WINNING SISTER: Taiwanese singer Cyndi Wang has become China’s favorite fashion icon this summer as she competed and eventually won the grand prize in the wildly popular reality show “Sisters Who Make Waves.”
Thanks to the show, Wang, who turns 40 on Sept. 5, is experiencing a resurgence in her career, and has gained the attention of luxury and beauty brands such as Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, Valentino, Sisley, Fresh and Guerlain in the past two months, as well as fronted the August issue covers of the Chinese editions of Nylon and InStyle magazines.
The popular songs such as “Love You,” “When You” and “The Peaceful Sea of That Summer” that she performed during the competition — which Wang released nearly two decades ago — gained hundreds of millions of views across social media channels, and brought back sweet memories for millions in China from when they were young.
On top of that, videos of middle-aged men dancing to her songs joyously in front of TVs starting trending shortly after her debut performance at “Sisters Who Make Waves” on May 20. She has so far gained 12 million new followers on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.
Her fans, many of whom at some point in their lives were touched by her songs about love, growing up and letting go, began to rally behind her, and state-owned media such as CCTV, Xinhua News Agency and People’s Daily soon began to endorse her comeback, as the pro-unification Wang is seen as a valuable asset to bring the people in Mainland China and those residing on the other side of the Taiwan Strait closer to each other under the name of music.
By the finale of the competition, which aired Aug. 5, she had become the nation’s latest superstar after Eileen Gu, who took the internet by storm earlier this year after winning three medals for China during the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Online spectators believe that Wang has a very high commercial value because most of her fans are now in their 30s and 40s, meaning that they have a much higher spending power to support Wang’s endorsements, compared to the fans of young idols, who are now constantly being tapped as faces of luxury brands in the Chinese market.
Wang began her career in the entertainment industry in 2003 as a singer. She was dubbed the “Sweetheart Goddess,” and one of the three Mandopop Princesses, alongside Angela Chang and Rainie Yang, by Taiwanese media at the time. She managed to stay relatively at the top of her game throughout her career, despite disagreements with her record labels and gossip about her personal life.
More than a dozen of her songs are considered Karaoke must-haves among the Chinese diaspora worldwide.
Now in its third season, “Sisters Who Make Waves” features 30 female celebrities over the age of 30 competing each season for a spot in the debut girl group to be formed at the final.
Many celebrities who had faded from the spotlight have managed to make comebacks after participating in the show, and have gained new followers among the younger audience. — TIANWEI ZHANG
DITA EXPANDS: Dita has opened up shop on North Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
Founded by Jeff Solorio and John Juniper in 1995, with roots in surf culture, the luxury eyewear brand first landed on Melrose Avenue before expanding to Newport Beach, San Francisco, New York City in SoHo and Madison Avenue, Sydney and Tokyo in Aoyama and Daikanyama.
Dita (Latin for “I enrich”) began growing when Micky Dillon took the reins in 2011. President and co-owner at the time, the Dillon family has been the sole proprietor of Dita as of 2019, with a team of 150 employees and distribution centers globally.
By fall, the company plans to open in London, by Harrods off Brompton Road, and in Paris by trendy Hôtel Costes before hitting more markets.
“Our goal right now is to launch, I would say, 20 to 25 [stores] in the next three years as they are very profitable for us,” said Dita’s vice president of marketing, Cody Cho. He expects total year-over-year sales to increase by 40 percent by end of 2022. “We’re really trying to focus on spots that have high adjacency luxury brands that fit within our demographic.”
Located at 479 North Rodeo Drive #104, the new 1,200-square-foot space (near to Saint Laurent and Christian Louboutin) has a minimal interior, with titanium paneling and shelving, imported marble, leather accents and contemporary lighting from the Netherlands.
“Our stores are the most profitable they’ve ever been,” said Cho of expansion. “So obviously, for us, we want to keep that momentum.”
The independent brand, with eyewear priced between $650 and $1,200, is handcrafted in Japan. Celebrity fans include Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Lopez and the Olsen twins — who are credited for bringing back the oversized trend in the early Aughts when they were often seen in the brand’s “Supa Dupa” frames.
Next, the company plans to branch out of eyewear, launching leather goods and denim next year. — RYMA CHIKHOUNE
DANCE PARTY: Meshki designers Natalie Khoei and Shadi Kord threw a dinner and dance party in Los Angeles in celebration of their Iranian heritage and nine-year anniversary of the Australian-based brand.
“Being an immigrant and a child of immigrants from Iran, we know that doing what we do today is not possible for so many women in Iran and around the world,” said Kord. “So, we don’t take our freedom for granted. And we have made it our mission to make a difference and empower and represent women of all cultures, all backgrounds. We dream of a day when all women, regardless of where they’re born, have the same freedom to follow their dreams without limitation. We dream of a day when all women have the freedom to choose what to wear, to choose who they love, what they believe and what they choose to do with their bodies.”
The duo met as architecture students in Australia in 2013, investing just $200 each into the business. It began as an Instagram account, which now has 2.3 million followers and grown to a team of 60.
“So many of the guests that are here tonight are influencers that we’ve worked with and they’ve been a huge part of our growth,” continued Kord. “Influencer marketing has been one of the biggest elements that contributed to our growth from the get-go.”
“We’re still keeping up with the moment,” added Khoei. “We started on Instagram when it was really taking off. That was a springboard for the brand, and now we’re moving to TikTok and influencers are really blowing up on that platform.”
It was a mix of content creators — Shiva Safai Houweling, Sahar Golestani, Janette Ok, Catherine Li, Francis Lola, Sav Palacio — and L.A.-based women with a large social media following, including actress Nazanin Mandi, model Mahlagha Ghajaberi, Skinbuttr founder Tatiana Price, architect Behamin Barootkoob, makeup artist Ash Holm and entrepreneur Gabriela Bandy. Most wore dresses from the brand’s new collection, inspired by the Iranian city of Shiraz (lots of diamanté trims and straps on viscose-rayon fabrications).
“We customized hardware, fabrics, colors,” said Kord of the line, full of blues and emerald greens. Manufactured in Asia, Meshki (Farsi for black) is designed in Australia. “Everything was created to reflect Shiraz and the architecture of Iran.”
The event, as imagined by celebrity event planner Melissa Andre’s MADCo production, looked to transport guests to Shiraz, with artist and calligraphist Mohtadi Mirak penning names in Persian script; Kioh offering a tea station, and Nicole Dayani of Nicole’s Kitchen L.A. behind the Persian dishes. Held in the open air at a private residence, the women sipped on cocktails like “Persian rose and pomegranate” margaritas while enjoying a menu featuring Shirazi salad, saffron rice cake and skewers.
Prior to dessert — coupes of saffron cream napoleon topped with berries — dancers came out to the beats of Iranian music, surprising guests, who were quick to join the dance floor.
“L.A. is our second home,” Kord said of the location of choice, earlier in the evening. “We’ve always looked to L.A. for inspiration. The U.S. is a huge focus for us in terms of growth.” — R.C.