Category Archive for San Francisco

Kimono & Issey Miyake couture: Torso Vintages at San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers.

vintage kimono

Do you remember when I visited Torso Vintages, the famed San Francisco purveyors of vintage fashion? I was swept away by their museum-like collection of hats, robes, purses and jewelry from past eras. If only I could play dress-up with their wardrobe…

Thanks to my dear Trevor and the staff of Torso Vintages, this fashion fantasy became reality. Enjoy this very special shoot, featuring a floral kimono, Issey Miyake set, and beautiful flowers!

conservatory of flowers, san francisco

San Francisco was a tad rainy, so Trevor and I scouted out an indoor location. We settled on the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park — a Victorian greenhouse that looks like something out of American Horror Story. Neither of us had ever been here before, which added to the anticipation.

japanese kimono model, fashion

This lush setting was a perfect match for the kimono and purse, which are decorated with flower and leaf motifs. Trevor was my stylist and photographer for the day (you can see more on his Instagram). Love the shape of the fringe top that he picked out for me.

purple orchid flowers

The Conservatory of Flowers is a treasure chest of rare flowers and plants. The skeleton structure dates back to 1878, making it the oldest in America.

san francisco greenhouse, garden

The wings have different climates and themes: Lowland Tropics, Highland Tropics, Aquatic Plants and more.

Trevor sits on a bench in the Potted Plants room, which was probably our favorite. We wished we could sit here all day, reading or meditating.

indoor garden, san francisco

In the Victorian era, upper-class collectors would display their exotic plants in greenhouses like this.

flower kimono robe

This round picture-window created the perfect frame for my Torso Vintages kimono.

issey miyake purple jacket

For my second look, I wore a dark purple Issey Miyake pleated top, jacket and skirt. The Japanese designer is famous for his high-tech, pleated garments.

vintage japanese coat sleeves

Close-up on the sleeves. What an intriguing, custom fabric. (You can get a similar Issey Miyake jacket here.)

三宅 一生 fashion

Pleats, please! The first outfit is traditional, the second futuristic, and both are quintessentially Japanese.

bell shaped plant

I wish I knew more about plant species (I confess I have a bit of a black thumb). I was mesmerized by the hundreds of exotic varieties in the Conservatory, like this trumpet-shaped one.

vintage japanese designer fashion

Follow me, and I’ll show you more marvels…

heart shaped leaves

… like heart-shaped leaves. Look at the delicate veins and strands.

rare issey miyake pleated skirt

It’s intriguing to see the influence of nature on man-made designs. Love the big collar, paneled skirt and shell-like curves of Issey Miyake’s coordinate.

tube shaped plants

Trevor and I could have taken a thousand photos inside the Conservatory. Those colors and patterns!

avantgarde japanese clothing

We kept remarking at how fresh the air was. I felt like my lungs had been cleansed from the inside out.

glass conservatory flowers

It’s a jungle in there. Towering, living, breathing.

blue purple red colored hair

The green theme matched my current hair color: an ombre that flows from blue to purple to magenta. My hairstyle / color is by extraordinarily talented Stephanie Hoy, stylist at Stratosphere Salon in Vancouver.

different shaped green leaves

I didn’t want to “leave”…

decadent green jewelry, bracelet

Details of this magnificent bracelet, which looks at home next to purple orchids.

black purse with flowers

Trevor picked out this velvet purse to match. The flowers and fashion make magic together, don’t you think?

tropics sign

Old-time elegance…

big pink ruffled flower

Explosive flowers… it was a vintage dream come true. Thank you, Trevor and Torso Vintages, for making this shoot happen!

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

There’s a lot to enjoy in San Francisco, no matter what type of traveler you are. (Here are all my SF travel tips, to help you plan a trip).

san francisco botanical gardens

The Conservatory of Flowers is a perfect example of a place that anyone can enjoy.

It’s open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am – 4:30pm, and admission is between $2-8. Address: 100 John F Kennedy Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118. More info on their website.

kimpton hotels robe, bathrobe

Another look at my blue-purple-red hair. I’m wearing an animal-print bathrobe — these are found in all Kimpton Hotels. (Remember when Rose and I wore these robes at the Seattle Kimpton?)

kimpton hotel prescott room

I stayed at the Prescott San Francisco, a boutique hotel in the SOMA district. It’s part of Kimpton, one of my favorite hotel groups. I particularly look forward to chatting with the staff — they give personalized recommendations, and wear bow ties!

My room was big enough for Trevor to spread out all the clothing he borrowed. The close-up of the purse reveals all the intricate detailing.

black silk retro cocktail dress

I wore long, black silk gown from Torso Vintages for the daily cocktail hour. That’s right: free local wines and cheeses. Yet another reason I heart Kimpton.

kimpton cocktail hour, decor

Kimpton’s decor has an Art Deco feel — yet the rooms are modern and the WiFi is  fast.

kimpton palomar hotel

We went for dinner at the nearby Palomar Hotel, another Kimpton property. The lobby’s light-box seat and bicycle are crying out for Instagram photos. (Yes, I took one of Trevor.)

kimpton hotels san francisco

The recently renovated Palomar has an artsy, hipster vibe.

hip restaurant dirty habit

The decoration is all about big, eye-catching visuals.

Dirty Habit san francisco

We had dinner upstairs at Dirty Habit, an inventive new restaurant that specializes in craft cocktails.

cool hipster san francisco restaurant

We’re adventurous drinkers, and tried the cocktail with a porcini mushroom infusion. Weird, in a great way.

steampunk clockwork wall decoration

Dirty Habit has a laid-back vibe and young clientele. The clockwork gears on the wall are a draw for Steampunk lovers.

dirty habit food san francisco

The menu is constantly changing, and is a mix of fine favorites (like seared scallops) and unexpected combinations (how about yuzu and bacon crumble on coffee cream?). For dessert, we had a memorable Pavlova with madras curry. It doesn’t sound like a combination that would work, and yet it does.

leather swing

It was a short trip to SF, but a fun one! I also did a TV interview with ABC Nightline while I was here, in case you missed it.

Do you wear vintage? What do you think of Torso’s couture collections?


Oakland Cat Town Cafe, first to open in USA! ABC Nightline TV interview, Shinjuku Tokyo Robot restaurant.

san francisco Cat Town Café

So many maooos! Last December, I was honored to be interviewed on ABC Nightline, the long-running news program that is broadcast worldwide. The network flew me to San Francisco to be interviewed in a segment about cat cafes and the spread of J-pop culture to America.

If you missed this ABC Nightline episode, don’t fret — you can watch it below and on my YouTube channel. It includes footage of the psychedelic Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku, bikini-clad fembots and kawaii maid cafes!

The TV crew and I filmed at the first cat cafe to open in the USA: Cat Town Oakland (near San Francisco). Unlike Japanese kitty cafes, this one has a meaningful mission: to save at-risk abandoned felines.

Want to peek inside Cat Town and a J-pop mall in San Francisco? Then read on.

erbert chong leather skirt

First, details of what I wore on my TV appearance. There’s a mao-mao peeking out from my striped top! It’s actually a dress by Mandycat in Hong Kong. (Here’s a similar striped top with a bat on it.)

Click the items below, to build an outfit like mine!

japanese cute goth shoes

My long, leather skirt is by the young Hong Kong-based designer, Erbert Chong. Everyone is raving about his leather, edgy yet wearable designs for women. I can’t get over the materials and finish of his pieces — they’re some of my favorite items in my wardrobe right now.

My white creeper shoes, with a pirate bear, are Peace Now. This Japanese brand has unfortunately shut down…

cat silver ring

My coiled, silver 3D bracelet is from Angelica Brigade.

Everyone should have a cat ring, in my opinion! Here’s where you can get a cat-faced ring like mine.

cat town cafe, oakland

Trevor joined me for the ABC Nightline TV news shoot at Cat Town (address: 2869 Broadway in downtown Oakland, California). Not a bad job, playing on-camera with a dozen kitties. (Watch the video here).

Like the Shinjuku cat cafe, the space is creatively decorated with all sorts of climbing platforms and toys.

cat town adoption, cafe oakland

Japanese cat cafes — cute as the concept is — tend to operate a bit like petting zoos. These cafes bring in rare purebred species, like exotic shorthairs, for the customers to enjoy.

In contrast, Cat Town is a partnership with Oakland Animal Services. The cafe provides a stimulating environment for shelter cats, especially the ones who are the least likely to be adopted. Volunteers help to run the space, and the goal is to let these abandoned cats blossom and find permanent adoptive homes. 

funny cat in suit portrait

As soon as you step into Cat Town, you feel that the operation is full of heart. The humans who work here puts the needs of the cats first (and the decor reinforces their prime position!)

cat decorated cookies

The coffee shop is separate from the cat-petting area, but you can bring your latte inside and sip it while playing with cats. The cafe focuses on supporting local businesses, and sells small-batch pastries from a local baker, like cookies laced with “Cattitude.” 

cat cafe rules

Like in the Tokyo cat cafes I visited, there are rules to follow, which keep the cats safe. However, unlike in Asia, guests don’t take off their shoes before entering, nor are they required to sanitize their hands.

(Do you see the Scottish Fold drawing in the top corner? It’s the only fold at the cafe, since this round-faced breed rarely ends up in animal rescues.)

abc nightline tv show reporters

I’ve been chatting with ABC Nightline’s team for some time now, and gave them travel tips when they went to Tokyo. As a follow-up for their Tokyo pop culture stories, I appeared on the show to give background and context on maid, cat and robot cafes in Japan.

Here I am with ABC News presenter Cecilia Vega, and producer / director Nick Capote. They’re so sweet, and we had a fun day together!

Oakland Animal Shelter cats

Cecilia and I wandered around Cat Town, and played with the cats. It’s great to see the strays thriving in this cat-tastic environment.

interior cat cafe oakland california

You can grab a cat toy, and they’ll pounce all over it. The walls are covered with colorful murals, including artwork of Grumpy Cat, Totoro, Nyan Cat and more pop culture icons.

first american cat cafe

The custom-built playgrounds are a tip of the hat to San Francisco’s landmarks, like the Tribune building.

cecelia vega, abc news reporter

Cecilia Vega and I chatted about the appeal of cat cafes, the spread of Japanese concept cafes to North America, and more. Watch our conversation on the ABC Nightline segment. 

oakland cat town

Peekaboo, I see you! The cats have a private room in the back where they can escape the crowds and sleep.

A few of the kitties couldn’t take their paws off our film equipment. Several took a nap in a camera bag.

adopt cats, cat cafe usa

Rescuing and re-homing cats continue to be a challenge in cities worldwide. Animal shelters do great work, but are over-crowded and stressful.

So far, Cat Town is succeeding at giving them space to thrive. 

abc nightline tokyo theme cafes

Already, adoption rates are up: customers will play with the cats and fall in love with one. All the adoptions go through a screening process, to make sure the pets go to secure homes.

cat town, first american cat cafe

The volunteers genuinely care about the cats, and do the best for them. As an example, I noticed that they feed the kitties Wellness — a byproduct-free, grain-free brand that I feed my own Scottish Fold baby, Basil Farrow. The staff told me that they turned down sponsorship offers from big-name cat food companies, since this mass-produced food doesn’t contain the best ingredients for their health. Go Cat Town!

steampunk cat tattoo

Another instance of dedication: co-founder Adam has a tattoo of their coffee partner’s logo (Bicycle Coffee), with cat-ears and whiskers. On the left, Trevor strokes a black cat, which matches his look.

san francisco cat animal shelter

For these reasons, I’ve been recommending Cat Town to everyone who visits San Francisco. It’s the first cat cafe to open up in America, and hopefully sets the standard for a meaningful, adoption-oriented approach.

Entry is by donation; you can reserve a guaranteed visitation time with a minimum $10 donation. Every hour, about 20 people are allowed into the space, and you can play with about 10-15 felines.

waraku ramen, japantown san francisco

Trevor, the ABC team and I took a quick lunch break in SF’s Japan Town. I’m still thinking about the ramen at Waraku, it was that good!

japanese street fashion couple

We continued filming for the episode at New People World, the Japanese fashion mall. (The address and a tour of the boutiques are in my San Francisco shopping guide.)

maruq store, new people world

MaruQ, located on the first floor, remains my favorite store in the Jpop mall. So much cuteness in one room, including brands like Ayammy, Omocat and Liz Lisa.

rilakkuma toys, cute japanese mall

Raise your paw if you love Rilakkuma the bear! (Sadly, this segment was cut from the ABC Nightline feature, but I still wanted to share these images with you.)

japantown san francisco clothing shops

Cecilia and I walked around the store, and chatted about the growing popularity of Japanese street fashion in America. Can you spot Trevor in the background?

cat print dress, japanese goth tattoos

Gothic tattoos and a rainbow cat dress: spooky meets sweet, that’s how we roll.

san francisco gyaru, jpop

The shop girls are adorable as ever. They’re modeling a variety of looks from Japanese style tribes.

yellow heart shaped sunglasses

Trevor couldn’t resist getting these sunglasses. “And I won’t break your heart shaped glasses.”

For more info on where to get Goth, vintage, alternative and kawaii clothing, check out my San Fran shopping guide.

furry rainbow backpacks

A million “arigatos” for the ABC Nightline team, for having me on the program!

new people world fashion mall

Please take a moment to watch my interview on ABC Nightline! The segment includes crazy footage from the Robot Restaurant in Japan (with robot-women performers), maid cafes, and cat cafes in Tokyo and California.

scottish fold cat cafe

Have you ever been to a cat cafe? Would you want one to open in your hometown?

Shop my ABC TV outfit below…