Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes


What's that I spy? A tear in the corner of your eye? Could you be mourning the final days of smoking in bars?

As much as we all know that smoking is bad for you, it still seems like the end of an era today, the last day that you can legally smoke in restaurants and bars in Hong Kong. Most everyone is guilty of spewing smoke from their lips after a couple of cocktails nowadays, and it will be eerie to enter a club that smells of, well, probably sweat, instead of smoke. (Which is the lesser of two evils, I'm not sure).

So I for one support the Mandarin Oriental's final homage to smokers, with smoky concoctions that recall the old days, when people still thought it was "cool" to smoke; when Marlboro man riding through the canyons was an image of romance, not revulsion; when Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke, as their Reality Bites alter-egos, chainsucked cancer sticks with abandon and were still considered role models.

Anyway, those days are gone, and in a handful of hours, so will be your chance to spew smoke without consequence. But for one final moment, be naughty, and consider these cocktails, as well as some canapes.

Cocktails:


"The Smoky Martini" - a twist on a classic theme comprising vodka and Islay whisky. Innovative presentation features a stem-less martini glass delicately balanced inside another glass filled with dry ice “smoke”. The whisky in the martini is known for its smoky, peaty flavour with notes of iodine, seaweed and salt.

“Cigar and Cigarette” – two different cocktails served together in tubes designed to resemble their namesake: “Cigar” is a liquid sensation composed of chilled chocolate liqueur and cream, while “Cigarette” is a tropical blend of rum, mango, coconut liqueur and coconut cream.

Canapes:

Light – styled in the shape of a cigarette; made of grissini stick and smoke-infused chocolate.

Havana – a chocolate confection crafted to resemble a cigar; made of chocolate truffle lightly flavoured with a blend of Havana tobacco.

Patch – inspired by a nicotine patch, “Patch” is a clear film served in a plastic dispenser that dissolves in the mouth releasing the subtle flavours of smoked bacon.

All are available at both M Bar and Captain's Bar at the Mandarin Oriental, 5 Connaught Road, Central, GPO Box 2623, Hong Kong. Tel: 852 2522 0111.

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Made in HK: Half A Cup Of Tea



We’ve showcased a few local Hong Kong jewellery designers so this time, I’m branching out to include Half A Cup Of Tea. This talented artist painstakingly cuts, scores and folds paper into miniature sculptures that take your breath away. She started her Etsy store at the end of last year and is very prolific. She shares an anecdote behind the reasoning of her shop’s name, “ During a cold winter evening many years ago, I was waiting for a friend in an MTR station and craving a hot drink.
I thought to myself, I’d love to open a shop called Half A Cup Of Tea that offers drinks at half size as there are no public toilets in the MTR station. I loved the name so much that when I opened my online shop, I choose it for the name.

“I have a little story to amuse myself as to why an online store can have this name. Every customer who comes in is offered a cup of tea. They sip half of it, then start to look at my sculptures. They are so amazed by my work that they quickly buy my stuff and leave happily, forgetting about the other half cup of tea. So, if I become successful in future, and need to open a second shop, I may call it "A quarter cup of tea!”


Fun Facts

Best-selling piece:
I'd say, it's the Dance of Pont D'Avignon Pop-up Bookmarks. Each of them is one of a kind but the design is basically the same. http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=6576495§ion_id=5995970

Most-used material
Naturally all kinds of paper: iridescent paper, textured paper, plain A4 paper, recycled paper, tissue paper, etc.

Piece that you can't bear to part with
I guess it's the Mountain Village illuminated paper sculpture. I've spent so much time and effort on it, and in the cutting and folding processes, I attempted to give up a few times, thinking it was impossible to make. But I finally made it, and the result was very satisfying. Oh yes, I do wish to part with it and share it with someone who really loves it! :-)
http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=18805867

Favourite designer
My favourite paper artists are Su Blackwell and Peter Callesen. Their creations are magical!
http://www.petercallesen.com/
http://www.sublackwell.co.uk/

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Whasoo-p?


Lame title? Yeah, I know. But I know you love it, secretly! Anyway, on to more pressing matters. The Korean skincare brand Sulwhasoo has just opened a spa centre in TST on Canton Road. The menu is made up of mostly facials and body treatments, all using Sulwhasoo's legendary, herbal skincare products, combined with other elements to make sure your body gets maximum juice. They use items like jade, amber and white porclein as tools to help absorption. Ladies who spend a lot of time in the sun or are freckly and spotty should try the Brightening Boost (90 min/HK$1,400) or the Intensive Whitening (110min/HK$1,900) facials, because Sulwhasoo's signature thang is whitening, if I am correct. If you're on the more mature side (yeah, that's you, moudly oldy), spring for the ginseng and gold treatments -- there's a gold & ginseng anti-ageing facial (120 min/HK$2,300), a ginseng gold bath & body (80 min/HK$1,800) or a combo called the ginseng full story (200 min/HK$2,000).

Sulwhasoo Spa is at 82-84 Canton Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui. Tel: 852 3101 9861.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Gown Town: Resort Redux


Even though most of us have no use for poufy ballgowns, it's still one of the strongest components of any fashion season, simply because grandeur and glamour have no equal when it comes to putting on a show, and it's just so vicariously enjoyable to view these works of art. While the sensible, practical side in me knows that it's infinitely harder to cut a great pant, the whimsical dreamer says: screw pants. Why not fill your closet with crazy/beautiful gowns? After Fall's severe and often colourless presentations, I was happy to find that even though Resort isn't the most gown-friendly season, there was plenty of extravagance to be had in colour, volume, etc.

Paint the Town Red


Not only was scarlet red a brave and abundant choice for designers, they weren't afraid to pile on the drama, either. At Badgley Mischka and Lanvin, the gowns rippled with embellishments without going over the top. Forget Scarlett Johansson's simple red column -- leave the jewellery at home and slip into something simply (or not-so-simply) smashing.


There were no boundaries when it came to hue, either. At Zac Posen, a little bit of orange crept into the mix, for a jarring, ostentatious look-at-me look. At Monique L'huillier, a classic silhouette came in classic red. And at Marchesa, a sophisticated maroon was in the palette du jour, with Grecian draping at the forefront, as usual.


Even with the short dresses, the drama and volume stayed put, as with these Lanvin and J.Mendel creations. By the way, you can expect a LOT of Lanvin to come in this post. I've re-fallen in love with the label after a few seasons.

A Whiter Shade of Pale


With blushing nude on the radar this season, I was surprised not to see more of this shade in Resort, but I suppose it's much more of a springtime colour. Instead, there were lots of riffs on others in the palest of pale hues. Lanvin's short ruffled wedding gown is fun enough that it won't look out of place off the church aisle and on the red carpet; while Badgley Mischka's white jumpsuit is a bit more grown-up, but still challenges the status quo of gowns.


To prevent things from getting too wedding-y, an easy and loose drape is the ultimate in cool. Max Azria and Lanvin options here show you how the gown is really just a maxi-dress done good. In different materials (and at different price ranges) these would do just fine on the beach, don't you think?


Off-white isn't too off either. Dior's little concoction here looks a little bit like Michelle Obama/Jason Wu's inauguration dress -- anyone think the masterful Galliano has been a little off his game lately? It's still classy, but a tad derivative. And J.Mendel's pale yellow gown utilizes the same silhouette as the short, red version up top, but with an ethereal twist.

Floral Fancy


Tasteful florals take your gown from garden party to grown-up gala. Naeem Khan, in a relatively pared-down collection, did a good thing with this embroidered and ruched piece, while Badgley Mischka here did a shocking violet print that definitely catches the eye, and giving a nod to the trend below... 

Coming Up Violets


Purple featured strongly, it seemed to me. Dior chicly paired lilac suits with leopard trim, a nice and surprisingly Parisian looking combo. But for evening, Galliano shed the skins for innovative fabric use, coming up with this interesting column bustier with a full skirt. Yowza. Roksanda Ilincic, whom I'm loving more and more each day, needs to appreciated with her collection in full, but this satin sheath is the antithesis of Dior's pouf and frou-frou, but still equally elegant.


When going short, designers punched up the jolts of colour by 1000 percent. Preen's power dress, redone in violet with pink print, takes on a whole new personality. Power indeed. Oscar de la Renta did one of my favourite cocktail looks of the season in the middle, matched in theme by Monique L'huillier's more hem-heavy take.

Short, not Sweet


In general, short dresses can only really translate into gowns with enough punch. That could be excessive embellishing, a lot of volume, or maybe just a little pop of colour. This season, I'm really feeling a mustard dress is that unexpected shade to get people talking. Cavalli, Lanvin and Vera Wang all interpret the colour with varying tints. 

Images: Style.com

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Bag Lady: Jimmy Choo Tube leopard-print clutch




My fascination with clutches only came about very recently, ShoeGeek is the queen of clutches. But I do have a thing for neon colours and this clutch will definitely make your black outfit pop.
GET it at net-a-porter

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Sneaking In



Sneakers are for the gym, that is a philosophy to which I have long adhered. If you've seen me out in sneakers, consider yourself lucky -- I've only worn sneakers out of the house once this year (twice, if you count the once I've been to the gym in 2009) and it was only because it was raining and I was cranky.

Nike, it seems, has cottoned on to the fact that there are others like me, and is trying to convince my mind and wallet that these gladiator-style sneaks are far enough from the sneaker family that I may be convinced to indulge in them. From an aerial perspective, they kind of are... or maybe I'm just a sucker for anything that looks anything like a close cousin of the Ann D lace-up boots. And then switch over to the side and out pops that SWOOSH, like a shiny decal sticker on your brand new BMW: totally unclassy and unnecessary.



Much more enticing, among the sneaker-fashion hybrids, is the satiny selection from Sergio Rossi for Puma. The classic sneakers are almost tasty, with those sherbet hues -- mint, grape, blueberry -- but it's the shoe silhouette that's winning fans. That said, these are actually two sides of the same coin. Nike is doing practical wear with a fashionable edge, whereas Sergio Rossi/Puma are doing fashion with a sporty influence.

Whatever the goal, I wouldn't be caught dead in the Nikes. But I might just show up to the gym in heeled sneakers, no matter how ridiculous that sounds.



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Sunday, June 28, 2009


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Friday, June 26, 2009

Puzzling


Shamelessly poached from Refinery29 is this link to a very simple how-to guide on making puzzle-piece friendship necklaces. They're a nice riff on the Swarovski puzzle-piece necklaces that were in vogue a few years back, but much more grass roots. Simply take two connecting puzzle pieces, punch holes, loop a ring through it and distribute. The way I see it, this would make a great DIY gift for someone whose birthday you forgot. It's do-able with minimal tools and materials, and is one of those almost-lame gifts that people can't really complain about, because it's homemade, and it's so touching and whatnot. Of course, just watch. After this post, come my birthday, I'm going to get 100 puzzle-piece necklaces and nothing else.

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Links a la Mode

links a la mode

Ice Cold Lemonade
Edited by Clutch 22

Compiling this week's round up of posts hit closer to home for me. I think we can all relate to the times where stress builds up and blocks inspiration. Reading each of these individually was the exact refreshment I needed (hence "lemonade"), especially with my birthday coming up next week - total outfit planning mode.

So what's in the mix? Alixrose and Decline Designs offer personal style inspirations, Fasshonaburu teaches us how to get our budget-shopping on at high-end boutique sales, hkShoeGeek talks harnesses and Fashion Consciou$ inspires by reviving the culottes trend (so cute on her).

Links à la Mode : June 25th
  • 39th and Broadway: Ever wonder who really determines how your clothes fit? An interview with a technical designer
  • alixrose: You have the perfect outfit, but whats the one thing that can keep it from becoming fabulous?
  • A Typical Atypical: A deep dive into the reasoning behind shoe obsessions
  • Awakened Aesthetic: Affordable ways to bring urban fashion into your decor without getting tacky
  • Bobbins and Bombshells: Fashionable History - A look into 1920's swimwear and bathing suits.
  • Bonne Vie: When Bloggers Unite - The Hotel Max Edition
  • Decline Designs: Defining Your Personal Style - Having "Go-To" Outfits
  • Fasshonaburu: Digging through a high end sales to find purchase-worhty pieces, and tips on how to not go over budget
  • Fashion Consciou$: Fashion Flashback - Return of the culottes
  • Fashion Pulse Daily: The evolution of the gladiator to the "mandiator"
  • Freya: A little gown guide for your summer wedding
  • Hong Kong Fashion Geek: Harnesses - A collection of favorites for every style and price range
  • Idiosyncratic Style: A guide for casual wedding attire
  • Independent Fashion Bloggers: You just don't compare...
  • Retro Chick : Mary Queen of Charity Shops - Now it's all over, some final thoughts
  • Shoe Daydreams: Are you on board with the latest trend - Over The Knee boots?
  • Tatiana Supports the Arts: Indie Designer Spotlight - ALEX&RA, designed by Alexandra Cipparone
  • The Bare Skinny: Not everything has to be black and white - inspiration for adding color to your wardrobe
  • The Coveted: Shu Uemura's inspired lashes
  • Unfunded: Respect your elders - Rock the vintage!
  • Work Chic: Chic hosiery options if you still have to wear them in the summer heat!

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    Warehouse Sale: D-mop

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    Thursday, June 25, 2009

    Some Like it Hot, We Like it Not


    In the mood for something with a kick a few weeks ago, we hit Chilli Fagara for a nice bit o' spice. We got the spice, no kidding, but tongues and lips aflame, wallets emptied and feeling thoroughly disgruntled (not to mention still a little hungry), we departed in confusion. We had heard good things, and there was nary a good thing to be found.

    The restaurant, situated on Graham Street opposite Sift, is typical Soho -- tiny, dark and cozy. So cozy, in fact, that whichever unlucky individual is alloted the table in the front by the door has to rise and tuck in his chair every time anyone enters or exits the restaurant. The service, too, on the night in question, left a little to be desired. Besides botching orders, taking away our plates before we were finished and generally, literally sticking their arms into everything, the waitstaff didn't seem to want to be there. Fair enough -- after 30 minutes, neither did we.



    We made the mistake of soliciting the server's opinion while ordering, and he recommended the crab, pictured above. Holy spicy crab, Batman, it was HOT on the outside, due in part to the mounds and mounds of chilis used to fill the plate, resulting on a fiery hot, crispy exterior and a somewhat lacklustre interior. The other dish we ordered -- Pearl of the Orient chicken balls (or something like that, I may have made the name up, I'm trying to repress the experience) -- was similarly themed. A chickeny exterior was wrapped around a lychee for a cute, hot-n-sweet dish, but nothing outsanding. Same bed of chillis below. The highlight of the meal was garlic fried veggies and a passable fried rice. Given the stellar reviews from the English mags in Hong Kong, we were forced to conclude that the place uses chillis to hypnotize its customers into confusion. The nail in the coffin was the price. After ordering a host of dishes under HK$200, we discovered that the recommended crab had added a HK$600 price tag to the bill.

    If you want a good Sichuan experience, try Da Ping Huo instead (Hilltop Plaza, 49 Hollywood Rd, Central. Tel: 852 2559 1317). Or Yellow Door ( 6/F, 37 Cochrane St, Central. Tel: 852 2858 6555), which I haven't tried but is also rumoured to be fantastic. Both are private kitchens so book ahead. I'm not even going to provide booking info for Chilli Fagara here -- just because you add chillis, doesn't make it Sichuan food. Or even food, really.

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    SHOErotica: Giuseppe Zanotti strappy platforms



    GET THEM at net-a-porter

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    Not So Random


    Art Jamming is always fun to do with friends and, with the help of a couple glasses of wine, the perfect opportunity to indulge in your inner Picasso. However, I’ve heard many a complaint from participants as to what to do with their masterpieces. After all, there are only so many you can hang up in your apartment, give to friends, present to your parents, trade in for food etc. Now I’ve discovered something even better than Art Jam; Random Art Workshop (RAW), a living room space where you can create your own arts & crafts. Why the excitement? Firstly, the location. It’s smack in the middle of Causeway Bay next to Island Beverley. Perfect for a little artsy project after a day of shopping. RAW offers many different kinds of workshops including scrap booking, blinging up accessories, collage and jewellery making. RAW also provides gaming consoles such as PS3 and the Wii, for the boyfriend who doesn’t want to make jewellery perhaps?

    Random Art Workshop: Unit1203, 12/F, Island Beverley , 1 Great George Street, Causeway Bay

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    Wednesday, June 24, 2009

    Isn't It Organic?


    The header to this post, a sort-of tribute to Miss Alanis Morissette, may be woefully outdated, but the topic -- organic products -- is definitely not. You can't turn your head without coming face-to-face with some shampoo/t-shirt/vegetable/mp3 player that's all-natural, organic, green, good-for-you-in-ways-you-can't-understand, or whatever the correct terminology is. As the organic movement takes over the world, we kind of become de-sensitized to this kind of product labelling. So this isn't a post about the Four Seasons' new "beyond organic" spa treatments. This is a post about spa treatments at the Four Seasons, that happen to be organic.

    These new treatments are based around a new line called ila, a (yes you got it) organic series of products produced ethically and that gives back to the community. The treatments include all sorts of cool-sounding voodoo, and basically, all you have to know is that by booking a treatment, you are being a good person. (because ila is good, and therefore by association, you are good too). Some of the treatments available:

    Chakra Healing: Starts with a personal consultation to examine your faulty chakras, then a tailor-made Himalayan salta scrub of bath treatment, then a marma massage (note to self: find out what the heck a marma massage is), chakra healing and a marma facial (note to self: REALLY have to find out what marma is). 2.5 hours; HK$2,800.

    Rainforest Rejuvenating Facial: A holistic facial that encourages natural regeneration of the skin. COOL! Like Wolverine, or the cheerleader from Heroes? Or more like all-natural Nip/Tuck? (and yes, in case you were wondering, sometimes I do annoy myself with my constant interruptions and digressions) Anyway, what they actually do is stimulate circulation and the lymphatic system to fight ageing, using a blend of pure Amazonian acmella, pfaffia, marapuama and white lily. 1.25 hours; HK$1,150.

    Bio-Energy Mud Wrap: Promotes "profound healing of the energy body" (re-insert Wolverine joke here) by drawing toxins out (like Magneto, but with toxins instead of metal). A Himalayan salt scrub kicks things off, followed by the wrap and a facial marma massage and Himalayan salt bath. Really need to look up marma now. 1.25 hours; HK$1,150.

    Jatamansi Scrub: This one's for the boys! The scrub gets rid of stress and restores vitality and positive energy. 45 mins; HK$650.

    The Spa at the Four Seasons is at 6/F, 8 Finance Street, Central. Tel: 852 3196-8900, or email: spa.hkg@fourseasons.com.

    Oh, and marma points, it turns out, is just a complicated way of saying some version of acupressure or "vital points". It's a bit more complicated and holistic than that, I'm sure, but I won't bore you with that. Just know that it's good for you.

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    Not-so-plain Jane


    After posting about the Jimmy Choo/H&M collab, I began to consider how very many designers have now collaborated with the topshops, tar-jays and H&Ms of the world. These tie-ups produce results of varying success, depending on the cache of the designer in question, and the quality of translation of said designer's aesthetic into affordable pricing categories. Matthew Williamson, which I've blogged about before, was an easy switch, because the selling point is in the prints. McQueen for Target, however, was rather a failure despite Mr McQueen's immovable hold on the dictation of future fashion, because his leather/bondage/super-draped/almost couture-like looks just don't look the same, rendered in pleather and stretch cotton.

    And besides, the collabs are getting a bit snooze-worthy. The designers are getting more and more mainstream (let's hear it for Limi Feu for Zara?... yeah right) and the anticipation buildup less and less. But like any good druggie with a need to reach new highs, the mass-market brands are coming up with new ways to get the fix. And the new breed of celebrity collaboration? The blogger capsule, including the glads pictured above from JAldridge for Urban Outfitters.





    If you're a regular fashiontoast reader, you probably already know that Rumi Neely was invited to do a capsule collection for RVCA, who have also collaborated super sexily and successfully with Erin Wasson, she of perma-It girl status. And now we have photos of the trio of quirky shoes designed for Urban Outfitters by the 17-year-old Sea of Shoes author, Jane Aldridge, due out in July. And guess what? While they're "inspired" by her own shoe collection, they're distinctive in their own right as well. And whether they're lace-up flats that could be a coy cousin to her Ann Demeulemeester sandals, or open-toed lace-up boots in mahogany that are an amped up version of her prada mid-calf ones, they're pretty darn cool. And will probably cost a lot less than the shoes she normally wears on the blog, like those sold-out-everywhere YSL cage shoes with the bow (so much better than the black cage booties) or the mesh Stellas we SHOErotica'd a couple weeks back. How a 17-year-old can own and afford these shoes when I, a grown working woman, must instead consider the fast-fashion versions of a 17-year-old's shoe closet, is beyond me... but hey, I ain't hating. As long as she keeps dishing out the shoe porn, I'm still a fan. Hey, Urban, where's my shoe deal?



    Images: Sea of Shoes

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    Tuesday, June 23, 2009

    Made in HK: BejewelledBespoke



    Twitter followers of ShoeGeek and I will find this a familiar name. Also known as @BBespokeDesigns, the designer behind BejewelledBespoke has created beautiful pieces that both ShoeGeek and I covet and we were also the inspiration behind one of her creations (see above). Having moved here from Australia recently, the designer has a flare for making drool-worthy statement pieces. She takes a few moments out of her time to answer a few questions for Hong Kong Fashion Geek:
    5 Fun Facts
    Why BejewelledBespoke?
    I chose ‘Bejewelled Bespoke’ because my jewellery designs are for the female that wants to make a statement and be noticed by wearing a conversation piece. As each handmade design may use limited-in-production or vintage materials, I often only have a few pieces of each design to offer. I also offer custom jewellery design services and love working with customers to produce their own bespoke piece.

    Best-selling piece
    The Piece de Resistance earrings are my best selling piece. I have had orders for these in different colours and even using semi-precious stones.

    Most-used material
    Does creativity count? Aside from that, I use a lot of different materials in my designs. You’ll find everything from vintage stampings, feathers, fabric, beads, and even recycled vintage jewellery. Lately, I have been using a lot of freshwater pearls for custom bridal jewellery orders.

    Piece that you can't bear to part with
    A vintage cuff bracelet with a pearl cabochon as the focal piece. I purchased the cuff bracelet blanks off Etsy and the seller only had two! I have already sold the spare one and am hoarding the other for myself.

    Favourite designer
    I don’t have a single favourite designer, but instead have a few designers whose collections I never fail to fall in love with. Christian Louboutin for shoes, Matthew Williamson for his amazing prints, Dolce & Gabbana for their structured dresses, Alexander McQueen for anything classic yet fabulous, Sass & Bide for attention grabbing pieces (and because I miss home!), and Miriam Haskell for classic costume jewellery.

    Visit BejewelledBespoke here

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    Geek Spy: Smitten by Fred

    Quirky homeware never fail to unleash a Geek’s consuming power and Fred is one guy I’m looking to be BFFs with. The Fred in question is from Fred & Friends whose products can be found at stores like Homeless and Loft. With a knack for making out of the ordinary from the mundane, Fred & Friends products never fail to elicit a chuckle out of me. Behold a few favourites:
    Calf & Half (HK$200)

    Drip Clips (HK$80)

    Think Outside the Shaker (HK$140)

    500XL Speakers (HK$500)

    Visit Fred & Friends here
    Images: Courtesy of Fred

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    Bag Lady: YSL Froisse Buffalo Tote



    You may think that ombre is so last season but this YSL tote will definitely change your mind. When will my embargo end? Get it at Luisaviaroma

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    Monday, June 22, 2009

    Bee’s Knees


    MAC has got to be one of the most prolific ones beauty brands out there with new products monthly. The latest inspiration for MAC is honey. With a cute tagline that says Bees Do it and now MAC does it; MAC is introducing a limited edition Naked Honey collection in July. I’m a big fan of honey. After all, who doesn’t love their yummy goodness? And now you can get that beautiful amber hue to create that perfect summer glow. MAC is translating honey into a summer range of gold hues from lip glass to eye shadow to highlight powder and fragrance. A nice detail is that the powder palettes mimic honeycombs. Retailing from HK$125 to HK$220, this range is a nice compliment to your summer make up and is sure to create a buzz.




    Available at all MAC counters starting July 2, 2009

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