Hey, Been Tryin’ to Meet You

by Valerie on Monday, March 26, 2012

Two years ago, I started this blog as a supplement to my Etsy store. I had just completed Dressmaking and Design courses and that itch to create something new everyday was more like an infectious disease that overtook my entire being, 28 days later style. Flash forward to the now–where a second job, relationships and the general “I’ve been busy lazy” has become the bane of my existence. Every once in a while I’d post a few random entries, but never really picked up the momentum of my initial attempt. Sad puppy.

I’m a huge advocate of personal blogs. It’s a neat way to stay tuned into what’s been going on with friends and family, especially when there’s so much distance between us and everyone is just so goddamned busy.

Whenever Tina and I go on break and enjoy a plate of pasta together, we always touch on how important it is to live passionately, but how lately what we’ve become is just a couple of couch potatoes. Well, now that I’ve switched from working graveyard to regular day/night shifts, I feel like I’ve regained some sort of homeostasis and I’m ready to hug the world again. And last week, Tina cleared out her old room and started painting again–she just completed two orchid still lifes (one in watercolor and one in acrylic) to get the hang of working with different mediums again. As it turns out, the only mediums we’ve gotten accustomed to working with these days is makeup on other people’s faces.

What I really want to make more than anything is connections, or even making missed connections would be enough. I want to draw and salvage old dresses and read stories before bedtime without feeling the heavy pull like blinds over my eyelids. Talk about accessories and the last pair of shoes I popped a boner for. And do some yoga with my girls under the sun until we’re all NC 42. And sip on some margarita’s along the shoreline while Roni teaches us how to shake our hips the Tahitian way.

I want to write about nothing at all, which is to say, everything. And appreciate terribly mundane incidents. Stuff that we often overlook when at the end of the day, it’s really what makes living that much more bearable. Like when my dude smiles and takes a mental picture with his eyes. Or that one time when I handed her her change, for 3 seconds our fingers touched and it was electric. Or how I wish more people would hug me the way you did before boarding the plane that morning. Like I existed and you knew I was there. I mean, you hug Marcus Aurelius like that and even his cheese would melt.

All that good stuff, if I understand correctly, is what Amy Hempel calls connective tissue. The space that looks empty initially, but adds up to form something complete when seen from afar. In an interview with The Paris Review she says, “If used honestly and not as a gimmick, these spaces can signify the way the mind really works, noting moments and assembling them in such a way that a kind of logic or pattern comes forward, until the accretion of moments forms a whole experience, observation, state of being.”

Monday Bloody Monday

by Valerie on Monday, February 6, 2012

“Girls are complicated beings” Francis says. “But with you sometimes it’s scientific–like clockwork. Like when you get emotional, I already know why.”

I like this song.

Weekend in Hong Kong

by Valerie on Tuesday, May 17, 2011

airplane ride survival kit
Travel checklist: miniature sized shampoo and conditioner, lotion, hand cream, 3 step face cleansing/serum/moisturizer routine jammed into plastic sampling containers, sunscreen, toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, deodorant, 4 changes of clothes and underwear including a set of pajamas, 1 pair nude skimmers, 1 pair black leather boots, a light read for the 7 hour plane ride, passport, itinerary, sense of adventure. And exciting times.

The Peak
Three things about Hong Kong: Originally colonized by the British, its official languages are Chinese (spoken Cantonese) and English. It’s the most densely populated city in world. If it is your first time visiting, you might want to book your trip for longer than a weekend.

Ralph Lauren shirt (from Francis’s closet), UO bag, Jeans from outlet mall, Dolce Vita boots
We stayed at the Imperial Hotel on Nathan road just next door to Chungking Mansion. This is where Chungking Express was filmed. Now all I need is my sunglasses, Burberry trench and a Marilyn Monroe wig and it would be enough to say, “eat your heart out, Faye Wong.”

If you are a born and bread island person, there will be a lot of firsts for you.

Things like commuting via metro

welcome to Disneyland
coming out to play in Disneyland

live theater
The live theater show, I enjoyed most of course

view from cable car
riding a crystal cable car suspended 112 feet high

goofing around the Avenue of Stars, wataaah!

and action
vintage sweater, Korean boutique pleated skirt

zen master
meditating in sacred places

I am like totally zen

time travel...not
Neneee romper
and generally experiencing the hustle and bustle energy of a big city.

the actress
City people weren’t always as curteous as the island peeps I am so accustomed to, but you have to hand it to them for keeping it real. “You no buying, no take pikchar. I am not actress,” said the starlet above.

night market

fisherman's village
One thing I was super looking forward to was shopping at H&M, but it was pretty much a let down. Over rated and not so different from shopping at Macy’s or any other commercial department store on Guam, even shopping at Disneyland was way more exciting. The provincial markets on Temple street, Tsim Sha Tsui and fisherman’s village yielded the best novelty prezzies to take home.

Bruce Lee tee, various types of Chinese teas: jasmine, pu erh, lychee, ti kuan yin, white and orchid, Little Prince marshmallows–if only for the packaging, Mickey Mouse chocolates, classic Mickey tee (which would look even better after a one billion washes), MMJ make-up bag, remote control helicopter, lots of black workwear, cheap clothes, expensive shoes
“Bring two empty luggages and a lot of money.” That’s what Mieko said when I told her I was going. It’s a good thing I kept it in mind and also stuffed an extra duffel bag into the front pocket of our check-in baggage.

eat your vegetables
Eat your vegetables!

beer and chaser
If there’s such a thing as buyer’s remorse, even worse is the antithetical nonbuyer’s remorse. I’ll forever regret not buying those miniature wind-up dancing robots and funny splatballs from the old man with no voice and kind eyes at the Tsim Sha Tsui market. Our intuition is good; the problem is we ignore it. I need to learn how to be more implulsive. Like when we decided to have 3 dollar 32 ouncers (amazing!) literally smack dab in the middle of the street. Those were really nice served with poached snail thingamagiggies in a dark chili sauce. I forget what the dish is called, but if anyone knows, please please please drop a line.

Last week I finally scavenged eBay only to find those little dancing robots and splatballs I so wanted but tried to convince myself I didn’t need. I bought them anyway. So I don’t need them per se. So what? They are just cool things to have around. Like in case of emergency, break glass and play with these, they’re fun! And since they are being shipped from Hong Kong, I imagine they are coming from that same kind old man in that same crowded old market.

shagadellic baby yeah

double decker
A final note on commuting in Hong Kong: drivers are either suicidal or insane. Or both. Every time we decide to hop in the back of a cab or bus, I find myself hanging on for dear life. All the while The Smiths are playing There is a Light That Never Goes Out” in the back of my head. That song could pretty much sum up the entire duration of our stay.

Wolf Wears

by Valerie on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

classroom 1


classroom sleepyhead
photos by Nicholas Haggard
model is Emily Wroe
for Le Loup-Garou

You know how you try to avoid the incessant coughs of a coworker who comes in to work with the flu because they’ve used up all their sick leave? Well that’s how I feel about wholesale orders; I try to dodge them at all costs in order to spare myself from any future suffering. It has a lot to do with 1. not being able to source materials in bulk on short notice 2. fear of tackling such a large order with merely my own two little hands to complete the work, and 3. absolute laziness. But when Laura approached me with the idea of carrying some of my items in her Brooklyn-based boutique, Leloup-Garou, I immediately knew I wanted to work with her.

It was more of a personal decision than one of business. Laura was incredibly warm and genuine; she kinda made it impossible to turn her down. And it’s no wonder with influences like Miranda July and Rufus Wainwright (might I add a mutual appreciation for all types of cheeses) that we got along so well. Eventually I came around to asking her about the general direction of her shop and her style philosophy. Here’s what she had to say:

“I think the most successful sense of style is one that fits the individual perfectly. It doesn’t have to be ‘out there,’ or unexpected, or high fashion, or cost a lot of money, or any of these things. It just has to make sense and fit, both literally and creatively. I think the most important thing is to be brave, take chances, and be ready to wear some things that people might not get; at the same time, to avoid wearing anything that doesn’t feel, down to its core, like it belongs on you.”

Le Loup-Garou translates to werewolf in French. “It’s a beautiful way to communicate a grotesque idea,” she says.




When you visit her website, you’ll notice a clean layout. It isn’t saturated with items catering to different tastes either; every piece looks like it could be worn by the same girl. From the limited use of accessories to the photography, there’s a distinctly edited, cohesive story to be told. What I find most admirable about good storytelling is what’s left out as opposed to what’s piled on. For the same reason why George will forever be my favorite Beatle—because 2 out of 3 times it’s the quiet ones who have more to say without having to say nearly as much.


Friends from Afar

by Valerie on Friday, December 10, 2010

Hi! Valerie,

Thank you for your mail and finishing the dress so fast.
Can’t wait to wear the beautiful dress!

By the way, you live in Guam!!!
No wonder some background of your photos is so beautiful.
My little sister is going to have a wedding in Guam this October.
So excited to visit Guam! The nature must be amazing!

I will let you know once I received the dress.
Have a great weekend!

7 August 2010 1:51pm EDT

Hey Yuko,

Oh, awesome! Yep, nature here is very nice. Folks from Japan often come here for weddings and vacation because of it. Especially the beaches… which I’m sure you will love if you are planning to visit. Also, congrats to your sister! I hope you will enjoy the island while you are here and if you ever wanna meet up, feel free to send me an email anytime.

Take care,
8 August 2010 5:36am EDT

yuko and me

Hi! Valerie,

I’ve received the polar dress, and I love it sooooo much!
This is one of the most beautiful dresses that I have.
It’s gorgeous, unique and fun!!!
Besides, it fits me like a glove everywhere.
Thank you so much for making the beautiful and flattering dress.
Also thank you for the lovely earrings!
These earrings are perfect with the vintage-y dress!

By the way, can I buy fabrics like this dress using in Guam?
I am making curtains or interior things; and it’s pretty hard to find such beautiful western-pattern brocades where I live.
If there is any fabric shop selling them in Guam, I’d love to check them out.

Thank you again for the amazing dress!
You made my day!

16 August 2010 9:45am EDT

yuko clothes horse dress

Oh wow, awesooome! Thanks for including a lovely picture ^_^ You look amazing in your new dress, Yuko. I am so happy it fits just right and that you love it. And anytime, it was my pleasure to customize it for you.

Also, yep, of course. You can find that particular brocade here on Guam at one of the local fabric stores. The place is called ‘Fabric Mart’ and it’s owned by a nice old Korean couple. They import beautiful fabrics and such from Seoul. It’s located away from the tourist district, but Guam is so small that I’m sure it won’t be too difficult to find. If you have trouble locating it though, please feel free to drop me a line while you’re here and I’d be happy to show you the way.

Well, I hope you’re enjoying your week so far. Take care for now!

18 August 2010 8:15am EDT

Hi! Valerie,

Thank you for your mail.
I have googled the “Fabric Mart”.
Is it the one in the Compadress Mall in the Dededo area?
If so, I think I can get there somehow.

My husband and I have bought our house recently; so I am making curtains and decorating our home.
It’s really great to know that there are some good fabric stores in Guam.
Now I have so many plans for my Guam visit, even though I don’t have much time there.
It’s going to be busy! How excited!!

By the way, this summer is crazy hot and humid in Japan; hope it’s more comfy in Guam.
Take care and have a nice weekend!

19 August 2010 11:23am EDT

yuko at fabric store

Hey Yuko,

Yep, that is exactly where it is. I hope you’ll find some suitable fabrics for your new home. That’s pretty cool how how you’ll be making your own curtains!

Oh man, Guam is no different–hot and humid would be an understatement for how it feels here. Ah, but it’s the best kind of weather for a nice swim. I imagine it’s much better than the biting cold too, so I won’t complain too much about it 😉

Well, enjoy your weekend also and take care for now!

20 August 2010 5:13am EDT

yuko apple pendant

Hi! Valerie,

How’s it going?
Hope everything is going well with you.

Finally my schedule in Guam is all set.
Although I don’t have much time to be there, I thought it would be nice if we can meet up or have a drink, of course only if it’s convenient for you.

My schedule is as follows.

10/3 (Sun) Arrive at Guam at night
10/4 (Mon) Sightseeing & Rehearsal Dinner
10/5 (Tue) The wedding in the morning
10/6 (Wed) Departure in the afternoon

So, Tuesday’s afternoon or evening might be nice for me.
Let me know what you think.

My mail address is *hi, how are you?*
Please feel free to reach me directly.

By the way, I love your new dresses! They are so adorable!!!

1 October 2010 4:40pm EDT

Omiyage from Japan:
yuko gift

Dream girls… not.
dream girls. not
Yuko wears: dress by Anthropologie, shoes by Anne Klein and (the cutest apple pendant) necklace by Unoaerre via Gilt Groupe.
I am wearing: self-made velvet romper, necklace from *can’t remember, deadstock tights from Salvation Army, and shoes by F-Troupe.

yuko outtake
Thanks for visiting, Yuko!

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