Jiao Xiang may come from a small village in China, but she's now big-leaguing it in the city that never sleeps. As a freelance design consultant and mastermind of New York-based label Shrimp + Lobster, Xiang is accustomed to rubbing elbows with the city's stylish set. She lives in her own clothing samples, but looks to Iris Apfel and Tilda Swinton for inspiration. And that doesn't surprise us one bit, especially given Xiang's motto: “Just wear what pleases you, after all it’s you who’s in it.”
Read on to find out what exactly that is.
My constant source of style inspiration:
"Iris Apfel, she dresses like a party; I love it! Tilda Swinton, she’s so bold. I think she can rock any style, and make it look cool and edgy. And, lastly, there’s a lady in Chelsea that I look up to — I spotted her about four years ago. She’s probably around 60 or 70 years old; 4-foot-9; huge, white, loose-Afro-like hair. I see her in the area at least a couple times a week. I don’t know her, but I love her style! Last week, I saw her in a cobalt, button-down basic shirt and cobalt, straight tailor pants with a white tote and Converse sneakers...She’s seriously awesome!"
My first major, big-ticket style purchase:
"Years ago, I walked by this vintage shop in Nolita and spotted this stunning, ISSEY MIYAKE piece. It’s a black, pleated dress and jacket, a clever two-in-one garment from the spring '90 collection. It’s a midscoop neck, sleeveless dress, and it continues into a jacket at the hem — the jacket has skinny sleeves and a huge collar. I knew I had to have it."
My favorite up-and-coming designers:
"JACQUEMUS by Simon Porte Jacquemus. A young designer who’s never had any training in fashion. He’s self-taught, has the passion for fashion, and just went for it. He's like his designs: pure and bold. I like his work, and I admire his tenacity. COI, Conflict of Interest: A New York-based, hilarious T-shirt brand. I love their parody against the designer labels. NIiu Niu York, Bodega Vendetta, and Balenciaga. I LOVE IT! I’m not easily impressed by graphic tees, but I really enjoy these. Lastly, Yasmine Eslami. I love good lingerie, and their lingerie is hot! Lingerie is a girl’s closest friend. It protects and empowers wherever you go."
My most surprising, out-of-left-field fashion find:
"Would it be crazy if I say it’s something from my own closet?! Last year, I got home from a date, stepped into the living room, and I was surrounded by a glow of light. Not a love-story glow, an actual glow! I looked down and realized that my banana-printed dress glows in the dark! I had the dress for at least three years and never realized that it glowed. It was homemade with printed, cotton fabric that was given to me by a fiber artist. It was delightfully surprising!"
My three favorite places to shop:
"This is a tricky one…I don’t shop much. I mostly get things made for me in the Garment District or just wear my own samples. I love making fashion the old-fashioned way. I enjoy vintage shopping and finding one-of-a-kind items. When I'm boutique shopping, I like some of the merchandise from Assembly and Creatures of Comfort in NYC."
I could never, ever part with:
"If there had to be one, it would be my grandma’s handmade basic cardigan. She made it for me a few years ago. She's 97 now, and we're looking forward to celebrating her centennial in a few years. I rarely wear this cardigan at home, and sometimes I wear it when I go to see her."
If I were 80 years old today:
"If I were 80 today, I would wear pretty hats, colorful jewelry, silk scarves, and garments with simple silhouettes. I would like to be like that cute lady in Chelsea or Iris Apfel! I think styling only gets better as you grow."
Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton
Look 1: Jiao Fashion face blazer; Jiao Fashion face pant; Jil Sander black, ankle-strap wedge; Black Sheep & Prodigal Sons Hahnoma Hexagonal Silver Rings, $200, available at OCCULTER.
Look 2: Polka-dot jumpsuit; wooden sandals; Black Sheep & Prodigal Sons Hahnoma Hexagonal Silver Rings, $200, available at OCCULTER
Look 3: Shrimp + Lobster red, lace-up top; Shrimp + Lobster white, high-waisted pant; Bing Bang Gold Sword Studs, $42, available at Bing Bang; Nike Free 5.0 Women's Running Shoe, $100, available at Nike.
Photographed by Geordy Pearson