Thursday, October 13, 2011

Style Inspiration: Tina Chow

Tina Chow in a traditional Chinese cheongsam, photographed by Cecil Beaton in 1973.

I happened to catch the first episode of the new Bravo reality show, Work of Art: The Next Great Artist, which is hosted by actress/model China Chow (who I haven't seen in anything since that movie she did with Mark Wahlberg way back when).  China's background is an interesting one, as she is the daughter of the late style icon Tina Chow.

The American-born Tina was a part of the New York art scene in the '70s along with her husband, the restaurateur Michael Chow.  She was a close friend to such influential individuals as Andy Warhol, Karl Lagerfeld and Manolo Blahnik and a model, muse and jewelry designer.  She had a look of cool minimalism, with slicked back hair, bright red lipstick and strong and unusual features, which could undoubtedly be attributed to her mixed background -- half Japanese, half German.  She was a muse to everyone from Helmut Lang to Herb Ritts.  She was a different, rare kind of beauty.

Said China of her mother in an interview with Harper's Bazaar:
The West was just starting to come to China, and they had never seen a woman with short hair and a full face of makeup, but she had the bright red lip.  It didn't all go together, it wasn't what they were used to.
Her jewelry designs were just as notable as she was, and incorporated rock crystal ornaments, quartz pendants and bamboo.  The New York Times noted that she is credited with, "catapulting crystals into the realm of cutting-edge fashion."  Sadly, Tina died of AIDS in 1992 at the age of 41 -- but her influence and legacy endure.


Tina in a bracelet of her own design, the Kyoto bangle


 Tina by Andy Warhol

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Tina and Warhol



Portrait of Tina by Julian Schnabel



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