Mr. Porter launches.

Mr. Porter, a new men’s fashion site (an obvious male take on Net-A-Porter), just launched today and they ship to Hong Kong so I thought it might be worth giving their site a review. The UK-based company sells a lot of higher-end designers–like Burberry, Gucci, Lanvin–plus. ready made items from Saville Row tailors, with the occasional more affordable item, like Converses, thrown into the mix. They will soon sell J. Crew, which would be awesome for us Hong Kongers.

My favorite way to browse the clothing was through the “view by outfit” button. Each item has a video, so you can see the model walk onto the screen, turn, and walk off, which is really helpful.

Even if your Mr. is like mine and refuses to spend more than $40 on a shirt, they’ve done a really fun job of adding tons of editorial content offering lots of advice and help on how to dress well that I think would apply to any budget. I like their list of the 36 essentials every man’s wardrobe should include… I can tell you right away that my Mr. would never go for a knit tie or a Louis Moray bracelet, but all of the other 34 items I agreed with.

The site has an address book of their prestigious style counsel’s reccs in various cities around the world… their HK reccs are obvious, but not off.

My favorite section–and one that I hope they continue to develop is an organized style advice Q&A between readers and editors. I excerpted a few of the ones I found most helpful and interesting here for you:

Question
How long should my tie be?
Answer
The front blade shouldn’t fall lower than the top of the trousers and, if you are wearing a casual outfit, it should be a few inches shorter than that. It might prompt a few funny looks but a knitted tie looks really good when the front blade is a bit shorter than the rear blade. Don’t worry how long the rear blade is – you can always tuck it into your trousers.
Question
What is a cummerbund for, and do people still wear them?
Answer
The reason the cummerbund has been largely abandoned is because it is now pointless. Originally worn under a dinner jacket as a lighter alternative to a waistcoat (this was in the days when an exposed waistband was considered bad form) it has been rendered redundant now that we’re unperturbed by the sight of a waistband. However, if you do want to hark back, go the whole hog and get a horseshoe-shaped double-breasted waistcoat, which is far more stylish.
Question
I can’t work out what it is about Italian men that makes them look both stylish and relaxed. How can I steal a bit of their elegance?
Answer
First, let’s remember that many Italian men want to dress like idealised Englishman. Second, you’re not alone – it was precisely this question that inspired The Sartorialist to start his blog. Extreme conservatism plays a major role: the men you admire have been dressing the same way for years or even decades, so you’ll need a high boredom threshold. As a function of this, clothes are bought for the long haul, and are more likely to be better made to start with and then altered for the perfect fit. Beyond that it’s about subtle colour combinations, which frequently involve brown, grey and navy, and immaculate presentation. As Charles Eames once said: ‘The details are not the details. They make the design.’
Question
How do I tell if a suit fits properly?
Answer
While the prevailing silhouette is as tight now as it ever has been, suits still have to fit – stretching and pulling remain unflattering even if a jacket is cut like a second skin. Ideally the jacket will be as wide, but no wider, than your shoulders, the collar will sit flat against your shirt collar, the back will fall in a fairly straight line from the shoulder blades, the armpits will be quite neat (because otherwise the jacket will restrict arm movement), the buttoning point will be on the same latitude as your belly button, there will be enough shape to give you a waist, and it’ll be close – but not tight – around the stomach.
Question
How often do I need to clean my suits?
Answer
Not as often than you think, but that doesn’t mean they don’t require maintenance. Unless a suit is visibly stained it probably shouldn’t be dry cleaned more than twice a year, provided it is well looked after. This involves keeping it neatly folded on a proper hanger, hanging it up somewhere it can air for 24 hours after you wear it, not wearing it more than once a week, brushing it with a clothes brush after each wear, and storing it in a place with enough space for it not to be creased.
Question
Does it really matter what I wear? It is surely reasonable to expect the people I meet socially to judge me on my behaviour, and the people I meet professionally to judge me on my results, not my ability to buy the right shirt.
Answer
Mark Twain said: ‘Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.‘ We can’t improve on that.
(All Q&A and images from Mr. Porter.)

Shanghai in 20 years.

It’s hard to believe that a city could change this much in 20 years. From Skyscrapercity.com (via Rolfe Winkler via Business Insider.) Apparently, this is abuzz in the twitersphere today.

1990:

2010:

Shanghai is bisected by the Huangpu River–the Western side or the “Puxi” area is where the historic city center is. Across the river is the newly developed Pudong–and you can really see just how new that development is from these pictures. The financial district called Lujiazui is also on the new Eastern side.

Everything but the kitchen sink, part three.

  • Cake Cutter-and-Server-in-One. I do always find it a bit clumsy when you are about to cut a beautiful cake and you have to get out a big knife and a server, which is where the Magisso Cake Serve–it’s both in one. Check out the video here. I’ve ordered one to test it for myself and will report back. I am wondering if moist cakes will want to stick to this little device–and then how do you wipe down the inside? Design Story–a new design centric–flash sale site is selling them for $15 through the 23rd.

  • Egg Waffles. Speaking of extraneous kitchen gadgetry, Hong Kong is so hot that even Williams & Sonoma is trying to ride the wave with their Egg Waffle Pan. Check out this article if your HK kitchen won’t bear another kitchen device and you’re looking for a good place to get ’em on the street.

  • Mapkins. I love maps. I love napkins. How perfect are these?! Now I wish there was one for Hong Kong! They would be awesome for a going away party. Found on the always lovely Subtle Revelry. (By the way, Victoria is started a new mag soon!)

  • Oysters away. Not sure how this is possible, but a major oysterapocalypse is under way and most of the remaining reefs are in the US. Eater has a map of the best places to get your shuck on in the States. Found on ten thousand places. I can personally vouch for all three SF locales (Swan’s Oyster Bay Depot was right next to the Mr.’s apt and their raw seafood bowl is the best way to start the day… here we are visiting with his sis Deirdre last spring. If you are ever in SF you have to go!)

  • Christian Dior for girls. Every designer is smartly going after the little-ones market and Christian Dior is no exception. You know they’ve nailed kids when you want them to make the clothes in your size. I couldn’t agree more with Full House, where I found this, that Target needs to copy this, stat! Images are from and clothes are available through Children’s Salon.

  • Google Art Project. Where won’t Google go? They’ve now gone to art museums all over the world and made them available to everyone, which is really pretty cool. You can actually walk through a museum, stand in front of a painting, and then zoom into areas of interest. I am hankering to go to Russia, so I just took a jaunt through the Hermitage… Rembrandt’s Return of the Prodigal Son is pretty awesome. And try zooming in on all of the little critters on this peacock clock. And, yes, this confirms that I do need to go to Russia… I think previewing museums through this new tool ahead of time is a great way to plan your attack.

(Image: Telegraph)



Thomas Birke photography.

Photographer Thomas Birke has some amazing shots of HK on his website. He seems to pull so much light and color out of the night–I wonder if that is how he takes the pictures or something he does in post-processing? His goal is to capture urban existence by showing 1,000 people or their traces (windows, laundry, etc.) in every picture. I love how crazy most of HK’s streets are.

Of course, Victoria Harbour never gets old.

And I have a real obsession with shipyards
I think one of these shots would be a great going away gift for someone leaving this great city. Check out his site for more great shots of other big cities around the world (I love the ones he did of Paris especially). Thanks to John Lawler for the head’s-up.

Halong Bay junk sinks.

Remember when I posted about our junk trip to Halong Bay, Vietnam last fall? Well a junk very similar to the one we were on (just bigger) sank on Friday.

(Photo AFP.)

The boat sank in just one minute, tragically killing 12 people. The boat was only a couple of years old and people are conjecturing that it may have sank because the wood cracked, letting water seap in. In several of the couples on board, one survived and one didn’t–which must be just about the most horrible thing ever. It’s always nerve-racking traveling in a developing country because you know there are no enforced safety standards… something to keep in mind.

Céline’s fall collection: Luggage bag. + a girl crush!

Everyone needs to have one really fabulous friend who works in fashion, right? And I found mine when I moved to Hong Kong, where the luxury market could not be hotter.

I love to discuss all of the fabulous things going on in fashion that I read about (like the New Yorker’s recent and wonderfully entertaining profile of Thomas Meier, the creative director of Bottega Veneta), as opposed to partake in. She goes on buying trips to all the big fashion houses in Europe often, and she snapped these pictures of Celine’s fall collection of the Luggage Bag. And I am swooooohhhhning.

Do you see the “Minis” (bottom left, tan and bottom right maroon) mixed in with the regulars? Can you see the green one in the center and the two-tone peach one on bottom–they’re python! I think the leopard is fantastic, but if I were to have one of my own… it would have to be the beige and black two-tone, upper right. Anyways, mark my words: Céline is already a super hot brand, but under Phoebe Philo‘s direction they will just keep going straight up.

Also, I have a girl crush on Phoebe.

How amazing are her cheek bones? Here she is (below) accepting British Fashion Awards 2010 Designer of the Year.
How does she make all-black look so great? Mental note: where more all black. By the way, I find it so surprising that the creative director of such an iconic French brand lives in London.
Please dear Lord can I look this adorably amazing when I’m pregnant? I love that she stuck to her signature black, but added sequins and a bow!
I think she looks incredibly fresh-faced for 37, don’t you agree she doesn’t look much older than 17? Okay, enough crushing for one day! Off to my Friday night: Eric Clapton, HK edition. But, yes, I am donning all black. Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Expat life: E.T. Phone Home

One of the hardest things about being an expat is staying in touch with loved ones back home… the time difference makes it so there are really only about five hours a day when you’re both awake and sometimes you just get sick of emailing. And you think calling is expensive… Lots of people get a Vonage phone as a work around–and it works great, but is involved: you have to have fast internet already, buy a special phone, and sign up for a monthly plan starting at $25.99 a month. Skype is amazing–and great for when you’re in front of your computer.

But you can’t make calls on the go, which is where Localphone comes in. This service gives you a local number for a specific number you are trying to call in another country; so if I want to call my Mom, I go to the site, enter in her cell no. in California, and then they text to my Hong Kong cell a local HK number that I can save in my phonebook as Mom… that way I can call her when I most want to, while I’m waiting for the tram, wondering aimlessly around the grocery store unsure of what to make for dinner, or when something ridiculous happens that I just have to tell her about right away, etc. And it’s super cheap, just $0.009 per minute! All you people back home in the States, it works just as easily the other way around.

I’ve literally never had a call drop using Localphone, it’s clearer more consistently than Skype, and the interface is very easy to navigate… but tell me… what other ways do you use to stay in touch that I don’t know about?