8Books Review: “The Prince and the Dressmaker” by Jen Wang

The Prince and the Dressmaker is a delightful graphic novel about friendship and secrets and identity and love. Prince Sebastian is supposed to be looking for a bride. But at night, he secretly dons fashion forward dresses and emerges as the mysterious Lady Crystallia with the help of his friend and dressmaker, Frances.

Set in Paris, Jen Wang has created an extraordinary array of imaginative and beautifully drawn dresses and costumes that pepper a story full of heart and growth. What lengths will Frances go to to protect her friend’s secret? And at what cost to her own dreams? As Sebastian and Frances’ friendship evolves, so do the complexities of their choices. Though set in another time, in another place, the two are eminently relatable and lovable for their flaws and successes. Who do they want to be? Who will they be? Neither is perfect. Each encounters obstacles–the weight of expectations, the burdens of secrets, the freedoms of self-expression, the limitations of what looked like success. Together, and individually, they find a way through and the journey is truly charming.

The Prince and the Dressmaker is a book to get lost in for an afternoon. A curl up on the couch with a hot cup of tea and go from one cover to the other. One huge, satisfying whirlwind ride.

8Books Review: “Love, Loss, and What We Ate” by Padma Lakshmi

LoveLossPadma Lakshmi’s memoir, Love, Loss, and What We Ate is an intimate look at family, growing, grief, and eating through life’s ups and downs. Best known for her role as host on Top Chef, Lakshmi takes us from childhood to the present in vivid detail with humor, honesty, and self-reflection. She is fully willing to unveil her flaws, capitalizing on the gift of hindsight.

Lakshmi ably guides us through her triumphs and travails. She is unafraid to talk about her health issues (late diagnosis with endometritis), her sex life, her relationships, and her life between East and West. Inevitably, she returns to food–the foods of her childhood, those of heartache, what she makes for those she loves–interspersing occasional recipes throughout.

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Jeremy Lin’s TAG Heuer Connected Watch

Working in Silicon Valley and as part of my job, I’ve checked out and played around with a few smartwatches. Personally, I can’t say that I’m a big fan of them – having to charge an extra device, and most of the watches are a bit bulky and not very stylish (there’s a reason why I love my Skagen watch – thin and stylish).

However, what is interesting is that traditional premium watch manufacturers are launching their own lines of smartwatches – no doubt for fear of being disrupted, as well as trying to capture the youth market that have abandoned or never having bought or worn a watch. TAg Heuer apparent has announced a line of TAG Heuer Connected watched based on Android Wear “designed in collaboration with athletes” – including Jeremy Lin:


SAR8A80.FT6045-2015-Jeremy-Lin-white-background-1200x1903“Just a few days ago at the Consumer Electronics Show (C.E.S.) in Las Vegas, Tag Heuer showed off its newest Connected watches – designed in collaboration with athletes Tom Brady (quarterback for the New England Patriots football team), Jeremy Lin (professional basketball star) and Giancarlo Stanton (professional baseball star with the Miami Marlins MLB team). The watches represent the first “personalized” dials for the TAG Heuer Connected watch that was just unveiled to the world late in 2015. … The TAG Heuer Connected watch, created with Intel Inside and powered by Android Wear™, is a 46mm watch crafted in the Carrera style in titanium with an option of black or bright-colored rubber straps. Its retail price is $1,500.”

I like the design of the Jeremy Lin watch, but I’m not willing to spend $1,500 on any watch – smart or not. I wonder what kind of volumes these watches will sell?

Also, the thing with smartwatches is that new versions will be coming out every year or so, with new features, etc. In my opinion, a watch needs to be “timeless.” And beyond tell time, the number one feature that needs to be improved for a smart watch is battery life …

Asian American Commercial Watch: Men’s Wearhouse – BLACK by Vera Wang

According to Men’s Wearhouse’s YouTube channel, their commercial starring Vera Wang about her first collection of formal wear for me has been around (or at least hosted on YouTube) since March 2015 – but I just caught this it on TV recently.


The last time I think I blogged about Vera Wang was when I saw her promoting her LOVE collection at Zales. I still mostly think of Vera Wang as a fashion designer for wedding gowns, popularized – at least for me, through being mentioned in Sex in the City.


Asian American Commercial Watch: Simon Premium Outlets® – Bold Summer Looks


Although we’re nearing the end of the summer, I’ve only recently noticed this Simon Premium Outlets tv ad:

AACW_Simon“At Simon Premium Outlets®, there’s always something new to discover. Check out our new Simon Premium Outlets commercial, and visit a property near you for shopping that’s always worth the trip.”

I was wondering if maybe Simon had in mind targeting Asian Americans or Asian tourists looking for a good deal, or if this actress was casted race-blind? Or maybe Simon just advertises with attractive women in their ads, regardless of race.

Asian American Commercial Watch: Jason Wu for Cadillac in “The Daring: No Regrets”


Last November, at the Los Angeles Auto Show, I noticed something different about Cadillac. They seemed to be on the eve of a re-invention.

These new ads, with the tagline “Only those who dare drive the world forward” seems to confirm my observations. Cadillac seeks to reinvent its 112-year-old brand as one The ad, features “those was dare,” innovators Jason Wu, Anne Wojcicki, Njeri Rionge, Richard Linklater, and Steve Wozniak and the song: Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien performed by Edith Piaf

We’ve written a lot about Jason Wu in the past, including when his design was selected by Michelle Obama for her first and second Inaugural Ball gowns.

In addition to the ad which features all the innovators, there is also a video specific to Jason Wu:


8A-2015-03-27-Cadillac-JasonWuJason Wu came to the US as a boy of 9 with a love for dressing dolls. He dared to follow his passion and went from fashion intern to an arbiter of style tasked with revolutionizing one of the world’s most iconic fashion brands.

Here is a message from the President of Cadillac, talking about what today’s Cadillac is about:

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Asian American Hairstylist Gives Homeless Haircuts for Free

haircutDespite a career styling the hair of celebrities like Jeff Gordon at high end salon Three Squares Studio, Mark Bustos takes time every Sunday to give free haircuts to the homeless.  

He first started doing this in the Philippines as a tribute to his girlfriend’s late father. Soon he would the same in Los Angeles, Jamaica, and Costa Rica.  Bustos says:

“The feeling was so rewarding, I decided to bring the positive energy back to NYC.”

You can follow Mark Bustos on Instagram.

(photo credit:  Facebook)

In My Inbox: Asian American Ad Watch: Banana Republic


In general, I don’t like to shop for clothes. When I do shop for clothes, I do like to check out Banana Republic (though lately, I’ve been checking out Uniqlo) and do subscribe to their email list.


Usually, unless there is a massive sale in the email announcement, I usually ignore and delete the email pretty quickly.


But the other day, I got this email, and was kind of shocked to see only an Asian American male model highlighted in this email ad. I’m still kind of in shock. Next thing we know, we’ll see Abercrombie and Fitch doing the same thing … nah …

Abercrombie & Fitch Sales Decline: How Disrespecting Diversity can be Bad for Business

Abercrombie_&_Fitch_Fifth_Avenue_cropAfter managing to alienate significant numbers of Asians, Asian Americans, Muslims, African Americans, Hispanics,  overweight, and disabled people, Abercrombie & Fitch has found – surprise – that declining sales forced it into a quarterly loss.  In an attempt to regain some lost sales, the company has slightly retreated on its position of catering only to what the company’s CEO calls the “all American beautiful people” by now including sizes for larger people.    Abercrombie & Fitch is a case study of what happens can happen when a company doesn’t pay proper attention to the diversity of its potential customers.

Diversity can apply to aftshirtmany facets of people.  Racial diversity is one aspect.  In 2002, these Abercrombie & Fitch T-Shirts playing on stereotypes managed to infuriate many Asian Americans.  Asians were upset by this model (shown below) brought into South Korea to open up one of their Hollister subsidiary’s stores and who later mocked Koreans over twitter.  Lawsuits have been brought by Hispanics and African Americans who say they weren’t hired or were only to work away from customers because they didn’t have the “right image.”  Abercrombie & Fitch targets 18-24 year olds, but that demographic is increasingly non-white in the US, not to mention already that way in the rest of the world.  Why would they want to alienate a growing segment of potential customers, especially one that has large and increasing buying power?

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Dealing with Diversity: Gap responds to the Racist Defacement of an Ad


Arsalan Iftikhar, senior editor at The Islamic Monthly, posted a picture of this defaced Gap advertisement on his twitter account.  This ad featured Sikh-American designer Waris Ahluwalia and model/filmmaker Quentin Jones.  What, if anything, would the Gap do?

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China Internet Trend: Babies Wearing Watermelons As Clothes


I caught an The Cut/NY Mag piece (referencing Kotaku’s) about the latest trend to rock Weibo (that’s China’s “Twitter”): babies dressed up in watermelon clothes. It evidently started in Wenzhou city, when baby’s father reportedly worked all day to fashion a functional pair of shorts from a watermelon so his son could cool down in the hot weather.

Aside from how this has got to be the coolest (literally!) fashion trend of the year, there’s really nothing to say except that I’m seeking volunteers… who will let me dress their small Asian child in produce?!

Ok, ok, one more picture… “WATERMELON SPARTAN!”


Photos via NY Mag and Kotaku

An Unconventional Activist: Princess Joules


Julie Van Vu, better known by her YouTube vlogger handle Princess Joules, inspires me. I first stumbled upon her channel when I was searching online for eye makeup tutorials. Hers are amazing. I tried my best to replicate the above-pictured look but just couldn’t come anywhere near her level of skill. I confess I’m an avid subscriber. I love all her YouTube beauty guru showcases–the shopping hauls, the what’s-in-my-bag glimpses, everything, even the sweet and tender moments with her little sister that she captures on camera for us.

JulieVu_PrincessJoules_SourceFB_2Imagine how much that fandom amplified when I watched her more substantive videos. Ms. Vu uses her spotlight to bring attention to feminist, gender equality, sexual equality, and anti-bullying issues in a provocative, engaging, yet convivial manner. There is an essence of feminine beauty that is natural and effortless about her. As a result, she is an inspiration to many, including me. I was prompted to reexamine my own view of my femininity because of Ms. Vu.

To learn more about Princess Joules, watch her video, “19 Months MtF Transition.”

Also check out her “Draw My Life” video. The below are screenshots from the video I’d like to discuss.


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