Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Sweatsuit Alternative

I am just as allergic to the word comfy as your average celebrity shoe designer; I think that the best-looking clothes have a little bit of constrictive reining-in here and there. But if I were to don my sharply tailored suit and shiny new oxfords sockless every single day, I'd be a terribly cranky twenty-something with perpetually bloody feet and a bad case of frozen shoulder.

I have my own ways of managing to look at least half-human when I'm stricken with the lazies. They make up my sweatsuit alternative; a term I first heard on darling old Tim Gunn's show. These tips may or may not work for you, but let me share them with you anyway:

1. A good long black coat hides a multitude of sins. Worn closed with black bottoms, the world sees chic all black and not the salad-stained Sugababes t-shirt you wore to bed last night.

cashmere coat with rabbit fur-lined pockets by Assembly New York, Raf Simons x Eastpak weekender

2. Loosen up in luxe fabrics. Precious prints and soft silks don't only feel good to touch, their wonderful drape also makes them look great worn loose.

Dries Van Noten printed cotton linen jacket, Assembly New York silk shirt

3. Non-athletic athletic pants. A lot of designers are now making sport-inspired bottoms cut a little more flatteringly than your regular sweats, but nearly just as comfortable. Y-3 always makes a good pair.

the signature Adidas trefoil on my favorite Y-3 ninja pants

4. Bring out the bijoux. I'm not recommending you wear a long necklace of tiny silver bells on a lazy day (I'd caution you against wearing one, actually. The heaviness and repetitive chiming did give me a baby migraine...) but what I'm trying to say is that a little hint of bling, say, a nice watch or a subtle ring, would help perpetuate the illusion that you took some time to put yourself together and look polished.

belly-dancing belt from a costume store worn as necklace

5. Find your favorite shoes. You may have to go through tons of pairs before you find those that will allow you to walk for miles without fracturing foot bones, but that you'd still consider stylish and smart. But once you find them, I highly recommend buying more than one pair.

white-soled Dr. Martens lace-ups, perfectly broken in

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

British Crown Jewels

I was dazzled by the gems on display at the London Show Rooms in NYC. These baubles may not be the emeralds or rubies the size of fruit set in platinum with big round brilliants surrounding them that you would associate with British jewelry top-of-mind, but rather, they are modern pieces that are very emblematic of the London fashion talent we know and love: quirky, inventive, and unlike any other.

Fannie Schiavoni excited the science geek in me with the most remarkable necklace made out of anodized lab-grown crystals:

I can already envision it, my mad fashion scientist outfit for spring: the Fannie Schiavoni lab-grown crystal necklace over printed silk shirt in blues and greens buttoned all the way to the top, glasses, a Margielic white lab coat, and maybe a battered brown doctor's bag to keep it gritty and down-to-earth.

Schiavoni's necklaces and harnesses in soft-as-silk chain mail

Holly Fulton showed bold graphic pieces with faux stones of inhumane proportions, which we all know I love.

the designer looking very chic in a necklace from her line, paired with vintage fan earrings

Her cuffs looked powerful, and I could very much see them crossing over to menswear. The large, globe-shaped stones on these are almost identical to those used in The Crystal Maze, a game show I spent many a childhood evening watching and fearfully thinking how miserable I'd be if I got trapped forever in the Aztec or Medieval challenge rooms...

crystal and Swarovski split-pearl earrings

and the most mesmerizing bib of crystal balls on lucite

Dominic Jones' blade hoops were intriguingly dangerous:

earrings by Dominic Jones

and his turquoise and silver earring with hematite beads were a modern take on Native Americana.

Though they aren't technically jewelry, Mary Katrantzou's exquisitely embellished pieces were sartorial gems.

Mary Katrantzou digital-print booties studded with pearls

a Mary Katrantzou skirt with paillette flowers, crystals, and beaded digital-print velvet greenery

Louise Gray's necklaces were lighthearted and very wearable.

The one on the far left reminded me of two DIY projects I did a while back, (googly-eyed shoes and the whistle necklace).

the designer, Louise Gray, and her lunatic-chic twinkly eyes

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sibling's East London Pub Crawl

Among those who presented at the London Show Rooms in New York today, the one that surprisingly put a smile to my face was Joe Bates, Sid Bryan, and Cozette McCreery's Sibling. I've noticed Sibling on the periphery, but didn't pay much attention to it in the past, dismissing it as perhaps too casual for my own tastes. But upon closer inspection of the line today, I discovered a clever cheekiness that could work wonders at livening up my wardrobe of dark suiting material and silks and chiffons of varied sorts and patterns.

"Sibling takes a knitted pub-crawl around East London" was the theme of Fall 2011. Each piece in the collection of knitwear was inspired by a pub in the infamous nightlife area.

The George & Dragon in Shoreditch gives birth to a fair isle vest knitted in Scotland, featuring Saint George, crossed cigarettes and dragons.

Inspired by the same pub is this hoodie done in a sculptural technique called dragon stitch.

The soft knit assumes the form of spikes, and makes for a frighteningly awesome sweater.

the merino wool dragon scales up close

The George drape hooded jacket with detachable zip hood had a pattern all over reminiscent of bricks in a dungeon.

Sibling's Sid Bryan styles the jacket on a model.

The jacket's drapey shape is a departure from most of the collection's classic-fitting sweaters, but the coziness of the knit is pure Sibling.

And the piece (or two) that I never thought I'd want but now need more than ever, the twinset they made in collaboration with artist "Pure Evil", featuring pandas with sequin Kiss make-up.

the Sibling Pandas Rock! twinset

Never in a million years did I imagine I'd lust for (1) a twinset, (2) graphic-printed pandas and (3) anything with sequins. Alright, maybe not number 3, but you get what I mean. Slip on the twinset and you're warm, you look cool, you look like a reverse cross-dressing schoolmarm.

Monday, March 21, 2011

John Lobb's Spirits of Capitals

Last week, I was honored to be invited to a private press viewing of John Lobb's "Spirits of Capitals" collection at the Hermès men's boutique on Madison Avenue. Though the Hermès Group's regulations prohibited me from snapping my own photos at the exhibition, I was lucky to have a brief chat with John Lobb CEO Renaud Paul-Dauphin, who explained to me the direction the brand was shooting for in the near future. John Lobb wants to dissociate itself from the general misconception that the brand makes only stodgy old men's thick-soled brogues, and instead, aims to bring forward its superb craftsmanship and the timeless yet worldly and almost eclectic character of the long-time boot maker. Paul-Dauphin, a stylish gentleman himself, proudly wore a pair of John Lobb double-monkstraps in tan, each one fascinatingly fashioned out of a single piece of leather.

The "Spirits of Capitals" collection was born out of a challenge for the house of John Lobb to craft a pair of shoes that would embody a city in the world. John Lobb commissioned a number of teams of designers, shoemakers, and clients of different backgrounds: artists, performers, and possibly a couple of private people with bucks to blow. The result is an album of shoes that profoundly exemplify the cities that inspired them.

The Moscow shoe, a boot of course, is distinctly Russian.

In browns of differing shades and textures, they were inspired by a bespoke order made for a Russian opera singer particularly renowned at the beginning of the last century. The client's initials are hand-embroidered in Cyrillic letters on the heel of the ankle boot.

the Moscow ankle boot in 166 box-calf, wagtail box and tobacco brown suede

What could be more English than green and brown? These boots in cotton canvas and calfskin are unmistakably London.

the London low boot in gold Barenia calfskin and khaki canvas

The Beijings, with the suede and the zippy lateral elastic strap sheathed in leather (which would allow for flexibility and ease of wear and removal), are forward and pragmatic.

Beijing oxfords in green grey suede with pearl grey piping

The New York shoes are, I think, quite remarkable. They're almost downtown New York in their offbeatness, and in this colorway of dark pink with antique blue box leather, they are unlike any other.

New York oxfords in dark pink box paired with antique blue finish box

The heart-shaped "tongue" sent my heart a-flutter.

The Taipei mocassins looked immensely wearable, and the accent of the bamboo-hued crocodile was, I think, just right.

Taipei moccasins in oxford mink calfskin and bamboo crocodile

But if I were to have a piece of the collection, it would have to be the Tokyo boots, which I might have cradled in my arm a little too long for security to not take notice. They were sleek, simple without being boring, and (I don't know if I've used this word on the blog before but) darn, were they sexy. I think they are somewhat reminiscent of the elegance of Japanese pagodas: stately and almost ethereal, yet brought down to earth by the 100% wood construction that had to be rebuilt every few years.

Tokyo low boot in blue box-calf with a black finish.

It would pain me to have to choose between the two colorways. The first, in blue-black, exemplified understated dandy with the rich sapphire hue gleaming only in direct sunlight. But the same boot in tobacco brown suede with rose gold hardware (!) calls to me with a bedroom voice.

Tokyo low boot in tobacco brown suede with rose gold hardware. Note the spool-shaped heel on this one.

All the shoes in the collection are fully customizable: change the leather, swap the heel, John Lobb would tailor it to a client's specifications, for a price. Think of it as the ultimate DIY collaborative experience. Gentlemen around the world, how astutely do you think Lobb embodies your city? If your metropolis of residence isn't in the collection, what shoe would you have them make for you?

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Today, I join the hordes of fadsters who have bought into the leopard print trend. I stumbled upon the perfect leopard print fabric at a shop in Manila---a shirting cotton with just that little hint of stretch for give, in leopard of the perfect hue, with trompe l'oeil hairs---and immediately had it tailored into a long-sleeved button-down shirt.

tailor-made leopard print shirt, star necklace from a shop in Hong Kong, zipper necklace by Marc Jacobs, jacket from Topman

I am absolutely allergic to the word "trend", and though the faunal spots are now omnipresent in fashion publications online, in print and everywhere in between, I just couldn't help but purchase the fabric and make a top out of it---but I've taken measures to keep it my own. I wanted a touch of velvet for that bold luxuriousness. I thought to do the collar in a rounded, club-collar style as a nod to the English dandy, and to keep the shirt from being too overtly fierce. I was, after all, wearing the spots of a wild animal.

Number (N)ine sunglasses, Topman jacket, tailor-made leopard print shirt, Ann Demeulemeester belt, H&M jeans, Number (N)ine flat creepers

Though the shirt and the star necklace are clear cheap knockoffs of Givenchy, or more succinctly, Fauxvenchy¹, I did try to infuse that luxe-weathered-eccentric aesthetic that I commonly associate with myself nowadays.

belt by Ann Demeulemeester. I thought white would be a slightly off, unexpected touch, and I thought the whipstitching echoed that savageness on top.

my Number (N)ine suede flat creepers now weathered and balded and stained: all signs of being very much loved.

Have any of you guys bought into the animal-print craze? A shirt, scarf, shoes, shower curtain? Do share!

¹Acton-Bond, 2010

photos via Pop Bop and Snap

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spring in a Safari Jacket

Yves Saint Laurent introduced the safari jacket in the 1960s, and today, the belted, pocketed jacket is a classic. I think I want one for Spring; the cinched waist will allow me to wear it with more relaxed pleated pants, and the abundance of pockets will afford me the luxury of going bag-less.

Yves Saint Laurent in his iconic jacket, in what looks like beige twill on the top left and bottom right, and white linen on the top right; a model in a provocative lace-front version on the bottom left.

I'm particularly fixated on this safari jacket in buttery light yellow beige, from YSL, no less:

The color is perfect: neutral but bright enough to keep it from being boring. The jacket is also cut slim, and would look great belted or not.

The zippers add a touch of modernity

and the belt cinches the silhouette in at the smallest part of the waist (at least on mine), so you can keep everything else loose and lazy.

all the rest via Mr. Porter

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Shantung Jacket + Maharlika in Manhattan

I was meandering about at my favorite fabric shop when I recalled that one conversation I had with my bosom Boston buddy Mia, where we looked back with fondness and mild disgust at our prom looks. I wore a miserably mismatched suit that included a heavy gray tweed jacket (in the heat of Manila!) with a drawstring necktie from a mall kiosk, while she wore a saccharine-bright beaded, corseted gown with matching fabric purse and shoes, all in the unflatteringly iridescent fabric du jour at the time: silk shantung. Silk shantung, a textured type of silk usually blended with polyester, is sold in abundance and at attractive prices today in the year 2011. I thought to myself, why not reinvent the textile of terror and make something wearable out of it?

tailor-made shantung jacket with velvet lapels, American Apparel tank top, H&M jeans, Gucci loafers

And that's just what I did. I purchased enough of fabric in black to make a jacket, and picked up some velvet for trim. I had the vision of the jacket in my head, and gave my tailor the specifications for this project: sharp, fitted shoulders, a relaxed torso with barely any taper, and velvet peaked lapels as wide as humanly possible.

I thought plastic buttons would be too mundane, and bright metal buttons would be too strong. So I finished off the jacket with these silk knot buttons that I had purchased a while back but never got to use. I think there is a certain refinement in using fabric buttons, especially on a jacket in a rather delicate material.

Hermès silk scarf worn as a cummerbund

Though I may not be the biggest Gucci groupie, these shoes are a classic style from ages ago and are the closest I could get to owning a piece of Tom Ford-era Gucci... at least for now.

I had a late morning meal at Resto Leon in the East Village, where Sundays, it turns into Maharlika, a guerilla brunch spot serving modern Filipino cuisine.

at Leon, cross ring a gift from my friend Kathleen Sullivan

Brunch was excellent. Flavorful, well-executed, with just the right touch of inventiveness.

The food ranged from the kitschy-cool:

my plate, Eggs Imelda. Their take on Eggs Florentine, with laing (taro leaves in coconut milk) in place of spinach, pan de sal in lieu of English muffins, and a hollandaise sauce made with the Filipino mini-limes called calamansi. Fried sweet potatoes and prawns on the side.

Tang mimosas, bright and surprisingly subtle

to just plain kitschy (and pretty darn enjoyable!):

Walk into a typical Filipino home and they would offer you a glass of Tang orange juice, with just a little too much water and sugar to keep it mild and sweet.

Nagaraya cracker nuts

sisig (grilled sizzling pork face) with liquid MSG also known as Maggi seasoning

to superbly-done classics:

Good balut (fertilized, half-way formed duck eggs typically served as the ultimate challenge on Fear Factor) is hard to find in Manila; in Manhattan, it's quite an impressive feat.

the tastiest arroz caldo (congee/rice porridge) with shredded chicken and anatto oil

posing away my brunch on 11th Street

Dearest readers, I write to you now from my new apartment in New York. Yes, I've finally made the move after months of being a couch-surfing resident of the city. Feel free to say hi if you see me on the street. I don't smile, but neither do I bite. And I promise not to set up camp in front of your favorite mirror at the next sample sale.



Related Posts with Thumbnails