Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I had my railroad spike cuff engraved with the name my mother uses to summon me when she is angry.

Giles and Brother by Philip Crangi Railroad Spike Cuff

I was allowed eight characters at no extra cost, so I threw in the exclamation point for full effect.

This piece of hardware has been a permanent fixture on my wrist for a couple of months now. I know I say that a lot about jewelry, but keep in mind my tolerance for jingle-jangle has steadily increased.

Monday, September 27, 2010

DIY: Fashion Inspires Art

I needed beautiful things to hang on my wall, so I decided to make them myself. I have been DIY-ing clothes for quite some time now (hand-painting shirts, be-glittering shoes) and, in the process, have been learning a little about how different art mediums work. I thought to myself, why not flip the world upside-down and create art pieces inspired by fashion?

I set my goals very low; save for that art class I had in a tree house when I was eight, I have no formal training in the fine arts, nor am I great with my hands. I wanted something simple and graphic that wouldn't require exceptional manual dexterity.

initial sketches: a series of three "windows" highlighted with flecks of metal leaf (seen on uppermost sketch)

I planned on building on the idea of windows made up of rapid brush strokes, much like those that I used to highlight the pockets on a jacket I DIYed a few months ago. I would then highlight different parts of the windows with flecks of copper leaf as a nod to my DIY twinkle-toed shoes bedazzled with copper glitter. After a few sketches and a couple of trips to the art supplies store, I was ready to start.

Here's what I used to create phase one of my wall hangings:

a makeshift palette, black acrylic paint, gloss medium for a little shine, brushes of varying sizes, scrap paper on which I used to practice my brush strokes

I bravely took the brush and marred the pristine white canvas, violently stroking back and forth.

I alternated vertical and horizontal strokes to create a weave effect, a subtle yet pleasing detail.

When I was satisfied with the window I had painted, I went on to make two more.

I allowed myself to be as inconsistent as I usually am in terms of the uniformity of the pieces; I wanted them to look honest and organic, not assembly-line precise.

And now for phase two, which I found quite enchanting: highlighting the windows with copper leaf. Here's what I used:

metal leaf adhesive size, copper leaf (much more affordable than gold leaf, and infinitely more intriguing!), and a soft brush for dusting off the excess leaf

I made sketches of different configurations for the metal leaf flecks, and tested it on paper. Metal leaf is surprisingly easy to use: it's simply a matter of painting on the adhesive size, laying on the leaf when the adhesive is dry, and brushing off the excess. After a few tests on paper, I was confident enough to dive in.

I painted on the metal leaf adhesive size,

and impatiently, used a hair dryer to make it dry more rapidly.

I then laid on a sheet of the most glorious copper leaf,

and awe-struckenly watched my painted-on flecks take shape as I brushed the excess leaf off.

I couldn't wait to hang them on the wall.

I am quite pleased with what I have made, considering how far I am from being a legitimate artist. I sought out to create beautiful pieces to hang on my wall, and, was delighted at how, in the end, these pieces found a way of embodying my style at the moment: the vaguely Chinese-calligraphic brush strokes speak of my current affinity for Asiana, while the copper blobs remind me of my obsession with jewelry, especially those that come in odd shapes.

The one in the center is my favorite.

"Windows", acrylic and copper leaf on canvas, 12"x12", set of three. September 2010.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fall Financing

In the business of wardrobe-building, only time can tell whether a purchase will be a dead investment or if it will be the gift that keeps on giving. Here's a couple of pieces for the fall that I might consider taking a risk in once I've raised the funds to purchase them:

Guidi donkey leather oxfords

They're ridiculously expensive, and have to be broken in. My feet will have to bleed, partially heal, and then bleed again before they become wearable. But it's this old-world charm that makes the shoes quite enthralling; you'll see it in the details:

exposed nail heads on the footbed,

meticulous hand-stitching, and leather laces.

They're very plain and borderline dowdy, but I remain smitten. I envision them going with every piece in my wardrobe; they will provide that much-needed back note of artisanal handsomeness to every outfit without screaming to be star of the show.

As a French flourish for the fall, possibly my first Hermes scarf?

Hermes Jardin des Metamorphoses scarf, design by Francois Houtin

It's an elaborate depiction of an enchanted forest wherein boars, deer, foxes, and bears morph into trees and shrubbery and vice-versa and everything in between. The scene is dreamlike, and the feel of the hand-rolled silk scarf is dreamy.

the scarf knotted

I intend on wearing it tied loosely around the neck over a dark sweater (image from Hermes Spring 2011 Men's catalog),

nonchalantly looped around the neck,

or worn inside a shirt, ascot-style. This fall, what are you planning on putting your money on?

first three photos via Atelier New York
the rest via Hermes

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Pastiche of the Past Week

If you don't know it yet, Fashion Week is one grueling clothes-centered cluster of days. In between running around the city to catch presentations and shows, doing work that has to do with these fashion shows, e.g. taking photographs and writing, and showing up at events come sundown, one has to deal with school, and personal life, all while attempting to appear at the least half-human in the most uncomfortable, yet sharpest-looking of clothes. But it's these intense, wounding days in our lives that make us feel alive. Today, I slump on my couch on a magnificent day in the heart of New York City, healing.

Here's some of what my eyes saw during the past few clothes-y days.

At Antonio Azzuolo's "The Adventures of Tintin"-inspired Spring 2011 collection:

Azzuolo's dandy croquet players. The headwear was sublime.

A well-made umbrella in a ludicrous pop of color appears to be a viable accessory.

subtle white contrast trim on light beige

view from the other side

Valet Mag's Jian de Leon with the designer

At relative newcomer George McCracken's second showing at NYFW:

matchy-matchy top and bottom (seen on model in center): one of my key looks for next spring, although probably not in pink

Is the world ready for blazers without shirts?

grinny model with funny hair

At Yigal Azrouel's surprisingly interesting "structured edge+progressive ease" menswear show:

view from my row

Yigal's smock tops in chambray and loose short shorts with horizontal pockets (photos from Vogue)

the long short-sleeve dressing gown/jacket: my favorite piece out of the collection

Friday, September 17, 2010

Rad Robert, Great Geller

One of the most poignantly honest declarations at Fashion Week is the audience's applause after a fashion show, and judging from the exuberant clapping after Robert Geller presented his Spring 2011 collection, he must've done something right. Geller is one of the few NYC designers who manage to capture that New York downtown cool without being staid and predictable; he doesn't break the mold, but he deftly etches his unique point-of-view.

the opening look at Robert Geller Spring/Summer 2011

The inspiration for this collection was youth in the 60's and 70's, particularly the Berlin student movement that challenged their authoritarian government. The notions of rebellion, of youth, of creativity and passion were expertly translated into clothing:

army greens and desert green khakis were a reference to militarism,

while the pops of red (a color the designer has never used before) signify the courage and passion of these youth leaders.

The styling at Robert Geller's shows is always on point, and in this show, the belts really stood out for me:

The bow belts look like a sufficiently doable DIY project, they're like bow ties for the waist!

And this camel leather cummerbund would look just as good with this double-denim ensemble as it would with a rebellious black-tie outfit.

I need these monkstrap shoes by Common Projects:

single in leather

double in suede

A few of my own snapshots from the show:

pre-show rush

the view from my seat

and my seat mate, the lovely Keiko Lynn of her self-titled blog

Fashion is a highly fragmented and cluttered medium; though I hold the utmost respect for everyone with the gumption to put themselves out there and create, creative minds whose work elicit a spark or a reaction in me are one in a million. Robert, you are rad.

all photos (save for the last three) from LaForce-Stevens

Top-to-toe Thom

I am not the staunchest advocate of wearing one designer from head to toe, but Austin's distinctly Asian features and decidedly un-fashiony haircut make that top-to-toe Thom Browne look rather endearing.

everything by Thom Browne

The fact that he's 22 and works in finance makes it all the more fascinating.

demonstrating the unusually high cardigan pockets

Austin's blog

Monday, September 13, 2010

Playtime at Petrou Man

Nicolas Petrou showcased his latest collection at New York Fashion Week in the form of a presentation-cum-tea-party-cum-performance-art that was so delightfully nutty it made me remember why I loved fashion in the first place. For Spring 2011, Petrou whipped up a collection grounded in classic American menswear peppered with El Mocambo-inspired vibrant prints and Madras plaids, in a concoction that is fresh and all his own.

Petrou Man Spring 2011

There were patchwork shirts in the theme of classic+quirky:

khaki and a hi-tech tribal print

chambray and a whimsical floral print

And the silhouettes were anything but restrictive, with easy shirts and pleated trousers.

I thoroughly enjoyed how the looks, styled almost irreverently matchy-matchy, looked so refreshing after seasons of deliberately avoiding any semblance of color-coordination.

In terms of construction, he did a few interesting things that not only made the pieces look more modern, but that also made them much more wearable.

The pleats on the upper back of the jacket create a bubble/backpack effect that creatively allow for more movement of the arms and shoulders.

The footwear was just as cheerful as the clothes:

embellished sandals with color-block socks

and tribal-print hiking sandals with toenails reminiscent of a Yeti's

The presentation was styled by one of my absolute favorites, Robbie Spencer, and featured body sculptures by Christopher Stone. Spencer did an outstanding job at collaborating with Petrou in order to bring a jolt of joy and creativity to the New York menswear fashion scene, which, to a certain extent, has been putting forth the same thing over and over again, season after season. Art, theatre, and just sheer playfulness combined to create a visual spectacle that very easily translated into these delicious photographs. Petrou and Spencer, I look forward to seeing much more of your work.

Birds, butterflies, toys, and gummy pastilles decorated the multi-branched shoulder pieces that made the models look not only kooky-colorful but also menacing and villainous at the same time.

the designer, Nicholas Petrou, primping up one of the models

Nicholas Petrou on dressing up: "wearing clothes should be simple yet fun, a daily act of nonchalant rebellion".

all photos by me

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