Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Christian Louboutin Suspenodo Flats

When it comes to red soles, the shoe that immediately comes to mind is the stiletto pump.  Some people are actually surprised to learn that Loubies also come in zero elevation.  Behold... my new Christian Louboutin Suspenodo Flats!

This time visiting the Louboutin store on Maiden Lane, I wanted a pair of flats that I can wear daily, run errands, or shop in the city with.  Pumps or flats, I have always preferred the pointed toe over the round ballet.  So among their Fall / Winter collection that just arrived, I spotted this dainty red bow, shining bright against the glossy navy backdrop of this feminine flat.  What makes these shoes more eye-catching is the illusion of the "suspended" metallic gold band.  Louboutin takes his designs to another level by incorporating a shapely arch, even to their flats - not every designer can make a heelless shoe sexy!

As my second pair of red soles, Louboutin proves to fit true to size.  When I tried these shoes on in the store, my first thought was that I would not need to break them in.  Joseph, who turned out to be the boutique manager, reassured me that sticking with my half size was the right decision, or else my heel may slip out while walking due to a gap in the back.  This was comforting, since I had previously purchased a half size as well in my Geo Pumps.

So far, the service of the Christian Louboutin boutique in San Francisco has been outstanding.  During my first visit shortly after their grand-opening in May, Jeff was a great salesperson.  He was both knowledgeable and humorous (referring to my first Loubies here).  This time, Joseph was extremely approachable, patient, and laid-back - I had no idea he was the manager until he gave me his business card after my purchase.  On both occasions, I was shopping after-hours (the store closes at six), but I never felt rushed.  Instead, I was telling Joseph how I loved the scalloped edge of the new Hot Chick, but 130mm was too crazy for me.  If only they made it in a 100mm!  Curious though, I said I wanted to try them on.  He happily encouraged me, but advised that I should hold on to something - or someone!

Did I mention these are not available online?  Making them boutique-exclusives!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Forever My Por Por

Besides December, August have always been one of my favorite months, but this particular August have been a serious roller-coaster of celebrations and goodbyes.

The month began with my friend's beautiful wedding in Mammoth Lakes, then I had a fallout with someone in mid-August, and that same night my Por Por 婆婆 (maternal grandma) passed away.  Furthermore, the 25th was my lucky thirteen anniversary with Tate, and yesterday was one of my best friend's engagement dinner, which I regrettably had to withdraw from due to a death in my family, but also we paid our last respects and bid farewell to my dear Por Por yesterday afternoon as we laid her to rest in Hillside Lily Garden of Cypress Lawn.

For the past couple of months, my Por Por was in and out of hospitals with her health sadly deteriorating.  Almost every day after work and on weekends, I visited her at either St. Francis Memorial Hospital, California Pacific Medical Center, or her home in On Lok Lifeways on Montgomery.  In the final two weeks, there was nothing the hospitals nor my family could do except to ensure my Por Por's comfort and to abide by her wish to spend the last days at home in On Lok instead of an unfamiliar medical building.

My older uncle flew in from China to care for my grandma around the clock, sleeping on a yoga mat every night beside her bed at the On Lok senior center.  My mum and younger uncle took turns daily cooking and bringing birds' nest porridge and chicken soup to grandma, where she sipped through a drinking straw only when she had a slight appetite.  Throughout the years, my grandma was always delighted by the different flowers and plants I bring her, so the weeks leading up to her passing, I kept a constant delivery of freshly cut spray roses in a Marquis by Waterford crystal vase - only the best for my Por Por!

The last words my grandma said to me were "Thank you Sum Yee," (my name in Cantonese) after I helped her with her last "bath."  I brought my favorite Japanese bath powder and body moisturizer, as well as my rose petal facial toner, an SKII face cream, and a heart-shaped basin to soak the washcloths in bath water before wiping her down.  This was the last time I saw her coherent.

On her last day, my mum and I visited her right after dinner.  She was breathing normally and it looked as though she was in a deep sleep, but she did not wake nor respond to us so we left after nearly an hour.  We went home and as I was done with my night shower, mum tells me uncle called and said grandma's breathing just became slow and labored, signs that these would be her last hours.  The entire family including my aunt's and younger uncle's families all rushed to On Lok.  We sat in her room in each other's company until my Por Por took her last breath in the early morning of August 20th.

I  started my bereavement leave from work on the 21th in order to help organize and plan the best funeral service we can for my grandma.  This required three appointments to Cypress Lawn Funeral Home; two visits to Chinatown to purchase ceremonial burning materials and to order five custom floral wreaths for the funeral service from Sweetheart Florist; a two-day shopping ordeal at Joann Fabrics for yardage to make traditional Chinese funeral "blankets;" countless hours of designing, translating, and creating the gorgeous funeral service program below (one of my last gifts to my Por Por); and of course several sleepless nights.

When all is said and done, I now find comfort in knowing that my Por Por passed away peacefully with family surrounding her, that she lived a full 87 and a half years of life in which she knew that I loved her dearly, and that we gave her the loveliest funeral service we can.

So to our grandma who raised my brother, sister, and I, may you rest in peace and remain...
Forever My Por Por

The last Mother's Day I celebrated with my Por Por

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Rouge Louboutin

Women have been wearing Louboutin red on the soles of their feet since he opened his shoe salon in Paris in the early 90's.  Now that same Louboutin red will be gracing women's fingers as Christian Louboutin Beauté just launched a collection of 31 nail lacquers yesterday, debuting their iconic red: Rouge Louboutin.

As Louboutin shoes are structurally works of art (in my opinion), so is the bottle of their new nail lacquers.  The dramatic tapering of the cap is inspired by Louboutin's highest stiletto ever created: Ballerina Ultima, designed in 2007 (pictured below).  The glass bottle features a black ombré effect, gradually revealing the bold rouge encased inside, as Christian Louboutin describes, "like a fine block of crystal."

Ballerina Ultima inspired the bottle design of Rouge Louboutin

Rouge Louboutin breaks the barrier of prestige nail polish.  At $50 per 0.4 oz. bottle (0.1 oz. less than Deborah Lippman, Essie, and OPI), expect nothing but the best in this rich formula; long-wearing, chip-resistant, and toluene/formaldehyde/DBP-free.  With one coat, this highly pigmented nail colour is said to produce a luxe gloss that mimics patent leather, and two coats gives a finishing shine of twenty layers!

Packaging of Rouge Louboutin, a black patent leather-like presentation box

In addition to the object d'art bottle, application is also meant to be an artistic experience like that of painting with calligraphy brushes.  The patented brush is custom-designed with a triangular shape to ensure precision while the shortened bristles pick up the perfect amount of formula without air bubbles for a flawless coverage.

Rouge Louboutin is truly a beauty - inside and out!

Ombré glass bottle of Rouge Louboutin

Rouge Louboutin has debuted first in its 15 U.S. boutiques (including their newest location in San Francisco where I purchased my Geo Pumps), plus Saks Fifth Avenue's flagship store in New York City.  More colors in the collection will soon be available, with distribution to extend to Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and select Sephora by August 2014.  Pre-order is currently available by clicking on the links of the retailers just mentioned.

Are you familiar with the story of how the red soles of Christian Louboutins came to be?  It was in 1993 (two years in business) that Mr. Louboutin felt his Andy Warhol-inspired 'Flower' shoe did not stand out as much as his drawing, but he did not quite understand why (the soles were black at the time).  Seeing that a female assistant was painting her nails red, he took her nail polish and painted it to the bottom of his creation.  Immediately, the shoe popped and he recalled thinking, "This is the drawing!"  So naturally, it was only a matter of time before Christian created this nail lacquer - even if it took 21 years!
The red sole was born from red nail polish.  I am giving back to nails what the shoe took from the nails many years ago.
~ Christian Louboutin
Rouge Louboutin Film by David Lynch:

UPDATE 07.25.14
Click here to read an exclusive InStyle interview with Christian Louboutin and to see the other nail colours in the collection.

Photo credits:

Friday, June 20, 2014

Tea with Miranda

As promised for Spring 2014, Miranda Kerr for Royal Albert is finally available for the U.S. after months of email subscribing, Instagram following, and patiently admiring!  I first posted about this much-anticipated launch back in March.  You can catch up here.

This new collection of porcelain teaware is a collaboration between Aussie supermodel / entrepreneur Miranda Kerr and Royal Albert, and is the most beautiful china pattern I have seen in a while.  For me, there is nothing more graciously beautiful than peonies and butterflies!  Oh and of course it is rimmed in gold (my bio on the right: "Loves and likes of my life: [...] Porcelain - new or old, must have gold!").

Here are some of my favorite pieces from the collection:
Friendship 3-Piece Tea Set
Friendship 5-Piece Place Setting
Friendship Teacup & Saucer

Items in this collection are currently 30% off retail prices.  Plus, Royal Albert is offering free shipping on all orders $50+ through August 31, 2014!  No codes are needed.

As part of their launch event, Royal Albert will be hosting a Twitter Party #TeaWithMiranda next Wednesday.  Be ready with your pinkies up!

Fancy a tea party?
Photo credits: Royal Albert

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Fekkai PrX Reparatives Mending Elixir

There are only three names I trust when it comes to my hair: Howard Hong, a dear friend who have been cutting my hair for more than 10 years; Guy Tang, the SoCal "hair activist" in West Hollywood with a cult following, famous for his magical ombre hair color; and Frédéric Fekkai, a world-renowned French celebrity hairstylist with a self-named line of luxury hair products.

Frédéric Fekkai
Many people have asked what do I use on my long hair to keep it healthly.  Given that I wash my hair then blowdry and curl it every ... single ... day, I carefully choose products that not only works well, but also smells great!  I need a shampoo that does not strip my hair of moisture, an effective conditioner that also serves as a detangler, and a leave-in treatment to protect from daily styling.

Since discovering Sephora in my teens, Fekkai's Glossing Cream made of olive oil has been one of my beauty staples.  I rub a pearl-sized amount of the cream into my towel-dried hair (concentrating on the ends, never the crown) before blowdrying and it makes combing through my wet hair more manageable.  Plus, it conditions and protects my hair against UV rays.

Until recently, I have discontinued using Fekkai's Glossing Cream.  Why?  Because they recently launched something better!

Introducing Frédéric Fekkai's new PrX Reparatives collection!
The PrX Reparatives collection consists of Shampoo, Conditioner, Mending Elixir, Intensive Fortifying Masque, 3 Day Transformation regime, and Crème Vanillée Hair Fragrance Mist.

I  just purchased my second bottle of the Mending Elixir (first one lasted about four months with daily use).  This "versatile oil treatment" contains Moroccan Argan Oil to moisturize, nourish, and repair hair to "glorious strength."  It is a light-weight oil that leaves hair shiny and smooth, never greasy or sticky.  Besides the preventative / reparative benefits, I absolutely love the bottle!  Afterall, I am a design-driven consumer and FIDM alumus.

The Mending Elixir comes in a blue glass bottle, shaped to resemble a droplet of water.  When the silver bottle cap twists open, it suctions the product into the built-in glass dropper.  There is a button on top of the silver cap which is revealed as the bottle twists open and when pressed, it dispenses the perfect amount of serum.  In my opnion, this is a genius packaging design.  It even looks good sitting on my bath vanity!

As I mentioned above, products I choose must smell great in additon to being effective.  The vanilla crème scent of the elixir is another thing I love about this product.  I usually do not prefer the warm scent of  vanilla musk in my cosmetics and fragrances (in desserts is fine).  However, this one pleasantly surprised me and is not overpowering.

Fekkai PrX Reparatives Mending Elixir
Photo credit:

In case you are curious or interested in trying the new collection for yourself, particularly the elixir, good news!  From now until Monday, June 23rd, Gilt City is offering 30% off purchases on!  When else have you seen a THIRTY-PERCENT OFF BEAUTY?!  To sweeten the deal, ground shipping is free on any order.  Spend $50 or more to receive samples, and orders $80 and above will receive a complimentary travel hairspray.  Simply click here and "buy" the deal.  Do not worry, getting the discount is completely free.  Gilt City will email you a voucher containing a unique coupon code once you click the "buy" button.  Redeem by June 30th!

Next products I plan to try from the collection are the shampoo and conditioner.  I am curious to see if it is good enough to replace my Shiseido Tsubaki Shining duo... stay tuned!

My good hair day!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

My First Christian Louboutins!

My love affair with Christian Louboutin has finally materialized into these: 100mm Geo Pumps in kid leather with patent captoe featuring Monsieur Louboutin's signature spikes.

For my first pair of Loubies, I wanted a classic silhouette suitable for work and play, but I was searching for something a bit different yet still tasteful. I love shoes with a captoe so when I saw these Geo Pumps, I knew they were my style - classics, because they were built on the Decollete 554 last, but with a kick!  Before I got these, one of my friend commented that they looked like weapons if you know where to kick a guy!

At first, I was undecided between these black ones and the gold captoe version. I have always preferred gold hardward on accessories, but the gold captoe version came in suede, which I found less versatile. Another reason I chose these all-black ones was because black is the core color of my wardrobe (although pink is my favorite color), and one can never go wrong with black. Afterall, Christian Louboutin's signature look is an all-black stiletto pump.

Christian Louboutin finally opened shop in San Francisco's Union Square district in downtown just three weeks ago on May 12th.  The 1,650-square-foot boutique, designed by 212Box of New York, is located at 29 Maiden Lane.  It is situated on the famous cobblestone pedestrian mall, home to great fashion houses such as Chanel, Gump's, Hermès, Marc Jacobs, Theory, TSE Cashmere, and Wolford among others.

I  rushed downtown after work because Christian Louboutin closes at 6:00 pm on weekdays; I probably arrived 15 minutes before closing.  When I approached the boutique, a gentleman by the name of Jeffrey Sim opened the glass door and invited me in (doors remain locked even during business hours, like fine jewelry stores).  I told him I was looking for the all-black Geo Pump and he asked which height. "100mm," I said.  I always do my research first and have a pretty good idea of what I want.

Jeff asked a lady to help locate my size in the stockroom.  I really did not expect them to have my size available since they only carry one size per shoe.  To my luck and surprise, she brought out a brand new box.  I carefully slipped on the pumps and walked around from the women's side of the boutique to the men's and back (there is a one-way mirror separating the two gender rooms, allowing women to view the men's lounge).  All the while, Jeff gave me space to try on the shoes and was never hovering over me.  He checked in with me occassionally and had answered all my questions with great expertise (he previously worked at Barney's).

I decided to take these shoes and as Jeff was preparing my purchase by tying it with a signature ribbon (I had the choice of either a red ribbon or the one with the Loubie shoes seen below), he asked if these were my first Louboutin's.  I told him yes they were and he said most girls choose the plain ones as their first pair so he was very excited for me.  I replied back with a smile, "Not this girl," then he said, "This may be your first pair, but I have a feeling you'll be back."

What came with the shoes: two dust bags (one per shoe),
extra heel tacks and spikes (in the smaller dust bags)

I have seen people bring slippers, flats, and sandals to work...

...I bring my Christian Louboutin's!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Monday Power Playlist

New month and it is now JUNE already?!  I feel as though much has taken place over the past several months, both in personal and work life; nothing bad though - just a lot going on.  From birthdays (April alone had five celebrations and there will be at least one birthday each month until end of the year), holidays (the unneglectable Mother's and Father's Day, the recent Memorial Weekend, and the upcoming July 4th), two college graduations next weekend plus one in December, and two weddings in the coming months this year.  Don't you agree that this is a lot of life events for 2014?

So here is my new Monday Power Playlist for June - powerful in beats, bass, and lyrics since I believe these songs share a common theme of life events. Feel free to turn up the volume as I do on the Bose in my car and at home!
  1. Birdy - Wings | This song will make you look back and reminisce
  2. Hurts - Stay | Who could ever refuse Theo's request to stay?
  3. Kleerup with Lykke Li - Until We Bleed | I can never get tired of these beats!
  4. Labrinth feat. Emeli Sandé - Beneath Your Beautiful | Because you're beautiful
  5. Lianne La Havas - Elusive | Aren't many things in life elusive?
  6. Nico & Vinz - Am I Wrong | We are never wrong for our wants and desires
  7. Phantogram - When I'm Small | Great rythm to this electronic song
  8. Rihanna - What Now | We all have those moments...
  9. Sam Smith - Stay With Me | Sam is like the new Ed Sheeran for me
  10. Raign - Don't Let Me Go | The most powerful song of this list, from The Vampire Diaries' Season 5 episode 21 "Promised Land" when Stephan's heart is ripped out and dies!
All I can give you is memories
Carry them with you and I'll never leave...
~ Raign

Monday, May 12, 2014

Ralph Lauren Pet Polo

If you do not know or have not noticed already, I have a pet cat.  He is a seven-year-old American Short-Hair tabby, adopted from a ranch ("Don't breed or buy while other animals die!") - chosen from the litter by my mum for his white neck, paws, and feet!  I named him Maki for to the M-shape on his forehead and his mackerel tabby coat.

Words cannot describe how much I adore him or what he means to me.  I believe WE are the lucky ones to have him, although I must admit he lives a pretty good and spoiled life: Fancy Feast Medley canned food, strictly filtered water, unlimited supply of Greenies - his favorite treat, daily massages, a queen-sized W Hotel pillow-top bed, and unconditional love from the family!  I also believe that Maki, or animals and pets in general, deserve the very best.  Pets enrich people's lives and should be for life!

So besides food, treats, toys, good litter, what else do I get my precious Maki?  Fashionable clothing and accessories, of course!  He has bow ties, t-shirts, and costumes, but the most recent item I purchased for him: a Ralph Lauren Big Pony Pet Polo Shirt!

Always remember to gift box purchases from RL!

Yes, it is personalized with embroidery ... Yes, he is wearing pink ... and
Yes, he is too ADORABLE in this Ralph Lauren Big Pony polo shirt (not only for dogs)!

Maki is wearing RL's pet polo in Bright Neon Pink in size medium,
embroidery color and font is Oasis Green and Legacy, respectively.

The perfect model CATizen!
You Have My Whole Heart
For My Whole Life

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mum's the Word

For the ladies in my life:
Grandmum, Mum, and Godmum...

Two phalaenopsis heart-shaped orchids and a gardenia bonsai tree
All love begins and ends here.
~ Robert Browning

Friday, May 9, 2014

Deal of the Day: Motif Investing

"Stop picking stocks.  Start picking ideas."
It may seem that this is an unusual post coming from me, but actually, I find this company and its latest headline news very interesting.  Let me first briefly introduce this idea of investing by motifs:

Based in San Mateo, California, Motif Investing was established by Tariq Hilaly and Hardeep Walia in 2010.  Backed by Foundation Capital, Norwest Venture Partners, Ignition Partners, and Goldman Sachs, Motif Investing escapes the conventional method of investing in the stock market.  Their online brokerage platform lets you invest in a collection of companies grouped together as an idea, called Motifs.  Examples of Professional Motifs include 3D Printing (one year return ↑ 5.8%), Biotech Breakthroughs (↑ 29.1%), Black Gold (↑ 10.7%), Chinese Solar (↑ 95.8%), Cleantech Everywhere (↑ 41.4%), Modern Warfare (↑ 49.9%), Online Gaming World (↑ 40.3%), and even Seven Deadly Sins (↑ 22.1% - because "Even In A Weak Economy, Bad Habits Remain").  There is also the freedom of building a new or customizing a current Motif to try and beat the benchmark.  If that is too much of a numbers game, there is yet another option of choosing Community Created Motifs.  So what is the price of investing in a portfolio of up to 30 stocks?  $250 minimum per Motif plus $9.95 commission.

Since their founding four years ago, Motif Investing has caught the attention of major media outlets such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal., Bloomberg Television, CNBC, The Motley Fool, and Forbes.  Yesterday, they made another headline news.  Motif Investing has raised $35 million in their Series D funding from Wicklow Capital, Balderton Capital, and the nation's largest bank: JPMorgan Chase, totaling seven prominent backers and $86 million in four funding rounds.

What this means for Motif Investing:
  1. A huge vote of confidence and boost in credibility
  2. Exposure to Chase's enormous client base
  3. Technological advancement into a wealth management platform
  4. Beginning of global expansion (keep reading)
Board of directors include former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt and Sallie Krawcheck, former CEO of Merrill Lynch (Bank of America) and Smith Barney (Citigroup).  With the new venture capital funding to include UK-based Balderton Capital, general partner Tim Bunting will help Motif Investing to expand its operations to the United Kingdom and Europe.  Bunting has also been added as a board advisor.

Furthermore, the funding will aid in the launch of a new wealth management product for its retail investors and advisors.  The Motif Advisor Platform will allow financial advisors to manage the accounts of their clients under one interface for a flat-rate of $20 to $50, dependent on asset sizes.

There is no better time to begin diversifying your stock portfolio and chase that next big idea with Motif Investing.  Get $100 instantly when you open a new account and place a motif trade.  Simply sign up using my personalized link, plus you will be helping me earn $100 too!

Online stocks broker: Motif Investing
Hardeep Walia announcing latest funding found on CNBC: