Category: Fashion babbling

It’s a woman’s world…

Or the day when redlipstickmama became Soumountha

When I started this blog, I can say this now: I was not well. I was a little lonely not because I had no friends but it was a weird loneliness. I was lonely because I was freaking lost. Too many thoughts, very few outlets, no clairvoyance. The blog started like an extended Facebook like rant, turned into a full self-administered therapy and somewhat transformed into the release of something strange and beautiful: the courage to explore things I had no idea were buried deep inside of me.

Things like writing because I just have to do it, entrepreneurial cravings, the boldness to say things the way I just want to say them and the hope that I can somehow touch other women out there.

This would have not been possible without being inspired, supported and sometimes challenged (I dare you to do it) by some amazing women I met through blogging. It was just easier to come out with strangers first like it was always easier for me to be naked in front of strangers than my own sisters – note:I still don’t really do it very often #anotherreasonIDONOTgotothegym

Anyway, more than two years later, these women are still galvanizing me. I am beyond flattered to be interviewed by uber stylish and atta mom-creative-blogger Kate from Maison Bentley about the launch of Another Garde. Her questions were so insightful that it actually made me think hard about what I do and why I do it. You can read the full interview Another Garde by Maison Bentley. I also for the first time say it here: my name is Soumountha 🙂

I hope you will like it and do check out Kate’s blog on a regular basis. She has an amazing eye for elegant and relatable and yet ‘you have never seen it quite like this before’ pieces.

Love you Kate xoxo

#feelinghumbledthismorning #love #determination #womenbehindwomen

Photography by Kate Bentley

Kate 1

Kate 2

Kate 3


J’adooore!!!! Gaultier exhibit

Two months ago I went with BFF Natasha to see ‘The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk’ exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. The genius and talent made me shiver; it almost made me sick to the stomach. I swear my heart beat faster than when I saw Matt Bomer/Neal Caffrey’s abs in the first season of White Collar. Natasha and I could not help caressing with the tips of our fingers one of the dresses and got (rightfully) scolded by the security guard who then followed us during our entire visit. True schoolgirls in a candy shop or at a boys band’s concert

I have been meaning to share this experience with my readers who cannot go to see the exhibit themselves so we can all sigh together in awe and pleasure. I’ll shut up now and let you enjoy. Apologies for some of the lousy shots and my inability to short list among these wonderful works of art! 

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Mood of the day: teenage dream

After 5 minutes looking at a dress I have owned for 20 years but haven’t worn in a long time, I decided to take that old rag out for a walk. 20 years…I am lucky that back then I was not so much into tight fitting otherwise even 3 SPANX body shapers on top of each other would not have been able to help me get into the dress. I remembered buying this chiffon dress at a Le Chateau shop, in Toronto (Canada). It was expensive for me but I had managed to save just enough of the little pocket money my parents gave me for my first trip outside Europe to buy that Boho dress (of course 20 years ago, Boho was not a style but someone misspelling  the then low profile U2’s lead singer).  I remembered that summer very well, listening and dreaming on songs by Christopher Cross. Odd to think that I was day dreaming as a teenage girl listening to a guy who looked like this,  a far cry from The Bieb or the dandies of One Direction…

To accessorize the dress, I chose phosphorescent colors (nudge to the 80s  atrocious fluorescent clothing trend in Europe which should be buried forever…I am serious; upcoming fashion designers out there DO NEVER BRING THIS BACK): fuchsia belt from H&M, lime green bangle from a African style clothing store in Harlem, Bebe Noir (they have pretty fierce accessories), and sandals by George Rech.

PS: I am glad my work meeting was via Skype because my belt just snapped out almost hitting me in the eye.

PS2: I checked the belt and it is not defective. The sad truth is: pre children belts should probably hit the trash can. Noooooooo!!!!!!

Teenage dream

Fashion babbling: what to pack on vacation part 2

2 hours left before the big departure and we have:
2 suitcases
1 suit bag
5 cabin luggage (including 1 diaper bag, 1 kids entertainment bag and a foodie bag)
2 strollers
And a baby carrier

This is not going to work. How are we going to carry sleeping babies into the air craft with all these bags. Need to come up with a back up plan muy pronto.

In the meantime I am very proud of my 40s inspired ‘light’ packing of accessories:
1950s rhinestones brooch, 1940s Coro earrings (both from my favorite Vintage Jewelry shop, Pippin in Chelsea), my little bird fascinator, pearls, ribbons, rolls for retro curls …and lollipops. Our pediatrician recommended that we use Benadryl to help us get a ‘hold on’ on our kids. But it backfired. If anything L was more excited than ever this morning at 3am…So now we stacked up on our ultimate ‘I will give you anything if you stop climbing onto people’s head rest and sit on your effing seat’ weapon: the lollies.




Fashion babbling: what to pack on vacation part 1

I described the challenge of packing a stylish vacation wardrobe with now 3 kids in tow. So I looked for some inspirations, this blog post by Ain’t no mom jeans is particularly useful. I also decided to curb my fashion schizophrenia by adopting only one look for the entire vacation: the 40s. The idea is that it will help me filter through outfits and accessories and thus pack light (or at least lighter). It will be tough for me because I never stick to one style – see my ‘mood of the day’ posts.

First item on the packing list: Le chapeau.
Options included straw men’s hat, a cap with visor, a cowboy’s hat, and a straw large brim. The main attribute should be ‘easy to carry around’ but I favored the ‘I don’t care if it gets trashed’ factor because on my  last trip to France, I wanted to show off to my family my millinery skills so I flew with my straw cloche. It was my way to say ‘No, I am not a jobless loser. I kind of make my own hats…How cool is that?’ But unfortunately a fellow passenger put their suitcase on top of it….Nice. I almost sobbed in the middle of the aisle. I have thus chosen a granny brim purchased in Savannah, Georgia which I improved with a striped scarf.  The plus factor: I can pack a couple of ‘no space cluttering’ scarves as alternative trimmings. Still schizophrenic but genius, right?

I am throwing in two pairs of sunnies, a cheap one and a Tom Ford pair: one to wrestle with the kids in the pool and one to pose with on a bar terrace.


PS: my rants of the day
– I had to buy something in the village for my sis today and ended up walking in the meat packing district. I adore this hood but could not help feeling like I was the protagonist of the ‘Truman show’, except that it was more like the ‘Cindy Crawford’ show. In the meatpacking, all the women are long legged amazons, all men are like Richard effing Branson and I am the naive troll wandering around wondering if unbeknownst to me I crashed into a Style Network production.

– I did some shopping in a department store in Chelsea (aka known as gay and skinny Chelsea)and a shop assistant heckled me:’Mommy, mommy, the fitting rooms are over there’. I was like ‘Am I in the maternity section?’ and thus checked if I had picked nursing tops…Horror, I had not. She bloody thought I was pregnant !!! B-I-T-C-H.

PS bis: in the middle of the rush hour at 34th st Herald Square, a perfect falsetto rose. A big guy was singing a Maxwell (I think) song, he did not have a GQ face but a voice that stopped at least 50 people in their tracks: young African American teenagers, tourists, commuters, elderly people, busy mamas etc. I love this city for the sickening volume of talents you can find at every corner. And when that talent stops time, unites such crowd and makes me forget about the sticky weather and my swollen feet, it is just magical. New York, I am going to miss you on my vacation…

Building in meatpacking

Mood of the day: sunshine

After a torrential rain on Friday, the sun was out big time this week end. We are now in June and I have now a fairly tanned skin that allows me to finally wear yellow tones. My skin color is odd, it normally ranges from brownish olive on a good day to duckling yellow on a so so day to grey on a very bad day. Growing up I used to hate sun tanning because being fair skinned was the top beauty feature in the Lao community.  I was always on the darkish side or in their own words, I had the skin of a rice field farmer. I always found this hilarious because at the same time, my dad was always saying; ‘You have the hands of a lazy person: no cracks, no wrinkles,..Let’s pray god that you end up smart’. Talk about growing up confused 🙂

Anyway, today was a good day to 1-embrace my summer skin tone and 2-take part in the ‘Ain’t no mom jeans’ How to wear it: capris or cropped pants theme.

GAP cropped jeans, Campers sandals, Jaeger blouse (don’t you just love the garland collar?), vintage silk scarf bought a decade ago in Camden town market (London, England).

Sunshine 2


Mood of the day : green day

There are things I think I know about myself. But once I started to do a brutal and honest reality check, I realized that some things turned out to be completely untrue.  Among other things, false truths include:
– I do well on my own.
I always fancied talking about myself as an independent woman. Truth to be told I have lived on my own for about a month in my whole life.  I left my family home to share an apartment with my sister, sleep at some kind of boarding school, live in a studio for a month before shacking up in future DH’s student accommodation, experience 4 years of different flat shares and finally move in with fiancé now also known as DH. So from now, I will shut it up when people start talking about solitude because I seriously know shit about it.
– I do not have a sweet tooth.
For most of my childhood and adult life, my only saving grace when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight was that I hated sweet food: cakes, chocolate, candies, pastries etc. But both my pregnancies have screwed it up for me.  Last week, as I was baking my 3rd cake in 5 days I stopped in the middle of whipping my dough and thought: ‘fucking hell, I am a sugar addict’. I almost cried.
– I do not wear green.
As I was trying to sort out my wardrobe, I realized that I own a hell lot of green stuff: tops, jackets, accessories etc. How come? Who bought all that stuff ? Anyway today is my ‘Green’ coming out. I DO love green, yes I DO.Harem pants, top with cute and practical back zipper by Loft, wedge platform sandals by Moda Spana, suede bag by Balenciaga (I adore how Balenciaga bags age well), and a jacket by Just jeans.On a side note, did you know that bamboo plants regrew from the inside? They are branching out from within and are shedding their yellow outer bark to show vivid green shoots and leaves. It is magical and somewhat poetic. I have thus decided that Bamboo was now my floral emblem.

Green day

Mood of the day: the young and the restless

I don’t exactly know why I was obsessed with the word ‘young’ today. Possible reasons include:
– I woke up with Miley Cyrus’ ‘Party in the USA’ track in my head and have been humming the tune since. The fact that I know who Miley Cyrus is at my age is odd, the fact that I have her song on repeat in my Iphone is…well retarded.
– I have been procrastinating on the final assignments for my NYU course (including shooting and editing a cause video) and thus I will have to pull a couple of all nighters in the next few days drinking Red Bull or similar crap.
Here’s my ‘pretending to be young’ outfit for the day:
– denim shorts by Theory, it is tacky to show that much skin past 25 but it is 73 degrees Fahrenheit (23C) and that is the consequence of a long winter. As soon as there is sun now, flesh, young or old, is popping out everywhere so suck it up people.
– pumps by Cole Haan
– necklace made of 3 copper and silver bangles
– holes, holes, holes. This customized Tee makes me feel particularly young because Christian, my childhood artist/off the cuff fashion designer friend, made the cuts directly on me to make me ‘lose’ a couple of pounds. It is actually quite genius – some kind of punk tailor made clothing. I wore it the last time I partied until sunrise in edgy Dalston, London with Christian and his flatmates, youngsters in their early twenties. It was pre-children life; DH was in NYC and I was ‘commuting’ between London and NYC. I remember that I had to pay for the beers because those students were too broke and that some were mesmerized by the fact that I actually had a paid job. I felt a little like a sugar mama. It was a little uncomfortable and I remember thinking ‘Gosh, those kids are so impressionable. I hope life treats them well’. Despite the mindless fun, that was when I realized: ‘Thank god, I am over this sense of loss and search for who knows what.’ I realized that I had never been a content youngster; I was mostly insecure and always angry. So growing old is just fine by me, I guess. Especially when I can still groove in my head on the sound of Maroon 5’s Moves like Jagger…But shush, keep the secret. I will deny it anyway 🙂
PS: the French braid was inspired by a blogger which blog Closet strategy details a meticulous and smart approach to shopping. Plus I love that she is a Balenciaga fan too..
the young and the restless

Easter day trip: bye Carrie, hello Charlotte

When we get out of the City for a day outing, it is always eventful. Little we knew that our 40 minutes drive for Easter would take us a world away from our reality. A few million dollars away to be more precise.
Easter was a big affair this year. We got invited for brunch at Julia and Mark at their new home in Greenwich, Connecticut for the first time. For those who do not know Greenwich, Connecticut it is hard to grasp how huge this affair is. Why? When people think about Connecticut, they think (and always say it) about mansions, hedge funds, Blue blood, Porsches, and obnoxious gates.When people think about Harlem, they often think (and often don’t say it) projects, drugs dealers, crack houses, racial tensions, sketchy, bohemia, gentrification and so on. Us visiting Julia and Mark is like some New York-based Bundys from ‘Married…with children’ visiting some Caucasian version of the Banks from ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’.
The occasion required a special outfit but the strange weather has made it impossible to dress. In the last month, snow, rain, sun, showers, sleet, drizzle, you name it, pushed me to shuffle around heavy knits, light tees, shorts, leggings, jeans, puffer coats, denim jackets, trench coats, snow boots, wellies, flat pumps and what have you. My current hair situation was not helping either. The lack of money and time to book a hair appointment since July last year resulted in a very long, unstructured and damaged mane. And what about all this baby hair that has been growing all over my scalp out of nowhere? It has been a very weird experience. Indeed I lost a third of my hair mass after L was born. I was so freaked out that I started to watch these crazy infomercials on hair growth products not with disdain but with hope…Pathetic much? But now, I have new hair shooting out everywhere. And when you are Asian, well…Remember tennis player Michael Chang or basketball player Jeremy Lin? Yep, enough said. Motherhood makes you live through the sufferings of an old hag with flappy belly and breasts losing hair and through the experiences of a tot such as incoherent bavardage, irrational tantrums and unruly baby hair growth. That sounds about right, I suppose.
Anyway, who cares? As I watched Julia and Mark gracefully show us around the house and its grounds, I understood that the big affair was not me and my messy and loud crew trashing their beautiful and immaculate dining room (my 3 monsters did put the  ‘kids’ table upside down three times in a row while trying to stand on it…too bad I don’t have any inheritance money to threaten them with). The real big affair was this: my friend Julia, single gal living in a loft studio in the middle of Greenwich village, successful professional, unlucky in love, possessing the biggest designer shoes collection I have ever seen, has become Julia, gorgeous expectant mom who settled down in a humongous family home in Greenwich, Connecticut with her ‘John James Preston’ , a dog, still owning the biggest shoe collection I have ever seen (though it does now seem smaller in Connecticut). I thought ‘wow, this is  it, that’s her home now FOREVER, that’s her life’. It was kind of emotional; I had lost  ‘my’ Carrie Bradshaw. But as we were driving back home, we talked about how nice it was to see Julia happy and then, DH asked: ‘do you think Julia will let us squat her swimming pool this summer?’. The thought made me smile; ‘my’ Carrie was gone but I have now ‘my very own Charlotte York-Goldenblatt’…with a pool. Wicked.

Mood of the day: L’etudiante

I gave in to a very old addiction: enrolling into a class. I am officially a part-time student of NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies. When growing up I was an excellent pupil who turned into a good high school student who turned into an average business student. I only excelled in Philosophy and English, which is problematic when your major is Mathematics and Physics. I would rather do extra essays for friends in different classes than work on integrals and derivatives. I should have known I was never going to earn big bucks in Corporate America. I guessed I fooled everyone including DH, met at my Graduate Business School. Poor lad.

Anyway, I do have a M.O.(Modus Operandi): I move countries, I need a new job (there is no such thing as ‘relocation’ or ‘job transfer’ for the middle people in the social justice field), I am freaking out, I enroll in a class. It is better than drugs, I suppose. So far, the list includes:

Edinburgh, Scotland: Heriot Watt University, MA in Business Management  with a major in Marketing. No surprise since I was studying Business in France.

London, England: University of London, MSc Development Studies, which I nailed big time, by the way 🙂 Can you guess the major freak out in my head at the time? and especially in my folks’ head: ‘What do you mean you don’t want to become rich and want to save the world? Do you realize we had to sell the house to pay for your studies?‘ It was a little exaggerated but remember, my parents are LAO…

New York, USA: Fashion Institute Technology, Millinery, Accessories Design and Small Business Management. While doing this I was heavily pregnant with the twins and thus heavily hormonal and pissed off about being sick all the time. I therefore decided to hammer down some studs on leather and tie ropes around hat blocks. At this point, I probably looked like a pregnant Dexter, the serial killer, understudy. DH knew better than not to discuss what my career endgame was with all those classes and all those push pins and needles scattered around our living room floor.

And now New York University, Non-profits 3.0: Technologies and Practice. Stay tuned.

Of course as years pass by, I might be older now than my professor so my ego better gets ready for this. I am not sure what students look these days but for me, I felt like a messy hair bun, Oliver’s people reading glasses, old tee-shirt from 80s boy band A-ha, denim jacket and pumps by Celine.