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Where to Shop in Chengdu



Thanks to a fashion industry blossoming not just with luxury brands but also with concept boutiques, Chengdu has some of the most sophisticatedly eclectic street style in China. We talked to Alex Wu, chief “City Insider” at the ultra-stylish Niccolo Chengdu (pictured above),  about where to find the stores that are doing something different. All walking distance from the hotel, here are four. 

By Gabrielle Lipton

Dressing for Fun

A showroom-like space designed by a former OMA architect, Dressing for Fun was opened in 2012 by Stephy Ai and Sophie Xiong, strong believers that style shouldn’t be taken seriously—as indicated by the store’s core brand, London’s boundary-pushing wunderking J.W. Anderson, whose exclusive DFF collection is only stocked here. The store is filled with some 20 designers, all of whom march to their own offbeat drums. Minju Kim’s rabbit-eared shoes sit next to racks of Keisuke Kanda’s Chanel-inspired A-line suits made of sweatshirt fabric, and by the register, a white carousel spins with jewelry lodged in light bulbs hung like ornaments from the tent top. Nearby, a Murakami plush pillow smiles, its rainbow petals mirroring the shop’s rainbow-colored logo (24 Ganhuishu St.; 86-28/8760-9477;


Products on display at Dressing For Fun.

Sihe Four

Hard to find but worth the search, this womenswear boutique only stocks high-end Chinese designers, many of whom are making waves in the international fashion scene. From Ran Fan are pieces of exclusively natural fabrics, such as shiny silk covered in pointillist dots; Ricostru, meanwhile, focuses on high-tech fabrics such as sheet-thin, while Chictopia frocks incorporate laser-cut embellishments, 1970s-esque tropical motifs, and classic Chinese silhouettes for a look equal parts girly and Shanghai dame. There’s an air of perfectionism about the whole place—the could-be-models staff included—with an undercurrent of a woman who’s never quite satisfied. No one, after all, dons one of Evening’s corset-top black dresses if they aren’t aiming for something more (Xiao Ke Jia Lane 1, Top City No. 2; 86-28/8113-4501).

Triple-Major Chengdu

It speaks volumes that China’s most famous concept store decided to open its third outpost after Beijing and Shanghai here, on a shady street lined with noodle shops and teahouses. Look for textured silk pieces gracefully splattered with multicolored ink by Anntian and Walter van Beirendonck pullovers sporting the designer’s Picasso-like self-portraits (13 S. Sishengci St.; 86-28/8695-0521;

Fang Suo Commune

Best known as a bookstore, Fang Suo Commune is also the brainchild of clothing designer Mao Jihong, with a wealth of space devoted to accessories, lifestyle goods, and fashion. An entire afternoon could be spent examining the tables lined down the center of the main space, gathering grounds for cultish small brands from around the world. There are the sculptural cowhide bags from Côte & Ciel; gorgeous fountain pens from Simplex to use with those distinctive orange Rhodia notebooks; and neutral-toned, loose-fitting wears from Jihong’s own brand Exception de Mixmind (Taikoo Li, 8 Middle Shamao St.; 86-28/8658-6858).

This article originally appeared in the August/September print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“A Cut Above”).

Style File: Narrative Made

“Slow fashion” may also be slow to gain momentum, but Narrative Made, a Hong Kong-based brand that recently debuted with a Fall/Winter 2016 collection, is the perfect poster child for all it can and should be. Created by Central Saint Martins graduate Sharon de Lyster, whose brief career as a trend forecaster introduced her to crafts-making communities in rural parts of Asia, Narrative Made is as much about what you can’t see as the gorgeous things you can. The blue of the watery ripples on cropped pants dyed with the Japanese arashi shibori technique comes from Bangladeshi indigo, the fermented discharge of which is then used as an all-natural fertilizer in farming communities. Cuffs on silk button-ups are cross-stitched with chili-flower designs in Guizhou by artisans from the Miao tribe, whose only form of a written language is embroidered motifs, and the ikat that appears as trim throughout the collection is all upcycled. Like a good narrative, each piece has a character and timeline—three weeks for Kai Jin to hand pleat a midi skirt, say, or two months for Moslema to quilt a scarf—along with the commendable mission of keeping these traditions alive at fair wages. But these are not artifacts to stow away. Wrap dresses that double as jackets and butter-soft, floor-length silk overcoats are nothing if not city-ready. —Gabrielle Lipton

This article originally appeared in the June/July print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Maker’s Marks”).

The Peninsula Puts Legendary Artisans Under the Spotlight

Throughout the month of June, the history and craftsmanship of some of the world’s most iconic  luxury brands will take center stage at The Peninsula Hotel’s Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai properties. Under the theme “Legendary Artisans”, a series of exclusive collection launches, store animations, and culinary events will take place at each hotel’s Arcade, a dedicated space within the properties’ premises with a long history of housing a fine selection of leading fashion and jewelry houses.

Among those participating in the campaign is London-based jeweler Graff, which will have its iconic Butterfly timepiece collection showcased across the three hotels, while Harry Winston will see an exclusive preview of its 2016 Basel pieces (which are not typically revealed in the region until later in the year) and a demonstration of the making of its feather collection.

Aside from simultaneous exhibitions, each property is also slated to host its own series of exclusive programs. At The Peninsula Hong Kong, whose Arcade became the first home to some of the world’s high-end brands after it opened in 1940, leather goods maker Goyard will be debuting an exclusive “Peninsula Edition” Bourget trolley suitcase, while an exclusive afternoon tea session by the hotel’s own culinary experts will be held in partnership with Tiffany & Co. At The Peninsula Beijing’s  25-year-old Arcade, Italian luxury goods brand Bulgari will dazzle visitors with a month-long high-jewelry exhibition, and at The Peninsula Shanghai, the sessions  includes a showcase of 10 limited edition Peninsula Franck Muller watches, which will be exclusively launched and sold at the property.

For guests wanting to stay longer to immerse themselves in the “Legendary Artisans” experience, a special package is available in Hong Kong starting US$1,119, which comes with a 20 percent shopping privilege at The Peninsula Boutique, a round-trip hotel transfer on a Rolls Royce, daily breakfast for two, and a set dinner for two at either the Spring Moon or Felix. In Shanghai, a special suite experience starts at US$950 per night, with additional privileges including daily breakfast, an 80-minute spa treatment, round-trip airport transfers, and an afternoon tea session.

The “Legendary Artisans” campaign will run from June 1 to 30.

For more information, visit Peninsula.

W’s Swimwear Capsule Collection Gets Electric

Despite limited shape and size, the right swimsuit can really pack a punch. Case in point: W Hotels & Resorts’ latest fashion collaboration with Australian swimwear brand We Are Handsome. Known for their fierce, wildlife-inspired designs—Beyoncé owns one of their panther-adorned suits—the husband-and-wife team behind the brand’s statement poolside attire translated the aquatic exoticism of W’s Asia-Pacific retreats into a pair of swimming trunks for men and a scoop-back one-piece for women, printed with a fluorescent image of plankton and jellyfish floating in a starry night sky. Night swimming, apparently, looks quite chic in the light of day. Gabrielle Lipton

This article originally appeared in the April/May print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“In the Swim”).

3 Indonesian Fashion Designers to Know Now

A trio of young designers in Jakarta are putting a new spin on Indonesia’s age-old textile traditions.

By Brooke Grebert-Craig
Photographs by Haruns Maharbina

Visit any part of Indonesia, and you’re likely to find a fabric still being created the same way it has been for centuries. From batiks printed with intricate patterns to imaginatively woven ikats, textiles are among the country’s most highly developed art forms, used for everything from wedding clothes and sacrificial offerings to office uniforms and interior design. But in the bustling capital of Jakarta, the past few years have seen Indonesian textiles make their way into a different realm—that of contemporary fashion and streetwear—thanks to a batch of young, local designers embracing and reimagining them in cool new ways.

The Sanskrit word purana means “ancient” or “old,” but 37-year-old Nonita Respati is reinterpreting it in a glamorous homage to Indonesian batik in her 2007-founded womenswear brand Purana. As a young girl, Nonita watched her mother and grandmother make batik fabrics the traditional Javanese way, painstakingly applying wax to keep underlying patterns from being dyed, exposing the fabrics to sunlight to fully develop the colors of their natural dyes, and placing them with pandan leaves in the cupboard to impart a nutty, botanical fragrance. Nonita carries on these practices today while blending them with bold colors, soft cuts, and contemporary patterns for a stylish mix of the old and the new.

After working as a fashion editor for eight years, Nonita burst onto Indonesia’s design scene when she showed her first collection, Retro Batik, at Jakarta Fashion Week in 2011. It received rave reviews for its rich tones of green and orange and geometric patterns that looked straight from the 1960s but were created with batik techniques. Since then, Purana has acquired a loyal fan base that ranges from teenagers to women in their sixties, who shop for the looks online or at a by-appointment boutique in the South Jakarta neighborhood of Guntur, which doubles as Nonita’s workshop.

I meet her here one afternoon. It’s a vibrant space, with colonial-style floor tiles and racks of colorful silk garments hanging on the walls and manikins. As for Nonita herself, she epitomizes Indonesia’s modern urban generation: hard-working, connected, and stylish, with long dark hair flowing over her black blouse. “I always try to innovate with new patterns and colors,” she says as she shows me a jacket striped with tie-dyed colors. It’s from her most recent collection, Arashibori, which mixes batik-printed garments with pieces made using the arashi shibori dying technique that streaks colors across the fabric like water ripples or driving rain. Although the technique is Japanese, its aquatic effect is a nod to the seas of the Indonesian archipelago, one of the continual inspirations and themes in her collections. She’s a self-proclaimed hardcore diver and often chooses palettes that conjure the dreamy hues of coral reefs. “Underwater, you see these beautiful color combinations that you never see on land,” she explains, recalling her 2014 Dots collection, which featured contrasting colors often seen in marine life—rich blues and purples against blazing oranges and yellows, curved together in ocean-like bubbles and swirls.

“When I have something in mind, I draw up a rough sketch and send it to a workshop in Yogyakarta that makes my fabrics,” Nonita continues, explaining her design process. “We go back and forth, as the color has to be right, and the size of the pattern has to be right. It takes one or two weeks to get the perfect mock-up, then we mass-produce the fabric, which is sent here and I begin to work with my pattern-maker.” Her final silhouettes share some resemblances to batik as it is traditionally worn—tucked to create drapes and pleats, devoid of beads and buttons so that the pattern’s full beauty is seen, but they’re more contemporary, often asymmetrical and loose-fitting, and made of fabrics like silk, cotton, and twill that are comfortable and lightweight. “Batik should be preserved—its culture, function, the important message that each batik expresses.” But preservation requires attracting a younger audience, and her trendy interpretations do just that.

2 New Design Stores Not to Miss in Singapore

For many reasons, the Lion City has recently blossomed as Southeast Asia’s lifestyle design den, not least because an increasing number of homegrown designers are doing great things. Luckily for Singapore-bound shoppers, two of them just opened neighboring stores on Beach Road: Supermama (No. 265) and Scene Shang (No. 263). Look to the former (pictured below) for its playful porcelain and glassware collections glazed and etched with local landmarks and motifs, and to the latter for its canvas cushion covers featuring the city’s most famous Art Deco buildings and furnishings with contemporized Ming dynasty lines. Gabrielle Lipton

This article originally appeared in the April/May print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Setting Things Strait”).

Leica Launches Its First Adventure Camera

German camera manufacturer Leica has recently launched its first-ever adventure camera, marking the brand’s foray into the growing market of all-terrain travel gears. Named the Leica X-U, the 16 megapixel camera comes with all the fine qualities one can expect from the historical brand, but with an added ability to take amazing shots in unusual circumstances. Whether exploring Raja Ampat’s rich underwater biodiversity or going on desert safaris in Dubai, the camera is easily a photography enthusiast’s best bet to taking beautiful high-quality photographs during an adventure-packed holiday.

Not only is the camera water-resistant (users can take it as deep as 15 meters underwater for up to 60 minutes), it is also dust-resistant, enabling it to work in sandy terrains. What’s more, the device also comes with the ability to take snapshots in extreme temperatures, built to endure in 0 to 40 degrees Celsius weather. Beyond pictures, the camera is equipped with a full HD video function, allowing users to record moving images at 30 full frames per second in an MP4 video format, with a choice of 1920 x 1080 or 1280 x 720 pixel resolution.

For more information, visit Leica

Cartography at Its Coolest in this Map Book

Consider the notion of maps as magnifying glasses, held up to examine certain places, cultures, or moments in time. In Map: Exploring the World, Phaidon editor Victoria Clarke has compiled fascinating forms of this function: communicative maps made of clay and bark; maps of the brain, flight paths, and the different lava flows of 27 Mount Vesuvius eruptions. Among the 300 maps spanning more than 3,000 years, here’s what you won’t find: directions (US$59). —Gabrielle Lipton

This article originally appeared in the February/March print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Off the Carte”).

A Hands-free, Hassle-free Smart Suitcase

Smart suitcases have been popping up left and right throughout 2015, but Israeli-based NUA Robotics is looking to offer something different to the game: a hands-free luggage that will move alongside its user once activated using a corresponding smartphone app. Gone are the days of running around the airport with one hand on your luggage handle, as the futuristic suitcase is equipped with a proximity detection feature that allows it to travel at the owner’s pace while avoiding obstacles along the way.  The carry-on is also packed with a handful of features, such as its own weight trackers, a GPS, an anti-theft alarm, a charging station, and a pull-out handle to be used while in manual mode. At a later stage in the testing phase, more improvements will be added to the luggage, including enhancements to the rechargeable battery’s capactiy (it currently lasts between 60- to 90-minutes per charge), as well as its speed limit. While its retail price is yet to be determined, co-founder and CEO Alex Libman says the suitcase will be ready for purchase in approximately one year.

For more Information, visit NUA Robotics

Olympia Le-Tan Looks to Japan

Fashionistas after an erudite look are oft seen clutching one of Olympia Le-Tan’s cult-collected “book” purses and minaudières, hand-embroidered with classic covers like The Great Gatsby. But when the Parisian designer heard that her beloved Hotel Okura in Tokyo was being closed for demolition, she mourned the loss in Sentimental Journey, her latest collection and ode to Japan. Among the new stitches are Akutagawa’s Rashomon and Kawabata’s Thousand Cranes, along with Hello Kitty paraphernalia and Polaroids from artist Nobyushi Araki that nod to Le-Tan’s appreciation for kinbaku, or Japanese bondage ( from US$940). —Gabrielle Lipton

This article originally appeared in the December/January print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“By the Book”)