Last week, BAOStyle had a Kimono Dress Up party and Open Studio Visit. It was a lot of fun, and gave us a reason to clean up the studios. It is always great to bring in new energy by having an open work space.
Our guests chose from a rack of beautiful kimonos and Obi. I tied the Obi in a traditional bow in the front, which was then turned to the back. (Did you know that women who wear the bow in the front are traditionally courtesans, because then it is easier to get out of the kimono!) Then, we styled our guests on the Victorian settee among our bamboo and rock garden. They were able to wear our wooden velvet geta shoes, traditional Japanese sandals.
When I lived in Japan in 1990-91, our apartment was in an area of Yokohama just one hour from Tokyo by train.
Taking the subway daily into the city to work became a time when I could listen to my Sony Walkman, (those were Tears for Fears, and Depeche Mode times!) There were wedding posters all over the subway train walls, and ads for energy drinks, or English language schools, so I could practice reading hiragana and katakana. I also read a huge amount of paperbacks over those two years.
But, I had to do so, with little personal space surrounded by thousands of people. I would always have several people touching my body somewhere, during the hour long ride. It is a unique culture where personal space is in high demand. Japanese apartments are small, and personal belongings are squeezed into tiny spaces.
But, sitting or standing holding onto the grab strap on the train, I was in my own world of music and observation. I had two hours a day of forced relaxation.
How ironic that twenty years later, as I now sit in my gorgeous glass walled studio, in a large lot that is inhabited by fruit trees and five building structures, I feel lack of personal space. As a mom to two very busy daughters, business owner and new wife, my brain is crammed with to-do's, worries, and responsibilities. I wake up almost every night at three am making lists in my head. Physical space seems to have been enveloped by emotional and personal space.
So, I decided to create some personal space; to boost my patience and reduce my reactions to emotional situations. I just finished a six week course at UCLA on Mindful Awareness Practice. It is the art of paying attention to every present moment experience with openness and curiosity. I learned mindfulness meditation, and tools to deal with stressful situations by reducing emotional reactivity.
One of the most interesting things I learned was that the positive side effects of meditation are scientifically proven. Studies of monks' brains have shown that their frontal cortex ( the part of the brain important for reasoning, and thinking) is highly developed, more active, and thickened, so their amygdala (the part of the brain that creates the fight or flight reaction) can be tempered by the frontal cortex.
The UCLA course started with the following 5 minute meditation. Try it out for a few days, and see if your life and racing mind becomes more quiet, as mine has.
Benefits of Mindfulness: Current science (link to science page) is supporting the benefit of mindfulness for a variety of physical and mental health conditions, and for the general challenges of life in the 21st century. Research shows mindfulness can impact life positively in the following ways:
5:30am Scott shows up bleary eyed at the Sunset H&M Boutique to wait in line for his then three month girlfriend to get there.
8am Carole arrives after dropping the kids to school, anticipating a great line from Comme Des Garcons.
Scene Two - March 2012
5:30am Carole lands at the Sunset H&M Boutique to wait in line for the Marni opening, while now husband Scott sleeps at home. The kids drive themselves to school.
So what does this all mean? Well, I kind of fell in love due to an H&M collaboration with Comme Des Garcons (CDG). I lived in Tokyo for two years in the early nineties. I understand Japanese design, it's clean, simple, and uses the body as the muse. I think that Rei Kawakubo is an amazingly clever and creative designer, and above all, an artist. Many Westerners don't understand the mostly black palette of Japanese apparel design, and the strange lumps and unusual tailoring. It think it's about dreaming and changing perceptions of the body. When we lived in Japan, I would wander the streets of Omotesando wishing in my gut that I could afford these dreamy clothes.
I couldn't. On a Business Trainer's salary, I couldn't even afford the wallets, or the keychains.
But, now H&M (and Target) have brought designer clothing to those of us with much taste, but little money. I don't think that all collaborations are ideal in terms of quality, you have to pick and choose. So, that's what my teenager daughter and I do. We look at what's coming up, actually, she's the one that tells me what's coming up, and we mark the calendar, plan and save.
We've actually only engaged in the Comme Des Garcons (H&M), Rodarte (Target), Jean Paul Gaultier (Target), Josie Natori (Target) and Marni (H&M) collaborations. The quality of these collections is atypical of the discount vendors selling them.
CDG Wool Jackets, Coats, and Jodhpurs were great quality. Jean Paul Gaultier had wonderful details. Rodarte was somewhat successful for our family, my daughter, only, wears those clothes. I have a sexy Asian printed camisole, and robe from Josie Natori. My daughter doesn't wear those. The most recent Marni, added some beautiful high quality Merino wool sweaters, cotton sateen pieces and accessories to our wardrobes.
The Rush - H&M has now had about five years in designer collaboration adventures. They have it down to a science. I was expecting this past week's Marni would be a crazed fight club like I experienced in 2008 at the CDG opening. However, it was civil and quite unexpectedly, relaxing and fun.
Four years ago at the CDG opening, it was mortal combat, elbows raised, and running around like crazy while 100 people fought for the sizes and pieces that had my name on them. But, last week, I got to the store at 5:30, excited that no one was in front of the store at all. I couldn't believe my good luck. But, after parking I found everyone at the back door, I counted that I was #24 in line, next to several collaboration fashionistas, who understood the way it all works.
It was great getting the scoop from the guy who works at Barneys, the two Marlboro seniors cutting class, and the cute fashion web designer. We only had to wait for an hour till 6:30, and then several managers handed out the wristbands. One wore a silk Marni neck scarf, distinctive dyed red curly forehead mohawk, impeccable
makeup and had on four inch platforms. When asked if the heels were comfortable, he said yes, he'd been wearing them since six am. Gotta love a guy in platform heels! I had an 8:25 call time, so I had two hours to wander down an empty Sunset Boulevard to the Coffee Bean. I grabbed a Chai Latte and watched the sun rise over Sunset. At 7:30, I made my way back to the Marni store, where all had lined up again at the back door.
Our wristbands were numbered, I was #7 in the second group. (I don't know how I went from #24 to #37, but no problem, I was up in the line still). At my appointed time, the managers came out to tell us that they were restocking from the first group. We were happy to let them do that.
When we were led in, we walked in a single line according to our wristband numbers, and only thirty of us were let in at a time. I was able to slowly look around the barricaded area twice, and found virtually all the items listed on my daughters' wish lists. I even found myself a beauty of a green merino wool sweater with a great cotton ribbon zipper detail, and matching silk blouse, and cotton asymmetical skirt.
The swim suit that my daughter got is beautiful, feminine ruffles, high thread count brushed sateen cotton, nips at the waist, hugs the bum curve, it's like a dream out of the twenties. The tee being only $19.99 was well priced for the amount of applique on the shirt. The silver sandals are really comfy,and a perfect amount of bling. The chunky bracelets were only $29.99/pr. and resemble resin.
Maybe one of the best things about the Marni collection is the packaging, gorgeous colors, plastic hang tags, and shoppers, with a great color scheme.
OK, so what's the love story? Well, my then boyfriend, now husband woke up in 2008 at 4:30am in the morning to go wait in line for me at H&M. Who wouldn't love a man that would do that for you, even though he's not a shopper?
Even though I almost never wear regular clothes from H&M and Target, I do love the collaborations, they provide higher quality than usual for these stores, and a fun experience that can give your life a little change of pace every now and then. I guess I somehow found some zen in the experience last week, got a few hours to myself, and some statement pieces in the meantime.
Posted by Carole Yu on December 30, 2011 3 Comments
Scott and I were married on Thursday, December 22, 2011 at the Beverly HIlls Court House, in a short 5 minute ceremony. Everyone asks us, "Where did you meet?" Nerve.com, for "creatives"; photographers, designers, artists, musicians, you get it... So, no need for an expensive overelaborate wedding this second time around for both of us.
We had hoped to play Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" but it was a wonderful moment when fate and impromptu inspiration took over. Our wedding began with the guests humming, “Here Comes The Bride”, and then ended with my daughter’s four friends singing the Beatles, “All You Need Is Love.”
When deciding on flowers, it was time for a little online research. (Those of you who are really familiar with me, know that means a week of intense research, yikes!) I just knew I wanted an eclectic and unique bouquet. I ended up choosing vibrant hot colors. Each of the boutonnieres, wrist corsages, and my bridal bouquet were sprinkled with succulents, and thistles.
I loved Scott's bow tie, which I had to practice tying quite a few times before it was just right. The girls looked beautiful, and I was so proud of them.
We had a few friends join us, and my parents flew down for the occasion. Miraculously, everyone wore purples, cream, blues, and greys!
We had an impromptu dinner at a Roy Choi restaurant. Roy started the food truck craze in the US, here in Los Angeles, when he launched the "Kogi Truck" years ago. Their tacos with Korean Short Rib meat, and kimchee are delish. He now has a series of successful Asian Fusion restaurants across the city. We headed to no-reservations only A-frame, where we had Beer Can Chicken, Furikake Kettle Corn, Knuckle sandwich, and wonderful Farmer's Market salads.
When we announced we were getting married, Dara, my ten year old daughter's first question was, "Can I make the wedding cake?" I was slightly skeptical, but Scott, the ever positive presence, said, "Sure, of course." Why did I ever doubt? She made the most amazingly delicious Valrhona dark chocolate cake covered in fondant, with hand formed fondant, and marzipan roses, and Cala Lillies. And all learned from watching the Food Channel and Ace of Cakes! It was a sweet day.
We are settling into newly married life. My design pavilion has now been rearranged to include Scott's photography studio. We plan to use this multi function space for his photo shoots, movie nights, BAOStyle trunk shows, and other party situations! Hope to see you at one of these soon!
Ok, so it's also the first Toad Holiday Giveaway ever, but this is still excellent. How often can you win something for simply leaving a comment on this blog?
First off, the goods! This fantastic holiday giveaway features items I already love and have featured. Yes, you read plural here: items. The first item is a BAO makeup or jewelry bag, handmade of vintage kimonos (that means silk, people), that's the perfect size for purse stashing or traveling. Given its subtle and elegant print, you could even use it as a lilliputian night time clutch bag. The second item is a fabulous party ready ring from the ladies at Noni on Larchmont Blvd. This golden and crystal ring has that great retro cocktail vibe everyone's digging on right now, plus it's fully adjustable to fit any finger. That's pretty brilliant (and comfy, too).
It sparkles and fits everyone!
Now, you could keep these goodies for yourself, or divide the spoils and have instant holiday gifts at the ready. Totally up to you. The combined retail value of this items is somewhere north of $120, so this is one big giveaway from one small amphibian.
Here's the "rules": simply leave a comment on this blog, remembering to include your email of choice so that I might reach you if you're the lucky winner. The winner will be chosen Saturday, December 10, so that the winnings can be shipped out immediately come Monday morning.
Good luck and happy shopping to you from The Toad. And a big thank you to Carole Yu fromBAO and Meghan and Elaine from Noni.
Posted by Carole Yu on November 25, 2011 0 Comments
What does a designer do to research and be inspired ? I go shopping! I have an excuse, I am researching a new exclusive limited edition purse that I am going to be doing with a partner!
I spent an afternoon last week looking for new purse closures, trying to find unique ways to repurpose trims, for example using ribbons, and suede lacings and weaving them into a closure, or using heavy duty hook and eye tape as trim
The beads and trims area in downtown Los Angeles is on Maple Street between 8th and 9th streets. Someday soon I will have time to do beading directly onto my purses. These painted beads were beautiful, and inexpensive, and would be great as zipper pulls.
I found one store that carried a lot of suede and leather and ribbon spools. I'd like to incorporate them into purse closures.
The trims are glam.
At "Zip-up" where I buy my zippers (on Wall Street), I found this great heavy duty hook and eye tape. I like the esthetic of the brushed chrome dots with the pleather. Too bad it's not real leather
Unfortunately, these well made eyes didn't have hooks to mate with.
I grew up in South Bend, Indiana, where my dad taught mathematics at Notre Dame. When he was a child growing up in Masterton, New Zealand, he was from a fruit shop family, with little funds for extra toys.
So, my dad, being the mathematical nerd even as a young child, used to play with mobius strips. If you don't know what a mobius strip is, cut a piece of paper 1" X 10". Hold the ends of the paper in each hand, bring the ends of the paper together, but before gluing them together, turn one hand over and then attach the two ends. You receive a never-ending strip of paper that has transformed a two dimensional piece of paper into a three dimensional sculpture.
So, it is with Temari Balls, turn a one dimensional piece of silk kimono thread into a three dimensional masterpiece.
Temari Balls started in ancient Japan as a way for mothers to use up their extra kimono fabric, and silk threads. They would make these toy balls for their children, by bunching together extra kimono fabric. Then twisting of extra strips of fabric, and winding of threads around and around made a very compact sphere, tight enough to bounce.
Eventually, Temari, as often with many original home Japanese crafts, became an art form. They now represent a highly valued and cherished gift symbolizing deep friendship and loyalty. One can train to become a temari "master."
The Temari ball is one of my first exposures to Japanese art and design. Growing up as a child in South Bend, I remember that my mother, who belonged to the "Ladies of Notre Dame" club, had received a temari as a gift from one of the Japanese members. It held a special place on the tree, and I remember wanting to hang our orange, white and green temari ball as an ornament before my sisters did. We would all be cozy in our back addition, hanging ornaments on our tree, listening to Christmas music on the turntable, and watching for the rare, bright red cardinal eating from the bird feeder. I remember stringing popcorn, and cranberry garland, and seeing the sun reflect off the bright white snow outside the windows.
Many Japanese textiles use the temari motif. Here are some examples, which you can click on for additional amazing master temari photos. Enjoy!
Gift Certificates are now available to be mailed to your recipient. You can request email gift certificate or an actual gift certificate to mailed to you in the "Special Instructions" box at check out.
ELECTRONIC GIFT CERTIFICATE
We will provide an electronic code to be used at checkout in the full amount that you request from the pulldown menu below. Any remaining balance will not be carried over, so the full value should be used during the purchase.
Shipping charges will not be added to electronic gift certificate orders, and will be corrected after order has been placed. An updated invoice will be emailed to you after order has been entered.
All Gift Certificates will be valid for six months from date of issue.
PAPER GIFT CERTIFICATE
If you would like to purchase a paper gift certificate or an amount other than listed, please contact info@BAOStyle.com, or call BAOStyle at (310) 770-6365.
Shipping charges will be added to paper gift certificate orders, and will be $5.95 for domestic orders, $12.95 for Canada/Mexico, and $14.95 for all other countries.
All Gift Certificates will be valid for six months from date of issue.
BAOStyle made a guest appearance in a Disney retail film two weeks ago. How did this happen?
It's a story of coincidence. Two years ago, my daughter, Elena, and I were principal actors in a Gardisil commercial which you can read about in a previous blog post and watch below. We booked it because the casting agent knew Elena's swim coach, and we were originally to be the swim mom and daughter. In discussing our daily lives, I explained that I was a vintage kimono purse designer. The vision of bright kimonos draped around the set, along with colorful paintings, some of which were done by Elena, enticed the director enough to cast us as the "creative" mother and daughter pair. Watch closely, they did the entire shoot using all of BAOStyle's studio, down to the furniture, pins and needles.
It was a lot of fun, the pay sustained us for quite a few months, and the bonus was qualification for the Screen Actor's Guild Health Plan. So, I decided to continue pursuing commercial work.
Through another swim team connection, I was signed as a commercial actor by The Osbrink Agency, with Dara, my younger daughter, who has always been a musical actress, and dancer being signed in Theatrical, Commercial and Print, and Voiceover divisions.
The last year since I've been with my agency, I've gone out on about two dozen auditions, with no avails, or bookings. So, when I heard from Crista at Osbrink that I had been booked for a Disney film, I was surprised. I hadn't even auditioned for Disney. Instead, I'd been chosen off my headshot by the casting director. I had a script with lines and seven scenes. It was an industrial video to be used in an interactive educational application to train Disney retail store employees on safety procedures, and selling strategies. I had to be down in Mission Viejo, which is an hour's drive, hair and makeup ready, by five am. That meant setting the alarm for three am.
My co-star and "son" for two days was the most professional adorable six year old boy, Jordan Higa, also with Osbrink. He's a seasoned professional, having booked several jobs previously for Disney. You'll recognize him from last year's Christmas promotions, and you'll see him again this coming Christmas.
I had brought four choices of BAOStyle purses to use in the shoot. When I asked the director what to use, she just told me, "Use your favorite." So, the Medium Box Wrap with Phoenix and Dragon Print Wedding Kimono fabric was on my wrist for the entire shoot. (A little secret, shhh, don't tell...Reese Witherspoon has another edition of this purse in her collection too!)
This last photo was taken after our big scene with Disney Store Manager, Sheri. She "rang up" our items for a "Cars" camping trip. Plus, she upsold me a recyclable bag, and got me to take a brochure on getting a Disney Rewards Member Visa Card. See the number of takes we had to do?
Nellie Wong is my mother. She lives in the San Francisco area, and was down in Los Angeles for a few days this past week with my dad. As it is Mother's day on Sunday, May 8, 2011, I wanted to honor her with a story of how she has influenced my design work. We went over to Scott Stewart's studio (BAOStyle's talented photographer) and started shooting. She came up with the brilliant idea of doing tai chi, an exercise she does regularly with my father. With several purses on her forearms, they reminded me of kimono sleeves. Perfect idea, Mom!
My mom was born on the road as her family fled the Japanese invasion of China during WWII. They immigrated to New Zealand where her family had a fruit shop. I remember stories that she told us of how they lived, played, and worked in that little space. Being the ninth of ten children, she was always surrounded by someone to play tennis with, to visit friends with, or cook or work with in the store.
She moved to the US when my father was appointed a Mathematics professor at Notre Dame, in 1965. Mom was a well known Chinese cooking teacher at Indiana University SB, and fortunately passed the cooking gene and skills onto us children. (We have a personal cookbook that mom created for her students years ago!) After forty years in South Bend, Indiana, they retired to the San Francisco area.
Mom made many of our clothes when my two younger sisters and I were small. I loved exploring the sewing area in the basement where my mom had her sewing table, machine, and shelves with fabrics, skeins, and threads. Being a Kiwi, she also has a gift for knitting, so I could always find something interesting with a lot of texture and color, and we would always have wonderful argyle sweaters to keep us warm during the freezing Indiana winters.
Since my parents' extremely large family still lived in New Zealand, we would travel there every other summer to gorge ourselves on home baked cream and butter filled desserts, and see all of my 50+ first cousins and their families. As children, we spent many summers car camping around the US, and when we were slightly older, flown to China, to "find our roots." When I was ten, my father moved us to Leamington Spa, where I went to school. I learned to play an extremely frustrating game of "Kiss Chase", thus so, because (boohoo) none of the boys ever wanted to kiss me! After England, we traveled in Italy and other countries in the British Isles.
So, I am happy to thank my mom and dad for opening my eyes to the global experiences that have heavily influenced my design sense. Mom, I thank you for your sense of adventure, your good food, and teaching me to sew.