Style Icon — Princess Long Long

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The T.Tandon NY AW17 Fashion Week event at 230 FIFTH Rooftop Bar in the Flatiron District was packed with stylish people. Among them, one woman stood out. She was wearing a beautiful floor-length fuchsia gown and a pale pink beaded blazer, and her hair and makeup was impeccable: back-length curls and a thin cat eye. More than that, she radiated confidence, an attitude of embracing the attention she knew she attracted, rather than demurely acting as if it wasn’t happening. I complimented her on her outfit, and she told me that the dress was of her own design.

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Tina Tandon, Princess Long Long, and models.

But Xia Long Long – internationally known as Princess Long Long – is much more than a fashion designer. She is an opera singer first and foremost. Born and raised in China, she moved to the United States and trained as a soprano at The Juilliard School in 2007, a year in which 2,138 students applied and only 162 were accepted. She has channeled her otherworldly voice and years of training into countless performance endeavors around the world: China Central Television (CCTV)’s Avenue of Stars competition, winning the North American finals; the International Music Forum in Bo’ao, China; the China Army; the UNESCO World Fashion Parade in the Garment District; Couture Fashion Week in Times Square; New Jersey Fashion Week; and the 70th Cannes Film Festival last May. She has worked with Freedom Williams (C+C Music Factory), songwriter Howard McCrory (see Michael Jackson and Chaka Khan), soca artist KMC, reggaetón artist Valentino, and spoken word performer Andrew Anderson. Her stage presence translates naturally into acting. Her repertoire includes independent films The Right to Live, Good Friday, Be Frank, and What Women Want Chronicles, and the Off-Broadway cabaret comedy Whatever Happened to Beverly Daniels?, and she is slated to star in the TV show Whatta Guys Really Want. Her creativity also extends to writing, particularly mythology. She wrote a fairy tale, Bird, Bees, and the Fruit Fly, co-developed Blue Cat, which went on to become the most popular cartoon in China, and is working on an epic melodrama, Moon Goddess.

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Me and Princess Long Long. Forever 21 headband. Frenchy of California handbag. Vintage blazer.

Princess Long Long describes her sense of style as “like a fairy” – floral, beaded, ethereal, embellished, often pink, with grand flourishes and minute details, each look designed by her and tailored for her. She has even designed and produced a Broadway-themed fashion show in Times Square! She works extensively with Thai designer Thunyatorn Cheng Ng, who has a boutique in Elmhurst, and Kyrgyz costume designer Natasha Berezhnaya, who is based in Westchester County.

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Princess Long Long and friends at the South Street Seaport.

She invited me to some events at the United Nations headquarters in Tudor, as the Ambassador for Humanitarian Affairs in Culture and Arts by the National Council of Women of the US Director of Culture and Arts at Partners for UN Affairs. She subsequently invited me to her induction as an honorary member of the Rotary Club of New York. This was when I really started to learn more about her. She wore a black velvet dress and a belt of golden dragons, to represent her lineage from the Long, or dragon, family of the Silk Road kingdom of Yanqi (200 BCE to 800 CE). We started talking and she told me all about her background, her accomplishments, and what she is currently working on.

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Princess Long Long accepting her Rotary Club honorary membership certificate at the Union League Club in Murray Hill.

Blissful Style: How did you become an honorary member of the Rotary Club?

Princess Long Long: Because, first of all, I work very closely with the United Nations, I have been participating in different kinds of events for world peace for a long time, and I recently became the World Peace Ambassador for the World Peace and Diplomacy Organization, so I’m also the ambassador for the 70th Cannes Film Festival, the Chinese ambassador for diversity and cultural arts. And I’m also the ambassador for the US Council, Women’s Council for Humanitarian Culture. So with all this, now I’m becoming an honorary Rotary member. The president, Jasmine, she told everyone what it was that I have been contributing, that I have been working so hard and contributing for world peace, that’s why they wanted to give me the honorary membership. So I also hope I can devote myself to using more time and more opportunities, so I can help people from all over the world. As you know, the Rotary Club has 3500 clubs all over the world and 1.2 million members. So I’m so honored and very happy to be becoming an honorary member today, and I really feel that I have a lot of things to do, to fulfill. All I want to do right now is to be focused on cultivating peaceful and friendly relations, one world, with cultural diversity and shared with all nations, is my one focus. As you know, man has the mind, which made war, and if you work on the mind, the spiritual level, then there will be less war and less terrorism and less manipulation, so there will be nothing like the 9/11 tragedy happening. That’s why I’m working with the UN and supporting the UN record on the creative economy and also on cultural diplomacy. What the creative economy means is that, on the spiritual level and cultural level, we believe that if you are a creative artist, you can create beautiful stuff and make the world a lot more beautiful, and people will understand people much more, and once you understand each other much more, there will be much fewer barriers, much less misunderstanding and much less fighting. Yeah, so that promotes the economy, that’s the social sustainable development of the United Nations, so, it’s a global goal.

BS: How long have you been involved with the United Nations?

PLL: It’s been, off and on, almost three years. I started as an artist, you know, performing, and then later on I also worked with several organizations, and I also worked with some creative press from all over the world. To develop art here today, I’m so happy, [it shows that] the UN definitely knows what you’re doing. Once you do something, really do it, and the UN might support you.

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Princess Long Long at her Broadway-themed fashion show.

BS: How did you decide to go to Juilliard and pursue a career in music?

PLL: Oh, you know, you either have it or you don’t have it, so I knew that I had it, for as long as I can remember. So it’s been a long-time dream of mine to become a singer. However, my parents didn’t agree, they just didn’t want me to be a singer, but, actually my father was an opera singer and my mother was a music teacher, so that’s what they do, music as their livelihood, but they didn’t want me to be in that, so they sent me to Europe to get a business education, but I was not feeling happy, because I believe that people always have to do something to make themselves happy. So, before I came to the United States, I had this girlfriend of mine, she told me one thing and it really made me make this decision. So I remember we went to see a Broadway show in Beijing, Chicago, it’s very famous, and we watched that show together, and she is also a good friend of mine, because we used to go to karaoke which is very popular in China, so we performed, and my girlfriends would go crazy for my voice, after they heard my voice, they would say Ohh, and then my girlfriend told me, “Long, I’ve got to tell you one thing before you go to the United States”. I asked her “What?” She said, “After seeing this show, Chicago, you are just one of them,” she says, “You are absolutely one of them, I know you, because I know you from old times,” she said, “If I don’t see you on stage singing and performing like them, if I die, I’m not gonna close my eyes,” she said, “Because I’m hoping”. That moved my heart. So I thought Wow, I have a certain friend, and she’s a girl who has been with me for ten years, that means she knows me better than I know myself. She said, “When you go to the United States, you have to pursue your dream”. So I made a decision, in 2006 I came to the United States, I spent like a year traveling to eight cities, to live in each city for a little while and see which city is the best. So then, around 2007, I made my decision and said Okay, I have to pursue my dream, and go to music school to train myself, my voice. I’m not gonna give it up. So I did research, I also had like a year-and-a-half of training, with the professors, in junior school, for preparation, for the audition stuff. So that’s it, before I went over there I did lots of preparation, almost two years of preparation, so it was a big challenge for me. So I did, it’s just simple, I made my dream like that, I said If she wants me to be on the stage like that, I should start with training school, a professional music school, so then I’ll go.

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An advertisement for Princess Long Long’s performance at the Cannes Film Festival.

BS: Tell me about your experience at the Cannes Film Festival. What was it like? What did you sing and what did you wear?

PLL: Oh, the Cannes Film Festival, that was a very interesting thing. Again, I had dreamed about the Cannes Film Festival since I was very little, so I never believed that the first time I went to Cannes I would be performing over there. I thought, I’m gonna go over there, see the red carpet and see the stars, but I never thought I myself was gonna be a star over there. So it was so exciting. So they picked me up, a Hollywood production company, they wanted a Chinese singer because they were promoting a diversity event, a diversity and inclusion event. I believe I met with the theme. So I was a singer picked up, so I did cross-cultural pieces, I revised some famous songs like “La Vie en Rose”, and also there’s another one, “Shanghai Night”, and there was another one, a French opera piece, Roméo et Juliette. But, so I did the songs in a cross-cultural way, I didn’t want to do the same classic way it has been done before, so I mixed different styles and mixed different cultures, and mixed different languages. Because I believe that as artists we are facing a global citizen, and we have to produce something that the global citizen really wants. They’re not gonna be satisfied with one culture or one language anymore, it has to be cross-cultural and cross-language. So that’s what I thought, so I created those pieces for the Cannes Film Festival, and it was good, it was an honor to be the Chinese Cultural Inclusive Ambassador, the diversity ambassador for the festival.

Some other people who went to the 70th Cannes Film Festival. No big deal…

BS: What languages do you sing in?

PLL: You mean at Cannes?

BS: Just in general.

PLL: Oh, I can sing in eight different languages. But that’s standard training for all the classes at university. You have to be able to carry at least five, maybe seven, eight, some people say ten, different languages, so that’s not a big thing. I wore three different costumes. The first one, for Roméo et Juliette, I created an image of white, all white, so my promotion video in the background was all white, everything was related to that white princess dress. So that’s the image that I created, “Eastern Dragon Princess”. This image won first prize for the Italian Royal Carnival fashion presentation, in 2016. And I also performed in this one at the World Fashion Parade. It has wings because I’m trying to give a message to this world, that the Eastern Dragon Princess on the Silk Road is the one link from East to West, and I’m fulfilling my ancient mission to bridge the cultural arts and the spiritual level from the East to the West. And this dragon princess, she’s pure, she’s classic, she’s elegant, and she is also hoping for peace, because the wings mean peace and prosperity. So that was the first one I wore, and the second one, when I sang “Shanghai Night”, I wore a blue dress, like a mermaid, I had also dreamed about being a mermaid. That’s why I liked your style the first time I met you, it’s like a fairy tale. When I was a little child I wanted to be a mermaid so badly. So I presented that with a Chinese robe. The wings and the robe were made by Natasha Berezhnaya, and she’s very good. We work together a lot for making these costumes. I would say she is the most talented and the best theater designer, and also dressmaker, that I know. I’m very picky about stuff, but we work beautifully. I always give her lots of ideas, and she has some ideas too, and then we make beautiful clothes, and she’s very talented. I wear lots of stuff of hers when I perform, and when I give presentations like this, like a speech, or going to a nightclub or cocktail party, we work together. So, the third one was the “La Vie en Rose”, I was all pure rose. Did you see that one? With the roses all over my head?

BS: Yeah! It’s so pretty!

PLL: That was one I designed. I thought, This song is rose, so let’s make a dramatic rose look, so I placed rose hairpieces all over my head, and added a pink fan. I can wear all pink because, like you, that is already how I dress. I also wore that one to perform at Couture Fashion Week.

BS: Oh yeah, I saw that, that’s what I saw. Would you ever consider creating apparel for purchase?

PLL: Yes, I’m doing that, because now I have a team in Shanghai that would like to do branding for me, they also want to fund my projects. You know, Shanghai is a financial center, I have so many fans over there, and they want to do something for me, but, at this moment, I don’t think…I’m just a talented designer, but I’m not really a professional designer. It’s just, I have too many things going on, I am a writer, I am a singer, so when I’m young, I will be focused more on performing arts, and then later on, my plan later on is to do all my branding, you know, the commercial lines and stuff. I’ve already got enough fans who want to do it together, some professional people, especially in China. I would love to work with many Western designers and people, I would easily help them reach the China market. I just want to work together with them on my ideas, they need to do the rest of the stuff, you know what I mean? I’m not a professional tailor or seamstress, I don’t know how to make that kind of stuff. I’d like to work with other people so we can, you know, make the branding-related, commercial products.

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A Natasha Berezhnaya fashion show.

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Natasha herself on the runway.

BS: Other than Natasha Berezhnaya, who are your favorite designers that you want to work with?

PLL: I have a couple of other people, I have some other Chinese too. I also like another Thai lady and her name is Thunyatorn Cheng Ng. She’s very talented, the Thai woman, so I work together with her too. Natasha has a little bit more of a Western style, while Thunyatorn Cheng is very Eastern. So I go with both sides, because I kind of look in between.  I have the Asian skin and hairstyle, but I have a Western body, so I can work with both sides, there is the Western I that I can wear, and the Eastern that I can wear too.

Thunyatorn Cheng Ng runway looks.

BS: Yeah, now that we have the option to wear both of them, as a more global world, everyone should start wearing things from all over.

PLL: Sorry?

BS: Oh I was just saying that as a global world, yeah, we have all those options.

PLL: Yeah that’s another thing, I was gonna tell you, because you are more like a fashion magazine, I think that the designers nowadays, in the Western countries, they should really be aware of the Eastern impact. They could make a hit, if they can do some cross-cultural things very well. You may see, there are a lot of like big brands, companies like LV, H&M, they are now starting to sell in all countries, in China, they are trying to add little things as an Eastern touch, but it’s gotta be more. This is just the beginning. The Eastern impact is going be big in the next ten, twenty years. So, whoever is gonna catch this tide will be on the top of the world, whoever is gonna do it first is gonna be a pioneer, that’s what I think too. They should consider it, they will make themselves very outstanding if they do some Eastern part, but the key is how to make the harmony, how to make it very organically. You cannot be too Eastern or too Western, you have to do the right combination, mix them together and make it beautiful.

BS: What is Moon Goddess about? When can people see the Broadway show and the film?

PLL: Oh, Moon Goddess? Moon Goddess is about the first love story in the Chinese mythology, the moon goddess’s name is Chang’e. Chang’e is the most beautiful woman in Chinese history, and Chang’e is also the moon goddess. This is also the story of the Moon Festival. A lot of people know about the Moon Festival, but they don’t know what the story is, and they also know how to eat moon cakes, but people say “Hey, where do the moon cakes come from?” The Chinese moon goddess is the like the one in Greek culture, they have a moon goddess too. The story is similar, but it’s different. Moon Goddess is about her life story with the hero Yi. There were supposed to be ten suns before, and the hero shoots nine suns and now there’s only one sun left, so in the Chinese mythology it’s a new miracle, and it’s a new door for the Western people to know and learn about Chinese culture. If you see, for any culture, when you bring the culture to an international level, you always start with mythology: the Greek, the Middle Eastern, the Indian, all the people. If you need to open the door, you have to open the door to the rest of the world with mythology. So that is why I wrote mythology. I wrote five mythology books already, that I want to release one by one. So, now I’m working on Moon Goddess. I have several people —  professional, musical, Broadway producers, theater producers, movie producers – I’m associating with them, and they’re trying to fund Moon Goddess, and it will be a joint venture from them, from China and the United States. And hopefully this musical movie is going to be out very soon. Maybe we should make it animation. I’m still working together with my professional team to make a decision, we’re doing research and making decisions on stuff like the different steps: animation, then the musical movie, and then the Broadway show. But this is a new thing. China has the longest history, five thousand years, and they created a mass of information for the Eastern cultures. So most of Eastern, Asia-Pacific culture is based on the Chinese culture. So can you imagine if you guys never even knew about China? There’s a lot of information, a lot of potential.

Princess Long Long at Cannes.

BS: And, even now, Han Chinese is the largest ethnic group in the world, so yeah, we should know. Tell me about your foundation. What does it do, and how can people find out more?

PLL: My family fund organization is working together with the UN too. We majorly help and support all the sustainable development goals, which are seventeen goals for the United Nations. We are helping, doing anything we can, to help them and support the global goals. I mainly work on cultural diplomacy, world peace, culture and the arts, the creative economy, but then we have different partners. My family, my cousins, they are working on education, cultural exchange, exchange students, and we’re working on some technology projects too. My other partner is handling that.

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Princess Long Long at New Jersey Fashion Week.

BS: How has getting an MBA at Maastricht University helped you later on?

PLL: That was when I was young. My father told me to do that, and at the time I was like, No, I don’t want to do it, but now I look back and it was the best thing. It helps with everything, knowing how to manage my business and my brand.

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Princess Long Long at the Crown Prince of Italy’s masquerade ball.

BS: You are descended from the Yanqi kingdom. What is the legacy of Yanqi today?

PLL: Yeah, I am a direct descendant of Yanqi, it is a little country on the Silk Road, but it was conquered two times, one time was in the Tang Dynasty and another time was in the Qing Dynasty. So, I’m part of a direct line from the country, the Dragon Family, my family, are direct descendants from the Yanqi country. Yanqi, it’s very interesting, they are people who are very, very famous in culture and arts, very spiritual people. You know, Yanqi is the same pronunciation as the red, what do you call that, the red powder you put on your cheeks?

BS: Oh, blush?

PLL: Blush! Yes, blush in Chinese is called yanqi, so the Yanqi country name is taking over by yanqi, because we created it. We created blush a long time ago, because all the women in that country, they liked to make themselves very beautiful, and they made blush. They made blush, and then in turn it became a commodity, going over into China, down the Silk Road, other places, and the Chinese didn’t know what it was, so they called it yanqi. In Chinese they call it yanqi, the same pronunciation as the country. These people are also very good in entertainment, they sing, they dance, they are composers, they are very spiritual. We are also the ones who transferred Buddhism from India to China, and we also brought the dragon image to India. You know my name means dragon, Long means Dragon, so we created the dragon image, and then we brought it. I’m not sure when we created the image, but we are the ones who brought the dragon image to North India. As for the Yanqi legacy of today, Yanqi became part of Xinjiang Province. It’s beautiful, it’s peaceful, it’s beside the lake, it’s called Bosten Lake. There’s nothing really going on over there. We call it a zone, a developing zone. But they still keep the name Yanqi. As you know they have several names, the Western people called it different names.

BS: Yeah, like Karasahr…

PLL: Yeah. So we were also the ones, you know, the whole country is Buddhist, right? So we were the ones, I just said, who transferred the Buddhist religion from India to China, so we were all Buddhists. But later on, that changed. Part of the people were from different religions, like Islam, so, but my family is Buddhist.

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At the Rotary meeting. Custom dress and dragon belt. American Rag dress. Forever 21 necklace.

BS: What advice would you give to people aspiring to a career in a creative profession?

Wow, that’s hard to say. I cannot say I’m at a level to give advice, I mean, lots of people do better than me, but I think for my career, I would like to address one thing: communication skills. It is very important for you, in becoming successful, to have great communication skills. So I trained myself in that way and, you see there are a lot of people who are talented, and I’m sure, of course I’m not the most talented. I might be talented, yes, but some people, what I’ve found, especially for the artists, I found they’re not very good at talking with people, they’re never good at showing their skills, and they feel shy, they’re very sensitive, the most sensitive people. From what I see, the reason why they’re sensitive is because they’re talented, and they, they are….Artists tend to be more sensitive than other people, because they know what is going on, and they always want to be the best, and what if sometimes they’re not the best? It does make them very shy, it makes them feel very bad. So you need to keep a goal, you need to treat yourself like…It’s a psychology thing, at  The Juilliard School I took a peak performance class. The women’s class, they help you to understand, before you perform, to train you. I don’t know if you know about Alexander technology, but basically, before you go to perform, they train you how to think that other people all — it’s all psychology — that they’re all there supporting you, and they all worship you, and they have no problems at all with you, and think you’re the best. So you have to practice that all the time, so you don’t get stage fright. So that’s the key. Also, as an artist, you need to go outside to develop your opportunities, and then you have to know how to run your business. As I told you, you need to, a lot of artists, they tend to avoid all these things. They hate to be a business.

BS: Yeah, they think it’s two opposite things. You know, creativity and business.

PLL: No, unfortunately if you want to, if you really want to become successful, you know, you need to do everything. Especially the business parts, you have to know how to build agreements, even though you have agents, but most agents sometimes take advantage of you. So you need to know how to protect yourself. The biggest problem for artists is that they don’t know how to protect themselves. And then that’s the next thing I’m going to do, is to create a foundation with my auntie together. I want to have a foundation to protect the artists. Because I see all the sadness, I feel bad that they get taken advantage of. I myself have been taken advantage of by people too, so I can’t imagine how many artists get taken advantage of, it’s a sad thing. It’s very sad, however, this is a reality, because most of the people we hear about, and I’m not saying there aren’t good people, but most only care about money. Some of these people are sincere, they take the artist into consideration, but still, 80 percent of people don’t, so you need to know, you have to be strong, to learn how to protect yourself. You know what I mean? Our society cannot be completely successful, because the artist is not at the top. The ideal society is one where you have beautiful people cultivating the beautiful parts, and they are closest to the gods, they cannot be brutalized. They are not supposed to be brutalized.

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Princess Long Long performing at the Kaufman Music Center.

 

NYFW “Feline Fashion Lounge” Celebrates Cats

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Kitty pops. (www.instagram.com/katiecassidy)

Cats have it made. They get to stay up all night and sleep all day. The Aristocats said that everybody wants to be a cat. Grumpy Cat got her own movie and consequently earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Twitter has started celebrating #Caturday every single week. Everything is awesome for cats…right?

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Kizu the kitty. (www.instagram.com/katiecassidy)

Unfortunately this is not the case. Every year, 1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats are euthanized because they were not adopted soon enough. That’s 200,000 more cats than dogs. According to a survey, 27 percent of people looking for a new pet say they would not consider a cat.

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Kizu and her human, Katie Cassidy. (www.instagram.com/katiecassidy)

What, exactly, is their problem? According to a survey by Pet Smart Charities, 43 percent of pet owners would describe a cat owner as “weird or quirky”, and 49 percent of pet owners believe in the “crazy cat lady” stereotype. Just to reiterate how stupid this is…a Crazy Cat Lady is an unmarried woman, especially an elderly woman who has never married, who lives alone with at least three cats. She probably has never married because she is unattractive, has an odd personality, and has no sense of style. Her house will smell like cat litter and be covered in cat hair.

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Katie Cassidy with a Hot to Adopt t-shirt and a cat. (www.facebook.com/OfficialKatieCassidy)

My chief issue with this stereotype is that pets are supposed to make people less lonely. There are plenty of singletons out there who get a dog for the same reason a “cat lady” gets a cat. I think the root of the problem is that, since cats are lower-maintenance than dogs (usually smaller, know how to take a walk by themselves), a given household would be able to support a greater quantity of cats than dogs. And the quantity thing freaks people out. Of course, the average number of cats in a cat household is only 2.1, versus 1.6 for dogs in a dog household. And again, two cats might be easier to take care of than one dog. The cat lady stereotype might sound silly, but it has a terrible consequence for the little kitties who don’t get adopted.

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A poster for the Hot to Adopt Feline Fashion Lounge. (Fresh Step)

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 Cat-eye sunglasses, a cat-ear headband, and a cat-faced clutch. (www.instagram.com/katiecassidy)

Fashion Week to the rescue! Actress, blogger, and cat owner Katie Cassidy partnered with Fresh Step litter to host the Hot to Adopt Feline Fashion Lounge. Held at the Lori Bookstein Fine Art Gallery in Chelsea, the feline lounge was open to the public and free to attend, provided that everyone registered and RSVPed. There was a runway show “for the modern cat lady”, with looks that celebrated cats’ huge artistic and sartorial influence. Said Cassidy, “From cat eye glasses and leopard prints to kitten heels and cat-faced flats, feline-inspired fashions have infiltrated runways for many years.” Guests could leave with a Hot to Adopt t-shirt. And a cat, of course. The Humane Society of New York, Zani’s Furry Friends, and The Little Shelter all brought sweet little kitty-bits who were ready to be adopted.

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Katie Cassidy with a cat who can’t wait to get adopted. Erin Cebula and Katie in their best cat ears. (www.instagram.com/katiecassidy) 

My view on this is that if a cat is not adopted it should be released into the wild. In Turkey it is less conventional to consider the cat a companion animal, so you see cats out on the street the way you see pigeons in New York. Not everybody wants a new pet. Pets are loving and rewarding, but they are a lot of work. That said, if someone is in the market for a new pet, they should give cats and dogs the same level of consideration.

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Lulu the kitty. Luna the kitty. Divided leopard-print coat. 

I have had 9 cats in my life: Scampi, McGonagall, Salud, Lulu, Double Tuft, Kit Kat, Scarlet, Princess, and Luna. (Don’t worry, not all at the same time.) Even I didn’t know that this was a problem. I had blissfully assumed, along with most others I’m sure, that everything was fine in the world of cats. That’s why it is so important to spread awareness of this issue through campaigns and events, and Fashion Week is the perfect place to do it.

See Also: 

Greenwood, Jennifer. “Study Reveals Public Opinions About Cats and Cat People.” Pet Smart Charities. 19 May 2015. http://www.petsmartcharities.org/blog/study-reveals-public-opinions-about-cats-and-cat-people

“Pet Statistics.” American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. http://www.aspca.org/animal-homelessness/shelter-intake-and-surrender/pet-statistics

“U.S. Pet Ownership Statistics.” American Veterinary Medical Foundation. http://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Statistics/Pages/Market-research-statistics-US-pet-ownership.aspx

My Trip to Tommy Pier

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Two days after the Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Week show, Tommy Pier was open to the public. Located at the South Street Seaport in downtown Manhattan, Tommy Pier was a carnival first and a pop-up shop second. Upon stepping onto the dock and squinting in the bright sunlight, it actually took awhile to find the clothes. But you knew they were there. Having to look for them made it more exciting.

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As a neighborhood carnival, Tommy Pier matched its peers in every way. There were rides, there were games, there were fries, there were donuts, there were temporary tattoos, there were photo booths, and there were long lines of people twisting and overlapping in every direction.

Rides: the Tornado, a Ferris wheel, and another spinning ride (not pictured). 

Gigi’s Boxing Club, est. 2016. 

What are carnivals without prizes? I think I found Nemo…and his extended family.

The quintessential yummy, unhealthy food. 

A temporary tattoo parlor. The line for the nail salon.

The atmosphere was excited and a little surprised. “Do we have to pay to get in?” I heard one girl say. No, we did not. People slowly approached the games and food stands, as if they wanted to first make sure it was okay. After all, it’s rare to see a premium brand present itself in such an irreverent and accessible way. Yet once a few people stepped up to the booths, everyone else followed.

More food! Including lobster rolls, one of my favorites.

Nails by Valley and Hilfiger Records.

I found a little wooden house midway down the pier with a Tommy x Gigi sign and a rope chandelier. Inside the collection was neatly displayed, apparel on hanging rods and accessories, underwear, and perfume on shelves. The cash register was in the center so shoppers could walk in a full circle. This was useful because the little shop was packed. Tommy Pier opened at noon that day, I arrived at around 1:00, and already the displays were sparse. There were three sales associates wearing matching navy blue Tommy Pier t-shirts. Though there was little room to walk, the customers treated the merchandise with more respect than you would see at a typical crowded retail store. Customers picked their things up. Customers re-folded. Customers hung their hangers back on the racks. (I worked in clothing retail for five years. I notice these things.)

Inside the pop-up shop.

A band jacket and sailor’s cap from the collection. 

In addition to this shop, there was an identical little shop on the other side of the pier, as well as a Tommy Vintage Shop. This shop was smaller than the others and offered sweatshirts, jerseys, and other sporty logo apparel.

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At the far right corner of the pier was a little nook with three wooden benches painted like the American flag. People took selfies and pictures of their friends, asked strangers to take their picture, or simply sat down to rest in the heat, which had to be over 90 degrees. It was also the perfect place to look out at the other piers, the East River, Brooklyn, the helicopters in the sky, and the commanding buildings of the Financial District.

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Taking a break from the mayhem. Vintage star and moon earrings. Heart pendant from my mother. Chain from AJ’s Jewelry.

My sweet little purse on the American flag bench. If you look closely, it has anchors on the buttons. Vintage purse. Eton ring watch. 

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The boating lifestyle that inspires the Tommy Hilfiger brand.

At one point a large commercial boat called the Zephyr docked at the pier, its passengers disembarked, and the crowd briefly doubled in size. A little “fashion week” isn’t about to disrupt business as usual!

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In front of an artifact of Pier 16 itself. Forever 21 peplum top. Tyte jeans. Foster Grant sunglasses. 

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Paloma shoes with what could very well be life preservers.

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A statue on a cobblestone street in the Seaport district. 

To give some context, here are the best looks from the actual fashion show:

(Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/FilmMagic)

(Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/FilmMagic)

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Anna Wintour attends the seaport extravaganza. (Getty Images)

Doutzen Kroes, Martha Hunt, and Taylor Swift check out the carnival. (Getty Images)

It was fun, and I was really happy I went. It felt good to see so many people enjoy the new Tommy Hilfiger collection. Premium, contemporary, and luxury brands worry about “overexposure”, when their brand is worn by so many people that it isn’t special anymore. This does happen. This happens with discounts and outlet stores, and certainly with counterfeit merchandise. But I do not think this will happen with public events like Tommy Pier. A brand can always decide its exclusivity with its price points. If anything, I think wider awareness of a brand by all people will confer even more recognition and prestige to those who buy and wear the clothes.

I think it’s important for the fashion industry to cater to consumers and stage fun events like this. There is a misconception out there that clothing, shoes, handbags, jewelry, and accessories are just “things”. The term “experience economy” has been used to describe the shift of consumer spending to experiences over things. Yet spectacles like Tommy Pier prove that not every consumer good falls neatly into one side of the binary. Fashion has always been about more than just things; it is beautiful images, it is icons, it is the spirit of a brand, it is the excitement of shopping, and it determines much of the way we present ourselves when we embark on any other kind of experience. Tommy Pier presents the possibility of finding new fashion, knowing its back story, and living in it — not just putting it in your closet.

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As seen from above! (blog.thestorefront.com) 

Tom Ford’s Decadent Fashion Week Show

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This Fashion Week, Tom Ford’s show was different. He is one of the first designers to take the plunge into the “See Now, Buy Now” movement; his Fall 2016 collection, shown yesterday, will be available online and in stores tomorrow. No, the samples are not going to be produced in two days — this is all a bit of marketing manipulation. While the other ready-to-wear brands showed their Fall collections — their leather, their feathers, their furs — last February, Tom Ford quietly sat that week out and hid his collection from the public eye. Now that it’s September, consumers can pick and choose from the fall offerings of every brand. The difference is that, while we have been seeing the other looks for the past six months in magazines and on blogs and Instagram, the Tom Ford collection is a burst of newness designed to jolt impulsive buying. Now the other brands are showing spring-appropriate attire that consumers will have to wait until next February to purchase. Waiting to show a collection until it it is ready for the market might seem like a logical, even obvious, thing to do. But as with any other rules, laws, and traditions, the logistics of a mass change are difficult to orchestrate.

The collection is dark, heavy, and warm, but it is also glitzy, colorful, and downright wild. Here are the five most striking themes:

STATEMENT CHOKERS

 

 

MULTI-BUCKLE BELTS

COLORFUL FURS

ALL-OUT SEQUINS

BLACK VELVET

 

The Tom Ford show also stood out for its soiree atmosphere. Guests sat at candlelit round tables on either side of the runway, sipping champagne. This reduced seating arrangement made the show even more exclusive than in seasons past. Here are some of the few who made the cut:

Tom Ford cocktail party, Spring Summer 2017, New York Fashion Week, USA - 07 Sep 2016

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Nina Westervelt/WWD/REX/Shutterstock (5893825l) 

Tom Ford, Julianne Moore, and Bart Freundlich

Karlie Kloss with two friends; Jessica Hart

Tom Ford presentation, Autumn Winter 2016, New York Fashion Week, USA - 07 Sep 2016

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Lexie Moreland/WWD/REX/Shutterstock (5893850d) 

Naomi Campbell

Cindy Crawford and Iman; Alicia Keys

Tom Ford cocktail party, Spring Summer 2017, New York Fashion Week, USA - 07 Sep 2016

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Nina Westervelt/WWD/REX/Shutterstock (5893825r) 

Lauren Hutton

Tom Ford presentation, Autumn Winter 2016, New York Fashion Week, USA - 07 Sep 2016

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Lexie Moreland/WWD/REX/Shutterstock (5893850g)

Julia Restoin-Roitfeld

Photo credits: wwd.com unless otherwise stated

 

 

Style Icon — Nicki Minaj

In case you haven’t heard, Nicki Minaj  won Best Female Hip Hop Artist at the 2016 BET Awards, for the sixth consecutive time. She is insanely talented, yes, but she has also gotten here with her incredible work ethic. From Yo Gotti’s “5 Star Remix” in 2009 to Bebe Rexha’s “No Broken Hearts” last March, Nicki Minaj has done sixty-five official singles, as a featured artist and on her own three chart-topping albums. She works every single year, and she wins every single year.

It is said that music and fashion go together, that people who are strong in one will also be inclined toward the other. We have seen this with Kanye West, Rihanna, Gwen Stefani, Lady Gaga, and so on, and Nicki Minaj is no exception. She looks completely different from one day to the next, but her style does have some ongoing themes: top and skirt sets, gladiator sandals, thigh-high boots, Chanel handbags, and Giuseppe Zanotti shoes, to name a few. Here are some of her best looks from the past year.Nicki Minaj Alice + Olivia

TOP AND SKIRT SETS: Of all the celebrities who have embraced this trend, Nicki Minaj may have done so the most. Alice + Olivia top and skirt. (photo: Instagram.com/nickiminaj)

Nicki Minaj Chanel 2

This top and skirt set almost looks demure…almost. Her pointy pumps, quilted handbag, and even her hair match the tone of this outfit. Chanel bag. At the Cromwell in Las Vegas. (photo: Getty Images)
Nicki Minaj Moschino

Matching does not have to mean boring. At the Moschino boutique in the Dubai Mall, Nicki picked out a color block top and skirt ensemble, even adding a quilted purse and hat. But wait…on Instagram, she wrote “Disregard the hat. Took it off before I left the store.” Good. (photo: Instagram.com/nickiminaj)

Nicki_Alexander McQueen

GLADIATOR SANDALS: The most demure color, in the most daring shape. Alexander McQueen top and skirt. Christian Louboutin shoes. Chanel handbag. (photo: Instagram.com/nickiminaj)

Nicki Minaj Christian Louboutin

Petite girls can always, always pull off gladiator sandals. Christian Louboutin shoes. Appearing on Ellen. (photo: Instagram.com/nickiminaj)

Nicki Minaj Bally

THIGH-HIGH BOOTS: Most outfits have a focal point, one item designed to capture attention. With Nicki Minaj, everything stands out. Which is better, in my opinion. Bally shoes. At the Marc Jacobs Fall 2015 presentation. (photo: Getty Images)
Nicki_Balmain

These leather boots are the perfect complement to the black velvet piping of her dress. Balmain dress. Alexander McQueen boots. Appearing on Saturday Night Live. (photo: Instagram.com/nickiminaj)

Nicki Minaj Chanel

CHANEL HANDBAGS. “Got a black card and let Saks have it, these Chanel bags is a bad habit.” — “Feeling Myself”. In her case it’s a bad habit that looks very, very good. Chanel bag. At a Portland Trail Blazers game with Meek Mill. (photo: fashionbombdaily.com)

Nicki_Balenciaga

A dress this chic could only be paired with a quilted Chanel purse. Balenciaga dress. Christian Louboutin pumps. Chanel bag. (photo: Instagram.com/nickiminaj)

Nicki_Fashion Nova

A Chanel bag is the perfect addition to this ladylike look. Fashion Nova dress. Christian Louboutin pumps. Chanel handbag. At 1 OAK in Los Angeles. (photo: AKM-GSI)

Nicki Minaj Alexander McQueen 2

Pairing the rich textures of brocade and quilting at Bliss Nightclub in Washington, D.C. Alexander McQueen dress. Chanel bag. (photo: Instagram.com/nickiminaj)

Nicki Minaj Giuseppe Zanotti 2

GIUSEPPE ZANOTTI SHOES: “Of course bitches gonna hate on my Giuseppe wedge.” — “Wamables”. Envy? Yes. But dislike? Certainly not. (photo: Getty Images)

Nicki Minaj Giuseppe Zanotti

(photo: Getty Images)

Nicki Minaj Giuseppe Zanotti 5

(photo: GG/FameFlynet Pictures)

Nicki Minaj Giuseppe Zanotti 4

These may have been the wedges in question… (photo: Getty Images)

Nicki Minaj Giuseppe Zanotti 3

She had these sneakers customized. (photo: Frederike Helwig)

Nicki Minaj and Giuseppe Zanotti

With Giuseppe Zanotti himself at his New York boutique. If anyone deserves to hang out with him, it’s her. (photo: Ben Hider)

Nicki Minaj

AND MORE: In a mesh bodycon dress, Nicki Minaj makes the Alexander Wang aesthetic her own at the brand’s Spring 2016 presentation. (photo: Getty Images)

Nicki Minaj Michael Costello

A floor-length, gilded look at the 2015 AMAs. Michael Costello gown. Christian Louboutin shoes. (photo: Getty Images)

Nicki Minaj Rene Caovilla

Slaying the crop top trend with origami pleats at the 2015 BET Awards. Rene Caovilla shoes. (photo: Getty Images)

Nicki Minaj Givenchy

Donning a complete Givenchy ensemble for their Spring 2016 presentation. (photo: Getty Images)

Nicki Minaj Tom Ford

Taking fringe to another level at the 2015 Grammy Awards. Tom Ford gown and shoes. (photo: Getty Images)

Nicki Minaj Stella McCartney

Appearing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in a dreamy draped dress of teal and midnight blue. Stella McCartney dress. (photo: Getty Images)

Nicki Minaj 2

Wearing a classic red dress for her brother Jelani’s wedding. Pictured here with her mother, Carol. (photo: Instagram.com/nickiminaj)

Style Icon — Ellie Goulding

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My own introduction to Ellie Goulding came through Forever 21. I worked at the exciting (read: chaotic) store for nearly two years, and grew to love its soundtrack of Eighties music, obscure remixes, and trendy new artists. In 2011 Ellie Goulding was one such trendy new artist, and I fell so in love with her ethereal voice and intriguing folktronica that I didn’t mind hearing “Lights” basically every day. Three years later, Ellie Goulding is more than just still relevant – she’s at the top of her game. With a new pop album that caters to a more mainstream audience, she is topping the charts and being photographed everywhere. Yet despite the constant attention, no one seems to catch Ellie Goulding on an off day. Her style ranges from grunge to chic to sexy, and she owns it. Defending the sexy element, she once said, “My management would never force me to do anything, because they know I’m strong-minded. I’ve never been an artist to say ‘Okay, I’ll wear that’, or ‘I’ll wear less’. I just don’t want to not make the most of my body.” As a wearer of short skirts and dresses myself, I find it insulting that any reporter would think wearing them is more likely to be a business decision than a personal one. But Goulding handled it with grace. Here are some of her best looks:

Ellie Goulding 3    Ellie Goulding 7

                                   At the Brit Awards (Elle)             (Daily Mail)

Ellie Goulding 5   Ellie Goulding 8

                     In London (Daily Mail)      At BBC Radio 1 Studios (stealthelook.com.br)

Ellie Goulding 4  Ellie Goulding 2

Rihanna for River Island sweatshirt, Coincidence and Chance shorts (Teen Vogue)                                                         In Verona, Italy. Christian Louboutin boots (Daily Mail)

Ellie Goulding 6   Ellie Goulding

At BBC Radio 1 Studios. Avelon jeans (Daily Mail)       (elsiedelilah.com)

Style Icon — Marina and the Diamonds

Everyone who knows me knows that I live for the music of Lana Del Rey and Marina and the Diamonds, and if I find out that someone does not like either of these artists, I regard him or her with a healthy amount of suspicion. As if it isn’t enough that I have fifty-two of Marina’s songs on my iPod, I also adore her sense of style. She has described her fashion sense as “vintage, cheerleader, and cartoon,” and her style icons are Gwen Stefani, Leigh Lezark of the Misshapes, and Shirley Manson of Garbage. Here are my favorite Marina looks:

      

    

    

    

Marina and the Diamonds (aka Marina Diamandis) was born in Brynmawr, Wales and began her musical career in London. She has released two albums, The Family Jewels and Electra Heart, and will be releasing Froot in its entirety this coming April. She has also collaborated with Charli XCX and BetaTraxx, and has covered songs by Gwen Stefani, Justin Bieber, 3OH!3, Late of the Pier, and Paolo Nutini. She has had two headlining tours, The Family Jewels Tour and The Lonely Hearts Club Tour, and has toured with both Katy Perry and Coldplay as a supporting act. She has won the following awards: Best UK & Irish Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards (2010), Best Newcomer at the Virgin Media Music Awards (2010), and Best Music Award at the Attitude Magazine Awards (2012). She even has a fashion line, 11 Diamonds.