Yilin Lu

Yilin Lu

WE all know how the story goes: Small-town girl moves to the big city in pursuit of her dream. Girl turns her dream into her life, and the rest, as they say, is hisherstory. This girl has taken many forms: She’s Diane von Furstenberg, she’s Coco Chanel and Marilyn Monroe and Julia Roberts…   

Now, with a population of 5.5 million, Singapore is not exactly “small-town”, but in the greater scheme of things, we are still a Little Red Dot. So in a way, our very own fashion designer Yilin Lu is following in the footsteps of the aforementioned legends. And the big city in question is Shanghai.

A lover of not only fashion but also of art and design, it makes perfect

sense that the Yumumu founder decides to move to the City of Dreams three years ago to take her fashion aspirations further. And because it’s not quite enough to be a self-taught designer, a PSC scholar/graduate of the prestigious Slade School of Fine Art in London, to have started her own label, be a disciple of traditional tailoring in Milan, and earn the recognition of WWD (😱 👏🏻), Yilin is, as we speak, also preparing for the official launch of her eponymous brand, Ylin Lu

Still, she found time to give us a few recommendations on the coolest and chicest places in Shanghai where a girl could eat, shop, sleep and have cocktails in style.

Daliah Shanghai

Dahliah Restaurant

First things first, food! Where’s your favourite restaurant in Shanghai?
Yilin Lu:
 Lost Heaven on Gaoyou Road dishes up divine Yunnan cuisine. The herb-infused food is so rich in flavours and all perfectly balanced for your palate. You have to try their vegetable pancakes, Dali-style fried chicken with scallions and tofu-century egg salad.

Where is the best café to hang out and people watch?
With its high ceilings and tall windows, Daliah is a really nice space to chill. Creatives in town often have their musings and meetings there. It has a massive slide that connects the second floor to the ground in case you’re too tired of taking the stairs — and it’s suitable for all ages. For coffee enthusiasts, head to Café del Volcan. They roast their own beans and serve the best coffee in town.

Where’s a nice and chic hotel where a girl could rest in style?
The Waterhouse. It’s owned by Singaporean hotelier Loh Lik Peng, and that might just be good enough a reason to like it! On top of immaculate rooms designed for maximum comfort and style, it also has a rooftop bar that offers stunning views of the Bund.

The Waterhouse hotel

The Waterhouse

Speaking of bars, where is the best watering hole in the city for their drinks, people and view?
Shanghai has such a range of bars and clubs, I don’t know where to start! But if I had to name one, there’s Speak Low, which is, as the name suggests, as close to an actual speakeasy bar as you can get. Hidden behind a bookstore by the name of Ocho (literally behind the shelves), it’s a small but intimate space that serves craft cocktails and intriguing snacks.

Where’s a must-visit for music lovers?
For a peek into Shanghai’s thriving indie scene, I would recommend visiting The Shelter, a music/dance club tucked underground.

Mianhua Tian

Mianhua Tian

Let’s talk about shopping and fashion. Where are some of your favourite shops?
I don’t really shop! But for menswear, I really like Project Aegis. They have brands from all over the world. If you’re looking for something local, you should visit Dongliang (栋梁) and XinTianDi Style. Something more quaint would be Mianhua Tian (棉花田), which is set in a nice courtyard and features exquisite European and Japanese designers.

If we had only 24 hours in Shanghai, what must we absolutely do and see?
An old abattoir designed by the British called 1933 is an architectural gem and the last of its kind in the world. It’s now a commercial space for creative offices. It’s a treat just walking around the old French Concession area, with its streets lined with cafés and boutiques. You’ll find an authentic mix of the old and the new, local and international, which pretty much sums up what Shanghai is.

1933 Shanghai

1933 (Photo via Randomwire)

Where do you go in search of inspiration?
I don’t look too much at fashion directly for fear of fatigue. Instead, I try to catch an art exhibition or music gig at least twice a week. They really open up my mind for more creative possibilities. I also travel monthly in the region to Kyoto, Osaka, Seoul and Taipei as they are just a short hop from Shanghai.

When is the best time to visit Shanghai, and what are some items that one should pack when visiting then?
Definitely the May to June months, before the onset of the merciless summer of July. The weather is perfect then. There are just so many creative markets and fairs, and music/food/literary festivals of every kind. Bring your sunnies and summer gear, but pair them with light jackets and scarves as the nights can get chilly.


Ylin Lu is available in Singapore exclusively at nana & bird (1 Yong Siak St). 

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