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Behind The Scenes

Ann Yee’s Mom is Boss

Growing up in Michigan, Ann Yee was exposed to the ins and outs of a small business daily: Her mom owns and operates two Chinese restaurants, and Ann’s first job was packing up takeout orders when she was eleven. The designer, whose drapey, impeccably cut clothing line is based in New York, shares some adorable photos of her and her first boss and the learnings she picked up way back when. “The first restaurant opened the same year I was born, 1982. My mom always jokes that she was in labor with me and signing off on the restaurant at the same time.” “My parents immigrated here in the seventies from Hong Kong. My dad’s brother was here, and he also owned a Chinese restaurant. My parents got some experience working with him and then wanted to branch out and do their own thing.” “When I was eight or nine, I was always sitting at the front desk. I was terrified of the customers. Eventually, I got other jobs—I guess you could say I was promoted—and I did get Employee of the Month a few times.” “My mom is really tough, but she’s fair. She doesn’t usually get emotional, but she has with my line over the past few years. There have been tears.” “When I got into my first store, Eva—that was huge. I took the collection in myself, and I called her to let her know. She was ecstatic. She got my dad, and they were both on speakerphone.” “With my business, she’s always drawing comparisons to the restaurants. I’ll have a problem and she’ll be like, ‘Well, when we couldn’t get chicken from our supplier, I just called this other supplier, or we went to Costco.’” Ann has ridiculous design skills, too. Click here to buy the stylin’ black chiffon tunic she made just for us.
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How to Dress Like Ann

Every time we see the warm, smiling clothing designer Ann Yee, we walk away wanting to look a little bit more like her. She’s not one of those women who wears the most amazing nine-inch heels or has the most awesome asymmetrical haircut: She just has a way of wearing things in unexpected, undeniably cool ways. Here are four things to rip off—until summer hits, get ready to layer the sweaters.Piled-on knits: “I just think that layering is so much more interesting than wearing a plain jacket, and I actually had my first job in fashion in knitwear, working at this small private-label company Lauren Hansen. This camel sweater is one I did for Elizabeth and James. It’s one of the first sweaters they ever did when they launched the label. It was supposed to have antique nickel snaps—and only half as many—but the factory in China loaded them on. And we loved it.”Shocking pink lipstick: “I wear number 36 by Make Up For Ever every day. Now every time I go out and don’t have it on, I feel like I look awful.”Jumbo rings: “I’ve been wearing this amber one a lot lately—it’s from my parents—and I wear this sort of squared-off gypsy ring every day. I got it at this jewelry shop Sun Wind on Grand that has all of this Tibetan jewelry. The lady who works there is really quirky. The smallest of the three rings is from Vermont.”Open-toe wedges: “I’m a fan of a heel like this because it’s a lot easier to wear. My favorite pair are the ones I have on. They’re from Coclico, which makes the most comfortable shoes in the world.” The black chiffon tunic Ann created just for us is, well, very Ann Yee. Score one of just ten right here.
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Ann Yee’s Tight-Dyeing Guide

At Ann Yee’s fall 2011 presentation—the designer’s first!—everyone was psyched about the floor-length silk skirts and natty, elastic-ankled pants, but there was also tons of buzz about the totally unique tights, which the designer whipped up in her kitchen. Start with a sheer pair that you’re tired of right about now—or pick up drugstore nude stockings (used for our demo)—and get dyeing.Bonus: This homemade accessory looks especially cool with a mini and the drapey black chiffon shirt that the designer made with Of a Kind in mind. Click here to score one of only ten.1. “First, you boil a big pot of water. Then, you start knotting the tights. You just do it in random areas—however close or far apart you want them—to vary the pattern. Just make sure that the knots are pretty tight but not so tight that you can’t undo them. It’s worth dyeing a couple pairs at once because it looks cool to layer them.”2. “So, the water doesn’t need to fully boil because you don’t want it too, too hot. When it starts simmering, you shut the stove off, put on rubber or latex gloves, and add the dye. You can use any color you want, and I eyeball it. I like to do about a capful of the red liquid Rit dye, a ¼ cap of the black liquid one, and then a sprinkling of the blue powder dye, which is good for highlighting. Then you add a couple tablespoons of salt, which helps make the dye stay.”3. “You have to really massage the tights to make sure the dye gets in there. Then you wring them out, let them cool, untie them, rinse them, and hang them to dry.”The final product, as seen in Ann’s fall 2011 lookbook.
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