Friday, August 19, 2016

Hottest Fashion Brand right now!

Well, if you have been loosely following fashion news, you probably know that Gucci, Valentino, and Saint Laurent Paris are the "in" brands right now.  If you follow fashion closely, you would know that Hedi Slimane had left SLP in the spring which makes this FW2016 collection his last one.  And let's not forget the latest news at Valentino is that Maria Grazia Chiuri jumped ship to House of Dior and left Pierpaolo Piccioli at its helm as sole creative director.  Given the messiness of "divorces", the only steady ship within this trio is Alessandro Michele who took helm of Gucci just last year!  Whew, are your heads spinning yet?!        

This new Gucci is far from Frida Giannini's.  I felt she played safe and pretty much just rehashed what Tom Ford did.  But then again, it's hard to follow Tom Ford... after all, he did revived a pretty much dead brand that was heading the way of Pierre Cardin.  However, it's hard to recall such a quick resurgence of a brand within such short gap between its last revival.  Much credit to Alessandro that he was able to execute his vision flawlessly.  Regardless if you like the new Gucci look or not, at least it's not a rehash of Tom Ford's vision.

I'm not a big fan of some of his super exaggerated retro pieces but here are the ones I like:

Cotton Polo with Snake embroidery; I like the embroidery around the collar.

Viscose jersey sweatshirt with web; I don't wear that much sweatshirts but I thought putting webbing on a sweatshirt is interesting.  

Silk bomber jacket with embroideries; I love the new trend of souvenir jackets so bring on embroideries!  

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A trash can you definitely don't want to throw trash in!

I really can't imagine anyone throwing trash into this Hermes Equilibre d'Hermes wastebasket.  I mean after all, I would not want to get that exceedingly expensive wastebasket dirty would I?!  And where's my lotto tickets again?!  LOL.  Joking aside, I do get that the leather is all hand dyed and everything is hand stitched on this beautifully designed trashcan.  I'm pretty sure that the canning on the basket as well as the leather strapping near the bottom is all hand done as well.  Be forewarned though, this will probably be the most expensive trash can (cost is equivalent of a Birkin bag) you have ever purchased in your life unless you have trash cans made of gold!!!        

Monday, August 15, 2016

A perfect Christmas gift for that Fashionista!

Just came across an article on Lanvin's wooden chess set based on illustrations by Alber Elbaz.  As everyone knows, he was ousted as head designer from Lanvin recently.  However, his spirit at Lanvin lives on with this whimsical chess set.  I can totally see this set displayed on a coffee table or on a desk of a fashionista.  Heck, I'm very very tempted to buy one myself!  Get yours at Net-a-Porter!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Perfection at a Japanese restaurant

If you are looking for French and Japanese fusion food, you go to Narisawa.  If you are looking for pure unabashed traditional Japanese food, you go to RyuGin in Tokyo.  Chef Seiji Yamamoto makes his magic in this small restaurant and what you get is fresh traditional Japanese ingredients that transform into pearls of delectable yums.  This restaurant ranks #2 in Japan and #31 in the world according to S. Pellegrino's the World's 50 best restaurants.  But honestly all the restaurants ranked in the top 100 are pretty much on the same level.  I can't say Le Bernardin (#24) is better than French Laundry (#85) by a mile.  If anything, I prefer French Laundry to Le Bernardin.  It's a personal taste.  One thing is for sure though, I never had a better pure Japanese meal than at RyuGin.  What he created for me was just eatable Japanese art.  If you get a chance to go to Tokyo, do not hesitate and make a reservation there.  Your stomach will thank you!  BTW, if you love uni, this is the place to get fresh uni.  It's so fresh and tasty here that any other uni you have anywhere else in the world will not be able to come close.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Hottest trend right now in men's fashion

One of the hottest trend right now in men's fashion is Souvenir Jackets and I'm sure that trend will last for few years so one should definitely get one if you don't have such a jacket in your wardrobe.

You may ask what is a souvenir jacket?  Well, souvenir jacket, also known as Sukajan jacket/ Yokosuka embroidered jackets/ 橫須賀ジャンパー, was popularized by American soldiers.  After World War II, American GIs who stationed in Japan wanted to commemorate their stay in Japan before heading home.  So what do they do?  They commission silk satin jackets with motifs they associate with Asian culture: tigers, dragons, and eagles, etc.

There are many places you can get vintage Sukajan jackets such as Ebay, Craigslist, etc.  Brands like Gucci, Valentino, Saint Laurent Paris also have their own versions...   Here are some of my favs from this past and coming season:

This one from Gucci is reversible so when souvenir jackets are no longer in, you can just wear the jacket inside out!  Price of one for two.  My kind of jacket!  SS16

This one is from Valentino from FW16.  A different take than most souvenir jacket motifs!

And if red is your color of choice, Louis Vuitton has one just for you! Gorgeous crane embroidery in the back.  SS16

Monday, August 1, 2016

Buy art or not to buy art, that is the question

If you have followed me on this blog for the past few years, you know I have suggested you guys to pick up some limited edition artwork here and there.  While art, like stock, is never a sure thing, but I always feel if you buy a blue chip artist's work, most likely it will increase in value while give you joy daily.  Of course most of the blue chip artist starting prices typically is five to six figures and often they can command seven or even eight figure for masterpieces.  I certainly don't have the budget for those one off pieces so I go for limited edition that are published by museums and charities by these artists.

Today, I went back to see the pieces I have recommended in my blog and did a search on the internet to see what they fetch today.  Here's what I found:

On January 9, 2015 (so about year and a half ago), I recommended you guys to buy a limited edition Cindy Sherman tray from Sundance Institute.  The run is limited to 500 pieces and sold at an affordable $150 a pop.  Today, I found one on ebay sold on June 5, 2016 for $950!  I also found it at an art gallery asking $1750!!  Now how many asset classes out there command this kind of return?!

On September 22, 2014 (almost two years ago), I recommended you guys to buy a limited edition print by Takashi Murakami whom is probably most famous for his collaboration with Louis Vuitton.  This print was sold on and you have two options.  One is called Contemplating Dark Matter and the other is called Standing on the Bridge, Linking Space and Time.  The run was 125 pieces each at $585 a pop, which includes frame and matting plus shipping.  If any of you have custom frame a print before, you know how expensive it is!  A quick search yield someone on Ebay in Ireland selling theirs for $950.    

On December 23, 2012 (three and a half year ago), I recommended you guys to buy a limited edition Peter Doig print from Tate Modern called Two Faces and a Guitar.  The run is limited to 500 pieces and sold at £350 a pop.  Today it is being sold by an art gallery for £950.  A listing on German Ebay sold for €800.

On December 26, 2012, (three and a half year ago), I recommended you guys to buy a limited edition print by fame photographer Mario Testino.  I even give you a discount code to save you £250.  I recommended the Kate Moss print as I believe it would be the more valuable among the selection.  This print had a run of 175 pieces at £1200 a pop but with discount code, the price dropped to £950.  This is by no mean pocket change especially back in 2012; one pound was worth about 50-60% more than dollar.  Fast forward to January of 2015, one was sold for £7,500 at Phillips auction house.    

Although not everything I recommended had gone up in value yet.  Case and point, I recommended to buy Jeff Koon's Split Rocker plate for $475 on December 4, 2014.  Unfortunately the edition is still not sold out so until it does, the value will remain the same if not somewhat lower on the secondary market.

Buying art is not always about investment.  I always believe you have to love what you buy.  But I do think if you stick with blue chip artists' limited edition artwork, you are likely to rip the rewards few years (or a decade) from now. 


Monday, July 25, 2016

The mythcal land called Honah Lee: Review of St Regis Princeville Resort

Just came back from St Regis at Princeville.  Had a great time.  The resort was quite nice although they really could use some improvements.... some simple, some not so simple.

This was my first time on Kauai.  I've been to the Big Island and Oahu before so Hawaii is not foreign to me.  However, many people said Kauai is the prettiest so of course I have to see it for myself.  I have never stayed at St Regis hotel chain before although the lobby of St Regis in San Francisco is quite chic so my expectation was high.  My understanding is that if one were to go to Kauai, St Regis was the place to stay.  A close second would be the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa.  Having stayed at both during this trip, I would say St Regis Princeville is definitely better than Grand Hyatt Kauai.

First, a little 411 about Princeville.  It was named after Prince Albert Kamehameha when he paid a visit at Hanalei Bay in 1860.  This location is also used as the back drop for Hollywood film South Pacific in 1958.  You can actually see the exact same trees in the movie that still exist today at St Regis Princeville's beach.  In addition, the legend has it that the song Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow and Leonard Lipton, was about Hanalei Bay with red part of the mountain as dragon eyes and Na Molokama mountain range as its spine.  The mythical land called Honah Lee refers to the town Hanalei, a stone throw from St Regis Princeville.  

The pluses at St Regis Princeville: location, amenities, and the crowd.

St Regis Princeville is located at Hanalei Bay.  Having stayed at places like Four Seasons Koh Samui, Amankila in Bali, Aman Sveti Stefan in Montenegro, etc.  I would say the view of Hanalei Bay was the best.  The reason is with places like Four Seasons Koh Samui or Amankila in Bali, you get palm trees and white sandy beaches (or in Amankila's case, black sand beach), but at Hanalei Bay, you get all that plus Na Molokama mountain in the background.  Or shall I say icing on the cake!  The view is tranquil yet majestic.  Waking up daily to the view is just incredible.

There are lots to do around St Regis Princeville.  Some of the onsite amenities include snorkeling, kayaking, and hiking.  There are lots of coral reefs in the Hanalei Bay.  I would say it's actually not too safe to do regular swimming as there are just too many corals around to do laps.  If you like snorkeling, this is a very good place to be.  There is a desk next to the beach where you can rent paddle boards, kayak, or snorkel gear.  They charge by the hour (Four Seasons Koh Samui include these amenities in room rate... cough cough).  The fish is not as abundant as Hanauma Bay in Oahu or Blue Lagoon in Bali.  With that said, it's a lot more convenient to snorkel when your hotel room is few feet away.  There are definitely more fish (interesting ones too) when compare to Four Seasons Koh Samui which also have onsite snorkeling.  Some people saw turtles... I didn't unfortunately.

Another good amenity at St Regis Princeville is their Kauai Grill restaurant by Jean-Georges.  Possibly the best lunch I ever had was at Jean-Georges in NYC so I had high expectations for Kauai Grill.  I was not disappointed.  My surf and turf entree was cooked to perfection.  The maitre d' knew it was my birthday so they send a moist and delectable chocolate cake on the house for dessert.  A perfect way to end the dinner.  I would come back here again.  By the way, they require you to wear long pants and dress shirt at this restaurant.  Don't mind that as everyone was wearing t shirts and shorts.

Having spent a night at Grand Hyatt Kauai, I definitely prefer the St Regis crowd.  There are less people at the St Regis for one.  In addition, there are a lot less kids at St Regis as well.  If you are on a honeymoon, I would definitely recommend St Regis Princeville over Grand Hyatt Kauai.   If you have kids, then it's a toss up as Grand Hyatt Kauai has water slides which everyone likes.

The minuses at St Regis Princeville: physical plant, weather,

When comparing this resort to others ones such as Four Seasons Koh Samui, or Four Seasons Haulalai on Big Island, this St Regis just looked tired.  The architecture had not been updated since the 80s and it showed.  The finishes in guest rooms looked like something out of 80s/90s/ and 2000s and we are already halfway pass 2010s.  Lounge chairs on the beach look like something right out of 1980s sitcom.  I stayed at St Regis Ocean View Suite and the marble in the bathroom was green.... Alexis Carrington called and she wants those marble back!  What Starwood Property really need to do is revamp this whole hotel.  The location is magnificent but the physical plant is not.  With that said, I have a feeling that Starwood is going to milk this property dry until Four Seasons finally put a resort on Kauai.  Better yet, Starwood should sell this resort to Four Seasons as I'm sure Four Seasons will do a phenomenal job at this resort.  I mean just look at what they did to the Four Seasons Lanai... it went from a tired 1980 resort not too long ago to a modern day rock star!              

The weather is another ding against this resort.  I was told summer is the drier months at this location and it rained every single day when I was there.  Rain usually does not last long....sometimes ten minutes...sometimes thirty minutes.  Only one day was more or less all day.  You rarely see sky without any clouds.  In fact, clouds typically linger around Na Molokama mountain range while Hanalei bay is usually fairly sunny.  A bit odd but as long as the clouds don't interrupt my sunbathing, I'm fine with them.  If you are planning to be here during the raining season, you may want to think twice.

If you are staying at the suite level, you will get a butler.  What's great about St Regis butler service is that they will come and unpack and pack for you.  For some people, that's a huge plus.  In addition, they will iron your clothes.  That's a big plus in my book although I'm in Hawaii so not exactly useful.  Moreover, they will bring freshly brewed Kona coffee to you anytime you want.  Most places when they say they serve Kona coffee, it just means Kona coffee is part of the blend.  But not here.  Your butler will bring 100% Kona coffee to you and it's heavenly!  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.  Lastly, your butler can really enhance your cultural experience here on Kauai.  The odd thing about this St Regis is that some of the staff are very friendly while others don't smile at you at all (somehow St Regis didn't train them right... but that's a different complaint).  We had the fortune to have Robert as our butler.  He's the head butler at this St Regis and I can see why.  I honestly think that St Regis does not deserve to have him as their head butler.  He's exceptionally wonderful and kind and dedicated to his job.  If Four Seasons ever opens a resort on Kauai, Robert is the guy to train all your staff.  He's worth every single penny and then some.  Robert took time to explain to me about the culture and history of Kauai.  He advised me where to go for a great authentic luau.  He even planned a lei making session as well as Hawaiian dance session for me.  I can honestly say besides the great view, Robert was the second best thing at St Regis.

I really enjoyed my time at St Regis Princeville.  There are definitely cons to be had (mainly the dated facility while paying high prices).  I'm crossing my fingers that next time when I return, I will see a beautifully remodeled resort.  Until then, mahalo.