Jaime Xie
Jaime Xie is Grazia Gazette Art Basel 2021’s cover star (photo: Dennis Leupold)

The first thing Jaime Xie says to me over Zoom from one of her three gigantic closets in her family’s Silicon Valley home is, “Please excuse my eyebrows. I just got them refilled by my microblader and they look like they’re Sharpie’d on!” While they are pronounced, they are perfectly shaped, and will look amazing in photos later.

Two days earlier on Instagram, where she has over half a million followers, Xie posted herself in a colorful, topiary-esque two-piece by Japanese designer Tomo Koizumi, for the LACMA Art+Film Gala. But today Xie is wearing a Lululemon zip-up over an old equestrian tee from her competitive riding days.

“When I’m home, this is how I like to dress,” says Xie. “I’m either full glam or no makeup. There’s no in between.”

Like most Gen Z-ers, Xie is adept at toggling between her outré online persona and the makeup-free young woman in athleisure before me. Of course, Xie is slightly different from her cohort. The daughter of tech billionaire Ken Xie (he invented VPNs and firewalls), 24-year-old Jaime Xie was attending couture shows in high school while also competing in the national equestrian circuit throughout her high school years. She took online classes from Stanford instead of attending a brick-and-mortar school and eventually ranked number one in the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Small Junior Hunter 16-17 Division. She also started gaining a following on Instagram and YouTube from her unboxing videos of her epic designer purchases.

Then came Bling Empire. The Netflix reality show was billed as a real-life Crazy Rich Asians and featured the first all-Asian cast for an American reality TV series. It was an instant hit. Xie is the youngest cast member who famously asked a shaman to help her decide between a nude or mist-colored Bottega Veneta pouch. She wound up getting the mist, then a gold, then a light blue…

Jaime Xie
Jaime Xie in the Art Basel issue of Grazia Gazette (photo: Dennis Leupold)

Xie and I are both reality TV newbies. Neither of us have seen a single episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians or any of the Real Housewives multiverse, but the concept of Bling Empire appealed to us both as Asian-American women who’ve rarely seen ourselves represented in Hollywood,  despite the generational gap that separates us. (I inhaled the eight-episode series in two days.)

“Growing up in the United States, you see a few Asians here and there on shows or in movies. But it’s never a full Asian cast,” says Xie. “I think it’s long overdue and shows like Squid Game prove that an all-Asian cast can be just as appealing and powerful as an all-white cast. I hope this is just the beginning of a larger picture of Asian representation and that it isn’t just a trend.”

I press her on whether she knew she was making reality TV history and Xie admits, “When the producer, Jeff Jenkins, told us we were the first all-Asian reality TV cast, I thought it was so cool to be a part of something like this. I’m really excited for people to see Season 2.” What she most appreciated was that the cast represented a spectrum of Asians—Japanese, Taiwanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Singaporean. “People think all Asians are the same and I credit the show with educating them that not all Asians are the same or look the same.”

With the second season wrapped and set to air sometime in early 2022, Xie was able to return to her main love—fashion. This autumn marked the first in-person Fashion Month since the pandemic and Xie was there for it in New York, Milan, and Paris. As her fame and style evolve, Xie took a more considered approach to attending the shows this season.

“I always love Fashion Month and I missed it. It was nice to see everyone again and it was fun,” she said. “But I went to much fewer shows, only two to three per week, because I wanted to focus on establishing relationships with my favorite brands.”

Judging by the backstage photo and video of Xie with Donatella Versace… relationship established.

Xie is fluent in her fashion lexicon, having a keen knowledge of and admiration for designers and their history. Her fascination with vintage has deepened since she struck up a partnership with Law Roach, image architect and stylist to Zendaya, Ariana, and Céline Dion. For Fashion Month, Xie served vintage looks from Versace, Balenciaga, Gaultier, and Galliano that Roach sourced.

“Law is a fashion historian,” explains Xie. “I love learning from and spending time with him. He’s been so helpful in showing me another side of vintage. He’s taken it to another level while still respecting my personal taste and style.”

As for the pieces she loved (and ordered) from the S/S 2022 collections, Xie rattles them off enthusiastically.

“There’s this really cool, long denim print slip dress from Blumarine. Givenchy with Matthew Willams was amazing like always. I’ve been obsessed with Rick Owens. And Mugler with Casey Cadwallader,” Xie takes a breath. “Cad is really cool. I can see myself wearing almost all of his pieces from the recent collection. I also loved the micro-mini, low-rise skirts and super crop tops from Miu Miu. I think people will really be wearing those. Well, people who don’t mind showing their stomachs.”

With her waify build on a 5-foot-8 frame, Xie has no problem showing off her midriff, ’90s style. “Those low-rise waists are so Britney,” she agrees.

A socialite-heiress who wears vintage Cavalli while ordering pre-Y2K throwbacks from the Miu Miu runway must have some style pointers and Xie is happy to share them.

But Xie’s fashion acumen and her ease in front of the paparazzi don’t convey her very human realness and sincerity. It’s easy to be dismissive of the young and extremely privileged, partly because many of them have a jaded world-weariness that showcases an off-putting entitlement. How hard is it, really, to be gifted designer clothes and pose on yet another red carpet for no other reason than you’re rich, famous, or beautiful?

Xie, however, has the sweet earnestness of any young woman finding her place in a world that’s quite different from what she grew up in. Her close-knit family—mom, dad, and two younger brothers—have “literally no interest in fashion,” but they’ve always been supportive of her ambitions.

“My family comes from a business background, so they’re low-key. They don’t like to be in the spotlight,” says Xie. “To be honest, the show isn’t their vibe and even fashion isn’t the traditional route. But they are firm believers in pursuing what you love. They’ve come to accept and support that it’s always been fashion for me.”

While Xie talks to me from one of the aforementioned enormous closets —“They’re the size of rooms and have all my gowns and shoes. There’s a lot happening!”—she tells me her mom deserves the credit for her grounded nature.

“My mom raised us. We had no nannies.” Xie pauses as we both grasp the unspoken. The rearing of billionaire children is almost always outsourced to others, to varying degrees and outcomes. “The way you’re raised plays a big role in your own balance. I love fun and glamour, but I also like to relax and chill in athletic wear like the rest of my family.”

Right now, Xie is home for the holidays, sort of. “I’ve got a shoot in LA on Wednesday and then I leave for London until right before Christmas. I haven’t been home for six months, so I thought I’d squeeze in some time with my family and pretend it’s Thanksgiving.”

Jaime Xie
Jaime Xie in the Art Basel issue of Grazia Gazette (photo: Dennis Leupold)

On her downtime, the vegan teetotaler loves cooking and baking for her family and friends. She’s recently discovered the cooking shows on Netflix, now that she finally has the family password. “I don’t watch TV, so I didn’t even know if we had a Netflix account. I asked them for the password two days before Bling Empire came out. Honestly, I didn’t know Netflix had such great shows! Bake Squad is amazing.”

When I ask what the future looks like, Xie mentions wanting to create a European base in London. She also plans “to give acting a try” while getting more involved in the fashion industry.

“You know what’s crazy?” Xie says suddenly. “I’m here doing my usual, going to Sephora in my Lululemon because I’m that person who does whatever. I’ve got my mask on, so I’m just these eyebrows and a mask, and people still recognize me. I say, ‘Please excuse me. I’m the same person as the one you see on IG. This is just me running errands.’”

Next week, Jaime Xie will be donning something extraordinary for the British Fashion Awards. Still the same person, just more like the one on Instagram.

thoughts?