FLOTPRC Fashion: Li Pengyuan, The Glam Ma’am of China

Happy Good Friday, Stiletto-istas!

While everyone is away on holiday (it seems) this Easter weekend, we’re bound to our desk working like bananas so, for a lunchtime break, I thought I’d share with you one of my latest mini-obsessions: fashion policing the new FLOTPRC (First Lady of the People’s Republic of China), the glamorous Li Pengyuan, wife of China’s newly-appointed president, Xi Jinping.

After all, one of our more popular posts in the recent past was our FLOTUS fashion face-off between Michelle Obama and Ann Romney in the heat of last year’s US presidential elections (click here to view that post).

As China is close to our hearts (literally, we do live here after all) and as the world’s media – from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Time magazine, Vogue China to the fashion pundits at our favourite China-watching blog, the Shanghaiist – have all been weighing in on Madame Li’s outfits this week as she accompanies her husband on a whirlwind official tour of Russia and Africa – we thought, heck Becks, we might as well join in the fun!

The new First Lady's choice of a tailored dark coat accessorized by a turquoise scarf and tailored leather black handbag (looks like a Tod's but apparently is not - China media saying that it is not a designer brand) sparked copycats on Chinese online shopping portal Taobao

The new First Lady’s choice of a tailored dark coat accessorized by a turquoise scarf and tailored leather black handbag (looks like a Tod’s but apparently is not – China media saying that it is not a designer brand), upon arrival in Moscow, reportedly sparked copycats on Chinese online shopping portal Taobao.

The new First Lady has a preference for smart tailored suits when travelling - making her look very polished and put together. Here she matches a creamy white embroidered suit with a white tailored bag and pretty crocodile skin peep toes. A refreshing touch? She recycles wearing that lovely turquioise scarf.

China’s First Lady Madame Li has a preference for smart tailored suits when travelling – making her look very polished and put together. Here she matches a creamy white embroidered suit with a white tailored bag and pretty crocodile skin peep toes. A refreshing touch? She recycles wearing that lovely turquioise scarf.

During an official event, while exchanging toasts and charming South African president Jacob Zuma, the First Lady donned a gorgeous silk Chinese embroidered jacket with floral motif in light shades of grey and lavender.

During an official event, while exchanging toasts and charming South African president Jacob Zuma, the First Lady Madame Li donned a gorgeous silk Chinese embroidered jacket with floral motif in light shades of grey and lavender.

Another official arrival, another great, crisply tailored suit, this time with a flattering Mandarin high collar, with grey-green and light blue pattern.

Another official arrival, another great, crisply tailored suit, this time with a flattering Mandarin high collar, with grey-green and light blue pattern.

We love how the First Lady is proudly representing Chinese fashion! Here she wears a traditional Chinese jacket with high collar and Chinese buttons, fashionably draped with an embroidered scarf.

We love how the First Lady is proudly representing Chinese fashion! Here she wears a traditional silk embroidered Chinese jacket with high collar and Chinese buttons, fashionably draped with an embroidered scarf.

To those of you who might be somewhat clued out as to what’s hot and happening here in the good ol’ PRC, here’s a little backgrounder on the new First Lady and her grace, charm and sensible yet stylish wardrobe that’s been wowing diplomatic and fashion circles:

Before her debut on the world stage this past week, Madame Li gained fame in China on her own, as a much-beloved Chinese folk singer and opera star. Every year she was a fixture in the country’s annual Chinese New Year star-studded television extravaganza (the same one which saw Celine Dion singing – in Mandarin – most recently).  The First Lady has performed in Lincoln Center in New York and at the Vienna State Opera House in the past but since her husband became China’s vice president in 2007, Madame Li began scaling back her public singing appearances. In 2011, the World Health Organization appointed her as a goodwill ambassador for AIDS and tuberculosis. Madame Li and the President have one daughter, currently a student at Harvard.

As for the low-key designer – Ma Ke – who is behind Madame Li’s tastefully understated wardrobe – the Shanghaiist offers this interesting observation (post below from Shanghaiist):

– quote –

In a society that typically has more money than class, it’s surprising that such a simple and understated designer as Ma Ke should be on everyone’s lips. If the name sounds unfamiliar rest assured she’s soon to be a household name. Ma is helping turn Peng Liyuan, China’s First Lady into China’s Jackie Oh.

Interestingly anti-consumerist and slightly ironic, she is the designer behind the brands Exception de Mixmind and Wuyong. Naming her haute couture brand Wuyong, which literally means “useless”, Ma says she wants to redefine modern luxury, drawing it away from “Western Materialism”, and towards more spiritual factors, as she believes that elements such as time, water and the human spirit are timeless [Shanghaiist Ed.: *eyeroll*].

What does that actually mean? Both brands only use sustainable production, including traditional dying, weaving and embroidery techniques invented by the Dong People of southern China. The fabrics used by Wuyong are actually woven with Chinese loom technology dating back to 19th century. Furthermore, rather than going the route of ultra-elite and ostentatious, as many domestic haute couture designers have, Wuyong’s fashion shows are outside, open to the public and use a collection of modern dancers and tai-chi performers instead of models.

This ecologically and socially sustainable approach seems to have worked, as Exception just celebrated it’s 16th birthday, and Wuyong was the second ever Chinese collection to show at Paris Fashion Week. Furthermore, Exception has generated sales over one billion yuan in 60 stores in China. While many have attributed the First Lady’s coat and bag to Exception de Mixmind, industry insiders have pointed out that they actually belong to Wuyong. The brand has reportedly made over 100 outfits exclusively for Peng in the past 3 months. She will continue wearing them throughout her trip to Russia, Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of Congo.

– end quote –

The First Lady is supporting sustainable fashion in China???
Very fashion forward of her, if I may say so, and if then… KUDOS to the FLOTPRC!

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Postcards from the Cleanse: The Farm at San Benito

Since returning from our detox cleanse at The Farm at San Benito, I’ve been reading “Eight Weeks to Optimum Health” by noted alternative medicine practitioner, Harvard physician Dr. Andrew Weil and trying to follow his advice and recommendations for a healthier lifestyle, in terms of diet (lots of broccoli, salmon and garlic this week), exercise (daily 30-minute brisk walks) and stress management (daily 5-minute breathing/relaxation exercises, also taught by our yoga teacher at The Farm).

8 weeks to optimum health

One of the things that Dr. Weill recommends for optimum mental/spiritual health is for us to take some time out each week to commune with nature. Visit a park and simply do nothing, just breathe the fresh air, gaze at trees and plants and let yourself be…just enjoy.

For your viewing pleasure, here are some beautiful postcard-perfect scenes from where it all began to click for me, at The Farm at San Benito. Let yourself enjoy…

The Farm at San Benito

The Farm at San Benito

The Farm at San Benito

The Farm at San Benito

The Farm at San Benito

One of the most enchanting aspects of The Farm was doing early morning yoga at the amphitheatre pavilion and gazing at the mist-shrouded view, with a peacock or two wandering about (below):

The Farm at San Benito

The Farm at San Benito

The creatures populating The Farm provided an endless source of amusement, entertainment and fascination. I couldn’t get a shot of the white billy goat, who was fond of sunbathing near the yoga pavilion or at the spa but would bound away as soon as I approached, but here are a few shots of the preening peacocks (including the majestic white one) and the happy little duckies:

Happy Ducks in Pond

White Peacock

The Farm at San Benito

Have a happy, healthy Sunday, Stiletto-istas!!!

Bali Work-cation: Alila Villas Uluwatu

Our recent Bali jaunt with Herr Hubby unfortunately wasn’t all fun in the sun…it actually was a working vacay – or a work-cation – for moi.Yes, working during your vacation can be a painful drag but at the end of the day, who am I to complain? I’m simply grateful and extremely humbled by the fact that people are willing to give me the opportunity to work and that I get compensated quite comfortably for what I do. And the perks ain’t half bad either, duckies…

I juggle a few working “hats”, as most of you know, if you’ve been following The Bamboo Stiletto for a while. Yes, I blog but The Bamboo Stiletto is simply what I like to do when I have spare time. Just as I like to create hand-poured soy candles, play around with scents, container jars and packaging, and sell them at bazaars. Blogging and soy candles are fun but we’ve all got bills to pay, don’t we, honey bunnies…and blogs and candles don’t exactly rake in the buckeroos.

As our favourite diva, Mimi (the eternally precious Mariah Carey) once said on MTV Cribs as she was sashaying around her fanta-bulous Manhattan penthouse apartment in her pink high-heeled fur-trimmed mules, ” Somebody’s gotta work hard to pay for this s—“. I feel you, Mimi, I feel you, girl!

So, duckies, The Bamboo Stiletto moonlights as a “wordworker” for hire, or, to use the more professional term, as a content development specialist on retainer to a select group of five-star hotels in China. Which basically means I’m responsible for any English language content they might need, from writing press releases to food and beverage promotional material to website content.

My newest major “hat” is as magazine editor for an English-language lifestyle magazine targeted at expats in south China; I springboarded to this magazine from my previous editorial post at a website, which, technically speaking, was my first break into media and incidentally, was offered to me partly because of this blog, The Bamboo Stiletto. Ha! I may not make any money out of this blog but, my dear Stiletto-istas, it has led to the most wonderful opportunities 🙂 See what I mean about being humbled and grateful???

One other major “hat” I do wear is as PR consultant for a bijou collection of extremely high-end resorts, in glamorous locations like Bali and Phuket. I work from my little home office in Casa Stiletto but essentially, I can actually work from anywhere, as long as I have my smartphone, my laptop and a good wifi connection.

The Bali work-cation afforded a perfect opportunity for me to meet and greet some of my clients who are based there. So, for one day while Herr Hubby was happily enconsced swimming, dining & drinking, and even shopping, with my gal pals, I trotted along with my boss, from Seminyak to Uluwatu to Jimbaran for a day of meetings with clients and resort site inspections.

It was a rainy day and I only had my iPhone camera but managed to sneak a few pics – here’s a look at a stunningly beautiful resort that’s a perfect blueprint as a hide-away for the rich, famous and fabulous. Feast your eyes on Alila Villas Uluwatu:

Ocean & pool view from the lobby

Ocean & pool view from the lobby

that same view...

that same view…

the incredible cliffside pavilion hanging over the edge of the ocean...a sought-after venue for weddings. imagine!!!

the incredible cliffside pavilion hanging over the edge of the ocean…a sought-after venue for weddings. imagine!!!

the sheer drop from the pavilion to the ocean down below...Uluwatu is the spectacular southern tip in Bali where the Indian & Pacific Oceans meet

the sheer drop from the pavilion to the ocean down below…Uluwatu is the spectacular southern tip in Bali where the Indian & Pacific Oceans meet

hallways leading to the restaurant...

hallways leading to the restaurant…

We had a quick look at one of the spectacular three-bedroom villas:

ok, each villa has its own private gate like this, in case you have a fleet of limos ferrying you around...

ok, each villa has its own private gate like this, in case you have a fleet of limos ferrying you around…

...and what money (or Mastercard) can buy you.View? priceless.

…and what money (or Mastercard) can buy you.
View? priceless.

view from another angle...remember that cliffside pavilion as a wedding venue? heck, you can have it right here!

view from another angle…remember that cliffside pavilion as a wedding venue? heck, you can have it right here!

I also couldn’t help but admire the tasteful, thoughtful little touches scattered around the resort, such as these:

a little floral, herb and spice vignette at the spa

a little floral, herb and spice vignette at the spa

a charming corridor

a charming corridor

beautiful driftwood installation art

beautiful driftwood installation art

I loved what they used as a condiments tray in the restaurant during our lunch...an old Balinese children's wooden game board. From my childhood in the Philippines, we had a similar one, called "sungka"!

I loved what they used as a condiments tray in the restaurant during our lunch…an old Balinese children’s wooden game board. From my childhood in the Philippines, we had a similar one, called “sungka”!

And speaking of lunch…here’s where this post ends as I’ve got Sunday night dinner at home to prepare with Herr Hubby. Let me love you and leave you with these fantastic images of Alila Villas Uluwatu in your head, to dream about for YOUR next vacay. Wouldn’t that be fabulous, dah-lings???

Toodles!!!

RAW! Chic Vegan Cuisine @The Farm at San Benito

Happy spring fling, sweets!
It’s been a month since our Chinese New Year post and in that time, The Bamboo Stiletto was whisked away by Herr Hubby for a long, lovely, delicious 3 weeks of holiday. Where did we sashay off to on our vacay, duckies???

Well, to sum it all up or else we’ll be here all day: first stop was Bali, Indonesia. To meet up with The Bamboo Stiletto’s dearest gal pals from high school, all scattered now to the four corners of the earth (namely, Los Angeles, Paris, Dubai, Sydney, as well as Cebu, Boracay…and little ol’ moi, representing Chinoise) and converging on the Island of the Gods, solo or with hubby/boyfriend/partner/what evs in tow.

Anyway, more about Bali in another post, dah-lings, and don’t worry, you’ll be getting an eyeful soon…

Second stop of our little vacay was an incredible, life-altering week at The Farm at San Benito, a wholistic wellness resort in Batangas, about a 90-minute drive from the Philippine capital of Manila. Located in the midst of 50 hectares of lush trees, flowers, a lake, a pond, a river, more coconut trees and bamboo that you can shake a stick at and populated by a charming posse of extremely communicative peacocks, ducks, chickens and a prancing billy goat or two, The Farm comes replete with luxury suites and villas, an amazing spa and an awardwinning organic vegan restaurant.

Herr Hubby and I signed up for a one-week detox cleanse, where we had nothing but fresh juices all day and a hot vegetable soup at night. Take my word for it, boy oh boy, by the time evening would roll around, those nightly hot soups tasted like the most god dang delicious gourmet concoctions on the planet! In addition, we were subjected to colon cleansing sessions, spa treatments to help detoxify and availed ourselves of The Farm’s diverse array of daily activities, such as yoga, power walks, boxing, swimming, etc.

My dear Stiletto-istas, I don’t know about you but if I’m going to suffer through my detox/cleanse, I might as well suffer in luxury…at The Farm. Ha! That was very goopster Gwyneth Paltrow of me. Hahahaaa!!!! But seriously, book the Narra Pool Villa, trust me.

Anyhooz, I thought I’d share our super-delicious “last meal” at The Farm before detox began, which is basically the vegan meal which constituted our last full meal before going on the juice and soup diet. Any preconceived notions I had of vegan food being bland and boring disappeared when I tasted the food at The Farm, where they specialize in mostly raw cuisine (85% raw, only 15% cooked). Check these out and tell me, aren’t these just HELLA SCRUMPTIOUS???

Nori maki rolls with green asparagus & radish

Nori maki rolls with green asparagus & radish

Cucumber ume salad, followed by wakame & grilled scallion soup

Cucumber ume salad, followed by wakame & grilled scallion soup

Alive! udon noodles in shitaake miso broth & oyster mushrooms

Alive! udon noodles in shitaake miso broth & oyster mushrooms

Chocolate (made of organic cocoa) dim sum with fresh fruits

Chocolate (made of organic cocoa) dim sum with fresh fruits

I had headaches in the afternoon of my first day into the juice diet and nausea on the evening of my second day, but after breathing exercises I learned from our yoga teacher at The Farm which, astoundingly, truly worked in relieving my headache, coupled with a good night’s sleep, by the third day, I bounced back with a noticeable uptick in energy. And my energy levels from there just took off. By the end of the week, both Herr Hubby and I had lost weight, trimmed inches off our waists and hips, and felt AH-MAY-ZING!!!  Of course, we are now furiously plotting when and how we can go back…

Meantime, here we are back to reality and the REAL HARD PART: sustaining everything that we’d learned and experienced at The Farm at San Benito. We actually bought The Farm’s recipe book, appropriately called RAW! so we can try out some stuff ourselves at Casa Stiletto. Hey, we’re not turning vegan, ok, but we are making serious attempts at eating healthy. So, get the juicer and blender out of the cupboard!

RAW! The Uncook Book from The Farm at San Benito, with gazillions of yummy vegan recipes!

RAW! The Uncook Book from The Farm at San Benito, with gazillions of yummy vegan recipes!

For a hotelier and a writer/blogger couple such as Herr Hubby and myself, eating healthy can be a bit of a stretch, but we’re gonna have fun trying, duckies.

:-)Ha! Ain’t life a HOOT?

What are your thoughts on raw cuisine, Stiletto-istas? How about vegan cuisine, does it float your boat? Would you like to share some delicious recipes here?…oh, please do SHARE!!!

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