Chic Talk with Jhené Aiko!

JA2July 24th my partner-in-Chic Michele Gates and I became the envy of all R&B, and all around music aficionados, far and wide when we announced that we had just interviewed the inspiring (and young, oh SO young and already SO accomplished!) Jhené Aiko!

Why the Pop Tarts silliness? Why this chance for the interview? What was Jhené doing in San Francisco? How come we got to interview her (other than the fact that we are so cool and interviewing her was a must. DUH!)? We’ll let Billboard do the explaining. You see…

For the past four years, Kellogg’s Pop Tarts has relied on free concerts featuring young pop acts to reach tweens, starting with Carly Rae Jepsen in 2012 and continuing with Demi Lovato and Austin Mahone in 2013 and 2014, among others.

But for 2015, the breakfast staple decided to take its pop-music connections one step further by tapping three artists — Jessie J, Jhene Aiko and Rixton — for an original song. The result, “Sorry to Interrupt,” quietly debuted on SoundCloud in late May before a lyric video was posted to the brand’s YouTube channel on June 10. To date, the song has received more than 40,000 SoundCloud streams and 100,000 YouTube plays. The song will be serviced to pop radio, digital retailers and streaming services at the end of July….

The three artists, booked in partnership with Universal Music Group’s brand partnerships team, [re-teamed] for a free, live concert for Pop Tarts’ Crazy Good Summer program [on] Friday, July 24, at San Francisco’s Nob Hill Masonic center….

Aiko, who had never met or worked with Jessie J or Rixton prior to “Sorry to Interrupt,” [told] Billboard of the collaboration, “They were all so fun to work with and had lots of positive energy. I think I added a bit of my style to this song. I’m usually laid back and that is reflected in the music I make. Both Jessie and Rixton are high energy, so I think I balanced it out by adding some chill.”

JA1To say that we were impressed by Jhené would be an understatement. Having gotten her start in music in her early teens, nay, as a tween (!!!), Jhené, at the tender age of 27, has not only built quite the name for herself but she already boasts collaborations with B2K, Drake, Gucci Mane, Kanye West, Big Sean, Childish Gambino and many more!

It was a pleasure to meet Jhené. Whether her music speaks to you or not, the woman behind the music, her definite chill vibe and soul searching ways will, no doubt, take you in and make you thirst for more!

Michele and I wanted to know what drove her. What made Jhené tick? What inspired her? How did she keep a level head and juggle double duty as a mother in such a fast moving, and male-centric, industry? For answers to these questions, and much more, kick back, watch, and enjoy!


The Chics at the Fashion Incubator San Francisco Workshop Series: “Using Blogs to Build Your Brand”

2June 17th we, The Chics, partook in quite the fun and exciting Fashion Incubator San Francisco panel “Using Blogs to Build Your Brand”, moderated by our favorite writer, fashionista-in-the-know, San Francisco Chronicle STYLE contributor and fashion commentator Tony Bravo!

The experience was inspiring, fun beyond what words can convey, and hey, who could ever dislike being asked to share the spotlight and act all wise ‘n all on a subject? Not us! We LOVE ego and we shall feed it any chance we get! HAH and *wink, wink*!

1So, without any further ado, want to get noticed and covered by fashion bloggers? Need inspiration for your next blog post that will make your brand pop? Then click on through and hear leading fashion and lifestyle bloggers from j’adore couture (Kim Mitchell Stokes), Stylenik (Kristen Philipkoski) and us, The Chics, Leila Radan and Michele Gates, reveal what works and what won’t in building followers to grow your brand.

Whether we did a good job or not matters not, we looked good and we were filmed. Mission accomplished!

Thank you Tony for thinking of us and asking us to be on the panel and thank you Fashion Incubator San Francisco for hosting us!

Chic Talk with Nigel Barker!

May 27th we, The Chics, interviewed former model and celebrity photographer Mr. Nigel Barker, of America’s Next Top Model fame, as he made a stop at Macy’s San Francisco to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and to promote his latest book, Models of Influence!

Here’s where I have a confession to make. Up until Michele informed me that we’d be interviewing Nigel, I had no idea who he was! The closest I’ve gotten to watching reality TV, is HGTV as I’m drawn to anything and everything real estate, design and remodeling. Yes, this means that I have never watched America’s Next Top Model… nor have I ever watched The Face… or any reality TV show for that matter, aside from Betsey Johnson’s short-lived reality TV stint on the now-defunct Style Channel because DUH, anything and everything Betsey Johnson is a MUST! But I digress.

So, a few days pre-interview I had to google Nigel’s name to see what I had missed out on and to say that I was blown away by the man is an understatement. His prolific body of work and his contagious passion and zest for life speak for themselves but, being the romantic geek that I am, what truly moved me was Nigel’s deep love for his wife and children, and for their family and friends. I was, and still am, particularly taken in by Nigel’s Instagram page. Seriously, check it out. Nigel has a unique way of viewing the world. He turns even the most casual of outings into picturesque moments of inspired existence where he takes the time to share his thoughts and to wax poetic on life, on his experiences and, more frequently, on his deep appreciation for what he has manifested and what he is living. There we are privy to his travels both alone and with his family, their latest adventures and discoveries, the deep bond his wife shares with her twin sister, the deep love and appreciation that Nigel has for said bond, and so much more, all captured ever so artistically and shared with the world at large.

So yes, we met Nigel Barker, THE Nigel Barker, the celebrity you all know and love. But more substantially, we also met Nigel Barker the man, the kind, sweet, charming, intelligent, polite, handsome-inside-and-out lovely human being that he is and THAT is what thrilled me the most.

And so without further ado, here you go, a motha of a post because not only do we have one video of Nigel, we have THREE! Delve on in, watch, love and share! Here we are with Nigel in our latest installment of Chic Talk!

After our interview, Nigel was ready for his Macy’s San Francisco talk and Q&A and we caught it all on tape for your viewing pleasure, thanks to our lovely Team Chic videographer Nancy Ericsson! Enjoy!

And last, but definitely not least, here’s a little side chat I had with Nigel, dedicated to my high school Sri Lankan friend Sasha, filmed both by Nancy and by me.

How’s that for some Nigel Barker fabulosity? Good? You’re welcome!

Chic Spotting: John Waters!

May 20th my partner-in-Chic Michele and I proved our hard core admiration of none other than acclaimed director John Waters, by being first in line for his sold out (within the first 4 minutes of it being posted online we were told) book reading at local San Francisco bookstore, Green Apple Books on the Park!

Though we have yet to score an interview with Mr. Waters, we are pursuing him and have even tracked down his very lovely and polite publicist and come Fall may be able to talk one on one with the Pope of Trash himself, the very Prince of Puke, or as he likes to refer to himself, the one and only Filth Elder! Oh yes we will!

We did, however, manage to get some Chic guerilla footage of the man himself reading from his latest book, Carsick, and answering our questions in the Q&A no less. Don’t believe us? Click below and watch our latest Chic Spotting adventure starring the fabulous John Waters!

The Chics About Town, June 2015 Edition

Oh Chicsters, forgive us, for we’ve been remiss at keeping you in the know! A mixture of life, busyness and sheer laziness kept The Chics from tuning in but, rest assured, NO MORE!

As you know, The Chics exploded unto the scene by interviewing fashion icon, and the inspiration of A Pile Of Chic, Betsey Johnson! Next up was supermodel Kate Upton, followed by a very busy month of March that saw them politely stalking, meeting and filming Margaret Cho, ending with a big splash that was their interview of Danish actress, incredible visionary, philanthropist and activist, Connie Nielsen!

Their interview with Connie was their first professionally filmed interview. What do we mean? Well, we are so excited to announce that A Pile Of Chic has their very own Team Chic, comprised of videographers Nancy Ericsson, John Chris Lopez and Stefunny Pettee! Welcome to our world of Chic guys!

Now let’s delve in, shall we?

May 7th the incredible Writer/Director/Producer Jill Soloway, of Transparent fame no less, was in town for a conversation with Michelle Tea and Eileen Myles at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. Of course, our Chic actress Leila Radan rushed on over and met her! Does that get our Chics one step closer to maybe interviewing Jill some day? We do not know but we do know this, what The Chics decide they want, The Chics will get so we reserve bragging rights for the day that interview is indeed scored! Jill Soloway, we’re coming to getcha!


May 11th saw The Chics in the company of Justin Fichelson, San Francisco native and one of the stars of the upcoming reality TV show, Million Dollar Listing San Francisco! Michele was under the weather but gracefully showed up for moral support and in solidarity with Leila as Leila interviewed Justin at one of their favorite San Francisco stores, Wonderland SF. Thank you Irene Hernandez-Feiks for welcoming The Chics into your incredible world with open arms!

Check out the sneak peek of the show here, our candid shots below and stay tuned for our interview with Justin!



May 20th Michele and Leila proved their hard core admiration of none other than acclaimed director John Waters, by being first in line for his sold out (within the first 4 minutes of it being posted online we were told) book reading at local San Francisco bookstore, Green Apple Books on the Park! Though they have yet to score an interview with Mr. Waters, they are pursuing him and have even tracked down his very lovely and polite publicist and come Fall may be able to talk one on one with the Pope of Trash himself, the very Prince of Puke, or as he likes to refer to himself, the one and only Filth Elder! Oh yes they will!

They did, however, manage to get some Chic guerilla footage of the man himself reading from his latest book, Carsick, and answering their questions in the Q&A no less, but we’re gonna tease you for now with the below snapshots and show you the footage at a later date just because we can! So, for now, the below is all the John Waters Chicness you get!



May 27th Leila and Michele interviewed former model and celebrity photographer Mr. Nigel Barker, of America’s Next Top Model fame, as he made a stop at Macy’s San Francisco to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and to promote his latest book, Models of Influence! Oh yes, THE Nigel Barker! What can we say? The man was a true gentleman and as charming, intelligent, passionate and polite as he is handsome!

Here’s a little side chat Leila had with Nigel, dedicated to her high school Sri Lankan friend Sasha, and a couple of shots, both that Nigel himself snapped with Leila’s iPhone 6Plus. Does this mean that The Chics have been photographed by Nigel Barker? Why yes, yes it does!


And last, but definitely not least, we are beyond thrilled and honored to announce that we are partaking in quite the fun and exciting Fashion Incubator San Francisco panel Using Blogs to Build Your Brand, moderated by our favorite writer, fashionista-in-the-know, San Francisco Chronicle STYLE contributor and fashion commentator Tony Bravo! Spread the word and come on down and join our Chics as they add their voices to those of leading fashion and lifestyle bloggers from j’adore couture and Stylenik as they all reveal what works and what won’t in building followers to grow your brand. Get your tickets here and join us this Wednesday the 17th, from 6:30pm – 9pm! Don’t miss it!

How’s that for an update? But wait, to recap and to add a bit more goodness to the mix, stay tuned for:

  • The posting of our Justin Fichelson interview.
  • The posting of our guerilla footage of director John Waters.
  • The posting of our Nigel Barker interview.
  • The posting of our first panel experience.

HUZZAH! And on we go with the show. YO!

Chic Talk with Kate Upton!

March 3rd found us, The Chics, in downtown San Francisco, at EXPRESS, for the Kate Upton Spring Fling Shopping Event. A Pile of Chic was invited to the EXPRESS launch party of their spring collection and their Brand Ambassador, Kate Upton herself, was making an appearance. Yes, THE Kate Upton, the supermodel-actress-larger-than-life uber human and icon herself! I knew this wouldn’t be any low-key, ordinary fashion event, and expected it to be the memorable, hot ticket fashion event that it indeed turned out to be.

The event was pretty chill and almost everyone I ran into wanted an answer to the burning question of the night, “where was Kate?” Our EXPRESS PR liaison informed me that Kate would arrive late due to an EXPRESS twittercast she was doing in a private area within the building.

When Kate emerged to claim the spotlight, it was obvious. Everyone swarmed around her like bees to honey. And, let me tell ya, those bees weren’t budging an inch! Wherever Kate moved to, the crowd moved with her in unison. Mere minutes after arriving at the event, she was guided towards the EXPRESS backdrop to do mini interviews with the media.

Our interview was slated for 7:30 pm and I was nervous! For one thing, I was bound to a pre-approved, strictly (and I mean strictly) EXPRESS-related-and-EXPRESS-only list of questions and I was trying to memorize them because I didn’t want to stray from the questions! And to top things off, I kept getting texts from our videographer who didn’t know where EXPRESS was, so I was trying my best to text him directions as I juggled my nerves and my memorization objectives with the texting-direction-giving task at hand.

7:20 pm arrived and yet our videographer hadn’t. Kate was running ahead of schedule and so our turn was up! We couldn’t push out the time of the interview and were hurriedly pulled to the front of the eager, Kate-hungry crowd to meet the woman of the hour. My Partner-in-Chic, Leila Radan, being the resourceful, dynamic woman that she is, pulled out her iPhone and started recording the interview! Come rain or come shine, footage of Kate was a MUST!

The event was amazing. Kate Upton is an absolutely gorgeous woman. She’s well poised, engaging, intelligent, inspiring and only 22 years old! What she has accomplished in fashion and film in such a short amount of time is truly impressive. My favorite memory of the night is her kindness and grace, reflective in her having been so accommodating with allowing us to take several selfies with her and our group of friends smack dab in the middle of her press junket. In one of the pictures, everyone’s gaze is misdirected away from the lens. Not Kate’s. Kate’s gaze is aimed straight ahead at the camera along with an intense and beautiful smile. That’s why she’s the Supermodel.


Interview Disclaimer: The interview occurred against the very noisy backdrop of the gathered crowd, the very loud music, of people talking… Leila’s iPhone perfectly captured it ALL and, my, was that crowd loud! Leila transcribed everything I said and, fortunately for us all, Kate was loud and clear! So, tune out any and all side conversations, tune in to Kate, and enjoy!

The Chics About Town, March 2015 Edition

Oh my The Chics have been busy! They’ve been so busy that we’ve been remiss in properly bringing you up to speed. So, no more!

March 3rd found The Chics in downtown San Francisco, at Express, for the Kate Upton Spring Fling Shopping Event. Down a videographer, Leila took one for the team, behind the camera, and Michele made her first solo appearance as our official Chic interviewer for the night, interviewing Kate Upton. Find a sneak peek below and stay tuned for the actual interview!


Oh how camera ready and polished they are, right? Well, as much as we love fashion here at A Pile Of Chic, we also appreciate it when people get real and “getting real” seems to be quite a skill Leila and Michele have mastered (though we cannot say the same is true for their photo booth skills). See for yourselves.

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March 19th our ladies experienced the official launch of the newly opened W Beijing – Chang’an, featuring the queen of burlesque Dita Von Teese, as they “rocked the empire” at the W in downtown San Francisco. Though no official interview is forthcoming, they snapped a couple of shots and a mini video that packs quite the punch!

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March 24th The Chics received exclusive VIP treatment, as did the other select guests, at Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s San Francisco film premiere of The Mask You Live Infollowed by a VIP after-party at Brooks Brothers in downtown San Francisco. Leila was even quoted by her beloved, and hands down favorite writer/reporter/fashionista extraordinaire, Tony Bravo, in his San Francisco Chronicle piece ‘The Mask You Live In’ has a good reason to make all boys cry. Michele and Leila were even snapped by acclaimed photographer Drew Altizer’s team at the event! Pictures and official documentary trailer below.

And yes. Jennifer Siebel Newsom graciously agreed to an interview. Though confirmation of a date is pending, the news is thrilling to us here at A Pile Of Chic!

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And last, but most definitely not least, here are The Chics with their summer of 2015 confirmed interviewee, Margaret Cho herself, famed comedian, actress, singer, SF native and homeless rights advocate. The pictures were snapped, and much fun was had, at the beautiful event held at the SF Eagle, on March 28th, that honored the late Robin Williams’ work with the homeless and raised funds for a film about Margaret Cho’s #BeRobin campaign.

Stay tuned for raw footage of a raw, raunchy, and always hilarious Margaret Cho at the event! A bonus run-in and fun was had with beloved-friend-to-The-Chics-and-Robin-Williams’-best-friend Michael Pritchard himself,an American stand-up comedian, youth counselor, and advocate of social emotional learning.

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How’s that for an update? But wait, to recap and to add a bit more goodness to the mix, stay tuned for:

  • The posting of our Kate Upton interview.
  • The posting of our fabulous, live, raw Margaret Cho footage.
  • Upcoming coverage of everything Chic from our Betsey beginnings to the most current Chic happenings by our very own Michele Gates for her SF Examiner column!
  • Forthcoming interviews with Danish actress Connie Nielsen, Margaret Cho, Jennifer Siebel Newsom and more!

OK. Now we’re done.

Chic Talk with Betsey Johnson!

[YO! This is a long post. Like, long! If you don’t want to read, simply scroll on down and, BAM, the interview is there in all its Betsey Johnson glory!]

Welcome to the official launch of our spur-of-the-moment labor of love and fun! “We” are Leila Radan and Michele Gates, heretofore known as The Chics. If you want to get to know us better, read up on us here because we are most certainly NOT going to monopolize our first post by talking about ourselves. We would much, much rather talk to you about bigger and better, namely, Betsey Johnson.

Yes, you read right! I said Betsey Johnson, the amazing, inspiring, fun-loving wonder-woman of a fashion icon herself because, well, we got to interview her! YES! You read right AGAIN! (Great job, by the way).

A little over a month ago, Michele reached out to me, her soon-to-be partner-in-chic, and asked me if I would co-interview Betsey Johnson with her.

The day of the interview finally arrived and I had a vision of what to wear all mapped out! My shoes? Jeffrey Campbell gold glitter Litas! My dress? A prom-tastic Betsey Johnson dress I scored oh so many moons ago at Crossroads and had yet to debut! My jewelry? A black-and-white bow ring and white lacey earrings and a skullicious necklace all by Betsey Johnson! My nails? Acrylic, long, sharp, edgy and black!


Makeup ready and minutes away from needing to be in my car, I dove into my dress, hurriedly zipped it up half way, decided that the other half of my zipper’s journey needed my husband’s guidance, rushed over to him whilst envisioning myself zipped up and already in my car with Pearl Jam blasting as I sped to Macy’s to meet my fashion-icon but, instead, had my smooth morning-to-be and my delightful-fantasy-that-wasn’t jarred by the husband’s distressed part-lecture-part-calm exclamation of “WHAT DID YOU DO?!?! You are stuck in your dress! How did you get so much fabric into the zipper? I can’t even get you out of it! It’s stuck at the waist! STUCK!”

He pulled the zipper up, he tugged at it, he pulled it down, he held the fabric together and tried it all by himself, but no go. I held the fabric together and tried pulling it up and pulling it down but it wouldn’t budge! We pulled up some more, we pulled down some more, I sucked in my stomach but could not account for my hip bones’, or my breasts’, or my shoulders’ protruding existence and so the dress remained on my waist, stuck. We pulled and we pulled until the metal pull-thingy of the zipper broke! No worries, that’s what paper clips were for. I breathed deep breaths as we swooped the paper clip into the zipper and pulled some more. We pulled and we pulled and we got so serious about our pulling that we even enlisted the help of jewelry pliers to truly pull and to truly tug like we’d never pulled and tugged and, ahem, tore off the zipper head that held the paper clip in the process!

I breathed such heavy breaths that hyperventilation kicked in… my fantasy, threatened by the death of my prom-tastic dress’ zipper, lay on the line, and so I howled like no fashionista has howled before, I screamed like no diva has screamed before, I almost-but-not-quite-because-I-did-have-my-makeup-on-already-after-all cried a cry that no Betsey Johnson devotee has cried before and then I uttered the unthinkable, “CUT IT OFF! CUT OFF THE INNER LINING! CUT OFF THE STUCK FABRIC! CUT IT OFF!” and when freed from the zipper the obvious statement was howled and screamed and shrieked and almost-cried at the husband, “NOW GET THE DRESS UP, ZIP IT UP WITH THE PLIERS, AND SAFETY PIN ME IN AND MAKE SURE IT STAYS ON! NOTHING MUST INTERFERE WITH MY BETSEY JOHNSON MOMENT! NOTHING!”

Tempted to speak back but taken aback by the psychotic look in my eyes and by the fierce determination-bordering-on-delusion that only the true love of Betsey’s designs can muster in a mere mortal, the husband dutifully obliged and, somehow, I made it out of the house, somewhat shaken but ready to fashionably forge ahead with my adventure in my prom-tastic Betsey Johnson dress, my glitterific Jeffrey Campbells, my Betsey Johnson bling, my acrylic nails intact and with the fabulous addition of a vintage Betsey Johnson faux fur coat and a Betsey Johnson orange purse that provided my world with the appropriate pop-of-color it so called for.

And the rest is Chicstory. A few technical difficulties beyond our control ensued, there are snippets of wonderful conversation and shared moments with Betsey that sadly didn’t make it into the footage, but we were able to salvage 25 minutes of fabulosity to share with you. And so, without any further ado and with our dresses properly in place, we bring you the legend herself and the inspiration behind A Pile Of Chic, Betsey Johnson!

Sneak Peek!

A sneak peek into tomorrow’s launch, starring none other than #BetseyJohnson! Here’s our Chic, Leila Radan, and fashion icon Betsey Johnson! Betsey is wearing Leila’s faux fur vintage Betsey Johnson coat (Yes! Betsey Johnson wore Leila’s Betsey Johnson!) and holding up her Miz B by Leila Radan necklace, which she told us to tell you she just LOVES!

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