Raw Edges: Street Fashion Interviews

Discovery Channel

Fashion is all about discovering new talent, people, and style. NYFW is the best place and time to meet everyone. Between all the wonderful shows, I always like meeting new people, therefore understanding fashion and style a little further.

I first meet street style photographers, Wataru Shimosato and Young Jun Koo, whose style attracted my attention. The two photographers were shy to speak, but check out their blogs (I’M Koo and  An Unknown Quantity) to see what wonderful people they snap around New York, even designers and the Queen of Mean, Anna Wintour, whom I love, line up to be immortalized by the photog friends.

Young Jun Koo: Wall Street Journal
Young Jun Koo: Wall Street Journal
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IMKOO_ANNAWINTOUR2
Wataru Shimosato: An Unknown Quantity
Wataru Shimosato: An Unknown Quantity
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Richard-Chai-Spring-St-An-Unknown-Quantity-New-York-Fashion-Street-Style-Blog1
Richard-Chai-Spring-St-An-Unknown-Quantity-New-York-Fashion-Street-Style-Blog1
Richard-Chai-Spring-St-An-Unknown-Quantity-New-York-Fashion-Street-Style-Blog1
Richard-Chai-Spring-St-An-Unknown-Quantity-New-York-Fashion-Street-Style-Blog1
Richard-Chai-Spring-St-An-Unknown-Quantity-New-York-Fashion-Street-Style-Blog1

Next up was a very well dressed woman, whose name I didn’t get, I think I was too in love with her cashmere coat to ask. This emerging fashion talent told me a little about her line and described her elegant style, of course all made by her, except, her fur collar, which was handed down by her grandma. Incorporating family history, and sentimental pieces is a great way to give your look originality and style (sorry, no photo, check out video).

Well, here she is as promised, Faustina Rose, a blog favourite. I meet this Lady Gaga look-a-like, although complete original herself (I am sure she is sick of the comparison). I wrote about her gob-smacking style a few posts back, but it took me a moment to discovery I was not speaking with a mere mortal, just check out her website. If you enjoy her style, she reveals some of her beauty secrets in our video. Ms. Rose has also been captured by our photographer friends.

Faustina Rose: IMKOO_NYFW6
Faustina Rose: IMKOO_NYFW6
Faustina Rose: IMKOO_NYFW6_2
Faustina Rose: IMKOO_NYFW6_2
Faustina Rose: IMKOO_NYFW6_3
Faustina Rose: IMKOO_NYFW6_3

After all my fashionistas, I bumped into some musical artist, Lily Halpern, whose rumoured to be dating, Harry Styles, from One Direction, England’s break-out boy band. This songstress seemed very busy during fashion week. I was a little shocked when I spotted her on E! News.

harry-lily and Harry Styles
harry-lily and Harry Styles
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harry-styles-one-direction-romantically-lily-halpern

The last part of my video came with a blanket of mystery, no names, just info. I meet an RCA executive, whose wife designs hang bags, while interviewing her, she let it slip that her husband had signed a new artist. When I spoke with the mystery executive, he said I was getting a big scoop. I spoke with the new artist about her style and fashion week connection (check out video for her name).

MC.

Closet Profile: URSUS THE BEAR

ROAD LESS TRAVELLED

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One question I get asked most “Is how do I become a fashion designer?” My answer is always “Don’t!” Few people really know what it takes to become a fashion designer. Real designers don’t ask, they do, it’s in their blood from birth. Why else would you put yourself through years of torture and ridicule, just to see your garment showcased on a body. Fashion is a high turnover consumer product, which is back dropped with trends, taste makers, and celebrity–I guess that is what makes fashion so fabulous and exciting. With Muse Closet, I want to pull that curtain back a little.

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After my design school debacle, I headed to Japan and licked my wounds for a few months, then I came back and headed to film school. Completely frustrated with my film, a classmate asked if I could use my fashion skill to report Vancouver Fashion Week. I accepted begrudgingly, as I was up to my neck in production work, and not looking to do anything with fashion. I had one condition: I didn’t want to be on camera. I was going to research the designers, and write questions for the hosts, and maybe some styling. Well, nope on all three. I did format the questions and research, but I ended up doing most of the on camera hosting duties, because their male host didn’t work out. What a stroke of luck. I found my place in fashion, and I realized why I didn’t go all the way with my fashion degree.

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I explain the latter because, while doing those interviews, during Vancouver Fashion Week, I meet one of the most intriguing designers, Arthur Lee. When I started the Muse Closet, five months ago, I chased Arthur for an interview from the start. It’s always hard to pin down a designer whose between Hong Kong and Vancouver. By chance, who was on my flight to New York Fashion Week this year? Arthur–interview booked. We finally sat down a few weeks ago, so he could tell me about his designs, philosophy, and artistic journey. This baritone speaking man captivated me with his voice, designs, and story.

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A full circle moment, as we started to speak. That Vancouver Fashion Week was both Arthur, and my destiny calling. He started his design business that year to prove to his family that he was serious, and I started my fashion commentary career.

I 5, New Mexico, right turn, “HOPE.” These are the words that brought Arthur full circle in his life. After years of turbulence to find his creative outlet, Arthur saw this sign of hope while driving through the New Mexico desert. At a cross-road in life, one must listen to find their passion, and thus he did. Arthur’s journey is being documented in a up-coming documentary about his life and company creation. I felt privileged to walk into his world.

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It all begins with a simple idea. Arthur has taken his graphic T-shirt line and turned it into a cult classic for Asian Bear culture, while captivating mainstream audiences. The former baker has created a recipe for success. Establishing his line, Ursus, in 2008, Arthur has not stopped creating. He partnered with charitable organization, Red Cross, after the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami. The original T-shirts  sold out. Next up, a younger, colourful, and cartoonish line named Beavy. Arthur believes that there is always “Light just ahead.” His giving nature is what makes his line interesting and creative.

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The concept to his business is KIS: “Keep it simple.” The clothes are not cumbersome, and comfy to wear. Therefore, business is something to grow with time, energy, and passion. These two concepts of travel and simplicity is what keeps Arthur moving. While creating the line he felt like a bear, always moving and traveling. Fashion to him is like this bear, never staying in one place, one mood, one style. I guess that is why it took me so long to track down this jet-setting designer. No wonder I found him at the airport.

What makes Arthur so interesting, to me, is his background into the world of design. I’ve always felt that real fashion designers jump out of the womb, as some do, but I realize that some take the long way. The long way is not always a bad thing. After suffering through a dot-com bust, an apocalyptic 9/11, and a manufacturing swindle– Arthur persevered. With his fashion roots in New York, Arthur moved back to Hong Kong to manufacture his line. He may have been born in Hong Kong, but Vancouver represents a part of his soul; Hong Kong’s fast pace lifestyle was a little much for this boomerang resident, but with time, his former city and friends have enveloped him.

Interview: Arthur and Me
Interview: Arthur and I

What I took away from my interview with Arthur was that “Without the past, you can not be what you are today.” Becoming a fashion designer takes guts, as it is one of the hardest and most competitive businesses. To find a mode of expression that encompasses our passion is not easy, therefore to discover yourself first is key. What I love about fashion is that it is always moving, developing, and changing. All while building on the past. When I was much younger I was told by a model scout that I needed to live more, after taking to Arthur I understand that statement to be true. What made Arthur’s line so memorable to me during Vancouver Fashion Week was the story. I still remember his words, “I want to express myself.” This is what clothes help us all do everyday, so take some time to discover yourself.

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MC

I added this clip because, I think this is what you need to say when passion comes knocking at your door!

Closet Profile: The Noble Gentlemen

Street Meets Neat: Daniel Maynard

When I first conceptualized Muse Closet, I wanted to showcase individuals who optimized personal style. Personal style, to me,  is achieved when you know who you are, and utilize fashion to express yourself.  One of those people, who I believe, has great personal style is Daniel Maynard. I first meet Daniel a couple of years back when I was wandering the streets of Gastown in Vancouver. I walked into his studio, Young & Affluent, and found an instant connection with him. I use to be a buyer, and I love connecting with people in the fashion business. Daniel was genuine, funny, and smart. Therefore when I started Muse Closet, I really wanted to interview him about his style.

Daniel: Denim vest (hand done himself) and Plaid shirt with kaki pants
Daniel: Denim vest (hand done himself) and Plaid shirt with khaki pants
Daniel: Vest Details
Daniel: Vest Details
Daniel: Accessories
Daniel: Accessories
Daniel: Boots
Daniel: Boots

With school aways in my backdrop, I forgot about my interview list when I first created my blog, then at lunch with a friend from school, I spotted the coolest dressed guy across the street, it was Daniel! His look reminded me about why I wanted to discover people whose style worked seamlessly with their personality.

Showroom Gear
Showroom Gear
Personality Ride
Personality Ride

I contacted him, and he was more than happy to let me follow him around for a week and document his style for you all. Daniel is a fashion distributor and clothing representative. He tells us a little about how his company, Noble Gentlemen Trading and Young & Affluent showroom, which also showcase his style talent. The looks that are showcased in this post, I like because, he shows us how to punch casual into fashion stardom, his eclectic style is street fashion at its best.

Daniel: Dapper!! (Man bag is a must!)
Daniel: Dapper!! (Man bag is a must!)
Daniel: Details
Daniel: Details
Daniel: Dapper!! (Man bag is a must!)
Daniel: Dapper!! (Man bag is a must!)
Daniel: Details
Daniel: Details

One of the amazing things about Daniel is that he works side-by-side with his bother, Liam, who was more than happy to give me some dirt on Daniel. What I enjoyed most about talking to Daniel was his high energy and laid-back style. Most guys never want to push the envelope with their style, but I think Daniel does this with confidence, masculinity, and flare.

Daniel: Street meets Neat ("That old school way")
Daniel: Street meets Neat ("That old school way")
Daniel: Street meets Neat ("That old school way")
Daniel: Street meets Neat ("That old school way")
Daniel: Details
Daniel: Details

What we learn from Daniel is how to take your inspirations and turn them into great style, and even a career. His “Street meets neat,” philosophy is a wonderful concept to think about when defining your own style. I recommend everyone give themselves a tagline. I am wonder what Daniel thinks about in the morning when he gets dressed, “Should I be street or neat?” Well he does give me the answer to these questions. Check out my video interview with Daniel.

Daniel: Hard at Work
Daniel: Hard at Work
Daniel: Details
Daniel: Details
Daniel: Denim on Denim (don't be afraid, it rocks!)
Daniel: Denim on Denim (don't be afraid, it rocks!)
Daniel: Denim on Denim (don't be afraid, it rocks!)
Daniel: Denim on Denim (don't be afraid, it rocks!)
Daniel: Denim on Denim (don't be afraid, it rocks!)
Daniel: Denim on Denim (don't be afraid, it rocks!)

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Cover Me: Riddle Me This…

Stepping Up

During NYFW Fall 2012, J.Mendel gave us a big show.  Front row seats were full of celebrity guests. Fashionable noted, two sunglass clad twins. Also spotted front row was fashion commentator and stylist, Mary Alice Stephenson. I got a chance to speak with fashion’s globe-trotting Queen backstage at J.Mendel.

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J.Mendel: Pre-Fall 2012
J.Mendel: Pre-Fall 2012

For this year’s Academy Awards red carpet breakdown, Wendy Williams called on Stephenson. She has also  dressed major celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker,  and she  is a major contributor to Harper’s Bazzaar, so I knew I was in good hands talking about the inspiration for the J.Mendel show. Minus her credentials, I may have been a little taken by all her compliments to my outfit.

J.Mendel Fall 2012
J.Mendel Fall 2012
J.Mendel Fall 2012
J.Mendel Fall 2012
J.Mendel Fall 2012
J.Mendel Fall 2012

 Kristen Wigg won Oscar gold in  J.Mendel this year. J.Mendel is known for amazing furs and modern evening wear, which did not disappoint. I picked a few pieces to highlight Fall 2012.

J.Mendel Fall 2012
J.Mendel Fall 2012
J.Mendel Fall 2012
J.Mendel Fall 2012
J.Mendel Fall 2012
J.Mendel Fall 2012