Category Archives: Featured Designer

Geraldine (Gigi) – Sales Associate By Day, Aspiring Fashion Designer By Night – San Jose

I‘ll say it now: working at a job that isn’t your career fucking sucks. I mean, how many of us actually work at a job
that we love? Aside from being the official taste tester for Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, there really isn’t a job in the
world that caters to every single need you have. As an aspiring artist working in retail, the monotony of selling
handbags and rubber flip-flops can bore the neurons out of your brain. So when Geraldine (aka, Gigi, aka G²) –
a 30-something, 5’2-ish, aspiring fashion designer – was hired at our location, we immediately bonded over our
shared longing for a future in art.

As Dr. Evil as it may seem, I’m somewhat of an emotional brick wall. I hardly cry, my heart skips a beat when
children are being yelled at by their parents in public, and I also give zero fucks when I lose a friend. Friends?
Whateves, yo! I’ll just find a new one on 4CHAN! But as today marks Gigi’s last day, a part of me (and all of us at
work) has seemed to dwindle down like a fire without a wick. Why, you ask? Well, when you work with a group of
all women, you get somewhat of a shitstorm when it comes to drama. She said, she said, and all of this bullcrap
gets thrown around like condiments in a food fight. At some point, everyone has been irritated by everyone –
but not Gigi.

Gigi was sort of the neutral party. She never started shit with anyone nor did she care to be involved. I respect
that. She was always an immensely chipper person and even though she was only in her early 30’s, she felt sort
of like our grandma – emotionally relaxed and always willing to share a great conversation. If we weren’t talking
about food and the types of food we wish we could be eating on our incoming lunch break, we discussed art,
fashion, gossip at work, and other random topics. But she was also real, with real problems and real concerns.

Interlaced beneath the cotton threads of her happy disposition were the linings of guy problems, struggles with
family issues, and the mystery of her future in the fashion biz. I mean she had some Maury Povich stuff goin on
and naturally, I found myself as her unofficial therapist – advising and guiding her on things such as “that man is
a LIAR!” or “MAN UP! Ask him out!” Conversely, she helped me learn to relax more at work. She taught me
how to turn my inner TiVo on and put things in slow motion. To stop, take my time, and let the job do itself.
She was excellent at it.

I won’t bore you any longer with my individual stories and inside jokes but I will say this: despite my brick wall
of a heart, I truly found myself saddened when she left our store. A good, moral, and real person had left our
family at work. The world just doesn’t make people like her anymore. People who seem to endure so much in
life yet they continue to thrive and smile through it all. Both of us may have bigger dreams and aspirations
beyond the tasks of folding clothes and ringing up needy customers, so perhaps, by chance, the art world will
harmonize and in the future, we will meet again at the corporate art department.

Till then, my good friend.

Dance on*

*This was a song that we all used to lip sync and dance to during work*

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The Details: The 2011 Art Institute Fashion Show – SOMA, San Francisco


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The Dark Side Of The Moon: The 2011 Academy of Art University Fashion Show, SOMA, San Francisco

Fun Fact: Prior to my fashion blogging, there was actually a time in my life when I wanted to become a
fashion designer. Now, this was probably due to my obsession with Project Runway, but that’s a completely
different conversation.

During my fashion designer phase, I looked into various art schools to pursue that “dream.” In the bay area,
there are two options as far as schools: The Art Institute and The Academy of Art. The idea was that AI
was the fun (yet expensive) school where the real creatives went. It was viewed as the Apple of local
art schools while AA was Microsoft.

In contrast, AA was painted as the devil’s den. It was, from the point of view of many people (including my
High School Art Teacher), painted as some kind of neo-nazi, Orwellian Art School for communists. So to
finally come to an AA fashion show was a treat. Not only was I able to sit with the rest of the pro
photographers, I also had a chance to see if The Academy of Art was really like a page from 1984.


I‘ll admit: when I saw this powerful image, I started to become a bit concerned. But once the show started, I was
proven very… very wrong.

One of the things that I noticed about this show was that, instead of going for
that couture look, most of the designers actually chose the practical yet
highly wearable route. This was a very refreshing approach in contrast to
the other shows I’ve been to in San Francisco.

It’s Sil Pat meets Austin Powers!

I absolutely LOVE this designer. I love how he/she treated the fabrics. It
almost looks as if they were set on fire then blown out, revealing a half burnt
outfit. Very awesome, and I would TOTALLY wear a shirt from them!

This show didn’t have any fancy hats nor crazy bags, but they did have some really great prints.

I wasn’t lucky enough to touch this piece, but from looking at it, my mind just screams out “BUTTERY SMOOTH!”

I gotta hand it to the designers at AA: they did a phenomenal job. The actual
show was very entertaining, all of the models had amazing walks/looks, the
music selection was on-point, the timing was quick and efficient, and most
importantly, the clothes were wearable and visually orgasmic. If this is a sign
of things to come from The Academy of Art, then shit, count me in!

Great job, AA – you proved us all wrong.

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Fashionable Monsters: SOMA, San Francisco

The lights were turned low, and the cameramen/women were shooting off beams of light to illuminate the
dark figures of fashion. Realizing that I too needed flash, I scrambled through the crowd to find my camera
bag — then it hit me.

What’s the point of having a Canon 7D if I’m not willing to push it to the limit? External flash?
FUGETABOUTIT! These babies were cranked to 3,200 ISO.

The Wicked Witch:



The Bride of Frankenstein:

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My First *REAL* Photoshoot! (Designs By Justin Jamison)

Over the past six years I have been a part 20 or so photoshoots. Now,
by “photoshoot” I actually mean my friend and I, in a park, with his mom’s
digital camera (on full Auto), trying to take pictures of me doing model-like
poses. These weren’t even amateur photoshoots, but rather, two kids
taking pictures for their Myspace profiles.

Even though I’ve spent a decent amount of time behind the camera, I’ve
never had the opportunity to work with real models, in real designer
clothes, with real hair and makeup. So when my designer, Justin Jamison,
and I decided to collaborate on a shoot, I was completely over the moon.

I mean come on! This was it! This was my big breakthrough! My debut as an
aspiring editorial fashion photographer! In order to prepare, I spent days
looking through Vogue editorials, trying to figure out what made their
pictures so great. Why were their photos so distinct, so amazing, and so right?

The initial plan was simple: we photograph 4 outfits outside The
Contemporary Jewish Museum, and we finish in less than 2 hours.
Bada-bing-bada-BOOM! Done and done! But as the shoot came closer and
closer, giant obstacles started to rise from the ground.

First off, instead of shooting 4 outfits in 2 hours, I had to shoot 10 outfits in the same time frame. Mission
Impossible or Mission HELLA Impossible? PFFT! Whatever, bro! I have my external flash with me, so even
if it gets dark, I’ll light up that building like a Christmas tree, so we’re good to go! With my camera in hand,
I fired off like I was Rambo shooting down a helicopter *SNAP-SNAP-SNAP-SNAP*

But then I realized something that would change the entire shoot: the
building we planned on shooting at was a total black-hole. In other words,
the building wasn’t reflecting light from my external flash, instead,
it was sucking it in. What this meant was that now, I couldn’t rely on my flash
to light the building, I actually had to work faster than the sun was moving.

To make matters worse, a security guard came over and stopped our shooting, claiming that the Museum
managers prohibited our photography, even though they approved us the day before. This set us back
another 30-45 minutes. *tick-tock-tick-tock*

“The Models are getting cold!”
“We’re hungry!”
“My ride is coming soon.”
“The sun is going down!”
“We still have 2 more outfits!”

It was insane. I was moving around back and fourth like a line cook in a
busy restaurant, trying to cook dishes quickly while still maintaining quality.
I was moving around so much I felt like I was doing a session of P90X!

At the end of the shoot, my mind and body was completely empty. Not only did I go 8 hours without food,
but my ass cheeks started hurt, and my eyeballs felt like they were gonna jump out of my head.

As I look back at the shoot, I think about all of the set-backs we had, and
then I looked at the final shots… and ya know what? It turned out pretty
damn good. I mean, I have quite a ways to go before I get on Mario
Testino’s level, but with time and experience, I’m confident I’ll get there.

In a way, I’m glad all of that happened. The screw ups inspire me to become
perfect; to improve and hone my craft. But most importantly, this
photoshoot taught me to never dwell on current obstacles, but instead,
push them outside the window, and keep shooting.

Designer: Justin Jamison
Hair: Kao Vey Saephanh
Make-up: Necia Whitmore
Hugo Lopez
Gregory Vaughan
Ethan Wood
Joy Mann

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Beautiful Stranger (HD Video)

Challenge: Make a stylish video to show off the designers clothes.

The models are wearing dresses at night, in the cold (50 F/10 C.)
You have about 2 minutes with each model. No more, but probably less.

Luckily, I managed to pull it off. Soooo… what do you think? This videoshoot
was actually pretty spontaneous. I initially recorded the runway but due to the
congested venue which took place in a choked hallway in an office building, the
video turned out a bit clunky.

With the wind blowing beautifully into the model’s hair, I wanted to capture the
essence of being taken away by someone’s beauty. To be engulfed, and swept away
by the beauty of their presence. Not their face, or their body, but the fact that
they’re there, and you are here… watching them as if they were a bird, or a swan,
dancing and moving gracefully into the atmosphere.

“The most exciting attractions are between two opposites that never meet.”
– Andy Warhol


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The Details: Jonvey Salon Fashion Show


One of my pet peeves is when fashion photographers – or photographers who happen to be photographing
fashion – use giant camera lenses to zoom in on the action. I think that’s a load bullcrap. I think fashion
should be experienced up close, and not through your telephoto lens. Fashion is experienced at arms length
where you can touch, feel, and grope all you want. Basically, fashion photography isn’t for the shy and timid.
You need to man up and GET IN THERE! (that’s what she said)

Another reason why I photograph so closely is because in real life, that’s how we interact with outfits.
When you see a person in front of you wearing something beautiful, your eye doesn’t just take one big
look, and boom, you’re done – NO! Your eyeballs scan the outfit piece by piece, one at a time, observing
the details:

The texture of Lace (Wedding dresses by Amy Jo)

The way a piece of fabric is draped

A head of golden hair (hair by Jonvey Salon)

A cinched waistline (designs by Alyssa Nicole)

A flash of color

A beautiful face (makeup by Necia Whitmore)

An intricate nail

Check out these nails! It’s pickle surprise meets Hello Kitty! These well manicured fingernails belong
to Sindy, the artist responsible for many of the model’s nails. But fear not! A trip to her shop doesn’t
have to result in a Liberace themed manicure. She can also do more simple, subtle designs. *whew!*

If you take the time to look, and to allow your eye to wander as freely as a homeless man wanders through
the city, you can spot some very unusual, or quirky things. And who knows! You might even run into
something very hidden, yet lovely at the same time.


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SeeZenn Fashion Show 2010 (HD Video)

Pssst! The video is also available in HD! Check it out! ;)

Something to think about:

The lifespan of a fashion model can last anywhere between thirty years to thirty seconds. In the blink of an eye, a once
popular fashion icon could be thrown out like old milk. Tossed into the abyss and branded as “old news”. In the world of
high fashion, models are seen as essential yet disposable pieces in a larger puzzle. To many, models are a mere coat
hanger with legs. But are they?

Isn’t it ironic that the fashion industry tosses out models so easily when in the end, fashion itself is about making
people feel good about themselves? It’s remarkable how designers claim to be all about “satisfying the customer” or
“making women feel beautiful” yet through their advertisements, they often times just make us feel insecure about

Yes, I know this commentary is contradictory since the women in my video are beyond gorgeous, but here’s what I
was trying to do with it: I wanted to show the life of a model when the lights are off. I wanted people to see a more
lonely, less glamorous, and even more romantic side to fashion modeling. I wanted to paint an image where models
are more than coat hangers with legs, but people with feelings. Feelings of nervousness, momentary sadness, and
of emptiness.

This is the life of a “dying” model. One who, despite being very young, is still very old (in the eyes of the industry).


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On The Runway: The Arts of Fashion Competition 2010

In the five years that I’ve been interested in fashion, I’ve had the luxury of attending a decent amount of
amateur fashion shows. High School fashion shows, ethnic fashion shows, and the horrific display of acting and
pseudo-fashion at the various Vietnamese Student Union (VSU) fashion shows. Heck, I even created my own
fashion show during High School!

But after I got into the fashion scene in San Francisco, shit got real. The production value at the Arts of  Fashion
Competition 2010 is beyond anything I’ve attended in the past. The quality of the outfits literally takes a
steaming dump on everything I’ve ever seen before. Once you go Arts of Fashion, you never go back.

I was told recently that the Arts of Fashion competition is held all over the world, traveling from city to city
every year (kinda like the Olympics.) I mean think about it! I just got into fashion blogging no more than seven
months ago and the Arts of Fashion just so happened to showcase in San Francisco. Can you say “Destiny?” Can
you say “lucky bastard?”

Fate, I have no idea what your problem is, but whatever crap you’re trying to pull on me, it’s TOTALLY working.
Let’s just hope this thing is as good as it seems. If not, oh well, shit happens. I might be sabotaged by fellow
fashion bloggers in the near future, or I might even have my fingers broken thus disabling my ability to take
photographs and write blogs. But for now? Weeeeeee!!!

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Arts of Fashion Competition 2010 (Video)


This is the first video I have ever shot, and the first video I have ever edited. Not bad, eh?
I’ve always wanted to do short films but I just didn’t have the equipment. Now that I do,
I’m going on a video bender! I’m videotaping everything! But enough ranting and raving…

During the event, I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to shoot, or how. All I had to rely on was
my ability to photograph. From there, I naturally chose angles that I would if I were
taking a picture – and viola! Here it is.

This video isn’t a total recap of the event, nor is it about anything in particular. I guess you
can say it’s a mere peek. It’s the show from my perspective. From backstage, from the
sidelines, and from down below. But one of the surprises that came out of this clip was the
sheer amount of detail.

In almost every clip, there’s a small nuance that each of the models give off. Whether it’s
a friendly smile, a sign of nervousness, or even the look of seduction, there’s something
to be seen from each scene. I also slowed each of the scenes down because I think
fashion should be viewed the same way. Fashion shows should be savored, rolled around
your brain like a swig of fine wine, and thought about with great detail. They aren’t
quick shows that you watch and forget about. Months and months are spent planning
each fashion show so at the very least, we should give the designers a little bit more of
our time.

I think I’ll be doing more videos from now on. Enjoy :)


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