New Blog!

Cohesion of radical articles and visual restyling ideas. Check it out- you won't be disappointed!



New blog to launch soon!

A HUGE thank you to those of you who have followed or stopped by http://kalonity.blogspot.com. It has been a tremendously experimental work-in-progress. With your help, I've been able to work on developing a project that I think reflects my philosophy much more accurately, not to mention will provide more consistent, interesting content for you guys!

Therefore, I'm extremely excited to announce that I will be launching a new blog at the end of the month. It will be filled with unconventional styling ideas and reveal much of the creative process behind my work. A preview of what's to come:
  • What does "personal style" really mean?
  • The implications of fashion beyond clothes
  • A behind-the-scenes look at fashion designing
Check back soon! I will be posting the exact link around July 26th. In the meantime, you can reach me at tessazeng@gmail.com or leave a comment with any questions.

Keep inspiring,


A snippet of curiosity

An incredible amount of things have been happening, from up-and-close with ELLE editors at my school to existential epiphanies about the rest of my life's work. Working through them right now is like driving a tank through the mud. It's both very exciting and very frustrating!

I swear I'm going to utilize this blog more in light of some of these things.

Side-note- got the photo! Here is the crocheted wire dress I worked on at my internship with Sue Freda! Here debuting in New York City during fashion week.

But in the meantime, here's a little refreshing post from Gala's latest idea, Curious Tuesday!

It's tres simple- just comment with your answers to the following questions! It's a fabulous way to get to know my readers & each other, and share some laughs :)

1. What is the strangest compliment you’ve ever received?
2. What’s your little-known talent?
3. What do you obsessively search for on eBay?
4. When you were a child, who did you worship & want to be like?
5. What was your palate band? A.k.a. the band that got you off the Top 20 on the radio and opened up the music world for the first time!

Do share! My own answers are in the comments :)



On "Thinking Too Much"

If you are reading this, chances are that you are an intelligent individual who is capable of using his/her own mind. The odds are good, then, that you've heard these words, or some variation thereof, before:

"You think too much!"

Maybe someone said this, when you were indecisive or depressed for some reason. Possibly, the accusation came from yourself! This phrase, common as it is, has never been explained. It is merely tossed out as a reason for mental suffering. But we (and myself included, until very recently) have taken it at face value, and likely temporarily shut off our brains in agreement.

I'm writing today to say, NO! As Gala would say, stop the madness!!
There is absolutely no such thing as thinking too much.

Then how on earth, you ask, does one resolve these issues? When else can we do when nothing seems to make sense anymore?

The answer is not easy. It is not a magical sentence that will immediately solve all of your problems. But it can take you to incredible places if you let it.

The real source of mental suffering is thinking in the wrong ways.

I honestly believe what makes us go around in circles, hitting dead ends, and hindering action, is thinking ineffectively. This may be thinking negatively, or simply in focusing on the wrong things (more on this later).

See, for many years I myself complained of "thinking too much." I heard it from a million people around me, and consequentially I'd beat myself up for doing so, too. But about a year ago, I changed my philosophy. And ever since, I have reached entire new levels of enlightenment regarding my purpose in life, and my level of achievement has by no means dropped- in fact, I am more confident than ever in my ability to act in the future.

It is very tempting to turn away from the matter altogether. It is super easy to say "whatever, I'll just think about it later" (thanks, Scarlett!) It often takes great courage to admit the mental path we're driving down is wrong. It takes even more courage to actively pursue a different way of thinking. But the rewards you will reap are endless.

Of course, there are times when deadlines and actions won't allow as much leisure for thinking. I'm known among my friends for fat to-do lists. But all that is simply a matter of doing what you need to do. Every effective thought you have in the meantime will inform your actions positively, and will actually allow you to create greater works and carry out greater actions in the future.

This is by no means simple, and I can testify that such self-actualization is very, very difficult. But it is far more rewarding than to say "I'm thinking too much," every time on the brink of a mental block.

The process to figure out the "best" way of thinking for ourselves can be complex, and differs for everyone. There is no way I can write a post on what way is best for you, because only you can figure that out. But the next time you're about to throw your mind out the window, it might be helpful to consider the following:

1) Don't be afraid. Your mind can be crazy sometimes, but it is more helpful than you know. The human brain has practically singlehandedly solved the world's problems to date. Sure, there are lots of remaining ones, including the ones in your own life. But what makes them so different? The possibilities for solving them are endless, but I can promise not a single one involves fear of thinking.

2) Be positive. Negative thoughts are overwhelming, and complicate situations. Judge for yourself- Judy spends an hour thinking about how incapable she is of taking action, and Anna, confronted with the same situation, spends 15 minutes convincing herself that she can do it, then takes the other 45 to think through what she is going to do. Who is more effective?

3) What is the real problem? Sometimes, when we're angry or stuck, it's because we're focused on something we cannot control, like someone else's opinion or what the possible consequences of our action may be. These often get in the way of the bigger picture. As difficult as it might be initially, if you make it a point to think directly about the most important issues at hand, you'll find that it's much easier to come up with a solution.


(This was inspired by an article from The Positivity Blog, which I really respect and have been subscribing to for months. The latest piece of writing, however, dealt with how to "Stop Thinking So Much," and since this is really a subject that I am very passionate about, I figured it was time to put it into words.)

So please give me YOUR thoughts! There really is a reason I put this at the end of nearly every entry, you know :P

I know most blogs feed on comments like candy, but I am so interested in your individual way of thinking. It's both complicated and simple to explain, but I am genuine when I say that such motivation is one of my reasons for working and living!)



There are a number of things I could post about...

...from a recent photoshoot I styled, to thoughts on a NY Times article about interns as free labor. These things may come with time. But right now, all I can do is apologize for the long hiatus in posting, and offer as an excuse something that I cannot even yet disclose!

Am working on, among other things, something for a huge design competition. Let's just say that New York Fashion Week may be involved.

But what I can share are some thoughts.

After flying back home for spring break with nothing but a dress form, sewing machine, and supplies, then coming back and spending twice as much time in studio as sleeping for the last three days, this is what I have realized:

I could say that I'm dying of exhaustion. EXCEPT IT'S NOT REALLY DYING, IT IS LIVING TO THE UTMOST. I honestly believe that few things make you feel more alive than the moment in which you are slumped before your creation, body aching, mind stretched to its limit, and heart absolutely exploding because of the insane vitality that is only possible when you've sweat out every last drop of energy into trying to wrench brilliance out of absolutely nothing.

The first time I can remember feeling this way- when I painted this self-portrait years ago.

What makes you feel the most alive? I miss hearing from you guys. Give me your thoughts, recent accomplishments, the beautiful sparks that your minds are producing these days!



How THOUGHT can stand up to VIOLENCE: On V-Day

On a fashion note, I've been wearing this bow sideways for a few days now! Wear your headbands sideways (across the back of your head instead of over the top) to reinvent the ubiquitous accessory.

This was going to be a fashion week post, but there's been an intervention! I went to an incredible performance of the Vagina Monologues today, and in honor of V-Day, and everything it stands for, I wanted to draw your attention to a slightly different subject today: Stopping Violence Against Women!

V-Day was started as a movement against violence against women and girls across the globe, more than ten years ago. V stands for "Victory, Valentine, and Vagina." Far more than a purely fundraising or prevention effort, it has educated millions, and continuously fought for the rights of women to feel safe, beautiful, and powerful.

The beautiful centerpiece from our table, program, and a mint-chocolate pussy pop!

This production featured 16 volunteer actors, who read monologues written by actual women interviewed about their vaginas and experiences. Some of the stories were absolutely hilarious, from the "dominatrix sex worker" whose job was to elicit moans from other women (accompanied by on-the-spot demonstration of all the varying types of moaning) to the "72-year-old" who hadn't checked "down there" since 1954.

But the most powerful monologues were the stories about abuse, and more significantly- unspeakable sexual violence being conducted on a global scale. The emphasis this year is on the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a complete violation of human nature has been happening for 12 years. The kind of things happening over there are hardly comprehensible. 9-month babies raped....pregnant women slaughtered along with their premature fetuses...

What kind of 21st century are we living in, where this is allowed to happen?

How have I been so blind? Not only has this war been condoned for more than a decade, but the root of it is a battle for Congo resources that currently feed our modern technology. How many people in our country are aware that HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of women have been brutalized in the process of producing our cell phones?

No matter where you are in life, how old you are, or what country you live in: this is an issue cannot be ignored.

Personally, my work addresses the fundamental. I believe the most significant and long-lasting change is conducted at the foundational level. My personal work addresses the way people think, and eradicating ignorance. The very fact that such reprehensible acts are committed is a flaw in human thinking. The fact that soldiers, who are human and came out of their mothers' bodies, can participate in violating the most basic of human tenets- the dignity of existence itself- is, I believe, the most dangerous philosophical error that stands today.

The only thing that comes close is the ability of our developed nations, governments, and individuals to blatantly ignore the issue.

I am grateful to V-Day for bringing these issues to light, for me. And I wanted to share them with you all, in hope of raising awareness, and perhaps even inspiring someone to take action. We can all fight in our own way, be it speaking out for those in need, volunteering, or standing up for ourselves.

"When you bring consciousness to anything, things begin to shift."
-Eve Ensler, founder of V-Day

Other noteworthy quotes by Eve:

"We focus on fixing our bodies. We spend $40 billion a year on beauty products. What if we actually took that money, took that time, took that energy and started fixing the world?"

"Be bolder, speak louder, give everything. ...The door is open. It's as if we have one limb through, now if we can get our bodies through, it will never close again."


One of the best ways to begin is to be confident in your own selves! On a related note, I have started practicing Kundalini Yoga, which is a form of yoga about focusing the mind and honoring the self, engaging with a higher consciousness. It has been invigorating so far, after only two classes. I highly recommend it if you ever get the chance!

"May the long-time sun shine upon you.
All love surround you, and the pure light within you guide your way on."
-"Long Time Sun," traditional Irish blessing & ending song to every Kundalini class


Through self-empowerment, we become capable of bringing light to the world. Always embrace the potential within you! I may be an idealist, but if the world's thinking shifts even one individual at a time, I believe that even the most dire of problems will be dissolved.

Would love to hear what you all think on these important issues.



The mind-body relationship

Fashion is more than just clothes. I think most appreciators of the craft, and anyone who has given some thought to the matter beyond getting dressed in the morning, would agree. Certainly within the art/design world, and in the context of why I study apparel design, this definition of what fashion is not underlies everything.

But what is it, exactly? What does it have the capacity to inform, suggest, reveal? How does it specifically transcend bodily adornment and connect to the intellectual, even spiritual?

"If humankind eats what it is, it often thinks what it wears."
-S. A. M. Adshead

A huge variety of sources have been informing my thoughts lately... Fashion theory books, the latest shows, articles in my English/Medicine hybrid class on the way the mind-body dichotomy lessens the medical field's understanding of suffering, my own design work in the new semester...

The Fall 2010 presentations have produced some spectacular aesthetics spanning three cities thus far. Rather than try to encapsulate them all in this post, I'm going to go with this conceptual train of thoughts and highlight a few collections that have excited both visually and intellectually.

A purely aesthetic freight may follow in a day or two :)

- FALL 2010 -

Starting with the most recent....Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garcons! A designer I respect immensely, not only for her daring sculpural and asymmetrical moves, but for her highly developed thought-processes. She may leak only a word (or two, as Style.com is keen on pointing out), but the depth is always obvious here.

Described as "internal decoration," I can definitely see where she's going here. The odd shaping and collage of forms is not something you would ordinarily find on the body. Yet they aren't completely radical or futuristic in any way. The innovative yet organic feeling can be derived from something that is innately familiar- what's inside of us. Why should our skin get all the adornment, right?

Look at this incredible manipulation! Most designers would fall apart trying to put these together (no pun intended) in some cohesive way. But it's Kawakubo's intense vision and conceptualizing that carries the techniques.

An old exhibition catalogue I read lately highlighting the designer actually spoke about the "synthesis of comprehension and aesthetic" in Kawakubo's work. If only this marriage was more frequently discussed in the fashion industry!

The global-warming commentary provided by Charles Anastase isn't obvious from the get-go with these above looks, which is where I think he most succeeds. I admire his willingness to tackle the political on a higher level- through concept, this one being the mixing-up of seasons.

Some of his other designs were too literal, which didn't serve his clever idea or the eye. The fresh unexpected cuts expressed the unnatural blossoming much better than the blotchy prints or stifling ruffly poofs. And I like ruffles.

Ah, Rodarte. Their keenness of vision and unusual ability to realize their avant-garde designs always get me, if the romantic sensibility doesn't first. They dreamt up a series of sleepwalkers (pun intended this time) based on a trip to a border-city in Mexico. And that is what separates them from the pack. So many other designers would have simply stayed with the surface aesthetics and not even tried to push the concept further. I'm looking at you...and what's this? You again?

Anyway, the faint florals and quaint wrapping came together quite simply. I marvel at the unpretentious way such delicate and unique separates often look like they can just be pulled on. Did I mention I absolutely love the wrapping? And not just because I used a similar technique in my latest illustrated collection. Of course not.

Love. Something about swathing the body with such protective delicacy really suggests some kind of mind-body barrier, to me. Be it further separation, or an investigation of potential breaking-down of such barriers, is the in eye of the beholder.

Sorry about the infrequent posts lately! The spring semester just started last week, not that it's any kind of excuse for lack of inspiration. But I promise- more to come, soon!

In the meantime, please offer up any thoughts you have on the collections, and the nature of fashion at large! I hope I wasn't too abstract with my ideas in this post. Would love to hear what you guys think.