A Letter To Karl Lagerfeld

Dear Karl,

It’s been three days since you passed away and honestly, I am so speechless. Although I have never met you in person, I felt that you were meant to be in my life since I was a child.

Growing up, I saw my mother wear Chanel since I was a baby. Before my mother purchased the tweed two pieces, she started small with a gold charm bracelets and leather trimmed chain belts that bore the brand’s logo. Then, she slowly added more belts to her collection by stocking up on a rhinestone belt alongside a wide logo gold chain belt. Apart from belts, she started collecting bags of every color, texture and size. Whether it’s a matte lilac Classic, chocolate brown croc mini tote or a basic black velvet clutch with a tassel, each bag always added a touch of luxurious elegance to an outfit. After the bags and jewelry, my mom started collecting a smorgasbord of jackets, t-shirts, skirts and tops to the point where I couldn’t reach the back of her closet. Looking back at my mom, I realized that you transformed her from a meek housewife to a confident fashion queen.

Although I yearned to wear her Chanel collection, I was too young to wear it as my mom didn’t want teenage me to grow up too fast. In fact, she’d rather have me wear her unbranded hand me downs or my grandma’s homemade clothes than to touch her precious Chanel collection.

Finally, I got my chance to wear Chanel when my father bought me a quilted faux pearl strapped handbag and long pearl and resin necklace for my 20th birthday. For my 20-year-old self, I felt that I didn’t deserve to wear them. Without much understanding about the value of a Chanel accessory, I randomly looked up the infamous ankle bag on The Real Real four years ago. Then, I Googled the patent leather vanity bag. Much to my surprise, I was shocked to learn that these archive pieces ran up to a four figured price tag. I learned that regardless of design or year, every Chanel piece is a heirloom connected to a storied house with a history of making women feel confident, classy and fabulous.

Now that I’m building my design career with baby steps, it’s so hard for me to picture a world without you. (Side note: I’m crying as I type this!) While we know that no human is perfect, I am so thankful that you want to step things up by including sustainability in fashion. As someone who wants to reduce environmental waste in an era of fast fashion, you have inspired me to make fashion fun while being ethically mindful of how we make and consume things.

Last but not least, the world has lost an angel, but heaven’s gained a virtuoso.

Sincerely,

M

Feature image courtesy of Instagram @chanelofficial

@virgomood is the muse that every designer, fashion girl and stylist is secretly obsessed with

Two years ago, I was scrolling through Instagram on a cold NYC evening while taking a break from typing up an article. Constantly on a search for new inspiration, I stalked my friend’s account and stumbled upon a feed filled with photos of models strutting down a runway. As I clicked on each photo, my eyes couldn’t stay away from the caption. Rather than the familiar faces that I know of, I was shocked to learn that these stunning women were not named Naomi, Christy, Cindy, Kate or Linda. Not to forget, the designers (e.g. Todd Oldham) seemed relatively obscure to an outsider. From there, I realized that the entire feed expressed the inner emotions of a 22-year-old dental student who goes by @virgomood.

Based in Chicago, the fashionista has 324,000+ followers (myself included) who keep up with her eclectically curated photos of runway moments, red carpet arrivals, lingerie editorials and the occasional interior design shots. Thanks to its edgy, feminine and sensual feed, Virgo Mood attracts legions of followers from stylists (Mimi Cuttrell; Dani Michelle),designers (Area; Susan Alexandra), musicians (Sky Ferreira) and retailers (IRVRSBL).

We chat about the inspiration behind that iconic handle, her fascination with vintage lingerie, how Naomi Campbell sparked her obsession with all things vintage, the hardest about curating a feed and the model she’d love to style.

Continue reading “@virgomood is the muse that every designer, fashion girl and stylist is secretly obsessed with”

The Top 10 Iconic Graphic Tees That Defined Celebrity Fashion

Slogans and logos are worth a thousand words in one shirt. As a closet essential, a graphic tee is a treasured heirloom that can’t be thrown away. Regardless of color, brand and silhouette, every girl HAS to have a graphic tee.

As a t-shirt collector, I’m a sucker for GOOD t-shirts – especially, graphic tees. Although I love plain fitted white or black tee, the one thing that I have a steady collection of is graphic shirts. Inside my collection it kinda goes like this: fitted or oversized; long or short; faded or factory fresh. Since I love being able to own a handful of graphic tees, I just can’t live without them. However, the type of graphic tees that I wish I can own are worn by celebrities.

Being a pop culture geek myself, graphic tees have always made a splash on some of the most famous photographs in the world. Given that most celebrities from the ’80s to early ’00s didn’t hire a stylist to dress them up on off-duty, I always felt that a graphic tee was the most F you way to express yourself without opening a single word from your mouth.

Here are my most favorite iconic graphic tees that I wish I owned:

Continue reading “The Top 10 Iconic Graphic Tees That Defined Celebrity Fashion”

Be Bad and Bougee with Winky Lux: Is the App’s Favorite Cult Brand Worth The Hype?

What looks hot on IG may not always live up to the hype IRL, but if there’s one beauty brand who is truly killing it, it’s Winky Lux.

Based in NYC, Winky Lux made a claim to fame with its insatiable matcha balms, which are stored inside a pill capsule-like casing. Not to forget, its colorful graphics and kitschy cute aesthetic is also its claim to collecting more than 200,000+ followers on IG.

Although I can’t get my hands on it at a local beauty store anywhere in Southeast Asia, thankfully, Winky Lux’s PR team sent me an array of products to pamper myself. (Never have I ever felt *this* excited to add ’em into my fall beauty haul!)

Underneath all the cute packaging and presentable products, is the hype surrounding everyone’s favorite cult brand worth it?

  1. Winky Lux Kitten Eyeshadow Palette

Ooh la la…Where can I begin? Blessed with nine shades of matte, holographic and shimmer finishes, I am over the moon with its diversity. Intended to create a sexy, smoky eye, this is no typical gray-based palette. Instead, you’ll get a nude-base mauve pink (Breading), dusty rose (Penelope), holographic pinkish white (Holographic Biscuits), frosty silver-based pale purple (Meow Down), purple-gray taupe (Caturday), camel brown (Grumpy), gilded dark brown (Frisky) and copper (Instafamous) eyeshadows. While it looked intimidating to begin with, each shade is easy to blend as it delivers opacity on each layer. Not to forget, each color blends beautifully with or without the aid of a brush. Much to my surprise, it stayed on really long (with minimal creasing from my oily eyelids)!

I used Breading as a base and did an ombré effect with the rest of the colors on top of it. Holographic Biscuits looks beautiful as a stunning inner corner highlighter. Just do a gradiated ombré with the last 3 brown shades of the palette!

Anywhere than that, the pigment powder tends to get everywhere if you use a brush. Priced at $25 USD, you’ll get a bang for your buck with all nine shades, baby! (*Dr. Evil laugh*)

See how much I used up? You know it’s THIS good when you see some dents inside the palette.

2. Winky Lux So Extra Mascara

Like any other mascara, it’s rich in pigment. However, this mascara neither clumps easily nor does it feel sticky. Instead, the formula feels airy as a mousse. If you are expecting mega volume, it actually gives subtle volume with each coat. But anywhere than that, it doesn’t run down to your lashes and lower lids at the end of the day due to its beeswax and olive oil-based formula. Trust me, THIS is the best under $30 USD mascara that you must splurge on!

3. Winky Lux Mini Lipstick Kit Set of 5

Honey, I shrank the lipstick! Built to be the half the size of your pinky, you have the freedom to switch between two shades of nubile nudes (Pippy; Meow), a ravishing red (Poppy), plus two shades of punchy purples (Royal; City).

Top: City; Middle: Pippy and Meow; Bottom: Poppy and Royal

Delivering a lotta color in one go, each shade is very durable as it can last at least four hours without the need to reapply. But if I have to pick the best 3, Pippy, Meow and Poppy perform the best as they are easiest to apply. On the other hand, City was the toughest to apply as the color was uneven during application.

In terms of the design, the pill case doesn’t look practical (apart from the aesthetic), but much to my amusement, it’s really easy to hold it. Plus, it wins a lotta points in the practicality department as you can sneak ’em inside your clutch!

If you don’t know what to give to your friend for Xmas, this is the best stocking stuffer.

4. Winky Lux Glimmer pH Balm in Rosé

Like the matcha lip balm, this one comes with a whole lotta shimmer in one tube with subtle microfine rose gold glitter. Despite not being able to see the glitter, the pigmented (slightly shiny) neon pink finish from the balm gives the appearance of instant vitality as the formula adjusts to the pH of your lips. (Y’all can’t unsee my pic below, FYI!) Since I used to own a tube of Dior’s Lip Glow, Winky Lux’s balm gives the EXACT same color, moisture and sheen. If you can’t be bothered to spend more than $20 USD, you should go for this fantastic dupe.

P.S. This is also a GREAT base to customize your ideal MLBB shade, too!

The New Neutrals That Actually Werk at Work

Who says that workwear is boring? Or in this case, can anyone BEG to disagree that wearing neutral lip colors in office is fun? (Side note: is Mercury retrograde pushing me to see things differently? :P)

For me, I am the type of girl that LOVES LURRRVES to wear a fun lip color! Whether it be a ravishing red, punchy pink, bold black, va-va-voom violet, nice nude or basic brown, my lips do not lie as they currently portray my emotions. The one thing that works well in office environments from day to night or even a post-work cocktail is a neutral lip. Usually pawing at the “nude” or beige spectrum, the beauty industry’s definition of neutral is dated.

Rather than sticking to beige shades that don’t look on people darker or lighter than Snow White, the type of neutral that actually looks hot on all skin tones usually has reddish undertones. Since all of us are embedded with red tones underneath our skin, this classic primary color gives us a flush of instant energy that a cup of coffee can’t do.

On another thought, I’ve been putting my matte liquid lipsticks (a.k.a. Instagram’s go-to staple for your #faceoftheday posts) aside as I absolutely hate having extremely dry lips. Also, Galore called the shots that the matte Instagram lip is dead. (No shade Huda, Kat and Jeffree, but I still love your products!) Depsite my love affair with liquid lipstick, I feel that it’s finally time to shake up my beauty routine!

First things first, one of the hottest new neutrals that flashes across my mind is anything with a orange base. Rather than the bright Sunkist oranges you see at your local supermarket, this type of orange that’s super work-appropriate is a bit more muted. Enter Trope Cosmetics. I normally don’t ever repeat the same product, but you seriously NEED to try it as it’s pink-based orange that is reminiscent of the hue from a flamingo’s neck. The pinkish brick undertones don’t turn your teeth into a habitual chain smoker’s, which is nice as most yellow-based oranges are guilty of doing this. As an Asian, I honestly have a HARD time finding the *right* shade orange as it’s either too pale, yellow or red. So, this is the first orange that’s actually truly neutral on my skin.

Even if you are not Asian, you will still LOVE this shade as it will flatter your skin beautifully! (Seriously, I am a firm believer that this will be a universally flattering color!)

Oh, and if you are a matte lipstick lover, then this is the look for you as Flamingo dries off with a beautiful velvety finish.

 

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BUY IT HERE

DUPE: Melt’s Mural Milani’s Orange Gina 

To all my ladies who love a nude lip, I swear by Layn’s Mona. Named after the Mona Lisa, this shade is as enigmatic as Italy’s most famous smile. In natural sunlight, it appears more like a soft semi-matte terracotta coral whereas on video, it appears more metallic (according to my friend!). The truth is that it’s a hybrid between nude and coral. While most coral shades in the beauty counter run towards the bright spectrum, this one is more of a muted retro coral that you barely see in today’s department store counters or Sephora. In fact, that shade looks EXACTLY like the lipstick Playmates wore on the pages of Playboy in the 1970s (side note: this is slightly NSFW, but look at her lipstick color!). If you want to go for a slightly sexier look, then this is the shade for you.

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BUY IT HERE

DUPES: Kat von D’s Lolita II; Fenty Beauty’s Freckle Fiesta;  Revlon’s Rum Raisin 

 

Last but not least, let’s not overlook the power of a red lip at the boardroom. Red lipstick usually screams cocktail hour, but you can still work it inside more creative environments. While most reds tend to lean towards warm or blue-based, Rose All Day’s Boujee is a darkened true red. To me, a true red is the ideal red as it’s neither blue nor yellow. In fact, this shade feels freshly contemporary as more true reds I see are brighter and have a retro-tinged feel. It might read differently on your lips, but seriously, you will never regret getting Boujee because it’s the baddest in the game. (Side note: Love and Flair said that it’s a rich English red mahogany!)

While most office environments are conservative, you can secretly violate the “no red lip” rule by sneaking in a subtle stain. If you want to wear it as a bold opaque shade, it’s more of a satiny cream finish that can flawlessly hide AC-dried lip lines.

Rose All Day:

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BUY IT HERE

DUPE: Colourpop’s Goldie; Pat McGrath’s Strange

 

 

The 8 Women-led Brands You NEED to Shop to Ring in Women’s History Month

Ladies (sorry, gentlemen!), this is our month. This is the month that we celebrate our collective history as women for the countless achievements in many industries whether it be politics, science, entertainment and fashion. As a woman, I feel that we have came a long way since the beginning of time. However, I feel that not many women designers or entrepreneurs are revered in the same eyes as male entrepreneurs and designers as the latter generally scores more magazine features, press and clout in the fashion industry. (This is based on my personal observation of poring through the pages of Vogue, New York Times‘ Style section, T, NYLON and what not over the years!)

I don’t want to sit here and tell you to support women-led brands just because it’s Women’s History Month or their sex. Instead, the reason *you* need to support women-led brands is because these ladies started their brand without the backing of a big company. In fact, not many of them went to fashion school to pave their way to success. By using their talent to create genuinely amazing products, every single item I’ve had from them became a closet staple that I wear almost every single day. Although there are some brands that I have yet to shop, I feel that it’ll be cool to share a little slice of my brand crushes. 😉

Here are the brands you need to shop:

  1. Stella & Bow

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Founded by Lauren Brokaw, Stella & Bow is an LA-based jewelry line whose adorably cute charm bracelets and delicate earrings are perfect for everyday wear. Last year, they’ve grabbed headlines for making the “Nasty” alphabet bracelet to support Hillary Clinton. Although the election is over, you can still rock it to show off your unapologetic, badass self.

BUY IT HERE

2. Rose All Day

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Grace, one of my really good friends who blogs on Mlongo.me, introduced this brand to me as she applied makeup on me last spring. As a fellow Jakarta girl, Rose All Day is one of the best Indonesian makeup brands to ever exist! Locally produced and designed in Jakarta, Rose All Day delivers quality products and a whole chock of genius in the guise of a pink lipstick tube. Also, it recently teamed up with Love and Flair, an Indonesian online boutique (think Revolve, but more of a super hot trendy cousin of Phoebe Philo’s Celine-esque minimal luxe), to create three classic shades. Seriously, YOU need to get ’em because you don’t need to buy another piece of powdered blush or eyeshadow as you can it anywhere on your face! Trust me, their formula is as creamy as MAC’s, but hey, at least it’s cruelty-free! (Sorry to throw some shade in there, MAC.)

BUY IT HERE

3. Creepy Yeha

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Need to find something to jazz up your outfit? Look no further than Yeha Leung’s line, Creepy Yeha. Her accessories and lingerie are crafted from the finest leather and hardware. If you are vegan, you can also go for her vinyl pieces, which are equally stunning, too! You can either go big with a harness or play it safe with a choker. Either way, everyone will turn heads when they see you.

BUY IT HERE

4. Pop and Suki

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If you haven’t caught wind of my Pop and Suki post I made previously, now’s the time to get acquainted. As a go-to handbag brand for myself and many famous faces, their bags are compact, but extremely spacious. Apart from bags, they’ve expanded into jewelry, clothing and desk side accessories. While it’s got a girlish aesthetic, it is so versatile: you can wear it to the office, beach, room, classroom and literally, just about anywhere in the world. Given that celebrity-backed brands swim in their own hype, this one does NOT play! In fact, it is here to stay.

(P.S. If you ever plan to shop there, put in “MICHELLEVARINATA15” for a 15% discount at checkout!)

BUY IT HERE

5. SkinFood by AB

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Whenever I trawl on Etsy, I always love to find vintage clothes and artisan-made beauty products from small businesses. As much as I love natural skincare, I feel so happy to stumble upon SkinFood by AB. Founded by Aubrey B, all of her products are natural, vegan and organic. From lip balm to soap, everything is made in small batches. If you have yet to try natural skincare, this is truly all natural without any synthetic stuff that you find in “all natural” products on occasion.

BUY IT HERE

6. Choked by a Thread

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Chokers are now a timeless staple all thanks to this brand, Choked by a Thread. Inspired by chokers, founder/designer Lorraine Zalta makes them in NYC. Spotted on the necks of Hailey Baldwin, Morgan Stewart of Rich Kids of Beverly Hills and blogger Danielle Bernstein of We Wore What, this is the brand you need to splurge on for the perfect necklaces. Although it’s more well-known for their chokers, they’ve expanded into earrings, swimwear, tees and mugs.

BUY IT HERE

7. Matte

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As one of the hottest under the radar brands, Matte is often imitated by bigger names (e.g. Kylie Jenner) due to their simple, yet extremely sexy designs. If you are the type of girl who is looking for hot going out clothes, then this is the brand for you. Briana Wilson, the founder of Matte, draws upon the ’80s and ’90s with a dash of Y2K for a modern retro feel. What I also like about the brand is that their cuts are made for girls who are not a size 0. So, hands up for body positivity!

BUY IT HERE

8. Amelie Pichard

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This French shoe designer is one of the my go-to favorites for inspiration. In fact, I love how her retro campy aesthetic feels so fresh right now. When I first read about the brand, it was because she collaborated with Pamela Anderson for a vegan shoe collection. Although Amelie’s brand is not 100% vegan, I just love how she makes cruelty-free shoes go beyond its granola image. Apart from veganism, Amelie decided not to do any sales on her products as she feels that it is “killing fashion and creativity” (her words, not mine!). Unlike most Paris-based big guns, Amelie’s designs are truly worth paying for.

BUY IT HERE 

 

Honey, I Shrank the Sunglasses: A Guide on Finding the Right Pair That Flatters Your Face

One e-mail was all it took to make a trend happen.

On an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kanye West told Kim Kardashian to swap her signature oversized sunglasses for “tiny little glasses”. Despite being resurrected from the ’90s time machine in 2017, you’ve seen everyone from Rihanna, Bella Hadid and as of now, almost every “It” girl wearing frames shorter than their eyebrows.

As much as I like the trend, I have to say that it’s not universally flattering since you NEED to have the right face shape, size and style of the sunglasses in order to pull off this trend.

Since I’ve been rocking it on my Instagram, it’s time for me to finally share my style secrets with you! Here are my top five faves that you need to add to your cart:

    1. Kylie Jenner x Quay’s Purple Honey

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Kylie Jenner is not my favorite celebrity nor is she someone I dub a “style icon”. However, I acquiese myself to good design. Designed as part of her killer collab with Quay Australia, Kylie Jenner’s Purple Honey shades have this Léon meets Penny Lane vibe that I dig. Also, the honeycomb-inspired design makes it easier for me to wear the trend as it’s slightly larger than some teeny tiny pairs I tried on. In case you aren’t convinced, this is what it actually looks like on me:

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As I have a round face with a squarish chin, THIS is the pair for you. Seriously, you need to get it!

BUY IT HERE

2. Giant Vintage’s Cray Cray

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This style is literally what it is: cray cray. As a deadstock pair straight from 20 years ago, these are authentically ’90s as no retailer will every carry shades like this today. They are truly tiny, incredibly avant garde and safe to say, appear like they’re incredibly hard to wear. But, don’t let its small size and shape intimidate you. If you got killer cheekbones and a long face, these sunnies are the pair YOU want to rock as it’ll immediately elevate your outfit from basic bitch to high fashion status. Believe me, there will be a 99.9% chance that either Bella Hadid or Cara Delevingne will ring up their stylist as soon as they see these. (My guess is that Cara will bring them back as she wore a similar pair like those in 2013! *gasp*)

BUY IT HERE

3. Le Specs’ The Flex

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Man, I LURVE Le Specs as it dares to lead the game. Rather than letting the ball hover above the net, this Aussie eyewear brand makes it reach higher than the sky with one lethal swing. It’s no secret that its Last Lolita pair has been seen on everyone from Gigi Hadid to my favorite style icon, Miley Cyrus. As much as I love them, they’re getting a little basic. Despite the fact that I *did* wear the Last Lolita (see pic for proof) before selling them on Carousell, the one pair I should’ve purchased was The Flex. Lean and mean with all the right 90 degree angles, it feels so futuristic with a white and blue color palette. It kinda reminds me of Delos’ lobby, where Angela greets William in Westworld.  If the sci-fi inspired look is all you’ve been obsessing over, go get these stat!

BUY IT HERE

4. Rad & Refined’s Nirvana

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If you love Clueless, glitter, Britney Spears perfume and yet, you post pics of Kurt Cobain on your Instagram, then Rad & Refined is the brand for you. As the go-to brand for statement sunnies, I LOVE it as it makes me feel so glammed up and super extra. But what I like about this particular pair is that glitter is MADE to be worn in the daytime! If you want to look on trend, you need to score them.

BUY IT HERE

5. ROC Eyewear’s Snakebite Sunglasses

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I’ve noticed that more than a handful of you like my Garrett Leight x Clare Vivier red lensed glitter cat eye sunnies. As much as I hate to brag, these are practically one of a kind. So, if you wanna cop a little slice of my world, a great trendy dupe that I highly recommend is this killer pair from ROC Eyewear.

Compared to most of the ones I’ve recommended, this one is entirely rimless. Rimless shades are the best for runway-ready looks as they match beautifully with a cat eye and a red lip. If you like red lenses and rimless sunnies, then this is the pair for you.

BUY IT HERE

 

Will you ever try on tiny sunglasses?

 

Feature photo by Audrey Kwok