FRD: On Maria’s Dior

Maria Garcia Chiuri debuted her first collection with the prominent and storied Christian Dior this week. The former co-creative director of Valentino had definitely brought some of her whimsical emphasis on fairytales and fantasy in her new show.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found fashion reviews a little…hard to read. This is very likely due to my lack of experience and fashion vocabulary, which I here so openly admit.

Of course, we should always learn from the best, in order to create the best work! So hereby, I announce my very first Fashion Review Dissection (just because I’m learning how to cut a sheep brain in class lately, highly interesting). In brief, let’s call it FRD.

So, here we go. (Mario..)

“Chiuri successfully softened the corseted stricture of the Dior New Look—the daunting carapace that faces every designer at this house—by using supple fan pleating to create peplums, volumes in sleeves, and swirls in skirts. Things went in and out where they should for a house that does “feminine” waists. The ankle-grazing ballerina length of the New Look was honored, too, even if that was in wide “Tuxedo” culottes, Chiuri’s answer to masculine-feminine tailoring that opened the show.”

Sarah Mower, Jan 23rd 2017, Vogue Runway

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Chiuri started with the Bar jacket

“Chiuri successfully softened the corseted stricture of the Dior New Look—the daunting carapace that faces every designer at this house”

Most of you may know about Dior’s New Look, one of the most signature look crafted in the 20th century by Mr. Christian Dior himself. As Mower wrote here, all succeeding creative directors and designers had been trying to recreate and reform the New Look and the Bar Jacket. See Raf Simon’s debut here.

So, it was natural, almost expected that Chiuri had created her own interpretation and take on the piece.

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Pleats + Bar

“by using supple fan pleating to create peplums, volumes in sleeves, and swirls in skirts.”

And her version of the Bar and the New Look was very feminine. Adding layers of tiny pleats, forming a peplum. Peplums refer to the layer of raffles at the waist, see other examples here. The pleated skirts are sheer, very much following the pre-fall trends.

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Adore Those Raffles

“The ankle-grazing ballerina length of the New Look was honored, too, even if that was in wide “Tuxedo” culottes, Chiuri’s answer to masculine-feminine tailoring that opened the show.”

There Mower said it, it’s in fact an exquisite collaboration of the feminine and the masculine. All black, still following the gentle X silhouette, expressed in an androgynous pair of culottes and a sharp jacket. And of course, don’t forget that big mosquito on her face.

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Tuxedo + Culottes

Besides the Bar Jacket and New Look reference, Mower also touched on the familiarity of using imaginative prints and embroidery on the skirts, resembling her years of work at Valentino.

“Some of the spirit was familiar, a melding of her Italian-virginal styling with Dior-isms. Fresh-faced nymphs trod the Dior pathways in low kitten heels and boots, wearing ingenue ball gowns with wispy lingerie straps, and a vast variety of poetically playful garden-referenced headdresses by Stephen Jones.”

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Valentino Red on Quilted Satin
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There you go: Those Valentino Prints
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Referencing Horoscopes and Starry Skies
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Whimsical

 

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Garden Look

There were mixed comments in the crowd. Some of it worked, some didn’t. Well, I think is indeed a very heavy reference to Valentino, but it that necessary a bad thing? After all the essence of Dior is actually very…romantic, like Valentino. Yes, one is French the other is Italian, but isn’t the romance and passion transferrable?

A brand doesn’t change with mere time. It also evolves with the creative director, and I think Chiuri has every right and freedom to insert as much ‘Valentino’ she wants into her interpretation of Dior.

And I mean, they are all very damn pretty.


More on The Dior New Look:

http://www.fashiongonerogue.com/dior-bar-jacket-new-look/

Born on this day in fashion history: Christian Dior and Cristobal Balenciaga, Part I

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Why Comparing Yourself to Others is Death

I am very much guilty to this.

Today at staff meeting, we did an evaluation on our top 5 strengths from the StrengthQuest test. Being a group of college seniors, working as peer advisers in an advising office, professional development was integral to our job. Only when we hone our personal and professional skills can we better help others, DUH.

So, as we each share our 5 strengths, what they are and if anything odd stood out to us, we realized that the strength ‘achiever’ was the top strength for half of our team.

“Achiever” meaning always overarching and working hard. Meaning always striving for the best quality and staying on top of shit.

I didn’t get “Achiever”.

Well, I can say I am no expert in waking up in the morning and definitely not good at studying math. But, am I not an achiever? Not getting the label, although it is something so minimal, has kept me awake at night, meaning now.

Yes, mind us, we should note that this is only a test. Not of my life, not even a wholesome evaluation of me as a person, but something more like an upgraded version of horoscope. But why the heck is this keeping me awake?

Then, I realized, I’m doing it again. Comparing myself to others. The taboo. The detrimental and all the evil.

It is funny. Just earlier that afternoon, I was chatting with my colleague about not to compare ourselves with other people despite our college senior fears and anxiety. Somehow, my words are not reaching myself in this very evening and it’s causing more fuzz than I am hoping.

So why should we never compare ourselves with others? Based on personal experience, here are 3 things.

1.You are never satisfied. In an unhealthy desperate kinda insane way.

Chances are you lie awake at night, wondering where will you be in 5 years when all your peers got managerial roles. Chances are you work so hard that you play the busy card on people that actually matter to you (like your mom and dad). Chances are you got that 90% on the bio exam but still feels that you did very poorly because you didn’t reach the 75th percentile. This is a little sick.

2. You are unhappy.

You may feel achievements are never truly achievements unless you are doing better than other people. You don’t find enough joy in doing the tasks, you see results. Yes, results and numbers are important, for your company. What will those actually mean to you?

3. You reek negativity. 

Because you are dissatisfied, you are unhappy, you probably won’t be a very happy to be around with. You see, it’s all a vicious cycle.

So, why do this to yourself? TRANSLATION: Don’t do it! Don’t fall into the trap of over competitiveness over the most minimal things! Don’t fall into the blackhole of self-deprecation. Don’t reek a negative aura that will shun your bright future and opportunities away.

Writing this for myself tonight, nobody has to read this. But if you happen to, then tell me what is the most ridiculous thing you compared others to.

Back to Black

Friday was the Milos protest. I went out to a party with my friends and got an email about a man being shot at Red Square.

Saturday was the Women’s March. I see my friends participate with big drawn out signs, social media booming with live videos and posts all over the world.

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Call me cold, but I don’t believe protests on the streets have much use. Sometimes, I think if people are really protesting because of their beliefs or if they just want to have fun in the crowd.

This also reminds me of the moral development stages I learned in my developmental psychology class. When psychologists interviewed and accessed Berkeley students back in 1960s after a large student protest, they find that although a small group of students really rallied for their beliefs of changing the university (scoring the highest morality stage 6), others only wanted to participate because they can skip class (stage 2: doing something for the benefit of themselves). So, are people truly going because they believe?

I don’t want to see people get hurt, or see any events act as a platform for violence. I hate seeing long posts from people defending themselves, saying they are right about what happened, when we should all be caring about the man who got shot and pray something like this will never happen again. Please ban guns, this should have some help.

I am not much of a political person. I am not much of an activist. I am not sure how I can help to improve the situation. So the least I can do is to write down my views.

And the fact is that, America frightens me right now. img_4930As Poiret once asked Chanel dressed in all black:

“For whom, madame do you mourn?”

“For you, Monsieur.”

For you and for us.

img_4924Top: ZARA

Pencil Skirt: Urban Outfitters

Choker: Moon Lab

PHOTO: WENDY WEI

Going for that Champagne

 

Hi friends, life has been good! Besides severe seniorities (aka “I am graduating in a few months, why should I study” syndrome) and the brutally cold Seattle weather, all is well.

I just came back from a Christmas trip back home to Shanghai and Taiwan, and I definitely indulged myself in all kinds of cheap delicious food and shopping. Life is too good back home, with all the time in the world reading Japanese novels, playing piano and painting, that I shred a few tears on my way back to the States. But responsibilities are responsibilities…

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And this responsibility very much include UPDATING MY BLOG. So, here I am, dragging my fashionista friend and partner in crime, shooting in the beautiful alleys of Capitol Hill.

I’ve been a little obsessed with Burgundy + Champagne lately, partly due to my critical friend’s advice (You know who you are) to move away from my usual ALL BLACK witchy style. And to my surprise, going full-on girly and sweet is not too bad.

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Les Nereides ring: Christmas Present from dad

 

Now that I am a senior, and I am practically graduating in 6 months (OMGGGGGGG, mental breakdown), life is at its many intersections. But no matter what happens, my love for fashion and creative design will always be there. Somehow it will all work out. I guess, when in doubt, just keep calm and do fashion (and drink some Champagne).

 

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Cream Sweater: ZaraPleats

Maxi: FIFTY PERCENT from Taipei

Black Shoulder Bag with Tassels: I.T HK

Burgundy Maxi Coat: SPAO from Taipei

Burgundy Booties: Zara

Flowery Crystal Ring: Les Néréides

PHOTO: Wendy Wei

#MyCSM

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To this day, I am still talking about London. It was THAT amazing. The 3 weeks at the legendary Central Saint Martins was life changing. Not only did I learn immensely from the most prominent fashion tutors, I also made talented friends from all over the world (14 countries to be exact).

So you may ask, what did you learn in 3 weeks?

Well, quite a lot actually. Here is a list of 10 steps of the creative design process I learned from Central Saint Martins. Hopefully, it can bring some insight to other fashion enthusiasts and emerging designers.

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Last day at CSM
  1. Go on the streets for Creative Research

What is research? The old me may think web search on runway shows and mood boards. That is one way to do it, but it is not comprehensive at all. Creative research is about getting on the streets, drawing and taking pictures. It’s about visiting galleries and museums, and being mesmerized in the art work, finding that connection that sparks your design inspiration.

For our project, we spent the first few days visiting the Tate Modern, Newport Gallery, Dover Street Market, Portobello Market and Spitalfield Market, constantly taking pictures and sketching. We also collected unique items such as vintage postcards, fabric pieces and trims, anything that seemed interesting.

This is known as primary research.

Once you discover an exciting image (or item), you go on and capture more images relating to that original image. It doesn’t have to be a concrete concept at this point. Just go with your feeling. Maybe it is the structural elements in this image that excites you, then try to recreate other images or find objects that resonate with that particular structure. Maybe it is the color scheme, then find other images that go along with the colors.

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Past student work: Research + Development samples

2. Print Research on Large A4 Paper

After accumulating a sufficient amount of visual research, print them out on large clear A4 size paper. Only on a large scale can you see what really fits and what doesn’t. Edit out images that don’t have the right feeling (or put them aside) and continue onto secondary research.

For secondary research, you can look at books, magazines and other images you may find on the internet relating to your original image. Don’t look for designers’ work or runway shows. Designers’ work are their own interpretation of their concept, and it won’t bring much help in forming your own concept. Look for images, shapes, reoccurring color schemes, structure and techniques. Photocopy images on large A4 size paper and compare them with your primary research. Again, edit out images that don’t fit.

3. Collage Doesn’t Have to be Pretty (at first)

Once you have found more images relating to this ‘feeling’. You can start collaging. Work in an A3 size notebook or card. Start putting your visual research images and form collages. Tape down images with temporary masking tape. They don’t have to be pretty at first. This is perhaps one of the hardest lessons I learned.

This process is all about experimentation. Collages are not the final product, your designs are. So, at this point, just play with form and structure. Play with rotation and composition on these pages. Tape them down, adjust, move on.

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One of the many design studios

4. The Photocopy Machine is a Godsend

What if you run out of images to cut? Just print and photocopy more of the same images you found! You can also play with scale and color. Try photocopying images in super large and super small scale, try color and greyscale.

You should also photocopy fabric pieces and trims. Instead of buying actual materials at this point, simply shove the fabric onto the machine and copy it 20 times (again try different scales). Use that to further your collaging process. (This is like the smartest trick ever)

5. Form Your Concept

At this point, you should have a pretty clear idea of the ‘feeling’ you are forming. This ‘feeling’ will be your baby concept. Once you have identified your concept, you can go back to the library and do more secondary research and continue with the experimentation.

You can start experimenting by making fabric samples. Is there a particular technique or color scheme you are focusing on? Try to recreate them by making small fabric pieces. Sew them together and shove it into the photocopy machine, copy it 20 times and collage.

More student work: Playing with fabric samples

6. Editing is Refining NOT Rewinding

Through collage, fabric samples, sketching and other techniques, you have developed your concept and design ideas. Here comes the editing. Brutally rearranging elements of your work and taking out irrelevant images is extremely important.

Even if you really like a particular image, don’t keep it if it doesn’t make sense! If an image fits well into the context, but it has horrible resolution or composition, take it down and retake it! Be critical about your work and constantly question if your images are following your concept.

Don’t be afraid of editing. Don’t be afraid of taking things down, even if this mean going back to the first page. For me, I was constantly redoing my pages every hour. I could be done with 8 pages but after critique with my tutors, there could be only 2 pages left. It is quite painful to watch your work taken down, but all is for refining. Even if you are taking images down, you are still going forward in the design process.

7. Listen to Your Tutor vs. Listen to Your Heart

Sometimes your ideas will clash with your tutor’s comments. Your tutors, being respected professionals in the fashion industry will most probably know more than you.. SO, always listen to your tutor and try their suggestions first. If it really doesn’t work, then argue another way. Show your tutors that you have taken in their feedback but it just doesn’t align with your vision.

8. Trace + Sketch + Design

After collaging and experimenting, you can start sketching. If you have developed interesting silhouettes through experimentation, you can trace them onto vellum or tracing paper and transform them into more garment-looking designs. Note that the actual designing only happens after a longggggg process of experimentation!

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Presentation Day with my Tutor

9. When stuck…

When you feel lost and stuck in your project, take a short break and review your past pages. Show your peers and see what they think. Ask what kind of feeling or sense do they detect from your work. If they are describing the exact feeling you are crafting, you are in the right direction! If not, continue to adjust and edit!

You can also observe what your peers are doing with their project. Is there a technique or experimentation that you can try as well?

10. Work Hard, Play Harder

Designing should be fun and playful! To me, designing is about experimentation, trial and error. At times, it can be intense and you don’t know if your concept even makes sense, and just want to rip it all out. But it is all part of the design process. Work hard, but play harder with your ideas, and it will surely take you somewhere.

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Granary Square, CSM campus. On Fridays, there are food trucks

These 3 weeks at CSM was incredible, I will do it all over again in a heart beat.

If interested, definitely check out the CSM short courses here!

My Weaving Days

For the last 6 months, I studied how to weave at school. I wanted to try it simply because it was one of the very few textile classes offered at my Uni, and I thought it will be useful for building my fashion foundation. Since it was such a time-intensive and fruitful experience, I thought it will be nice to showcase some pieces I’ve done. (And YAY for the 1st Art & Design Post!)

So what the heck is a weaving exactly?

To weave is to form a 3D structure, that is a piece of fabric, by interlacing yarns or threads into a weaving loom. A weaving is the end product, the piece of finished fabric.

Weaving is a veryyyyyyy long and sometimes tedious process. Even a small structure (4X4′) can take about more than 5 hours. And depending on the intricacy of the pattern, weaving set up, and fabric finishing, a weaving can take up to months or years to complete.

The weavings here are called Double Weaves, where there is a different set of color system on each side of the fabric. These pieces took about 3 weeks to complete and lots and lots of ice-cream comfort.

2×2 Twills, 6×12′, Mercerized Cotton Threads

2×2 Twills, 6×5′, Mercerized Cotton Threads

2×2 Twills, 6×5′, Mercerized Cotton Threads

2×2 Twills, 6×5′, Mercerized Cotton Threads

Although weaving is a really long process and it’s easy to freak out when something is not going right (Trust me, there’s a lot), I still really enjoyed it because it’s a very unique and rare art experience.

Any weavers or textile lovers here? Leave a comment below!

Broke Girls: How to Save Money?

Summer is here and it’s the season for ice cream, the beach, music fests and lots and lots of SHOPPING. And that’s when it gets out of hand.

Honestly, I think I should be the last person to give advice on saving money since I really suck at it. But if you look at it in a different angle, you can learn exactly what NOT to do. So, in a way, my advice can be quite beneficial? (Cry)

Here are my 10 DON’Ts. Learn how to slowly save your fortune! Or at least be less broke..

1.DON’T buy another unnecessary skirt.

In this world of constant temptation, it is just too easy to spend your hard earn money on unnecessary things. When I go shopping, I may see a skirt I really like and it is within my price range. It may even be on sale. But do I really need it? I already have hundreds of skirts at home, denim, chiffon, checked, pleated you name it. Do I really need another skirt? Even when you negotiate with yourself that you may really really need it to match with that new blouse you just bought last week, think again. Go around other stores and come back later. Give it 3 days to sink in and rethink if you really really need it. If the answer is yes after 3 days and it is within your price range, THEN go for it!

2. DON’T buy it now: Delay of Gratification

In psychology, we learn that if you endure a struggle and reward yourself later, there’s a greater sense of satisfaction and achievement than getting the reward right away. This is called delay of gratification. Watch the famous marshmallow experiment here. So why not reward yourself after a great challenge. For me, I really wanted to get the Rouge Volupte Sine YSL lipstick for Christmas but I was a little broke. (when am I not broke?) So I promised myself if I aced 2 of my classes this quarter, I will buy the lipstick then. And that’s exactly what I did.

3. DON’T buy so much ice cream

I am a shameless ice cream fanatic. All my friends know that. I can finish a bucket of Dreyers in 3 days, it is insane. Needless to say, ice cream is full of sugar and trans fat that would absolutely revolt your summer dieting plans. So even though double scoops of Molly Moons sound so good on a hot sunny day, don’t get it everytime you go out. A scoop of Molly Moons cost about $4.20 and they definitely add up. This is the same for all icy drinks like Starbucks Frappucinos and Bubble teas. If you can resist buying sweet drinks and desserts, you can save quite a bit of money!

4. DON’T forget money you borrowed or lended

We all do this. When hanging out with friends, one may offer to pay the meal and everyone else may venmo her back. But sometimes, we forget and things get awkward. Whether you are the lender or the borrower, it is good practice to quickly memo the amount and the person’s name if you can’t access venmo immediately. That way, you can save a lot of the awkwardness when you try to ask your money back next month…

5. DON’T forget online subscriptions

With so many free monthly trials online, it is very easy to sign up for something and forget about it completely, only have it charge you at the start of next month. So before subscribing to the trial, be sure to schedule it on your calendar the date that the trial expires to avoid unnecessary charges. Also, if you are going on holidays, be sure to cancel any unnecessary apps.

6. DON’T eat out all the time

This is probably the hardest one to avoid. Being a busy college student/intern or whatever, it is increasingly hard to cook meals at home. Also, with the million choices of food just right out the door, who wants to cook? But eating out all the time certainly has a toll. A typical dish in Seattle is around $7-9 and with tips ranging about $11-12. Eating out everyday (2 meals a day) would cost more than $150 a week! And that is without drinks or desserts. Limit yourself to eat out 1-2 meals per week and try to cook at home! The results can be quite drastic.

7. DON’T follow your friends’ shopping habits

Your friends are your friends, but they are not you. Just because they can afford to spend money on the latest Chanel bag doesn’t mean you can too (DUH). Just because they can afford to eat out everyday doesn’t mean you have to follow suit either. Try to suggest activities you can do together without spending so much money like going to the park, to the beach or hosting a cooking party at home! Fun doesn’t always mean spending money.

8. DON’T fall into the sale trap

Sale does not equal free. It still costs cash (DUH). So before every purchase, think through the need vs. want question. If you don’t find anything you absolutely love, don’t buy it. That easy.

9. DON’T forget to transfer from checking to savings account, NOT the other way around!

Set up an easy monthly transfer from checking to savings, a small bit of $25 will do. And whatever you do, refrain from touching the savings money. I admit I have so much trouble with this one. I will often transfer savings to checking when I am running out, ruining the sole purpose of saving. Check on the savings account once in a while and watch it grow!

10. DON’T forget $1 is still money

Every dollar and every cent is still money. So every time you think, it’s only $4 dollars for a drink, I can totally afford that, THINK AGAIN. Same for savings, every cent and every dollar you save will add up! So, don’t give up!

I hope you enjoyed reading my DON’Ts and please tell me if you have any other good ideas to save up! Broke girls (like me) definitely need it.

My view on Brexit

So I was about to FaceTime my best friend in England yesterday when she anxiously told me she was watching the news and waiting on the results of the referendum. And being a politics idiot, I honestly didn’t have a clue what she was talking about…till I refreshed my FB feed.

UK is leaving the European Union. What?

What would that mean for the UK? What would that mean for the EU? The US? China? Me?

As a plummeted through my questions, I tried to read everything I can find on Brexit (Or, the popular # British exit from EU). Reading Harper Bazaar’s latest article, I managed to summarize three things:

  1. The UK prime minister David Cameron called the referendum so that people will shut up about leaving the EU, even though that meant putting his reputation and position at stake. Now, he has announced to resign.
  2. The leaving decision won by a slight 52%, mostly contributed from the older generation
  3. Though the UK won’t be leaving right this second, the decision is bound to shake the world economically, socially and of course politically. It’s probably the largest political change since the break down of USSR.

To me, I really have very limit understanding or interest in politics. However, I do understand that this impact will affect our generation, the millennials tremendously compared to the older generation.

The first obstacle I thought of was travel. Being a Hong Kong passport holder, I can travel to England and stay without work or school for 90 days. Furthermore, I also have the benefit of traveling to most EU countries without a visa. Would that be bound to change? For my best friend, who is British, will she be restricted of the benefits of traveling within Europe? And how about the 7.5 million foreign born immigrants, of which 2.24 million are from other EU countries? (2011)

Secondly, education. London, the international hub of fashion is the center for major fashion institutes including London College of Fashion, Royal College of Art and the most renowned Central Saint Martins of UAL. As an incoming summer student of CSM, I have the hopes of learning the most out of this summer program and pursing another degree program in London upon graduation. With this drastic change, will restrictions upon international students also increase? After the elimination of work rights for non-EU students in 2015, international students in the UK are already forced to fly home upon graduation unless of course, you marry a local and discard your original citizenship. Will there still be hopes in international fashion education despite all?

Perhaps I am being overly negative, but I worry.

Overall, as an ‘outsider’, I believe the real impact would not be tangible till at least a few years. So, I guess we can all wait on it.

I just got off the phone with my best friend and she shares my worry. But what can we do? 

Midnight Blue for Spring

It’s been a while since my last post so I think it is about time to kick start with some outfit inspiration.

Ever since my trip to the Big Apple, I have been inspired by the vintage and artistic culture there (more update on that on another post). So in this look, I layered an oversize white shirt on top of a midnight blue velvet dress to create a vintage, elegant feel. Hope you like them!

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Velvet Dress from Forever21, White Oversized shirt from Madewell, Blue shades from Earthbound, Black little shoulder Bag from Bershka, Black laced up sandals from Zara

PHOTO: WENDY WEI