Tina Chow was a famous model and fashion icon in the 1980’s. Half German, Half Japanese, Chow was born in Ohio, spent her adolescence in Japan, and started modeling in the late 60’s. She moved to New York and soon became friends with many of the renowned artistic minds of that time, including Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Manolo Blahnik, and Paloma Picasso. She passed away in 1992 of AIDS, but her timeless style has lived on to inspire people to this day.
She’s still very well known in the fashion world (French Vogue did a tribute to her a while back), but, unfortunately, she’s not very well known to your average Asian girl. It’s a shame because I think she’s one of the most original, modern Asian beauties, seamlessly combining Asian and Western influences to create a style will forever be her. If you want to know more about her, I suggest google or, surprisingly, asking your parents! My mother had a surprising amount of information on Chow.
While Chow was famous for her collection of couture ensembles, vintage jewelry, and self-made designs I’m more interested in her everyday wear. Plus, it would be silly for me to try to emulate her couture without … well couture. It is said that Chow wore the same thing every day: a natural, clean-looking face, white tee or tank (known back then, as well as across the pond, as a “vest”), black Kenzo trousers, and a piece of statement jewelry. She also kept her hair in a short, slicked back bob.
Well, we might not all be blessed with Tina’s charming loveliness or her couture collection, but we can all channel her simple, elegant androgynous look!
First we need a crew neck, loosely fitted white tee. The more basic the better. Now I’ve tried a lot of white tees in my day and honestly some of my favorites have been from places like Target or Meijer. I get a 6 pack of men’s small tees. Just make sure they’re the thick kind. If that’s not for you the absolute best white tee I’ve ever had has been from Uniqlo, a Japanese brand that’s making a splash worldwide. They’re collaboration line with Jil Sander, called +J, makes great tees and tanks. If you’re lucky enough to be close to a Uniqlo in the U.S., I highly recommend it.
As for trousers, Tina wore Kenzo and in a shape that was more the 80’s and 90’s then now. I would recommend a more modern take on the trouser – a cropped trouser! My favorite is J. Crew’s Minnie pant in black stretch twill. The material is very nice, stretchy but also thick and sturdy feeling. I wear my Minnie’s all the time! Other great options can be found at stores like The Gap and Zara. I also definitely think you can channel Tina simply with black skinny jeans. For shoes, try something menswear inspired like loafers or brogues. I have a pair of Cole Haan “Air Penny Driver Mocassins” (they’re really just driving penny loafers, not actually moccasins) that are my favorite shoes ever. They have Nike soles inside so they’re very comfy. They’re not cheap, but the price isn’t ridiculous for the quality and classic style. I’d recommend them for anyone. For colder days, toss on a oversized cashmere cardigan or sweater in a solid color. My tip for buying cashmere is getting it at the end of winter, when it goes on sale just stock up in classic shapes. A simple cardigan or crew neck pullover is never going to go out of style.
So far, it’s pretty easy right?
For makeup keep it simple. Make your skin look nice and natural with whatever products you usually use. Then use a black, smudgeable eyeliner and draw a line across your entire top eyelid. Take your finger and smudge it slightly. Then line part of the bottom of your eye, from the outside corner to about half way. Smudge that too. Curl your lashes and add a bit of mascara, but make sure there’s no clumping. Use some a little bit of bronzer to accentuate your cheekbones, but be careful not to give yourself an all over california glow. That might be a good look but it’s not Tina Chow. Finally, for day try a clear lip gloss or simply a moisturized lip. For night, try a nice matte red like Nars’ Dolce Vita. If you have long hair, try pulling it back in a sleek low bun, if you have short hair keep it straight and sleek against your head.
Finally, we come to her jewelry. Tina had amazing jewelry, some of it self designed. Not all of us are that lucky, but we’ll make do. Tina was famous for her huge bangles and statement necklaces. You can find these anywhere from a vintage store to Nordstroms to Forever21. Just make sure they have some bang!
And she likes noodles, just like me! Imagine that.