Fashion, Politics & Diversity: NYFW Lily Fashion Event

With Lily General Manager, Chen Chuan & CCO, Sun Mingyang

In my many years writing about beauty, I’ve commented on the bridging opportunities of fashion.  I believe that because fashion and beauty are often relegated to the “nice to have” or “fun/cultural” spaces (aka not THAT important), it gets overlooked by those in political power.  Yet this “status” rewards it the freedom to defy authority, push boundaries or advocate for certain agendas.   

I’ve had the privilege of being associated with Unipx, a Chinese lifestyle/culture/fashion publication.  More than that, I’ve become good friends with members of the publication, including its CEO. Through our relationship I get to do fun things like attend fashion shows and speak at events.  But more importantly I get to hear different perspectives, and, in some small way, help to bridge the gaps that exist between our cultures. No question, with all the events happening in Hong Kong, we jump into lengthy debates.  And of course, we acknowledge China’s limitations for people with different sexual orientations and identities. But at least we are having these conversations and trying to connect.

The recent event at the Lily fashion event: “The New Generation of Chinese Women,” and the subsequent fashion show during New York Fashion Week further reinforced this goal of connection, understanding and openness.    Of course, I loved being outfitted by the brand :). But I REALLY loved the shared values expressed at that event. We all — no matter the culture — want to find ways to empower women — ALL women. Fashion has the ability to help us feel confident, successful, powerful.  And this includes women of different shapes, ethnicities, abilities. This culminated in the fashion show where I was able to see the wonderful diversity of looks, ethnicities, identities and ages at the Lily fashion show tonight. As Pablo Starr from Fashion Week Online said at Lily’s event about today’s fashion scene: 

“There’s a beautiful mingling of cultures…we aren’t just tolerant of other cultures…we want to embrace them…we are excited by them! People want to take from other cultures because there is one human culture…we all belong and can embrace together. “

Sure the Lily brand showed off gorgeous outfits, but it also went out on a limb and pushed an agenda of openness.   Fashion and beauty may not be a subject raised at the U.N. but it allows for sharing, communication and defiance.

See this video for all the diversity of ages, looks, sexual orientation, ethnicities.

Some more pics from the event:

With Unipx CEO, Yitong Qui

Weekend Observations: Why We NYers Must Wear Black

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I traveled to San Francisco this week to speak on a panel with a bunch of cool marketing ladies.  Luckily I had one of my typical outfits — a black jumpsuit in this case — to throw on without much thought.
I ran into the event on the late-ish side and was immediately greeted by the hostess of the event, who also happens to be from New York.  We both jumped to compliment each other on our outfits.  She was decked out in a sexy and stylish black dress.  She commented, “Of course we’re in black, we’re New Yorkers!”
True.  We New Yorkers like our black.
But why?
In my case, I think I’m just lazy and, well, black goes with everything.
I often hear I look better in color. And I still gravitate towards black.
And I’m not alone.
So what’s the deal?
I investigated it and came across an article (“Reflections of Gotham: Why Do New Yorkers Wear So Much Black?”) that goes back in time to understand the origins of our affinity for black.  The piece cites a few reasons, from historical to sociological.  For example, black cloth was much less expensive to produce during the colonial days and the look stood the test of time.  Another interesting perspective is that while we New Yorkers are all of different shades (literally and figuratively) black binds us together as a community.
Then there’s the theory that black makes us look thinner (believe me, I have proof of this on film!)
Here’s my thinking: first, black signals power and aggression, which, for better or worse, we New Yorkers tend to emit.  And second, perhaps our love for black comes from what else the color connotes. For us, New Yorkers, black is worn at parties, when we’re out at night, and celebrating.  Where else can you have such an amazing nightlife, right? Perhaps by wearing black we’re anticipating the fun and excitement that’s always within reach in our great city.
Good thing I have some new black pants to wear to my client meetings tomorrow 🙂

Ah, New York Gals, What Happened to Biology 101?

I have to admit I am a bit of a New York snob, especially when I see all the amazingly accomplished, funny, nice, brilliant and beautiful women around me.

But I have to say, I was utterly stumped at the idiocy of some of my New York sisters after I read the New York Times article, “Are You As Fertile as You Look?”  The story is about youthful looking, vital women in their 40’s who are surprised that they’re not as fertile as their bodies appear.

Well duh!

Ok, ok I shouldn’t be such a bitch to my New York friends.  Even women from other states feel this way too.


Didn’t we all take high school biology?  Or at least read a Glamour magazine article or two during the past few decades?

The maturity of our eggs happens whether we’re couch potatoes or gym rats, beasts or beauty queens.  Face it, our eggs age just like we do.

I truly feel awful for the many women trying to conceive in their 40’s.  As someone who had a mildly frustrating go at conception a few times (but luckily ended up pregnant), I can imagine how tough it is.  I’m not trying to be mean.  I just want to send a wake-up call to our younger sisters out there who may be waiting until they’re more “ripe.”  Please, remember the simple biology of our reproductive organs and don’t wait too long.  It just might be too late.

Comment or tweet me your thoughts @beautyskew

Beauty: A Birthright

“Beauty is my birthright.” This is a quote from an interview with a young Los Angeles woman.  These words are just fantastic to me because they totally capture how so many American women view beauty.  In my exploration of beauty in our culture, I have seen how women see it as something that ALL should be able to attain — just like life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  True, most of us aren’t natural beauties.  But if we just  take a little time, spend a few bucks and work a bit, and we too can be beautiful.  None of us are destined to be unattractive! According to Lois Banner’s American Beauty this belief dates back even to the 19th century:  “In the innumerable analyses of beautiful women in the popular journals of day…the beauty advice was always the same: live right, eat right, exercise, and you will become beautiful.”
The other day I was talking to a friend who writes for beauty sites and her own beauty blog.  In an embarrassed voice she described a piece she was writing that helps people figure out how to flaunt their assets, e.g., legs, butt, neck, etc.  While I can see how she may have found the information in her piece a bit more shallow than, lets say, the BP spill or the latest battle in Afghanistan, let me tell ya, people still care a LOT about how to make their assets work for them.  Why?  Because it’s something all of us can do to fulfill our “birthright.” By the way, isn’t it interesting that we all use the term “assets” to define our best beauty parts?  Like it or not, we know how valuable — economically and otherwise — our beauty is!
The downside to this democratic attainment of beauty, though, is that we may spend too much time trying to fulfill it since we think that there’s no reason NOT to have it.  And the competitive among us can end up wasting a lot of energy (emotional and physical) pushing that much farther to be even more beautiful.
Still, I’d much rather live in a society where everyone has a chance at anything:  success, love, beauty, you name it.  With July 4th nearing, let’s celebrate the freedom to be happy, healthy and, yes, beautiful — and maybe even pick some bronzer along with the sparklers and hot dog rolls.