If you’ve already binged Bridgerton, completed series four of Call My Agent and watched (then taken chic style cues from) The Dig, Bling Empire should be next on your Netflix list.
The series gives us a delicious and rare insight into the world of haute luxury and the insanely wealthy as we follow socialites from LA’s Asian elite. The vibe is very much Crazy Rich Asians meets The Housewives of Beverly Hills – and if you’ve watched either you’ll know that means you’re in for a treat. Expect the lavish aesthetic of the former (but multiplied) with all the drama and entertainment from the latter.
The cast profess their undying love for luxury designer goods too many times to count, but you need only look at their everyday outfits for proof. Christine Chiu is married to plastic surgeon, Dr Gabriel Chiu, the 24th generation of the Song imperial dynasty that ruled China from 960 to 1279AD, and together they co-run a successful plastic surgery clinic.
They’re considering expanding their family after a life-threatening pregnancy with their son, and in one scene, they head to a fertility clinic for difficult discussions and decision making. Chiu decides on a powder-blue Chanel two-piece, bold red lips, high heels and immaculately tonged hair for the appointment.
The cast of Bling Empire is also age-diverse: Kevin Kreider celebrates his 36th birthday on the show (now 38), while Japanese-Russian breakout star Anna Shay is 60. The eccentric Shay descends from Russian aristocracy on her mother’s side, and is heiress to a international arms trade fortune on her father’s side, explaining in the show that, ‘you just cannot compete with what I was born into.’
The series was filmed back in 2019, so not only are the clothes (couture gowns, high jewellery and head-to-toe designer looks) even less relatable than they would have been pre-pandemic and the influx of loungewear, but their day to day lives – think extravagant celebrations, huge dinner parties, beach trips and regular at-home beauty treatments – feel rather alien, too.
But it’s for this reason that you should see Bling Empire as eight fabulous episodes of pure fashion escapism. Here are the most outrageous style moments from the hit Netflix series…
Kane Lim’s shoe collection
Giving ‘walk-in wardrobe’ a new meaning, Lim has dedicated an entire wall of his plush living room solely to his designer trainers. So proud is he of his collection that it’s one of the first things you see when you enter his humble abode.
Fashion fans will count the pairs of Giuseppe Zanotti and Christian Louboutin sneakers, but it’s his vast Nike trainer collection that warrants the real gasps: he explains in one episode that each pair is rare and costs tens of thousands of dollars.
Christine Chiu’s extravagant shoots
Christine Chiu regularly creates shoots worthy of magazine editorials (both on and off the show), and seemingly for no reason other than that she can, roping her young son ‘Baby G’ in so they can wear co-ordinating designer ensembles.
Video: Haute couture, summer 2021: Dior’s digital Tarot adventure (France 24)
Vogue Arabia: Tackling taboos in the Middle East
Our guest is Manuel Arnaut, one of the most influential figures in the world of fashion today. The 37-year-old is the editor-in-chief of Vogue Arabia. He tells us about his favourite covers, focusing on positive stories in the region and tackling taboos.
Climate change: Earth’s ice melting away at record rate
Some 28 trillion tonnes of ice have disappeared from the surface of the Earth since 1994: enough to cover the entire surface of the UK to 100 metres thick. That’s the stunning conclusion of a new report by scientists. The consequence could be sea level rises of a metre by the end of the century. To put that into perspective, every centimetre of sea level rise displaces around a million people from low-lying homelands. We speak to Professor Andrew Shepherd, director of the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at the University of Leeds, who worked on the report.
Jeff Bezos to step down as CEO of e-commerce giant Amazon
Jeff Bezos founded Amazon in his garage almost 30 years ago, and grew it into the world’s biggest online retailer. He has announced he will step down as its Chief Executive later this year, although he will remain on as Executive Chairman. Bezos became the world’s richest man while running Amazon, and will be replaced by the head of the company’s cloud division, Andy Jassy. Also today, despite the gloomy economic picture in France, the country’s bakeries are struggling to recruit staff: some 9,000 jobs are on offer.
Speaking of which, Chiu attends international fashion shows as a VIP guest and buys her couture through private appointments at each fashion house’s Parisian headquarters.
In one scene, she has a disagreement with rival Anna Shay over which high jewellery house was founded first, Boucheron or Mellerio. Christine confidently backed Mellerio and was correct.
Kelly Mi Li’s couture showstoppers
Kelly Mi Li’s tumultuous relationship with Andrew Gray is her main storyline, but her ensembles steal the limelight. Straight-off-the-catwalk frocks for dinner parties, slick tailoring for relationship counselling and sexy plunging or cut out dresses for evening affairs are her thing.
Her Instagram serves as further insight into the entrepreneur’s luxurious lifestyle: she regularly posts from private jets, opulent hotel suites and her international shopping sprees with fellow cast member Anna Shay.
Cherie Chan’s label extravangza
The importance of designer products plays a big part in the cast’s lives, but arguably none more so than Cherie Chan, who wears Chanel and Fendi by day and Louis Vuitton by night. While luxury brands are commonplace throughout, interestingly it’s Christian Dior and Dolce & Gabbana that appear to be the most popular labels among the group.
A conversation revolves around attending Dolce & Gabbana’s exclusive Alta Sartoria show, and such is the love for Dior, there’s almost an entire episode dedicated to discussing its new season offering, but again, it’s Chan who comes up as top fan: her young daughter is named Jadore and also wears the brand throughout the season.
Anna Shay’s OTT dinners and international shopping sprees
The entire series begins at Grand Dame Shay’s exclusive dinner party where each guest has a personal waiter. Within minutes, Shay is filmed butting heads with Christine Chiu (the two go head to head often) who has turned up in a fine Louis Vuitton necklace worth $100,000 that Shay also already owns. The horror!
But extravagant dinners are Shay’s speciality: while treating your friend to a lovely meal on their birthday is a thoughtful gesture, the weaponry heiress takes this up a notch, flying herself and a friend from LA to Paris for dinner at her favourite restaurant, Maison du Caviar. While in Paris, Shay has been known to have entire luxury stores shut for her own perusal, and is famous for her shopping sprees where cost is no object.