[UPDATE: This story was originally published on November 8.]
Amidst all the noise pollution of "experts" and wannabe stylists in this town, once in a blue moon you'll find a quiet presence whose vibe alone explodes louder than dynamite. These non-self-promoting rarities almost seem like fictitious characters from utopian pre-Zoe show days of yore — their souls fed by flying solo, and their work reflecting that dedication.
When we met Mui-Hai (pronounced "moy hay") Chu at a recent party, her subtle glamour seemed almost foreign (although channeling Kate Lanphear-meets-Dali). The Reno-born gal's part of that elusively enlightened
clique — the fashion editor to be exact — so it's no surprise that nonconformity pumps through her veins. After our curiosity reached a fever pitch, we went out on a limb and invited ourselves into her world (and DTLA pad). What we found inside was a beatnik's dream loft packed with a compendium of far-out art and wares you won't find elsewhere. Click through for a walk-through of this with-it girl's loft, and we're sure you'll agree: Her. Style. Slays.
Photographed by Mike Rosenthal
Can you nail down the je ne sais quoi this particular apartment possesses that made you want to snatch it up?
"Probably the windows and the natural light. It also has a gas stove, which is rare for DTLA. Since we like to cook a lot, this was very important. Also, at the time we were looking, the block around Spring and 8th Streets was deserted. The lobby of the building is also painted mint green — my favorite color."
Comme des Garçons Jacket, Vintage Top and Gloves (both from the Rose Bowl), Lanvin Pants and Heels, Derek Lam Belt
Where are all of your groovy pillows from?
"God, the pillows have come from all over! I typically shop in Silver Lake, though."
On that note, where are your decor go-to shopping spots in L.A.?
"I’ve got to admit, I’m a thrifter. So, most decor is purchased from a flea market or thrift store. Some items were even found on the street and refurbished. For instance, one chair is a Jens Risom saved from a dumpster in S.F.'s Mission neighborhood."
What other mags, besides your own, do you read cover to cover?
"Actually, more than you'd think! LOVE, AnOther, AnOther Man, L’Officiel Hommes, Vogue Italia, Garage Magazine, Fantastic Man, The Gentlewoman, HERO, and Vogue Paris."
Where do you get your news?
"NPR primarily, but also The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Al Jazeera, and our Creative Director, Jim Turner, is a master at sharing important cultural-news emails throughout the day."
On top of all of your own beautiful things, your boyfriend houses his sales and PR showroom, Bloodworth & Co, in your apartment. What's your key to staying organized when you've got all of that extra garb in your midst and obviously are a clotheshorse yourself?
"By nature, I’m not an organized person — I’m very messy. But, I do keep my clothes safe. I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but I like to treat my clothes with a lot of respect, even the cheap pieces. I don’t like the idea of trashing things."
Do you ever get annoyed that "work" (a.k.a. clothes galore!), has inundated where you live?
"No, I never get annoyed — it doesn’t really bother me at all. But, my clothing rack is currently in my office and filled with my Editorial Director Matthew Bedard's entire wardrobe. That does annoy me because it hinders my freedom of sight!"
What was the process like when you set out to decorate the space?
"Honestly, as much as I'm a visual person when it comes to fashion, and while there are a few things here and there I contributed, the credit of decoration goes largely to Grant, my boyfriend."
What does a typical day hold for you?
"I will inevitably start out running late, so I’m furiously getting ready and throwing on clothes. I might get a coffee at The Parish
or a juice at Pressed Juicery
. I might even make some tea in a to-go bottle if I'm lucky! Sometimes, I prepare food to eat for lunch, and throw a few snacks in my bag. Then, it's off to the 101! Once I make it to our Hollywood offices, I make all the necessary phone calls to London and Paris. There are a lot of emails to answer, and there's maybe an office meeting or press preview sometime during the day. A seeming catastrophe will occur at some point and I will strategize how to resolve it. My coworkers and I occasionally devise lunch plans if food wasn’t brought, and maybe I'll go to an event after work."
What was the interview process like to score your gig?
"I met our Editorial Director in Vegas (we discussed the merits of Miu Miu in the cultural space), so the actual interview wasn’t very intense at all! However, that has changed alot. The process is now a bit more rigorous, with a proofreading and editing test, a questionnaire, writing samples, and an essay."
FLAUNT is known for being a bonkers place to work — in the best way possible! What's your wildest story inside the offices?
"Really, there are almost too many to remember! I've had great set experiences with the dynamic Tony Kelly — and Petra Ecclestone fainted once! We had trannies drinking rum in the suburbs, and nearly got run out by the neighbors. Oh, and we had Ian Somerhalder point a rifle onto Wilshire Boulevard from the Beverly Hilton — fun times!"
Can you give us some insight into what it's really like to work there?
It's one of those places where it feels like there's zero limitations. There's an attitude that you can do anything you desire, if you go after it and make it happen.There's also zero learning curve, so you have to figure things out quickly. When I started, there wasn't anyone in L.A. in the fashion department, and I had never really styled anything before. So, it was crazy — to say the least — when my first styling assignment for the magazine was to style a beauty feature with iconic photographer Donna Trope. I really had no idea what I was doing! There were a lot of mistakes that I laugh at looking back. But that's the thing with FLAUNT, I never know what I'm going to be doing the next day, or even the next hour. I think it's this energy and this openness and belief in young creative talent that Luis and Jim have always nurtured and pushed that makes us so unique and spirited."
Can you come to the table with any idea under the sun, pitch it, and walk it to life? Or, do you typically get assigned concepts and then breathe your being into them?
"Definitely the former! We collectively creative the issue as a group, but we all have our individual ideas and passions that we discuss in meetings. Also, we invite our interns to pitch anything cool, too. FLAUNT is a very open environment in that way — we like to nurture creativity."
The mag is sort of the epitome of indie. Have you ever considered going more corporate?
"Maybe much later in my life!"
Your boyfriend has so many great menswear items peppered about — do you ever borrow?
"I’ve definitely stolen an organic TWOTHIRDS
hoodie, several funky Anonymous Ism
socks, and I’m waiting for the moment to make one of those Merz b. Schwanen
Tell me about your record collection — how long has it taken to amass that much vinyl?
"Well, we got the record player two years ago, so it hasn’t taken that long to collect all those records. Plus, I think it looks like more than it really is. For example, we don’t have a separate storage unit for records like some of my friends! Grant and I only have time to play them on Sunday nights — during the weekdays, we go home to crash."
In your mind, what are the crucial-to-this-century coffee table books to own?
by Mario Testino, Rob Pruitt's Pop Touched Me
, Koto Bolofo's La Maison
, and anything from Rizzoli
What's the biggest coup of your career thus far?
"Being able to say I have a career — how crazy is that?"
What about the coolest set you've ever been on?
"One of my favorite shoots was with Leighton Meester — I loved the team, and that day had such a great creative synergy. Plus, there were two naked models walking around the entire time!"
Which stylists do you put on the highest pedestal nowadays?
"Carine Roitfeld — always! I would also say Marie-Amélie Sauvé, Jay Massacret, Robbie Spencer, Katie Shillingford, Olivier Rizzo, Karl Templer, and Emmanuelle Alt."
Tell us about your hair. How long have you been buzzing it?
"I’ve had my hair like this for over a year, my friend Paul Rizzo cuts it for me!"
Who was the most fascinating person you've interviewed?
"I loved the actress I just interviewed, Alice Englert. This young woman has such a phenomenal point of view — I can’t wait to see her career as an artist unfold."
What celeb would you die to dress?
"I’d love to dress Rooney Mara, I love her look and her aesthetic."
Some would consider your style avant-garde. How would you describe it in a single sentence?
"Really? I don’t consider my style avant-garde at all! But, I'd say classic-slash-ladylike with a modern and fun twist — and a bit tomboy at times."
If you weren't a fashion editor, what would make your soul sing?
"I used to competitively play the piano and violin, so being a musician would be the next best thing!"
Diesel Black Gold Coat, Vince Sweater, Rogan x Target Dress, Marni Heels, Vintage Jewelry
You're originally from Reno, how has your style evolved from the days of the-other-desert living?
"Well, I didn’t go to high school, but during those years I was really into this uniform that was very serious in retrospect — it was a black skirt, black cardigan, crazy tights, and these black and pink Mary Janes. Maybe that was a faux pas, but I don’t believe in mistakes. My style has become a bit more glamorous and at times casual, but the grandma nature still remains."
People say your building is haunted, have you ever experienced anything spooky?
"In our three years of living here, we haven't experienced anything, but the old bank vault in the basement is definitely creepy."
Please tell us your top spots to eat and drink in DTLA.
"I mostly eat — and drink very little. I love WoodSpoon
for Brazilian, and Buzz
has amazing wine flights and is such a great resource to get a nice bottle. Even though a lot of non-Asians don’t seem to like Spice Table
as much as I do, the food reminds me so much of home, but so much better! I also like Handsome Coffee
and its Wednesday night market, and Church & State
— a real classic."
Where do you begin when crafting an outfit?
"There’s really no formula — I could be inspired by a film or an image, a perfume, or a single piece could really speak to me, whether it’s a pair of shoes, piece of jewelry, or scarf."
What are the biggest perks to DTLA living?
"Cycling for sure, the interactions with homeless people, diversity, and the proximity to good bars and restaurants that you don’t have to drive to."
You've had a deep love of travel since your childhood. What spots are on your bucket list, and where's the most dazzling desto you've visited thus far?
"I'd love to visit Montreal, Moscow, Macedonia, and Beirut. But, the most breathtaking place I've been is Lushan in China — I hope to die there."
Who really gets you going icon-wise?
"In terms of models, Kate Moss, forever. I also love Linda Evangelista, Natalia Vodianova, and Mariacarla Boscono. But, Carine Roitfeld inspired a whole generation of people to want to be in the fashion publishing industry — a true icon. Oh, and I can't forget to mention that Napoleon Bonaparte was my childhood hero, and mythologically, Athena."
What has been your most recent crazy vintage find that you're still reeling from?
"A vintage Dior peacock-feather turban."
What's your most prized possession, and why?
"Actually, in Buddhism, they say that the origin of suffering is attachment, which includes the attachment of transient, physical objects."
What's been your biggest splurge ever?
"In college, I took an extra job on campus to buy an Alexander Wang classic wool coat. It was worth it."
Marni Cardigan, Surface to Air Blouse, Vintage Escada Pants, Yves Saint Laurent Wedges, Vintage Belt, Necklace, and Gloves, Airedelsur Ring
It must be a challenge to have such a teeny frame and love to thrift. Do you have any tips or tricks for other petite ladies?
"Having a small frame works well for vintage sometimes, as people were much smaller in the past. For instance, I fit most vintage gloves perfectly. Plus, being a size small is great because I can wear several different fits in multiple and creative ways. So, petite people, don’t be deterred — get creative! Oh, and I really like Paul at Wilshire Tailor
Who are your favorite designers of all time? Any up-and-comers you're cooing over?
"Some of my favorite designers are without question Yves Saint Laurent, Rei Kawakubo, Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Alber Elbaz, Dries Van Noten, Haider Ackermann, Riccardo Tisci, Raf Simons, and Miuccia Prada. Plus, Anthony Vaccarello, Mary Katrantzou, Nicholas Kirkwood, Bouchra Jarrar, Umit Benan, David Koma, and Siki Im aren't really up-and-comers in some senses, but their collections are much younger."
Where would you ideally like to be in 10 years?
"Somewhere that inspires me to push myself and that's happy with lots of laughs."
What mantra do you live by?
"It’s very important to enjoy food."