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What to pack for a Hill Tribe Tour

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It doesn’t matter how often I travel or how much notice I get before hand, I always leave packing until the utter last minute. If you watched my live Facebook video today you will know that tomorrow I head off on a 9 day fashionable adventure around North Vietnam with Asia Plus to research my route for Haute Culture’s future hill tribe textile tours. Once again it’s the night before and I’m throwing stuff into a bag with as much consideration as a kid in a sweet store, but jokes/bareface reality aside, I thought you might like to know what I pack on my fashionable adventures around the world! Lets have a gander…


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No trip is complete these days without a selfie! Me with the Darang ladies in North Thailand.

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Akha Dao Hmong Traditional Dress Traditional Textiles Vietnam

54 Traditions Under One Roof! Why Vietnam’s Museum Of Ethnology Is Totally Worth The Taxi Ride!

Vietnams museum of ethnology hanoi

Vietnam’s Museum of Ethnology presents an outstanding collection of anthropological artifacts from Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minorities and it’s neighboring countries in South East Asia.  Cultural costume, traditional textiles, handicrafts and tribal art are creatively curated indoors 2 buildings, along side an impressive display of life size ethnic houses and every day objects.  Although the museums location is 20 minute taxi ride from the city center, the Museum of Ethnology is a must for any culture vulture and craft lover visiting the countries capital city and northern rural provinces.

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Countries Traditional Dress Traditional Dress & Textiles Traditional Textiles Vietnam

4 Reasons You Shouldn’t Miss The Vietnamese Women’s Museum In Hanoi

Vietnamese women’s museum Hanoi

Located in the heart of Hanoi, the Vietnamese Women’s Museum is a modern memorial dedicated to showcasing the outstanding creative and political contributions Vietnamese women have made to society and culture. Textiles, fashion, stories, portraits and art made by Vietnam’s truly heroic and talented women are beautifully curated over four floors, making the museum a must see sight for anyone passionate about women’s studies.


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1950’s Vintage Flower Hmong blouse with hand stitched embroidery and applique

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Countries Guides Japan Japan Shopping Traditional Dress Traditional Textiles Trends

9 Reasons Why Every Fashion Lover Should Visit Japan! 🇯🇵

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Hands down, Japan was by far the most brilliant, bewildering and beautiful destination for studying fashion during my 12 month adventure around Asia. Aside from the fantastic food, majestic monuments and interesting etiquette, there was a conglomerate of contemporary and cultural fashion around almost every corner!

Gorgeous Geisha, pretty kimono’s, surreal street styles and traditional textiles are just some of the material motives that make Japan a MUST SEE destination for anyone interested in fashion and style around the world. Here’s my top 9 reasons why every fashion lover should visit Japan!

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Countries Japan Trends

School Girls In Sexy Costumes: Why Tokyo’s Maid Cafe’s Should Be Avoided!

school girls for sale in tokyos maid cafes

Did you know that there are countless cafes in Tokyo’s Akihabara district where school girls are paid to serve and perform in flirtatious french maid costumes? I didn’t. Feeling inquisitive, astonished and awkward as hell, heres what happened when I visited one of Tokyo’s most popular Maid Cafes @Home Cafe and the disturbing reality why you should avoid them.


What Is A Maid Cafe? 

Young Girl dressed in French Maid costume.

Naively, at first, I thought that the experience might be similar to that of the subculture practices of the “Sweet Lolita” girls from Harajuku. I pondered whether maybe a Maid Cafe was a place where teenage girls hung out dressed up as french maids for fun (who knows? It’s Japan after all), but alas it turns out that I was wrong. Maid cafes are in fact restaurants that employ teenage girls to dress up as French maids, thus to provide entertainment and service to their customers.

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Countries Geisha Japan Traditional Dress Traditional Dress & Textiles

5 Ways To See The Gorgeous Geisha & Mesmerising Maiko In Kyoto

maiko-gion-corner-kyoto-japan

Geisha are one of the most iconic yet secretive symbols of Japanese culture. With 400 years of mystery and allure under their obi, witnessing the gorgeous Geisha draped in their dazzling kimonos whilst performing ancient arts of Japanese entertainment is a exquisitely extraordinary experience you will never forget.

But how do you get to see a real Geisha or Maiko in Kyoto? Let me count the ways…


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A Maiko is a apprentice Geisha. We can identify that this Maiko is in her 1st year of training as she only has her bottom lip painted red

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Countries Geisha Japan Traditional Dress Tribes

50 AMAZING Facts About Geisha Everybody Ought To Know!

facts-about-geisha

With their porcelain painted faces, scarlet red lips and exquisite Kimono, Geisha girls are the ultimate iconic symbol of Japans devotion to tradition, elegance and etiquette.

Referred to as the “Flower and Willow World”, this almost secret society is one of the oldest yet most mysterious professions in  Japan. Although there is still much about them we might never learn, here are 50 amazing facts on Geisha culture we think everybody ought to know.

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Countries Guides Japan Japan Traditional Dress Traditional Dress & Textiles Traditional Textiles Trends

Kyoto’s Kaleidoscopic Kimono Culture (and where to get one) 👘

kimono-culture-in-kyotos

 Kyoto is the center of Kimono culture in Japan. Everywhere you look, both Japanese and international tourists can be seen parading proudly around the former ancient capitol in a variety of colourful Kimonos on a daily basis. But what is a Kimono, why is the traditional dress so popular in Kyoto, and where can you get one from?


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WHAT IS A KIMONO?

A Kimono is a loose, ankle length, T shaped robe made from one bolt of fabric, cut into 6 rectangular panels. Traditionally worn for formal occasions in Japan, the word Kimono directly translates into “Thing to Wear” in Japanese language.

Kimono is normally worn together with juban (Kimono underwear), a koshi himo belt, datejime sash and a broad decorative belt called a Obi, as this prevents to kimono from opening up and trailing on the floor.

Wearing a Kimono properly can be a complicated task and often requires assistance, especially for a beginners or if you are wearing a ceremonial kimono for a special event. The final look is then completed with white tabi socks and geta shoes. Watch the video below to see what this process looks like in super speed. Continue Reading

Countries Guides Japan Japan Shopping Traditional Dress & Textiles

10 Gorgeous Gifts You Won’t Want To Leave Kyoto Without!

girly-gift-guide-to-kyoto

Kyoto is famed for its traditional temples, sacred shrines, elegant gardens, and gorgeous geisha. The city itself is a delectable fusion of contemporary and ancient Japanese culture doused with a healthy measure of sensational shopping. As you walk through Gion’s cobbled streets, your sights and senses are overwhelmed with a plethora of pretty keepsakes, exceptional crafts and future heirlooms, designed to remind you of your journey to Japan’s most desirable destination.  Here’s Haute Culture’s Girly Guide to Shopping in Kyoto so you can hit the ground running and not miss a beat!


1. Kyoto’s Kimonos

The Kimono is Japan’s national traditional dress, designed to impress. Available in an all inclusive, customisable, one size fits all, and comes in an eternity of colours, patterns and prints to suit any mood and season. Kyoto is the capital of the kimono, and if you love fashion as much is I do, then you will not be able to contain yourself with excitement over how beautiful everyone looks walking around wearing this ensemble. Secondhand kimono or new Yukata can be bought for as little as $50.

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Countries Geisha Japan Traditional Dress Traditional Dress & Textiles Tribes

The Best Maiko Makeover Experience in Kyoto, Japan

maiko makeover kyoto japan

Home to over 1600 Buddhist temples, impeccable gardens, traditional wooden houses, and the mysterious world of the Maiko and Geisha, Kyoto is the center of ancient Japanese culture and history.  In April 2016 I visited esteemed Aya Maiko Makeover Studio in the heart of Gion Quarter who offered Haute Culture Fashion one the most realistic, educational and exquisite henshin experiences in all of Japan.


aya maiko makeover experience gion kyoto

Traditional transformation. My final photo shoot at Aya Maiko makeover in Gion Quarter, Kyoto.

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Countries Guides Japan Japan Trends

Robot Restaurant, Shinjuku, Tokyo: If This Doesn’t Convince You Japan Is INSANELY AMAZING Nothing Will!

Robot restaurant shinkjuku tokyo

The Robot Restaurant in Kabukichō, Shinjuku, Tokyo is the stuff that legends are made of. There isn’t a single tourist in town that hasn’t heard of, or is talking about the insanity of this show. Japanese culture is renown for having it’s finger on the pulse for the latest technology, funny fashion subcultures and wacky entertainment, with this in mind, I was intrigued to learn exactly how bizarre things can get, and above all, curious to see the futuristic inspired cabaret costumes and set design.


Watch the madness unfold in this video

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Countries Guides Japan Japan Shopping Traditional Dress & Textiles Trends

ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ Kawaii Things To Do In Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

Things to do in Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

A fun, fashionable and fastastical list awesome KAWAII things to do in and around Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan.

Harajuku is a MUST see destination in Tokyo for any fashion fanatic interested in alternative and downright crazy subculture trends, shopping and street style. I spent one week hanging out Harajuku and surrounding Shibuya and Jingumea with Tokyo Way tours in order to uncovered the best shops and most secretive spots that will give Haute Culture readers the most authentic experience when visiting Japan’s fashion capitol.


1. Take a walk down Takeshita street

The beating pulsing flamboyant kawaii heart of Harajuku. Takeshita street has escalated from a small time subculture hangout to a glittering mega brand shopping sensation. Each weekend the 500 meter pedestrian ally is pounded by tens of thousands pink clad teenagers looking to stock up on more cheap and cheer full pink accessories, pink candy floss and pink flavored crepes. I reckon it’s the most pink place in Tokyo. This is the by far the best shopping spot for fun fashion, toys, glitter, costumes, hair accessories, candy, fake eyelashes and sunglasses.

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Countries Japan Traditional Dress & Textiles Trends

Lovely Lolita Makeover at Maison de Julietta, Harajuku, Tokyo 💕

lolita makeover harajuku maison de juiletta tokyo

Harajuku district in Tokyo is renown as the cute, crazy and cool capital of fashion subcultures around the world. Every week 1000s of fashion fanatics, shopaholics and costume connoisseurs from all over Japan and beyond flock to Haraduku’s lanes, boutiques and malls. There they stock up on the latest trends, spy on emerging street styles and strut their stuff around local landmarks with high hopes of having their portrait papped for the fashion press.

The Lolita look is one of the original and still most popular styles amongst teenage girls in Japan today, as it symbolises everything sweet and “Kawaii” (cute) that Japanese culture obsesses over. On my 2nd morning in Tokyo I headed straight to Maison De Julietta who are acknowledged as the leading Lolita salon. Based in the heart of Harajuku’s most famous shopping center Laforte, they offer a wide range of Lolita’s most popular fashion brands and styles, cosmetic makeovers (including wigs and eyelashes), in-house fairy tale themed photo shoots and most importantly, an insight into the sugar coated style secrets of Japanese youth culture. How could I resist?


Watch the magical makeover in under 2 minutes

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Countries Taiwan Traditional Dress & Textiles Trends

Rainbow Village Taichung: The Most Colorful Town in Taiwan 🌈

rainbow village taichung, taiwan, asia

The Rainbow Village of Taiwan is a home makeover like no other. This tiny housing complex for retired military defendants in the city of Taichung is a colorific, childish, surreal, humorous and psychedelic outdoor exhibition that has been on my bucket list for years. Sure, we all liked to doodle as a child, but the story goes that when 93-year-old resident Huang Yung-fu (now known as the Rainbow Grandpa) heard the governments plans to tear down the complex and rehouse the veterans, he picked up a paint brush and let his imaginative illustrations run wild.

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Countries Guides Taiwan

TALENTED TAIWAN: WHY TAIWAN IS THE CUTEST & MOST CREATIVE COUNTRY I HAVE EVER VISITED

guide to taiwan

Taiwan! Who’d have thought it was one of Asia’s best kept secrets?!!? If I’m honest, the only reason I visited the island of Taiwan was because it was a stop off point between the Philippines, mainland China, Japan and South Korea. To my delight during my 3 week stay over I discovered that Taiwan was one of the safest countries in the world to visit, super easy to travel around, had a rich history in aboriginal cultures, the friendliest and most helpful natives I have ever met, and above all was unbelievably cute and creative. Here is my top tips and photos from talented Taiwan.

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Countries Dao Traditional Dress Traditional Dress & Textiles Traditional Textiles Tribes Vietnam

Ethnic Embroidery Lessons With The Red Dao in Vietnam

Ethnic Embroidery Lesson with the Red Dao in Sapa

Ta Phin is a Red Dao hill tribe village near the Chinese Vietnam boarder. Just a short 3 hour hike from the former French colonial town of Sapa, Ta Phin has become a popular tourist destination for it’s epic landscapes and ethnic minority encounters. It is impossible to walk by the village without seeing a abundance of scarlet clad sewers eagerly stitching their souvenirs to sell to passers by. January 2016 would be my 5th visit to Sapa from my home in Hanoi, only this time I would be taking the traditional textile techniques into my own hands by enrolling on a 1 day Red Dao ethnic embroidery class.


Hiking in Sapa

One of the incredible views on the hike to Tamay’s house in Ta Phin

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Countries Lao Lu Traditional Dress Traditional Dress & Textiles Traditional Textiles Tribes Vietnam

Turbans, Textiles and Traditional Dress of the Lao Lu in North Vietnam

Ethnic travel Lao Lu hill tribe Vietnam

Lao Lu people have many different names and live in a range of countries spanning South East Asia’s boarders, in Vietnam this decorative and resourceful Buddhist group reside in isolated and introverted villages found deep in the low lands near the mountains of Lai Chau province. Miles away from the nearest roads visiting the Lao Lu feels like you have stepped into a National Geographic postcard. Women can be seen weaving and wearing their traditional threads on a daily basis, smoke billows from chimneys on top of wooden stilt houses, and fields of corn crops blow lightly in the breeze against a back drop of forest clad highlands.

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