By Yang Shilong, Qiu Junzhou
NEW YORK, May 29 (Xinhua) -- As one of the world's great fashion capitals, New York City boasts many stylish photo studios in every corner of its five boroughs.
Yet most of them are providing services to professionals such as stylists, shutterbugs and posh editors.
Ashley Chui, a student of nonprofit management at Columbia University, attempts to make a difference by launching her Cara Vision, a studio devoted for fans of qipao, traditional Chinese one-piece, form-fitting dress for women, in downtown Manhattan.
FOR LIFE STYLE, NOT COMMERCIAL
"My idea is to create a space that serves people for lifestyle purposes, instead of commercial purposes," said Chui, who dressed in a stunning dark violet qipao dotted with flowers, in an interview with Xinhua at the studio's opening ceremony last week.
She visualizes this space to be more than just a photo studio, "As I have a background in nonprofit management, I want to use my limited resources to help nonprofit organizations."
"The ultimate goal here is to serve and connect with people," she said.
Chui plans to host events and workshops for nonprofit organizations regularly in her studio, which she explains is her way to "fully utilize this space for arts and meaningful purposes."
The interior design of this studio, credit to Junggle Arts, is laidback but stylish.
"We adapted the industrial style to give the space a modern look," Chui explained. "The walls were painted with colors that give the space a bright and open feeling."
"I put a lot of thoughts in designing the interior. Most of the photo studios in New York put minimal interior design efforts, as they focus mainly on the practicality of the space," she said.
MAKE EVERYONE LOOK BEAUTIFUL INSIDE OUT
"My goal is to make everyone feel and look beautiful inside out," Chui said. "Even though you are not a model, you can still feel comfortable and confidence to take photos in a fully equipped photo studio."
Other than make up and styling services, Chui and her team get special treats for potential customers -- over a hundred hand tailored, contemporary designed qipaos from China.
"When I was thinking about garments that can bring out people's beauty, I immediately thought of qipao," said Chui, who grew up watching "Old Hong Kong" movies in which heroines all wear beautiful qipaos and was always stunned by the garment's elegant cut and design.
"That is where the idea of incorporating qipao in my studio comes from. Whenever my American friends see photos of myself in qipao, they always ask me where I got the dress. I figured that there is a demand in New York," she said.
Whenever people mention qipao, they often think of "Old Hong Kong" or "Old Shanghai," because of the vintage image of qipao, but Chui wants to the other side of the Chinese costume.
"Qipao could be trendy and modern," she said. "I want to introduce this traditional clothing to New York city and provide an access point to the locals. If there can be rental service for gowns and cocktail dresses, there should be qipao rental service!"
"Styling in qipao could be intimidating for people who wear qipao for the first time," she said. "Just like wearing a kimono (traditional Japanese garment), there are some particular styling techniques for qipao. Our professional team is here to help anyone who is interested in qipao."
It is "very refreshing" to see the Chinese fashion trend of nearly a century ago come alive again here in New York, noted one of the 130-odd guests at the opening ceremony, "This spark of authenticity adds new flavor in the melting pot of cultures" in the Big Apple.