Dec 21, 2015

The poppy dress

I was roaming around Le Bon Marché a few Paris visits ago having no luck finding anything I wanted in my size. I had just about given up but stopped by the Stella McCartney section to have a look. You know me and how I am mostly allergic to print and color, but something came over me and I found myself attracted to this dress and the idea of wanting to dress more my age (whatever that means). I had immediate buyer's remorse but couldn't bring myself to walk back to the counter to return it. So I kept the darn thing even though it's nowhere near seasonally appropriate at the moment in NY. I took the opportunity to wear it in Hong Kong and the lush greens there made a nice backdrop for it.

Stella McCartney Dress (cheapest online here) // Common Projects Sneakers

Shot at The Upper House.

Dec 17, 2015

Light and shadow

When you get a super last-minute, rare chance to borrow a Cartier diamond bracelet from the √Čtourdissant collection to photograph, you call up your favorite hand model and try your best to capture the magic and allure of it. Of course, nothing beats seeing and touching the beauty in person. I think I'm still a bit mesmerized by that piece.

Dec 10, 2015

70 Degrees in December

Hello from Hong Kong, where the weather is fiiii-ine. I've been running around today in this outfit and snapping photos on my new-to-me Leica M6 (!!). More to come, but in the meantime, follow along on Snapchat (@alice_gao) for more snippets of my trip.

Schott x The Line Leather Jacket // Everlane Striped Tee (love the cropped cut of this one) // Acne Jeans // Everlane Flats (these have become such good walking shoes!) // Sunglasses // Lipstick

Dec 9, 2015

Ferragamo Signature

Timing is everything, isn’t it? I was browsing the Liberty store in London when I got a ping from Shini asking if I would happen to be available to cover for a shoot that very day because she was sick as a dog. Sure I only had my Sony and one not-quite-fully-charged battery with me, but I was up for the challenge and grateful for the chance to do some work while traveling on vacation. The plan was to show up at a film set for Salvatore Ferragamo and capture some behind the scenes. Cool, great, let’s do it.

That short film was just released yesterday at an event that represented the culmination of Ferragamo’s 100 Years 100 Days digital cycle, which highlighted the anniversary of Salvatore Ferragamo’s arrival in Hollywood and the beginning of his love affair with cinema. The inspiration behind the film was to showcase all that has changed and all that has remained constant in the world of cinema, Hollywood, and Salvatore Ferragamo, while also highlighting the House's debut Signature eyewear and timepiece collections with the Gancio (the iconic signature House emblem). The two stars, Elettra Wiedemann and Ethan Peck, are respectively the grandchildren of Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck (I mean, wow). The film shows that what has changed is that we’ve all become the directors and stars of our own movies in the world of social media, but what has remained constant are the beauty, attraction, and relationship tensions that fill these stories.

I always love seeing how things (particularly photos and movies) are made, especially to geek out over the technical aspects. Some may think it takes the magic out of the experience of the final product, but to me, it actually enhances it. In this particular scene/angle, we follow a frozen moment in time during the climax of the film.

(P.S. I also took a little video of the action if you're interested!)

Dec 7, 2015


Well, I finally caved into the lace-up flat trend. I had been resisting forever and though I'm usually all about buying the "original" starter of a trend (which I think in this case were the Aquazzura Christy flats), I didn't love the how high the back part of that particular flat went. Also, the price point made me shy away. I was, however, fond of the price point and lower back heel of The Brezza flat by M. Gemi. I remember seeing the style pop up a while back and sell out like hotcakes. When I saw recently that the style had come back, I didn't hesitate this time around. When I unboxed them, the first thing I noticed was the quality – which made it feel like a more expensive shoe; and the shape of the toe (another thing I'm terribly picky about) – which was just the right amount of pointy. Plus they fit true to size.

Another fun option if black is too boring for you.

Dec 4, 2015

Wrist candy and a cheerful planner

The purchase of this 2016 planner was probably the most effortless way to add some color in my life recently. The cheery yellow really does make me a little happier, as silly as it sounds. But I love all of Smythson's products and it's hard to choose just one color for a planner. (If you're looking for a 2016 planner still, this slightly bigger desk version is on sale in the always amazing cobalt blue.) Yes, they're a bit splurge-y but if you actually use it for the full year, your cost per use is, like, less than $1 a day. ;) But in addition to its practical use, it's just a really beautiful desk object, and I'm a sucker who's always willing to pay a premium for that.

I rarely wear anything with my Love bracelet since it's elegant on its own (oh, and I'm lazy), but I've been having fun with this little trio recently. I get a lot of questions about where this clover bracelet is from, and for the longest time I couldn't find it online anymore. It looks like it's back though! I think of it like a little good luck charm. The Celine knot bracelet isn't usually purchasable online, but you can find a pretty killer deal on one here (I mean, damn I wish I had seen that). For a similar alternative, Kate Spade makes a great one for under $100. Also on my paws is the classic "Scarlet" by RGB.

On an unrelated note, I'm heading to Seoul in the upcoming weeks and would love to hear any recommendations if you have any. Shops, eats, coffee, museums – all of that would be great!

Dec 2, 2015

Last bits of London

I don't know how I'm still editing and posting photos from London (I mean I was only there for five real days), but I think this is the last of it! I had always wanted to stay at the EDITION in London and was so happy to get a small taste of it – I would have loved to stay for more than a night, but I planned too last minute and they were fully booked. It's a beautifully designed hotel with an impressive lobby and perfect moody lighting in the rooms (and all those textures!). We had snacks and drinks in the lobby around one of the fireplaces on a chilly night – it doesn't get much cozier than that.

And for a happy belly, don't miss these three restaurants below!

Nov 30, 2015

Blues and teals

Sorry for the lamest blog post title ever – I was hoping the color of the seamless paper I used here had a really cool name, but no, just "teal." I wanted to share a few outtakes from David Yurman's Aluminate Your Look campaign that I shot a little while ago. Featured here is the aluminum bracelet in blue. I stacked two with another simple bracelet from the Renaissance collection.

Worn with Joseph Coat (50% off here in the navy/black colorway) // Cami // Valentino Culottes (similar here and 40% off)

Nov 27, 2015

Leaving the big city

...And entering Bath, a small town in the southwest of England characterized by its 18th-Century Georgian architecture and use of Bath stone (and overall calming beauty). The idea of road-tripping to Bath was planted in my mind long before I even booked my London tickets. After all, when Shini asks if you want to drive over there in a Jaguar F-Type (borrowed, of course), you don't really think twice about it. And so the plan was hatched. Though we hit a few snags, we were eventually on our way, chips – I mean, crisps – in hand, music blaring, testing the acceleration on that bad boy.

A visit to Cereal founders Rosa and Rich's flat in Bath made me want to rip everything apart in my own apartment and start anew. If there were a list of people I admire both professionally and personally, they would be at the top of that list. God I sound like such a fan girl huh (if you watched Shini's snapchat that day, you may have seen me melting into their wall wailing about how amazing everything was)? But really, I love their taste, thoughtfulness about everything they do, and ability to keep their brand so consistent and cohesive no matter what they're working on.

We stayed for a night at The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa. Though we arrived late and had to leave early, we took advantage of the property as much as we possibly could, starting with a nightcap at The Montagu Bar, squeezing in an early morning dip at the indoor pool in some peaceful moody light, and of course grabbing a breakfast at the Dower House Restaurant on the grounds. The tea list is impressive here, so don't miss out on that if you happen to be passing through Bath. I wish I could have done a proper afternoon tea, but it'll be something to look forward to for the next time.

I didn't want to leave Bath so soon, but big city calls.

(P.S. These crazy pants I'm wearing are now on sale!)

Nov 20, 2015

The Laslett

I spent one night in Notting Hill at The Laslett – I arrived much too late at night and had to leave much too early in the morning to really explore the neighborhood but I absolutely loved the 'smart charm' (is that even a real phrase?) and details of the hotel. This was supposed to be my London Part 2 post, but had too many photos of the hotel I wanted to share, so I guess this is a quick Part 2 Part 1?

Nov 18, 2015

Elizabeth Suzann

New in: A few goodies courtesy of Elizabeth Suzann (remember my visit to her studio in this behemoth Nashville post?). Since then, I've loved seeing what she has up her sleeve every season.

Get the look: Cocoon Duster // Cecilia Pant // Marlena Tank (Worn with this cami and this necklace)

Nov 16, 2015

Nicole Patel

When I first came across Nicole Patel's beautiful grid work (via Rosa of Cereal), I immediately felt a sense of calm. I wanted more. I exclaimed to anyone who might care and showed them her pieces, "I love this artist's work!" I was drawn to photos of her home in Nyack as well, which gave me a similar calm feeling. Clearly she knew a thing or two about interiors as well. We eventually started chatting and connected in real life. When Nicole came over one day to talk about doing a piece for me, I gave her the "grand tour" of my apartment and basically begged for organizing advice (if you saw the insides of my closets, you'd understand why). I recently had the chance to visit her home and studio, and I left feeling incredibly inspired by Nicole's thoughtfulness about her work, approach, and intentions. I hope you'll also enjoy this conversation with her.

How did you get started in your current series of work?

My current series is a collection of Bridges. It originated many months ago when I saw the documentary about the architect Sir Norman Foster. The Millau Viaduct in France was featured and the first sight of it inspired me immensely. It is a mastery of structure, sweeping and expansive, made up of a simple shift of equal line weights. I was simultaneously seeking to simulate what I love about blueprints within my work, and I began working with a Sky Blue Japanese Merino thread for its color and heathered line quality. Eventually after enough time, the Bridge manifested, and it held a space for that undulating grace that I longed to emulate.

Who/what are your biggest inspirations?

When I think about what my biggest inspiration is on a daily basis, my intention is to help people in some way. When I was studying fine art at University I had an inkling to be an art therapist. Later in life I developed my own company called Homework. I worked as a holistic interior designer. It was essentially home organizing and interior design, with an aim to optimize people’s quality of life by clarifying their home. Eventually I grew into working as a fine artist doing the work I am known for now, but my objective remains the same – helping people feel a sense of peace and clarity in their home by holding a space for simplicity.

What are your favorite materials to work with?

I tend to gravitate towards materials that are in some way pure. That largely becomes natural materials such as cotton, wool and marble, but it also includes plaster. So more than natural materials, I enjoy working with materials that are the foundation for other art forms. The muslin, for example, is the blank canvas of fashion, marble the bedrock of classical sculpture, plaster used in casting clay, etc. Someone likened my work to the experience of perusing a stationery store and selecting a notebook, holding so much possibility in those blank pages, and that is indeed what I want to offer – that unadulterated potential that a given material holds.

What influences your interior aesthetic? And what were you trying to achieve when putting together your workspace?

I am always working to turn down visual noise, and the furnishing is simple enough to be a platform for the daily activities. I continually transition from working on my art to being a mom, to housekeeping, and to administrative tasks throughout the day. They are all in the same space, so there is no boundary between my work and the rest of my life and I think that's how I'm most productive.

What kind of state of mind are you in when you're actively creating and putting together your grids?

Seeking – if it's a new piece or style I am seeking something, a fine line between what I feel appeals to both the intellect and the spirit. I always try several iterations and let them percolate. I live with them to understand their presence. They need to be understated and attractive, and also have enduring appeal.

Do some of the grids happen spontaneously or do you pre-plan all of them?

I have decide to produce my work in limited editions of twelve. So sometimes I have to stick to the plan and recreate a formula, which is possible but challenging for me. As an artist, once I have the foundation laid out, I set out on a journey but always want to take a new scenic route! So often times when I am intending to repeat myself I follow my intuition instead and new piece is born. It reminds me of one winter I was making a chicken soup for some friends who were visiting. I had the classic ingredients and then some, and my mind thought to make numerous alternative versions. I began to say to myself, “Just make the soup, just make the soup." I followed through with a most classic version and when my guest tasted it he remarked that it reminded him of his Jewish grandmother’s chicken soup. It was one of the best compliments I've had on my cooking, and I was so happy I stayed on task!

Can you share some of your favorite books for inspiration?

John Pawson by Deyan Sudjic and Bruce Chatwin, Belgian Architects and Their Houses by Diane Hendrix and Muriel Verbist, The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse by Red Pine

A few places you can find or purchase Nicole's work: Nalata Nalata (in the physical store), Cereal's online shop, and C'H'C'M. And of course you can contact Nicole directly via her website for pieces.

Nov 10, 2015

Oh, London

London was always one of those cities I had assumed I'd visit effortlessly and at any ol' time, but after visiting Paris an embarrassing number of times and still no London up to this point, I decided it was time to change that. I had also assumed I'd love London easily, and I was right. Though I could do without the crazy queuing up for meals and crazy short days (and I thought sunset in NY was early!), I thought it was a beautiful city and kind of had the best elements of NY and Paris in one. I rounded up some of the places and neighborhoods I visited in the first few days and will hopefully follow-up with a part two; otherwise, this header here will be somewhat awkward. I'll let the below photos and captions do the talking!

Outfit one: Old Stella McCartney Jacket (similar) // Rivet & Thread Jeans // Equipment Sweater // Common Project Sneakers // Chloe Bag

Outfit two: J. Crew Coat // Men's Everlane Sweater // Old Black Pants (similar) // Acne Boots // Hermes Halzan Bag

Oct 29, 2015

In search of wonderland

While searching for the Wonderland Trail on Mount Desert Island in Maine, we stumbled upon the Ship Harbor Trail instead. It didn't look like much from the road, but we ventured on with little expectations and certainly not prepared for the hidden beauty at the end of the trail. Utterly breathtaking. I don't have the words to describe how magical it all was at sunset and dusk. I actually had a stomach flu that was particularly nasty that day, but it was all momentarily forgotten while standing on those rocks.

I am already dreaming of going back.

Outfit details: Cotton Sweater // Jeans (60% off) // Backpack // Sneakers

Oct 25, 2015

Shades of brown

A 100% cashmere turtleneck sweater for under $100 – yes I'll take them all please. You can't really argue with that (hat tip to K for sharing her find with me!). Of course, I don't expect any miracles from such affordable cashmere but since much of my $$$ cashmere still ends up pilling, I'd much rather deal with it at this price point. I admit, I'm still mostly loyal to Everlane's cashmere collection and particularly love the cropped crew, but I liked this particular shade of brown I was able to get in the Uniqlo version.

Here, I'm wearing the warmest Yak skirt from Hermes I splurged on last year (this sweater skirt gets across a similar idea), these shiny new boots, and this trusty shade of red I mentioned a few posts back.