A modeling day during a photoshoot project, showcasing Monique Zhang’s modern chic creations. Monique is a beloved fashion designer based in San Francisco.

During one evening gathering, seemingly out of the blue, SF-based fashion designer Monique Zhang said to me, “We should do a project together!”
Simon Fu, a wedding photographer from ES Creation and Monique’s long time collaborator who was visiting from Taiwan, was also present at that time. We did a separate, fairly quick brainstorming afterwards, where we decided to do a fashion shoot showcasing Monique’s designs. Luckily, the timing was perfect due to my flexible schedule (at the time). Plus, I wouldn’t pass on the opportunity to work with talented, passionate people, so my “yes” was a no-brainer, really.

Monique is a staple in SF fashion scene for the past 15+ years. She’s known for her European artistic flair mixed with Asian sensibility, making modern twist on beautiful, statement-making garments that are decidedly oriental in nature but not specific to any Asian country. She used to have retail presence at Cicada Bridal on Sutter Street, but she “has had enough” of the more tourist-y vibe of Union Square. She recently opened her new storefront Bridal Religion on 4428 California Street, San Francisco (at Presidio/Lake district). At the more hip yet relaxed new space, she does custom designs for her clients (who LOVE her very much), creating easy-to-wear elegant pieces with the right dose of sophistication and oriental chic, as well as beautiful wedding attires for brides and their mothers.

It was at this space where all the magic happened on a bright Thursday. Several minutes after 12 pm, Monique and I tested several outfit concepts for about an hour before Simon, Yoki Lin (Simon’s partner at ES Creations), and Carol Shan (Makeup and Hair artist from Wedding Gallery) arrived. Shortly after, Monique, Simon, and Yoki prepped the place as Carol started working on beautifying me.

On Fafafoom Facebook page, you probably saw behind the scenes pictures I took as I was getting my makeup and hair done, and snaps taken in-between outfit changes. What you haven’t seen are Simon and Yoki’s snaps that day. So from here onward, you will see testaments of the duo’s skills in capturing what a beautiful, energetic, and productive day that Thursday was.

Photos by Simon Fu and Yoki Lin / ES Creation

Here are two pictures to give a good idea of how perfect the location was for an indoor fashion shoot:
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Oriental Chic

The photoshoot began around 3 pm, where the natural lights were plenty and the place was set. Now it’s time for me to work it! I had so much fun that day, so here are my favorite shots of the many oriental chic outfits we put together that day. I genuinely LOVE Monique’s kimono robes, so let’s see them first!
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The printed one-piece dress was also really gorgeous. I had doubts when I saw it on the hanger, wondering whether it’s something I’d wear, but thankfully my doubts were unfounded once I put it on. So easy to wear, so high of an impact!
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We also did several looks involving Spirit Painting scarves, artfully brush-painted silk organza scarves by Joshua Bernstein. We began by draping a long scarf around a black dress (same dress I wore for one of the kimono robe looks), then tried a more modern approach with a long, soft pink dress shirt. We styled it first with a pair of skinny jeans and holding a shorter scarf loosely, then switched the bottom with a black tutu skirt and wrapped a third Spirit Painting scarf around my neck. With fashion-forward women, the last look can easily be worn as an alternative wedding look!
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What I love most about this collaboration is the vision, energy, and professionalism everyone displayed throughout the day. No drama, just productive day to get many things done and exceeding expectations. For someone like me who does not get made up often, the chance of getting makeup done and hair did was awesome; I would definitely want Carol to do my makeup and hair for future big events! I also cannot rave enough about Monique’s designs. Easy to wear, unique, chic, minimal-looking in silhouettes but rich in textures, intricate details, and impact, as well as looking very “grounded” in its oriental sense, I definitely understand why she has many loving clients.

Bridal Chic

Monique’s new place is called “Bridal Religion” after all, so of course we played around with several wedding gowns. Not only she regularly designs and produces them, she also provides advisory services for wedding photography artistic direction, styling for make-up, bridal flowers DIY workshop, as well as pose training for beauty pageant contestants. This woman is so driven and just won’t ever stop!

Here are photos of the three wedding dresses we did that day (didn’t I say it was a productive day?), and once again I absolutely love the soft gold kimono robe draped on the first one.
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If you want to see Monique’s creations in person, you won’t want to miss her 2014 Fall Charity Show that will showcase her cocktail, evening, and bridal looks. It will be held on Saturday, October 18, 2014 at SF Chinatown’s Empress of China, 838 Grant St. The event will start at 1pm and will benefit the charity On Lok. Come check it out if you can, you might fall in love with Monique Zhang designs!

Thank you once again for a wonderful production team brought together by Monique. Simon, Yoki, Carol, and Monique, you are all so talented; it’s an honor to work with you all. Your energy and determination were so contagious that time just flew by that day. It was so much fun and I hope we’ll have a chance to do it again! Congrats to you all for job well done, and many more yet to happen in the future.

Thank you for reading; until next time,

Design & Styling: Monique Zhang
Photographers: Simon Fu and Yoki Lin
Makeup and Hair: Carol Shan
Model: Mira Musank

1. Finer Flora for bridal wrist bouquets
4224 California St., San Francisco, CA
(415) 340-3126

2. P. Taylor Clothing for cotton/silk shirts
2600 Mission St. #201, San Marino, CA
(323) 533-1723

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