A Stylish Toast to the Year of the Rabbit

On Friday night, models, influencers and charming creatures of every type packed into the dining room of Congee Dim Sum House on the Bowery, where Sandy Liang, the fashion designer, and Danny Bowien, the chef behind Mission Chinese, threw an event to ring in the Lunar New Year. Wearing flashes of red, in the Chinese new year tradition, they downed lychee martinis and nodded along to “new body rhumba” by LCD Soundsystem and the “Macarena.” In celebration of the year of the rabbit, Ms. Liang sold rabbit-themed jewelry pieces, which ranged in price from $32 to $325, while Mr. Bowien concocted a tribute to In-N-Out Burger: vegan kimchi pancake lettuce wraps. A small fire on the street outside briefly interrupted the festivities. When the smoke and momentary panic from the blaze cleared, guests returned to their hobnobbing and content-creating. We caught up with them and asked about their hopes for the upcoming year.

Interviews have been edited.

Danny Bowien, 40

Retired chef

Credit…Rebecca Smeyne for The New York Times

What does a retired chef wear when he’s prepping food?

A Hot Rod Circuit shirt — one of my favorite bands from back in the day. My pants are Balenciaga and so are my shoes. Congee Village apron.

The shoes are out of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”

It’s called the Hummer. They’re comfortable because they’re slip-ons.

What’s this year going to be like for you?

I’m going in with a lot of looseness, so I’m excited to see what happens.

Ella Emhoff, 23

Knitwear designer, model, artist

Credit…Rebecca Smeyne for The New York Times

Are you rabbity?

Honestly, yes. I feel like rabbits get the zoomies, and I feel I’m a person who can stay calm and cute then I get really fast-paced.

Are those star stickers on your face?

I have a pimple. I wish it was a fashion trend. I don’t like putting makeup over my pimple

Are you wearing your knitwear?

Yeah! I’m wearing a knit boat neck, open knit sweater, knit tank top, Marni floral maxi skirt and Sandy Liang Mary Janes. I make bunny bonnets and I was going to wear one, but it didn’t match the outfit.

Learn More About Lunar New Year

The holiday, which this year fell on Jan. 22, is widely celebrated around the world — and always with good food.

  • Grab a Slice: Eating or giving fruit is a beloved Lunar New Year tradition, expressing love and thought to bring good luck.
  • A Tasty Beginning: The foods associated with the celebration often symbolize promises for a better year ahead. Here are some dishes to try.
  • Festive Dumplings: For Genevieve Ko, wontons are ideal for a Lunar New Year party “precisely because they’re an everyday comfort food.”
  • Redefining the Holiday: Some young Asian Americans are creating their own Lunar New Year traditions, putting a spin on lessons they’ve learned.

Any New Year’s resolutions?

My New Year’s resolution was to get abs.

Sandy Liang, 31

Fashion designer

Credit…Rebecca Smeyne for The New York Times

Are you rabbity at all?

I like to eat carrots. And green juice. I think rabbits like green juice.

Take me through your outfit.

I’m wearing a Los Angeles Apparel hoodie. I used to work at an American Apparel in college. Houston and Orchard.

A gingham skirt.

I love gingham. Always. The skirt is from the new collection. It’s not out yet; I’m wearing the first sample.

And your locket?

It’s not a locket. It’s a giant marshmallow. It’s where I keep my secret powers.

What are your secret powers?

I can’t tell you. They’re secret. Duh!

Natalie Lim Suarez, 32

Model, editor

Credit…Rebecca Smeyne for The New York Times

Tell me about what you’re wearing.

This is a qipao — a traditional Chinese outfit. My mom is Chinese from Malaysia. This is a Malaysian design named Khoon Hooi.

And what’s on your feet?

These are old YSL shoes.

Do you associate with the rabbit at all?

My sister is a rabbit. We’re super close. They’re very calm, peaceful, creative.

Maryah Ananda, 24

Chef, model

Credit…Rebecca Smeyne for The New York Times

You’ve got your tweeds out.

This is a Ganni set. It’s cinched at the waist, and it has these diamond twist buttons. On the skirt, too. Super cute.

What’s on your feet?

These are just thrifted cowboy boots.

Woldy Reyes, 36

Chef, entrepreneur

Credit…Rebecca Smeyne for The New York Times

Your shirt is glaring. It’s disco.

It’s a New York designer: Eckhaus Latta. It’s gold, for Chinese New Year; I wanted to be celebratory. It’s festive and fun and commanding.

And it’s tucked into trousers.

Another New York-based designer: Philip Lim. And then a puffer, because it’s cold out.

It’s the year of the rabbit. Are you at all rabbity?

I eat rabbit food. I’m plant-based.

Isaac Dunbar, 19


Credit…Rebecca Smeyne for The New York Times

Do you feel anything like the rabbit?

To be honest, I feel quite panda. It’s my inability to survive in the wild.

They are famously not good at that. Fabulous shirt.

I got it at Crossroads. There’s some red in it, for Lunar New Year.

And these wonderful jeans?

They’re Calvin Klein, runway collection, or whatever. And Sketchers platforms.

Tell me about your cute little bag.

I got this at Savers in Plymouth, Mass. It’s giving early 2000s.

Paige Kozak, 29

Associate social media director at the Real Real,
sticker and jewelry designer

Credit…Rebecca Smeyne for The New York Times

What’s this year about for you?

Realizing who I’ve always wanted to be: a maker of things.

What’s this jacket?

Vivienne Tam. It’s got a little fur moment. It’s perfect for a mild winter night like tonight. And underneath I’ve got a Marc Jacobs slip dress for when it gets too warm.

Is there something special in your heart-shaped locket?

This is my grandmother’s locket, but it’s empty because how could you define love by just one photo?

Do you associate with the rabbit at all?

Yeah. The softness. The Zen. You think of a bunny as hopping around, but if you rub it behind the ears it just sinks down and zones out. That’s me.

Marisa Nakamura, 28

Cook, pastry chef, baker

Credit…Rebecca Smeyne for The New York Times

Your outfit makes you look like a cool Jedi.

I took the shirt from the lost and found at my laundromat. It was a regular white T-shirt and I chopped and screwed it.

Did you make the skirt, too?

This is Marithé François Girbaud. I’m wearing pants under the skirt. I’m from Chicago. You have to dress warm.

What do you call the ribbons on your socks?

Tassels? I don’t know. I wanted to add some flair.

What does the year of the rabbit mean to you?

Be cute at all costs.

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