Of muted ideals.
After a spate of colour splashes (or clashes), saturated tones and a head-dizzying spectrum of shades, I found solace in a muted, monochromatic embrace. Remember the thesis that I’ve been lamenting on about for months? The submission was two weeks ago and while I’m relieved it’s over, a certain emptiness lingers. It’s a similar lingering thought that exists when you part with a loved one (whether a break up or death).
"Light does not exist without darkness", Dexter quipped in one of his episodes and while that line talks about his inner struggles and harrowing experiences, through which he can finally attain hope, in my case it reflects a state of mutual harmony. Where at times, we engulf ourselves in colour, yet at other times, we seek darkness; time away from the light. They exist together, lightness and darkness, along a continuum, a continuum we hobble along, be it in life or in our sartorial choices.
For now, this is a lull period to scrape away the hostility, the over-expressive crowd and then to finally reveal a shining diamond amidst the dirt. As much as I hate to use the word, ‘the fashion industry’, is exactly that, a speck of dust (sometimes colourful and vibrant but blurry), constantly being polished but struggling to reach a pristine point.
Perhaps, it is inevitable. As much as society aims to rid the world of underpaid workers, overcrowded factories, animal abuse and the like. Perhaps it is the ideal workings of a largely secretive and muted industry. Perhaps.
Images by Fhenny
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GISELLAblu Styling Session with Sacha Plumbridge
Affordable luxury. Years ago, that term hardly existed. Luxury was just that, luxe and completely synonymous with affluence and a high status. The moda operandi behind Dubai based brand, Gisellablu, revolves around that very appealing phrase, ‘affordable luxury’. The collection has been produced with quality fabrics, mostly pure silk sourced from Europe, and yet the pieces are priced at a fraction of what luxury houses are at present charging.
At first glance, it may sound dubious but if you understand how luxury houses came to their present capitalizing state (takeovers, group formations and by going public), you would marvel at the obscene profits being milked from consumers season after season. The luxury business is morbidly intense and while I would absolutely digress and go on a verbose tirade, the book by Dana Thomas, Deluxe, would be a good read for now. So back to Gisellablu. Sacha Plumbridge, the head designer, was in town for a private styling session which simply meant playing dress up where the whole store morphs into your wardrobe. Oh, if only.
After scouring the store’s effortlessly displayed pieces, that were arranged according to colour stories, we settled on close to 8 colourful-and-oh-so-highly-saturated outfits. Can’t blame me, the eyes want what the eyes want and they want full on eye-popping and blindness-inducing colour.
Pants of all shades and prints has been my weak spot for a while now. Like how bees are to flowers, moths to candles, sunflowers to sunlight and…well you get the picture(s) of my attraction to pants. The first look is not my favourite per se but it does serve to evoke a different vibe with the mix of hard and soft textures. Or imagine the silk skirt billowing in the wind - divine.
The middle look is way up there in terms of favourite looks. A brocade pant and suit combination coupled with a sheer shirt adds just the ideal amount of sexy finesse, don’t you think? Then of course, the under-collar jewelry trick always works like a charm to elicit a wise, smart demeanor.
'Third Eye' Gummi Nails sure look fancy no?
The next round up of clothes features a monochromatic (finally) mix of patterns, slits (obsession) and a dress that fits like a glove (essentially moulding into your skin).Shoes are from a sister brand, Aurora Wild, which are similarly made with top notch materials and craftsmanship. The pointed, two strapped heels being my dearest choice. When them eyes fell upon it, flutters went awry in my stomach…
Angular caps on the sleeves of this figure hugging dress gives it a subtle edge and the gold feather-like plumage on the neck speaks of a modern day greek woman. It was enormously hard to ply myself out of this stunning maroon number but a parting there had to be.
Gisellablu offers a wide variety of options for their consumers. From day to night, it is a haven for the fast paced shopper who only wants to go into one store and get everything she needs. And if the unfortunate happens where you adore a piece on the rack, only to have it not fit right - bunching or too long - the free alteration option is a godsend.
Sacha Plumbridge who has years of experience styling, exudes spunk and a personality so vibrant, it was addictive. With her and Nesrin, the styling session was a faultless joy ride. While, Gisellablu, a one and a half year old brand, has a long road ahead of them, they’re most definitely off to a good start to advocate affordable luxury, en masse.
#01-13 Raffles City Shopping Centre
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Who let the nails out? | Gummi Nails
Clearly, nail wraps are fast becoming the go-to option for fancy nails in a jiffy. It went from cult status amongst certain circles to mass consumed super star status in weeks. Who knew, who knew indeed? What started from gold and silver foils for your nails has morphed into stratospheric designs - leopard prints and florals are just the tip of that iceberg.
Singapore’s very own nail wrap brand, Gummi Nails is the ideal case in point. The designs propel Gummi Nails forward in this competitive (I would assume) field and positions her as a strong contender in this design war of nails. Gummi Nails proudly boast designs inspired by the newest and trendiest topic or fads in the social arena - yoga, evil eyes, aztec and even Ryan Gosling (because why not? I’m oblivious to him but apparently I’m missing something that everyone sees in him, what is it again?).
The kitschy & psychedelic designs make Gummi Nails a real treat and if anything, you would have some striking nails on display, instead of traditional monotone polishes. Holding on to a glass of champagne while you have ‘third eye’ wraps on are certainly going to receive raised eyes - now that is an apt conversation starter!
As any nail wraps go, application is easy, there are no tricks involved, none. Just follow the remove-stick-file process and you won’t stray too far away from what you see on pictures. These wraps are little more sticker-ish though, unlike the flimsy ones by Sally Hansen. Also, the glossy exterior means you could go without a top coat. Still, if you want to prolong its wear with top coat then read over the recommended top coats by Gummi Nails because some would cause damage to the wraps instead, reducing them to a state of crinkly mess. If you want to start a crinkly nail wrap trend then by all means crinkle it.
So I’ll be sporting these for a couple of social shindigs this week. Let’s see how my nails do as efficient conversation starters and social actors, as I maneuver through the awkwardness of first encounters.
At least I have the nails on my side.
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First Love at Rupini’s
There are varied ways to get your eyebrows groomed - pluck em’, wax em’ or thread em’. Threading being the most effective and precise, trust me. Threading is basically an unassuming lady using a piece of string, her mouth and hands to skillfully remove pesky and unwanted strays on your brows and boy do good brows make a difference to your look. Superficiality aside for once, the proverbial truth to beauty most obviously lies in good brows. Thin, over-plucked eyebrows being the forbidden path of course (i.e. Pamela Anderson). A week before the massive thesis was due, I wobbled down to Rupini’s at Holland Village (who else didn’t know they had an outlet there?) to have a go at their variety of services - an express facial, hair cut and of course, eyebrow threading.
Facials. Man, these are heavenly. How have I continually missed out on these? Oh, because I’ve mostly been a cleanser-moisturizer-out-the-door type of girl (blame the limited hours, 24 isn’t enough). Facials just seemed like an added hassle to the equation but everytime I go for one, it’s like falling in love for the first time and then I wonder why have I neglected you, dear facial, for oh so long. Every single time I tell a facialist how long it’s been since my last facial, I almost immediately feel the sound of horror in their voice as they go, “oh”. Oh, indeedy.
Horror aside, the rush of ecstasy when you feel your supple skin at the end is beyond a thrill ride. At Rupini’s, it was the exact same experience with my facialist, Shobha. She had quick, deft hands that did all to put me completely at ease, taking away all the knots in my muscles as she went. From there on I fixated on a mantra, “Don’t be silly, get a facial, you only have one face”.
Moving on to the threading. Quick, painless and precise is exactly the manner to describe it. First timers at the threading station can throw their fears out the window and simply sink into the comfort of the chair. Trust them, they will not screw up your brows. They know exactly how it feels to have messed up brows so to wish it upon you is unspeakable.
I remember my first threading session. As I nervously lied down in the chair, and with trembling hands held my brows in place, the lady threaded and instinctively tears streamed down almost on cue. After the first time though, threading is a walk in the park. Pfft.
Finally, the hair cut. I’ve been dreading my long locks for a while now. I love them but they were just too long and dragged me down. Karol gave me the much needed snip and added forward layers for more structure and volume. Perfect. Rupini’s at Holland Village boasts of a fully equipped hair salon along with professional stylists with years of experience under their belts. In good hands you will be.
While I would still frequent the threading place in my area (it’s nearer, especially since my brows grow out fast and I really do mean fast), I’d definitely head to Rupini’s for their energizing facials and professional but affordable hair cuts. So it’s not only brows at Rupini’s, they do so much more and the branch at Holland Village is definitely planning on becoming a one stop locale for all beauty services, instead of different appointments at a multitude of different locations. With our busy schedules, organizing more beauty appointments are an absolute no-go.
Rupini’s (Holland Village)
34A Lorong Mambong
+65 6466 0629
The sun is (not) my friend but shades are.
Hi. I have a new obsession. Sunglasses. Unconsciously (who am I kidding, it’s mostly a conscious decision), I have been purchasing sunglasses of varied shapes and styles. Aviators to wayfarers to cat-eyes, you name it. And now through the gracious hands of Glassesonline.com.sg, I’ve a new pair to boot. One that is a fascinating cross between cat eyes and wayfarers, the best kind of mixing.
A sprain has barricaded me to within the confines of my home or at most 500m from it so these pictures will have to do. Anyway, these Dandelion shades are surprisingly affordable at SGD19 and boasts an impressive UV400 protection from, well you know, Singapore’s ridiculous rays. Made of plastic, the full rimmed frames are relatively lightweight, so it doesn’t weigh down on your face which is perfect in my case because heavy ones feel like a chore. An unwanted chore, as all chores usually are. Am I making sense here? Yes.
Shopping on Glasses Online was a breeze. From the variety of shades available, both luxury and mid-range ones (including Oakley and Ray Ban) to the enticing fact that they provide free delivery and 30 day returns, the site couldn’t get any better. If you’re uneasy about purchasing shades online, since you can’t try them on, be assured that they provide measurements so you can always get a pretty precise gauge of how the shades will look on you. The team has it all figured out for they came up with a seamless online space to purchase sunglasses with a huge peace of mind.
SUPERSTORE | Farfetch x Le Mill
Farfetch launched a rather helpful initiative last year, titled as SUPERSTORE, which aims to locate the best new independent boutique anywhere in the world. Ideally, the initiative attempts to cultivate and promote various fashion destinations while giving them an international platform to showcase their worth.
This year, Farfetch packed their bags and made the journey to the East, specifically to Bollywood Town in Mumbai. A space that once used to be a rice mill has given way to Le Mill, a high-end multi label store that carries both local and international designers from Sabyasachi to The Row, Peter Pilotto and Isabel Marant. Being the first Indian store to make a mark on Farfetch’s very keen fashion eyes, the international giant produced a classic retro Bollywood inspired film, complete with brightly coloured makeup trends and cinematic effects of the yesteryears.
Sooooo, let’s cue in a little smidge of digression here shall we? Because digression and me are two peas in a pod.
The response toward Bollywood films are largely divided; either masses of cringing at unrealistic scenes or fawning over the relative hotness of each ‘star’. And believe me when I say I strongly belonged to the former group, that is until recently and thanks to this article justifying the profuse song and dance scenes. So the billion dollar industry must be doing something right to garner such an immense following and by no means does it feel any bit of importance to change its cookie cutter style. Yes, the length of the films have reduced drastically from 4 hours to 2 hours 30 mins and sometimes stretching to 3 but the plots and transitions have remained mostly unvaried. There is always love, romance, action and a strong, charming hero solving everything and it works. For odd reasons that are beyond comprehension, it works and don’t you deny you don’t tap your fingers to the beat of Bollywood music. Because you do. Admit it. Dishoom!
Fide Fashion Week 2013 | Julien Fournié
Julien Fournié’s show this year was missing a little ‘Fournié pizazz' but was compensated for with an elegant, form-fitting collection made with perfection at every seam. Titled, 'Premières Chimères', Fournié takes his inspiration from chimeras of the Greek mythology. Chimeras are these fire-breathing creatures with the head of a goat, body of a lion and a snake-headed tail, so there was quite a bit for Fournié to play around with.
Masking the runway with semi-darkness, the models strutted in an almost eery fashion as the shimmer bounced off the dresses with every hit of the spotlights. From reptilian-like scales that graced the bodices of gowns to exaggerated shoulders, the chimera came through less monstrous and more exquisite.
Fournié took his various inspirations and melded them quite cleverly into a story built through couture, garnering double takes and nods of approval throughout. High necklines lengthened the silhouettes of the looks, which was inline with Italian painter, Amedeo Modigliani’s use of elongated feminine forms. Keeping to a largely black and gold palette, the runway was strewn with inclinations of a modern day female warrior, who knew a thing or two about style when not fighting off beasts. As the finale looks came on, the wedding dress built upon layers of tulle and a corset-like bodice brought to mind images of a freed princess after surviving a bestial encounter.
Julien Fournié seamlessly weaved his string of thoughts together to arrive at a stunning array of truly couture pieces with mastery in both fabric and technique. He delivered a majestic display of couture without relying on over the top theatrics and his aptitude to put forth a strong, powerful woman without stripping her femininity was impeccable. Fournié, as usual, surpassed expectations while stayed consistent in his art because whether he choose the path of fancy and flamboyant or dark and mystical, he nails it to an immaculate T.
Images credit to Fide Fashion Weeks
Fashion’s Social Good | Sarah’s Bags
Enter a poignant back story to any fashion label and you would have arrived at an almost instant success story. All you then need is a covetable collection to add weight.
Sarah’s Bags is one such label who has hit the nail right in the eye and head. Based in Beirut, Lebanon, Sarah Beydoun stumbled upon her now hugely popular label while doing her Master’s thesis on prostitution and women prisoners who often face social stigma. That ought to hook you in, it’s also apt material for that weekly cogitation. Through her work at a local NGO (Dar El Amal) and at the suggestion of the NGO’s director, Hoda Kara, Sarah took 12 beaded handbags that were made by the ex-prisoners there and sold them at an antique and craft fair. The bags sold out. And this swift little move gave her the much needed push to establish an entire label with the promise to only hire ex-prisoners in an effort to give them an optimistic start outside of prison.
Her clutches gained prominence over the years, mostly for her pop art references, kitschy designs and exquisite traditional beading techniques. The bags are quirky for sure and take inspirations not only from Lebanon but all over the world including Mexico, Egypt and Africa. While carrying stories of Sarah’s experiences with art, music, cinema and her travels, each of these bags are full of life and bursting with vivacious and permeating energy. A fair warning though, toting one of these around will definitely get you stares - the good kind, none of that creepy i-want-to-stalk-you-forever kind. That’s just eurgh.
Also, for the shy and meek, these are efficient conversation starters for that awkward party you always want to escape from. Don’t deny if you’ve never been to one. Don’t.
It’s rather rare to see a designer so compassionate and passionate (rhyming not intended) about her purpose in fashion - an industry so aligned with shrewd capitalism. So whenever a fashion label seeks out to pursue a social purpose, it ignites hope into the industry. Hope that the industry is not just a well-oiled profiteering machine, hungry to take over at the expense of the worker’s and nature’s well being.
Sarah Beydoun was determined to empower these women and found the best way she knew how. Today, she has given opportunities to over 150 female artisans.
Here’s the great part, for the first time, Sarah’s Bags are being stocked in South East Asia and that too in the always relevant boutique, MYthology. Prices ranges from SGD$250 - $1200. Next stop, MYthology guys.
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Fide Fashion Week 2013 | Yumi Katsura
Quite possibly the most highly anticipated shows during Fide Fashion Week was Yumi Katsura. After witnessing her stunning array of pieces at last year’s show, everyone knew this year wouldn’t be anything short of remarkable. With only minutes away, Katsura took her pre-show bow from the front row as the lights went down and the hall fell dead silent.
The first model stepped out in a swishy kaftan silhouette while the lights immediately caught the shimmer off the elaborate headpieces. They compelled your attention and hooked you in like no other drug would. Every subsequent look was greeted with wide eyes and a collective gasp. The designs so flawlessly crafted had no sequin out of place.
Moving cohesively with the music, the collection transgressed from short kaftan-like pieces to a colourful mix of long dresses to traditional Japanese wedding attire and lastly to a whole slew of wedding gowns in white, leaving brides-to-be in the audience just a tad bit breathless. The seamless infusion of both Japanese and Parisian elements was an impressive feat, neither did it seem disjointed nor out of place; it was flawlessly harmonious. In other instances there were hints of South American influences peeking through as well.
Unwittingly, eyes remained fixated on the runway, afraid to miss a beat with any blink. Now jaws were falling by the second and goosebumps ensued. It took every fibre and muscle in me to not stand up and stare agape at the runway and for fear of fainting midway because that would have definitely happened. (And exaggeration over)
The show featured a thrilling twist, quite literally. From the cue of the music, a model did a little twirl mid-runway and revealed a completely different gown. At that very point, every fashion show goer knew who Yumi Katsura is - a true magician. Sure it was reminiscent of Hussein Chalayan’s transformer dresses but Katsura’s execution was not to transform from day to night but to have 2 equally extravagant gowns in one. Genius, because why spend thousands of dollars one one gown that you would probably only wear to one grand social event when you can get two? Economical sense no?Next came the grand glow in the dark gown. You read that right, glow in the dark. The Japanese, known for their progressive innovation have actually farmed genetically engineered silk worms to spin glow in the dark silk, because why wouldn’t they? And I (naively) thought lighted up LED gowns were beyond amazing. I thought wrong, as did the audience. (Unfortunately, I did not manage to capture the gown in its glow in the dark glory.) The Katsura story only got better. After her finale bow to an ecstatic standing ovation, Katsura went down the entire front row (read: entire), shook each and every guest’s hand, all while couturier Julien Fournié enthusiastically fist pumped away, in ardent support I believe. A sight so unforgettable even a memory loss has nothing on it.
Holi Holy | Manish Arora
The spring festival of colours is a wild celebration of people prancing around on the streets ready to shower powdered colours on just about everyone. Aligned with religious events in Hinduism and as an ode to the vibrant colours of Spring, the festival has been a source of inspiration for various reasons across the globe. Most recently, The Colour Run in Singapore.
"Why should I join The Colour Run when I already have enough of Holi in India?"
Historically, India has been a giant paradox, filled to the brim with contradictions that hardly or rather do not make sense. One being that widows aren’t allowed to play Holi as they are expected to grief for the loss of their husbands and only wear white for what remains of their life. Basically, all colour is yanked from them returning their souls to the era of black and white. That is until the widows of Varanasi, Benaras broke the set-in-stone custom and celebrated Holi for the first time in 2013. That too with intense fervour and pride.
Manish Arora’s film centered around a musical commentary by singer, Bishi Bhattacharya, who sings a haunting medley while standing and strutting amidst the streets of Varanasi. The various scenes are darkly lit, providing a stark contrast with the whiteness of the sari-clad widows and the riot of Holi colours. With the film, Arora embraces realism and instead of casting typically tall and scarily skinny models, he went with more relatable people to don his many wondrous creations. Here’s where you realize that his pieces are more than perfect for every size and shape.
A fashion film which goes further than the seemingly frivolous facade of fashion while giving you a base for critical discourse beyond the next season’s boot trend, is one you should watch intently. Albeit Holi is a simple act of celebration, the film effectively attempts to celebrate with the widows as they tear apart and break through tradition, one throw of Holi colour at a time.
Directed by Bharat Sikka, the film was showcased in the A Shaded View On Fashion Film (ASVOFF) Festival in Paris and won awards for Grand Prix, Best Sound and the Best Emerging Talent. Recently it was also screened during Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW).
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