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Asia Pacific Arts takes a look at individual collections of the Asian American designers showcased at Audrey's second annual fashion show.
This year's Fashion Fusion, sponsored by Audrey magazine, boasted an array of collections that ranged from form-fitting jeans to elegant evening wear. Known as a premiere Asian American women's magazine, Audrey's fashion show likewise showcased clothing and jewelry created by Asian designers. To add more humor and eye-candy to the show, a handful of Asian American celebrities joined the models on the runway to partake in the glam -- including Tamlyn Tomita, Rex Lee (Entourage), James Kyson Lee (Heroes), Bai Ling, Joy Osmanski (The Loop), and Yul Kwon (Survivor). With such a steamy group of models in designs from Blanc de Chine, Kasil, Saja, Imasu by Kelly Nishimoto, Mae, Bleu de Chine, Fleur't, Sally Sohn, Michael Antonio, and Soni and Cindy, fashion-envy onlookers could only agree that the night ended much too early. --LiMin Lam
Reviews by Christine Chiao
Photos by Richard
Slideshow captions by LiMin Lam
If Elizabeth Bennet was transported to the 21st century, she would don Saja's collection of soft separates, cocktail dresses, and the stars of the collection: wispy empire-waisted gowns. For her morning visit with family friends in town, she would look paradoxically sharp and delicate in a bowtied turtleneck paired with tailored shorts, pulled together with a sheer short-sleeved blouse lined with sequins. Done in variegated shades of pearlescent gray, the outfit is elegantly modern. Later, when faced with pre-supper aperitifs, she has the perfect sartorial day-to-night transition in the selection of beribboned cocktail dresses, particularly the ruffled purple shirt with sheer sleeves (as modeled by Tamlyn Tomita). For formal affairs, she will be just as prepared in any of the empire-waisted gowns in rich eggplant, pale silver gray, and cerulean blue.
The collection packs a multi-layered punch. Each ensemble charms upon first glance, because there is an undeniably uncomplicated femininity. The immediacy of its appeal though can lead one to overlook clever details like the black lace peaking out of the hem of the cream sleeveless cocktail dress, the filligree patterns on the aforementioned dress, or the three buttons jauntily sewn on each side of the tailored shorts. The most notable of the details is the strategic pleating that creates movement in each piece without sacrificing shape. Altogether, they define the pieces so that each will enhance, rather than constrain. The careful thought that went behind each design demands an intellectual equal in its wearer. It would be fitting then for Austen's beloved heroine. She wouldn't have to draw upon her cutting wit as the pieces would speak volumes before she needs to.
Survivor winner Yul Kwon opens up the showcase of sporty casual separates from the sister line of Blanc de Chine. The all-too serious monochrome scheme of charcoal hues and dark blues are balanced off by the modernist twists on the everyday sartorial silhouette. The classic winter sweater is reinterpreted as swaths that criss-cross the model's torso and stretch upwards to snugly encase her head. The wrapping motif recurs throughout the collection in the form of knits with blouson sleeves, wrap-around tops, gauchos with banded cuffs, and more hoods. The standout piece of the collection is an asymmetrical hooded dress that evinces that clothes don't need to be tight to be sexy.
Fleur.t offered a showcase of exactly what its name suggests. The lingerie collection draws floral visions and coquettish allusions. Most likely inspired by the sassy, yet demurely sexy 1920s flapper, the line is dominated by negligees and matching camisole tap pant outfits in candy-colored pastels. The embellishment is kept to a minimum with a wisp of ruffles bordering the edge of a cami here and lace criss-crossing the bodice there. The effect is innocently alluring. Yet, while it appears that Fleur.t is designed for the girl that likes to leave something to the imagination, there are times when she needs her lingerie to traverse from sweet to sexy. The collection took that turn at the end of the showcase when the last model appeared in a lacy black camisole and matching robe. What drew gasps, then hoots from the attendees was the matching lacy bottom that turned out to be a thong as the model pivoted around and made her way back. At first, it seemed like a distinct about-face for the collection. Now, in retrospect, it is completely apropos. After all, every flirt needs to retain her right to change her mind and maintain that element of surprise.
There are few other cheekier combinations than Bai Ling in an impish outfit made up of a round-collared, short-sleeved baby doll dress and leggings. soni & cindy's latest blends grade school playfulness with a rock n' roll derision of convention. The fun-loving sensibility is evident in the cropped modified peacoat paired with skinny purple pants as well as the pink and fuschia stars that liberally dot a three-quarter sleeve gray top. These same stars are evidently a favorite of the designers as they reappear on a gray baby doll dress a little later. The sororal duo Sonia and Cindy Huang sell their eponymous line at their New York boutique Suite Orchard.
Kasil put forth the savviest effort to capture and keep the attention of event attendees. Entourage's Rex Lee started the set with the first couple of models following in white tank tops with each pair of jeans. Guess that was just the warm-up. Not too long into the showcase, the models started to appear with little but a pair of Kasil jeans and shoes, walking down with arms crossed over their chests. When Survivor winner Yul Kwon stepped forth in his topless/denim outfit, a collective and blatantly female whoop erupted. And while there were pants besides jeans shown, it was ultimately their dark denim collection that stole the focus. The rather effective usage of half-nakedness reinforced awareness of the jeans, after everyone adjusted to the fact that the models were sans tops. No matter what is worn (or is not worn) with it, the particular dark wash and the more flattering straight-leg and boot-leg fits lend a cool understated sophistication to the jeans. Even better, each pair looked as if they were treated enough to avoid the fresh-from-the-store-rack look that is a common curse of new jeans. It's just the type of denim that would allow a girl to wear her black velvet blazer and a pair of sexy d'Orsay heels without feeling like she's over-dressed.
While staying within the dark palette set by Bleu de Chine, Blanc is decidedly more luxe. Its counterpart might offer a line for people on the go, but Blanc's pieces affect enough movement so it looks as if the wearer is on the go without having to set forth any action. All this is accomplished with the careful draping of the material. It is body-conscious in a way that downplays any potential flaws of the wearer. It is also the draping that saves the collection from coming across too utilitarian.
Mae offers a flash of frill for the young professionals fresh out of college. The collection is a series of mix-and-match tailored vests and shorts, along with ladylike sleeveless and three-quarter-sleeve blouses. Meanwhile, despite fashion pubs having declared that the skinny pant is out, Mae put out an array of interpretations on the skinny pant paired with a big metallic bag for those who have refused to give up the silhouette. Rex Lee reappears to model, later followed by Heroes actor James Kyson Lee who closes the showcase.
For reasons that most likely had to do with the limitations of time, the Imasu showcase was nevertheless not as cohesive in providing a narrative as the other lines. All at once, Kelly Nishimoto evokes the grandiose excesses of the 80s prom dress, unevenly pairs a sleek black satin button-down with a bright yellow satin balloon skirt, and brings out a rather unflattering multi-tiered black dress. Like Bleu de Chine, Imasu has a penchant for hoods too. In Imasu's case, though, the hood brought out mixed results in application. It looked out of place on an otherwise well-constructed black dress with lace overlay. On the stretchy black dress with the elaborately shirred back, it is the perfect touch. It reinfuses the right amount of laidback chill to a dress on the borderline of over-exaggeration as the shirring would have thrown off the casually chic material. Despite the somewhat disjointed presentation, there were definite standouts, such as the ethereal boho chic thin-strapped dress that split away at the empire waist to reveal a hot pink slip as well as the aforementioned black dress that is so fabulously shirred and casually hooded.
Date Posted: 10/5/2007