Malaysian-born, New Zealand-based Aki, is the face, creative mind, stylist and sometimes photographer/videographer that fuels the ever growing fashion blog known as The Sleek Avenue. Dedicated to bringing newness to luxury advertising, Aki found her brand in 2016 and has been growing her fashion portfolio as an extension of her advertising and PR agency art director career in Auckland, New..
Founded by Giorgio Armani, his portfolio covers haute couture, ready-to-wear, leather goods, shoes, watches, jewellery, accessories, eyewear, cosmetics and home interiors, hotels and restaurants around the world. The brand markets these products under several labels: Giorgio Armani Privé, Giorgio Armani, Armani Collezioni, Emporio Armani (including EA7), Armani Jeans, Armani Junior, and Armani Exchange.
This is not a glamorous topic, but an important one that’s long overdue.
“Planet or Plastic?” National Geographic published its June 2018 issue with an iconic cover – a photo-illustration created by Mexican artist Jorge Gamboa, featuring a plastic bag partially submerged in the ocean, suggesting that the world’s plastic pollution problem is “just the tip of the iceberg.”
“18 billion pounds of plastic ends up in the ocean each year.”
– National Geography –
Now, the real question is: Do we have to wait for World Oceans Day to raise awareness or take actions on this global issue?
This year, New Zealand has made an announcement to phasing out single-use plastic, followed by a ban from July 1. Supermarket chains have since removed plastic bags from their check-out counters, with an option to purchase reusable bags. Now that’s the power of influence.
Speaking of the effort to reduce plastic waste, I’m joining La Mer to raise funds on social media. To be honest, I’ve enjoyed creating contents for this campaign more so than any other briefs – it feels great to use my creativity and tiny voice for a good cause.
La Mer has committed to donating US$25 for every public Instagram posted in the months of May and June (up to US$650,000) that includes the hashtags #LaMerBlueHeart #LaMerDonation to the La Mer Blue Heart Oceans Fund. Last year, the initiative has supported conservation projects in The Azores, Grenada and the East China Sea.
Plastic can last forever, but our planet can’t if we don’t do anything to evolve. I’m merely a tiny dot in this world, but I’m doing my best to reduce plastic waste in my daily life. Let’s do this – let’s show our next generations that oceans are filled with treasures, not trash.
There’s an old saying: a picture tells a thousand words. I couldn’t agree more. But what makes a good picture? The camera? The photographer? The lighting? For me, above it all – the idea.
If you’re struggling to understand what the masthead photo is all about, I’m going to tell you that I’m the art director, model, stylist and sometimes photographer of my photo productions. I often set up my camera and frame the composition before getting my lovely assistant to capture the photos. Furthermore, there were times where I was photographing or filming contents with the help of a tripod and timer.
The beauty of hustle life.
Photography: an art of converying a message, a story, without physically explaining what the picture means to the viewers. If a photo has the ability to touch someone’s heart, make someone smile, laugh or feel some kind of emotional connection – that my friend, is a good photo.
WHAT ABOUT THE CAMERA?
Whilst it’s great to understand the technicality of your machine, many great photographers will tell you that camera is just the equipment, and the most important thing is your eye – how you see beauty, how you view the world. I once had a photographer took some amazing photos of me with a $150 dinosaur, a 10 years old D200, proven that great photography can be achieved without having the latest or most expensive gear.
CONSTRUCTING THE PHOTO
Personally, I’m very fussy when it comes to the finest details of my photos. Why am I wearing what I’m wearing? Why the background? Warm or cool tone? Dark mysterious or well-lit environment? Is the lamp needed in the frame? Planning often takes longer than the actual photoshoot but the outcome is always worth it.
Photo 1 assisted by Melanie Tuala and photo 3 assisted by Elena Sharma
An exquisite red car drives onto the loading bay of the large flagship Dior store on Auckland’s Queen Street, a woman steps out of the car with the latest Prada heels in flames. She walks into the store and is greeted by a vast display of handbags. She is businesslike in her approach, wasting no time on handling them or deliberating over her choice. “That one.” She points at one of the latest designs. The store manager quickly wraps it up. She walks out of the store, gets into the car and leaves for her next meeting. The whole process takes exactly five minutes.
Her car, is a mirror reflection of her – fierce, versatile and never fails to turn heads.
The new sporty BMW X4 is extremely classy with plenty of room to stretch out and lots of space for storage. Just like a woman, its sloping roofline gives a sexy and stylish definition.
The boot size is big enough to swallow several large suitcases. Fold down the back seats and the X4 turns into a luxurious mobile studio or walk-in closet, perfect for her busy lifestyle, managing an art director career on top of fashion photoshoots, filming, meetings and events for The Sleek Avenue.
In Auckland, you really need a car that demonstrates both form and function. Four outfits, five appointments in a day, bring it on!
ALL EYES ON YOU
If you want a car that blends in, stop reading now. Red, a sartorial asset of an exclamation mark. It is passionate. It is fearless. It is unstoppable. And why be the firefighter when you can be the fire?
The BMW X4 has a stylish SUV-Coupé shape and luxurious Flamenco Red that truly stands out from the crowd, just like how The Sleek Avenue aspires to be. Start the car in the morning, and it sounds like it’s ready to conquer the world with you.
The bottom line: with the right choice, you will never be invisible.
“Red, a sartorial asset of an exclamation mark.”
For some behind-the-scene actions, including a demonstration of a very particular skillset – getting changed in the X4, go to my Instagram stories.
Best, Aki x
This article is sponsored by BMW NZ.
Outfits: (look 1) Self-Portrait blouse, Ellery pants, Prada heels, Chloe sunnies, Les Petits Joueurs bag, (look 2) Fendi top, sunnies and bag, ASOS pants, Prada heels, (look 3) Zara dress, Gucci sunnies, Balenciaga boots. Photos by James Yang.
If you are in the business of fashion, fashion month is the time where you can’t afford to have a dead cellphone.
Everything, I repeat, everything is heavily dependent on it – maps, taxi apps, emails, texts, exchanging contacts, videos, photos just to name a few key functions. Knowing how well my Samsung performed during NZFW, and also supported by a few Forbes testimonials regarding its impressive storage space and battery life, I brought the new very-sleek (totally on brand) Note9 to Paris.
If you are familiar with a typical fashion week schedule, you would know that you won’t have the time for a long lunch break, furthermore charging your phone or dealing with a “Storage Almost Full” moment. Thankfully, I did not experience any of the above. I have a phone with expandable memory that can go up to 1TB storage.
FEELS LIKE FRONT ROW
AALTO SS19, filmed on Samsung Galaxy Note9 from the 2nd row
I was lucky enough to have a photographer Tracey assisting me most of the time. However, there are many events like runway shows and dinner parties where my crew is not allowed.
Her advice: Take the Note9, leave the DLSR at home.
I agree. A clutch-sized camera that captures quality contents, perform well within distance and under low light condition is a remarkable tool to rely on.
GUCCI x Michael Clark Company performance, filmed on Samsung Galaxy Note9 under low light condition
A POWERFUL STORYTELLER
The Note9 provides a fascinating pro mode which allow users to have full control over the exposure, white balance and ISO. As an art director and photographer, I’m in heaven! Despite being a tiny compact equipment, its image resolution is sufficient to print a full page A4 magazine ad, in the print production language: 210x297mm, 300dpi.
Photographed on Samsung Galaxy Note9, pro mode.
And last but not least…
LEAVE THE POWERBANK AT HOME
Let’s face it, it’s not a good look charging your phone publicly at any high profile events. The Note9 so far survived for the whole day under intensive usage and 2 days whilst in transit.
TheSleekAvenue | PFW SS19 - YouTube
Best, Aki x
This article is sponsored by Samsung NZ.
Photography by Tracey Creed.
Imagine an emoji of me – it would be a face, giant sunnies and my blonde bob. Yes, my hair is my trademark. In fact, it’s part of my brand.
Thanks to technology advancement, hair colour swatches have been expanding, with unusual hair colours like pink and lilac gaining popularity since the last three year.
To prove my point, #haircolour had 19 million tagged posts on Instagram while #hairgoals gathered 6.1 million, showcasing a wide spectrum of colourful yet silky hair. And ask anyone who bleaches their hair monthly, maintanance is crucial to keep a healthy, silky and photogenic hair.
So, the real question here is: how do I keep my hair looking flawless at all times?
Beautiful hair doesn’t happen overnight, which is why constant treatment is important. Celebrating 10 years anniversary, Moroccanoil is most well-known for its iconic Moroccanoil Treatment made with its signature ingredient, the argan oil that smells absolutely divine. I use a little bit of the treatment oil over clean damped hair before blowdrying, which makes my hair more manageable and smoother with each use.
That asides, my current FAVOURITE – is the Moroccanoil Glimmer Shine. It acts like the highlighter for hair and it gives you an instant ‘glow’ that haircare lovers are obsessed with. This hair shine spray creates an invisible veil of pure, luminous shine and also enhances color and highlights, for hair that reflects beautifully in any light. Have a look at my latest photoshoot here and you will understand why I carry this product with me at every photoshoot. I do a light mist on my bob and pat it down with my hands and voila; instant shine!
2 weeks ago, I tried the new La Mer Treatment Lotion Hydrating Mask [previous article here].
Here’s my verdict after multiple uses.
I live the kind of lifestyle where I sit in the hair salon with a laptop on the armrest, churning out campaign strategies or emailing clients for artwork approval while waiting for my roots to get touched up.
Multi-tasking has become the solution to tick off my ambitious to-do lists, and I’m not alone. In fact, that’s the life that many women can relate to nowadays. As a modern woman that juggles an advertising agency career, an international fashion business and a relationship, skincare that requires only 8mins to perform is truly a magical discovery. I use it once a week, either before bedtime, before putting my make up or after a flight for an instant recharge. It’s dangerously addictive if you love a hardworking sheet mask like this one.
Frankly, the La Mer Treatment Lotion Hydrating Mask is the first and the only mask I’ve tried so far that really stays on every single corner of my face. Its impressive Japanese micro fibers skin-hugging technology means that I could be glued to the laptop and pampering my skin at the same time. Ticked!
Here’re some personal tips on the art of mask: use it after the La Mer Treatment Lotion for twice the hydration surge. After removing the mask, pat the residue into your skin until it’s fully absorbed or spread it across your neck – never waste any of the essence. Last but not least, hydration shouldn’t come from the skincare only, make fluid consumption a regular habit to keep you and your skin healthy.
La Mer Treatment Lotion Hydrating Mask is now available in Smith & Caughey’s and David Jones Wellington.
Concept & Art Direction: Yours Truly | Photography: Nicole Ku & moi | Client: La Mer | Setting & Special Thanks: Grand Mercure Auckland.
In the world where everything has to be faster, more effective, multipurpose, how far has skincare evolved?
Sarah balances motherhood with her own creative start-up; Valentina travels around the world conquering the cosmetics world; Aki juggles an advertising job in New Zealand while building her international fashion empire. Women have changed. The modern women who traditionally excel at multi-tasking, are wearing even more hats nowadays – thus accelerates the demand for skincare that works as hard, if not harder than us.
SKINCARE FOR THE MODERN SUPERWOMEN
Healthy skin is the most valuable asset we can have, yet we face toxic avengers daily like seasonal humidity change, car fumes, blue light (which is a new learning curve for me), sun exposure, et cetera, which damages the skin.
Most of us do not have the luxury of time to follow an elaborate skincare ritual on a daily basis, but choose to focus and invest in fewer steps but powerful products. For frequent business travellers, skincare products need to be small, portable and lightweight. For me, fast-performing hydration sheet mask is a must-have in my travel beauty case.
HYDRATION: INSPIRED BY THE OCEAN
Having a healthy, glowing skin has become a new status symbol. While the full makeup look was trending five years ago; today it is this glowing skin that looks like you are not wearing anything.
Hydration is the key.
In Asia, consumers have long been obsessed with hydration related skincare, especially with sheet mask. In comparison to the paste mask, sheet mask extends the time frame its ingredients required to deeply penetrate into the skin. The best sheet masks visibly plump and refine, give you an instant luminous skin. The La Mer Hydrating Facial does that.
Few weeks ago, the La Mer team got in touch with me to introduce their new Treatment Lotion Hydrating Mask, a concentrated surge of goodness in a luxurious emerald green, watercolour illustrated packaging.
THE LA MER TREATMENT LOTION HYDRATING MASK
In the global beauty and personal care market of today, time is money and the results speak louder than words. In a glance, the La Mer Treatment Lotion Hydrating Mask only requires 8 minutes of usage – which fits perfectly for those with a busy lifestyle, as most traditional sheet masks take 15-20mins. This product launches in New Zealand on the 30th July and will be available in Smith & Caughey’s and David Jones Wellington.
Can’t wait to share my honest opinion with you in a couple weeks after multiple uses. Speak soon.
Concept & Art Direction: Yours Truly | Photography: Nicole Ku | Client: La Mer | Setting & Special Thanks: Grand Mercure Auckland.
For some, hotels are holiday stays; for others, they are luxury treats. For someone that travels a lot like me, they are second homes. I have always been a lover of the Sofitel hotels, for its enthusiasm for art, its personalised customer experiences, its outstanding hospitality but on top of that, its home-sweet-home feeling.
Wellington, also known as the little Melbourne of New Zealand, houses some of the artistic attractions like cafes, chocolate factories, theatres and street arts. Sofitel Wellington without a doubt is an attraction itself.
Join me for a photo tour of this inspiring destination.
THE INDOOR BOTANICAL GARDEN
Sofitel Wellington offers a unique experience as you step into the facade. It is an indoor botanical garden where floral scent and greenness lies within the air, yet well-balanced with its French luxury accents. It’s a destination you want to be, with your camera and plenty of digital storage space.
I always believe in splurging on a great hotel, even it’s only for the last night. A good hotel stay keeps you recharged but a great hotel stay elevates your trip.
THESLEEKAVENUE x Les Petits Joueurs at Sofitel Wellington - YouTube
Traditionally, the concept of luxury has always been about signalling status and obvious wealth, with brands being the engine behind the luxury goods market.
However, fashion has gone through many phases within the last decade, from being a vanity or investment pieces that you pass down to your next generation. Nowadays, for many Millennials like myself, it’s purely an appreciation of original, unique and exquisitely crafted products that tell a great story. Luxury brands have become much more approachable and experimental since the social media era, with Instagram-worthy designs being one of the considerations for many designers before rolling out their collections (salute to the powerful influence of social media).
LUXURY CAN BE A $50 LIPSTICK OR A $2,000 HOODIE
This behaviour and mindset are changing with the influence of streetwear reshaping the luxury market for status symbols. With fashion houses like Gucci, Off-White, Balenciaga, Vetements that constantly gather inspirations from underground, subculture and streetwear style, a new point of view has arisen.
Nowadays, brands can often sell non-luxurious products without any damage to their prestige – athletic pieces like sneakers, trainers and hoodies have now topped the most sought-after products from high-end labels*. Millennials nowadays are more willing to spend their money on one unique designer item over 10 similar high street products that have smaller life cycles.
One thing for sure, that luxury can be defined as, without a doubt – the objects (or experiences) of desire.