I have always dreamed of going to N.Y.C. Fashion Week, and while I have had opportunities to go, the scheduling Gods have just never been with me on this one. The second best thing to being there is to live vicariously through Tommy Lei of My Belonging. He describes himself as a Styleteller, and I love his style stories. He was born in Hong Kong but is based in L.A., although he is a globetrotter and often comes to N.Y.C. Definitely more fashion-forward than I am, he inspires me to be bold and step out of my self-imposed fashion boundaries once in a while.
Here are his stories from Fashion Week.
1. What is your background and how did you get to be a "regular" at Fashion Week?
My name is Tommy Lei, the Styleteller behind MYBELONGING -- a high-fashion menswear and personal lifestyle site with an emphasis on intimate dining experiences and travel. I initially started it as an outlet to provide more meaning towards investment items in relation to personal style and identity -- hence the name MYBELONGING. That's how I pretty much came to be a regular at New York Fashion Week the past three (now four) seasons.
2. Tell me about your trip from L.A. to N.Y.C. -- red eye? No red eye? What airline do you like? What are your tips for traveling in style? And where do you like to stay in N.Y.C.?
I typically prefer non-red eye flights, because I want to feel rested on an actual bed in preparation for the busy days ahead. Virgin America is definitely my airline of choice; Delta and JetBlue are a close second. It's so crucial to invest in stylish but functional travel gear, especially when you travel often. My go-to brands this time around are Ghurka (high-end), Bric's (luxe) and Kao Pao Shu (modern) -- all great bags depending on your budget. In terms of accommodations, I prefer boutique hotels that offer world-class service with stunning interiors yet still deliver an intimate, cozy experience. That's why I went with the Sofitel NYC for my stay. It completely exceeded my expectations on every level.
3. Who are you most excited to see during Fashion Week?
I was most excited to see Perry Ellis (they just named Michael Maccari as their new creative director). The past two seasons has indicated the brand's ascent to its former glory. And this season was no different -- the clothes that came down the runway were incredibly tailored and possessed enough depth for any sartorial personality.
4. Who did you discover you love that you did not know about?
Landeros by Andres Michel Landeros, an N.Y.C.-based designer who is a Parsons grad. His FW15 collection completely took my breath away. It was dark, mysterious and broody but with a visceral elegance punctuated by sensuous textures and silhouettes. Simply sublime.
5. What do you hate about Fashion Week?
I'll be completely frank here: The timing of the shows. It's either too early, or wedged in between too many other shows/appointments. And, in light of this current season, I'd also add Uber's surge pricing onto this list.
6. What did you wear this week?
Quite similar to what I had worn last season: My fashion week default brands are mostly Acne Studios, KTZ, G-Star RAW, Saint Laurent and Tom Ford.
Accessories-wise, I wore a backpack from Ghurka, a Kao Pao Shu clutch and Lura sunglasses.
7. What is the thinking process behind your outfits?
It's quite simple actually -- I go with my gut instinct. I believe a lot of people will tell you that they get inspired by magazine and style icons; I sincerely believe the most authentic personal style comes from those unplanned, spontaneous moments that reflect your mood and how you want to present yourself to the world. It doesn't have to be expensive or a replica of a how-to style column to look good. Always choose to listen to your inner voice and let it come from the heart.
8. What's the best thing about being a fashion blogger in today's digital landscape?
First and foremost, our most loyal group of readers and audiences -- we wouldn't be here without them. The next best thing would be the camaraderie amongst fellow bloggers and tastemakers -- there is an immediate feeling of acceptance and understanding in the community that makes fashion more accessible than ever before. On top of that, it is truly amazing working first-hand with brands that you've always admired by providing constructive feedback in a receptive and collaborative way.
Ada Polla is the Founder and CEO of Alchimie Forever skincare.