Shien Lee

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I think it’s fair to say that Shien is, in actuality, one of the surreal creatures she seeks to embody in her clothes. How many people are there in the world who love the art of fashion like she does, donning everything from Garbo 1930s dresses to Victorian men’s clothes to 1970s silver catsuits to her “everyday” high-waisted 1980s pants with suspenders? (All the while, having “no idea where Barney’s is.”) Fervent in her commitment to the “aesthetic movement,” Shien quotes Oscar Wilde, one of its pioneers and someone whom she derives a lot of influence from – “presenting beauty is an act of morality, because it elevates the soul.” She finds the all-too-common phrase “you should get it, it’s popular” absurd and passive – “why can’t you think for yourself?” It seems like a simple enough notion, but has somehow become nearly extinct in the present day. For her (and for me), there is a sadness and lack of romance in the culture of casual attire – “clothes are not only a statement of individuality, but you leave behind the drudgeries of utilitarian life.” (I can’t help but think of how jarring it is to see the two-story Crocs store in SoHo, rows and rows of Crocs in every color, all the same plastic shoe, set inside a monumental stone building).

In line with one of her heroes Leigh Bowery, who said that “fashion should shock people, disturb people, and make them question why they are so normal,” Shien hosts parties called Dances of Vice, named after a German expressionist film about the triumph of madness, rebellion, and creative expression against social restraint.” Often the themes of Shien’s “dances” are meant to provoke, “and there is no such thing as overdressing,” everything from DaDa to Trouble in Toyland (a search beneath the merry facade of Christmas), “you have flappers dancing next to punk and goths, no judgement, very topsy-turvey.” And a far cry and Rococo dream of floral neck corsets away from her Taiwanese roots, where they even controlled what you wore on your feet in school, all the way down to the socks.

If you like Shien, you might also like Mister Burton and Patricia Fox.

  • Elena

    Yay for Shien! I am so happy to see you on here. Such a wonderful, gorgeous lady. XO

  • E

    Intelligent, thoughtful, assured.
    I will watch this time and again.
    Thank you for the return of wardrobes and genuine people like Shien.
    Love this so much.

  • lela

    Lovely woman and such beautiful and stylish clothes! I will watch this again and again.

  • domonique

    LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE. . . sooooooo AMAZING! fantastic

  • alexandra

    I absolutely love her in the video, to be more precise the third and the fourth outfit. Such a great image, her, the walls of the room with all the pictures. So so beautiful and inspirational.

  • Allie

    I was so inspired by the promos I saw for her Rococo event last year (?) at NY Botanical Garden. I’m glad she’s been in the mainstream media a bit more, hopefully her example will keep breaking molds and inspiring others. Her philosophy on fashion and aesthetics is a touchstone for me, she is one of my heroes.

  • Frenchy

    Shien Lee is brilliant – a true impresario, as in days of old. Her events are the most unique and compelling pieces of theater I have seen for a very long time. NYC: you have a gem living in you!

  • Candy Mann

    What a gem that Lee is! A fierce chick to the core!

  • erika

    I love her use of costume. Fantastic. Great style story.

  • Desiree

    I have watched Shien several times now because I find her style so inspiring and her ideas completely original! I admit though that I was a copycat and had to run to the craft shop to buy a mask and spray paint it – awesome silver superhero outfit!!!

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