Our hardware lane was teeming with people for our inaugural Stanley Night Market at the end of May. Seeing the alley now in these not-yet-posted outfit photos reminds me of how much fun that night was and makes me excited to start planning the next one.

But first, I'm going to sit back and enjoy the rest of this summer holiday, in the backyard where there's more grass than concrete and cruising the sleepy streets of this tiny town on my bicycle. I know when we leave America, I'll be having opposite thoughts and longing to be back here.

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