Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Peak of Cheap

the crowded streets of Divisoria

Divisoria in Manila is the hardest of the hard-core bargain shopping destinations in the Philippines.  Goods from all over the country, as well as from China, Taiwan, Thailand, Korea, and other neighboring countries are sold here at wholesale prices, not only to retailers, but also to individuals.  It is a sensory explosion---dizzying sights of the colorful wares and people passing by, sweltering heat, the odor of waste water and sweaty laborer, and the fearful feeling that someone might just snatch your wallet---that is hard to forget.  

168 mall

Last Thursday was Divisoria (or Divi) day at 168 mall, perhaps the most civilized section of the whole Divisoria.  I used to go to Divi way back in college to buy raw materials for little fashion shows we directed, but the clothes and accessories I discovered in this trip really impressed me.  My two thousand one hundred pesos (roughly USD 44) went a long, long way.  Here are the highlights:

three pairs of sunglasses, the first two costing a dollar each

trompe l'oeil small messenger bag.  I find this to be quite a clever take on the ubiquitous SLR cameras seen on the shoulders of every other hipster in town.  What if I use it to carry my oh-so-square digital camera?

sunglass necklace.  This has been making me happy for the past two days already.  

cassette tape necklace.  It's an old cassette tape suspended from a fabric neck strap...

...which zips open to reveal a compartment for storage!

Tokyo Wishlist

I'm off to Tokyo on Monday.  Cooler weather, warmer service, and kooky street style.  Let me share with you my wishful wish list.  

Tokyo Trip Wishlist
1.  Watch (fingers crossed, if budget permits!)
Cartier Ronde Solo

or Hermes Cape Cod Double Tour

2.  Statement shoes
Comme des Garcons anime shoes

or Raf Simons SS 09 shoes (dream on!)

3.  Eastpak x Raf Simons duffel in black padded nylon

or blue crumpled nylon

1.  vintage marching band jacket

2.  vintage chinese jacket

3.  light long lab coat
P.S.  Apologies for not being able to post for the past week.  Final requirements for the semester kept me occupied.  I'll try my best to squeeze a gazillion posts between now and the night before Monday! :p

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Okay so I admit to buying women's jersey pants for yoga.  Men's athletic pants at Nike, besides being significantly pricier, are all too short for me.  Recently, as I was looking for another pair of straight-cut black jersey yoga pants, these caught my eye:

knee-length jersey shorts from, yes, the Bossini ladies' section.  I know the ruching on the pockets might look a little feminine, but they're conveniently covered up by the t-shirts I wear.

I enjoy wearing them out much as I do wearing them to yoga practice.  

worn with H&M t-shirt, Margiela cuff and sneakers

with AA hoodie

The hoodie actually belongs to Chic Clinic, and I'm on the fence whether I should buy it from her or not.  It's a size small and looks fine unzipped, but is a little too snug when zipped.  Should I?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

project accomplished: contrast-trim blazer

I was hesitant to blog about this, because I didn't want to jinx it until I saw the final result.  It took quite a few visits to the tailor to get everything right.  Even after all the adjustments, he couldn't get the lapels exactly the way I wanted it.

Notice how the gray part gets slightly crooked at the seam.  But screw that, I'm trying to embrace this imperfection as something that makes the jacket uniquely mine.

Over all, I'm really pleased with how this jacket turned out.  

tailor-made gray blazer with white contrast trim and black buttons

Please excuse the sloppy shirt cuffs.  I need a new white shirt.

worn with H&M shirt, tailor-made pants, Miu Miu laceups

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

On Jewelry

I think jewelry is underrated.  Fashion today tends to be about new shapes: on shoulders, on trousers, and statement accessories such as footwear and bags; jewelry is sadly relegated to the sidelines.  But most people are missing out.  Jewelry does things for an ensemble that you simply can't achieve by clothing alone.  For example, small trinkets add depth and personality to everyday outfits and eventually become a part of you.  

The Search for Chic's Conroy and Wilcox gold thorn ring

Bold statement pieces, on the other hand, elevate basic clothes.  


Chic Clinic's Marimekko for H&M necklace

And unlike shoes or bags, fine jewelry is an investment that actually increases in price over the years.

Now some would say the only appropriate piece of jewelry for men would be a watch and I admit, jewelry for men is very tricky.  With so many negative stereotypes to try to veer away from, namely:

1.  dirty hippie,

2.  eurotrash (Dearest Dolce and Gabbana, I used to adore you back in 2005 but I can now say with conviction that I've fallen out of love.), 

3.  guido,

(I did not make this)

it might be best for majority of the male population to steer clear of jewels.  Unlike clothes, bags or shoes, jewelry doesn't serve any functional purpose and if it sticks out the wrong way, boy does it look awkward.  

But for those guys who tirelessly want to push the envelope and try wearing jewelry, the choices are rather interesting.  I'm particularly fascinated by Margiela's men's jewelry nowadays.  

a snapshot of Margiela's latest collection for men

He never fails to come up with oddly beautiful pieces that make you smile.  This blog has seen way too much of my batman cuff and my dice necklace that I'd rather just link them.  Just for kicks, I tried on this Margiela barbed wire ring at Lane Crawford a couple of months ago and I was pleasantly surprised.  

The barb is rather large, and the metal is bright and shiny; the edges are dulled for safety, of course.  Overall it gave off an air of toughness that wasn't too biker, a certain offbeat-ness that was not off-putting, I like.  Most definitely on my wish list.  

The late Isabella Blow has her hats, Sea of Shoes her shoes, my mother's thing is jewelry.  It isn't uncommon to see her shopping in a wide, evening-gown-worthy diamond cuff, or walking around at home, trying out her new huge cocktail ring with her slightly raggedy house clothes.  She lives for unique pieces, and somehow she makes it work.

Perhaps that's the reason I hold jewelry in such high regard; I grew up in awe of such a jewelry junkie.  I think jewelry, the real thing in particular, gives the wearer an aura of elegance, of being larger-than-life even.  I like that even as people see you approaching from a distance, the shine on your ears reaches them before you actually do.  When I'm in the mood for that larger-than-life sparkle, I put this on, a gift from my mother:

white gold chain-link bracelet with one pave link with a princess-cut diamond in the center

In the end, what fascinates me about jewelry is trying to guess the story behind them and how they relate to the user.  I see a woman at the mall wearing quite a sizeable pair of brilliants on her ears and I think: real or fake?  Her own or inherited?  Old rich or golddigger?  A guy in sharp office attire wearing a weathered string bracelet alongside his Bell&Ross and I think: Sentimental value?  Gift from an old girlfriend?  Boyfriend?  Deceased friend?  Or just some meaningless accessory?  

Wear what speaks of who you are.  Whether it's a statement (that you're beautiful and fabulous and you want everyone's eyes on you) or whether it's volumes and volumes of the story of your life (relationships, past and present, that never leave you), you might find it nice to let the jewels do the talking.  

clothing that transforms

This faded black pullover bomber jacket is one of the underused, yet favorite items in my wardrobe.  What I love about it (besides the fact that it's a size Small woohoo!) is the many ways it can transform.  Transformable pieces of clothing are common in womenswear, but not often seen in menswear.  I'm happy to see this kind of creativity translated on to menswear.  

This is how it looks laid out flat:

You can button any or all of the tiny buttons by the neckline to create some sort of a tucked/pleated effect when worn.

You can wear the neck draped down like a cowl:

Or tie the strings to bunch up the fabric and the neckline smaller,

as shown here:

Helmut Lang pullover bomber, Casio calculator watch, tailor-made pants and Bottega mocs

Some of his brothers on the runway:

Monday, October 13, 2008

gray day

I just got this long sleeved tee from Kaiser by Filipino designer Noel Manapat.  It has this raw-cut curve detail in both the front and back, and an uneven hem which is longer in the back.  Really comfy too, I'm looking forward to wearing it on the plane.

worn with Margiela necklace and shoes, tailor-made pants, and Casio calculator watch

view from the back

close-up of the 90's-adorkable watch

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Re: Open Letter to my LV Bag

Finally, my estranged bag releases a statement.

Just got this a few minutes ago, and it totally cracked me up! Found here, scroll down to the last comment.

Anonymous commenter, whoever you are, thanks for making my day.

sun, sea, and sand

My nth Dean and Trent post already.  Dear owner of Dean and Trent, if you're reading this, I would gladly accept any freebies you throw my way in appreciation for my laudatory posts on your wares.  (Kidding!) (Not!)  

I recently got this Dean and Trent navy shawl-collar cardigan made from the comfiest flannel-like fabric ever.

with t-shirt from Izzue, Topman belt, Zara shorts and shoes

sans cardigan

I'm really warming up to color now.  It's a cycle.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Asian Pride: Fashion in Wong Kar-Wai's Films

Wong Kar-Wai, iconic second-new-wave Hong Kong director, is known for his highly stylized films.  In them, he manipulates music, color, shadows, camera movement, and yes, even wardrobe in order to create a world around the audience that is uniquely Wong Kar-Wai.  

Happy Together (1997) tells the story of a couple of Hong Kong expatriates living in Argentina, played by Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung.  The two are essentially wanderers, the former hopping from one job to another and the latter from one boyfriend to the next.  Leung, who, in the start of the film plays some sort of valet at a club, appears to be a rather sharply-dressed valet at that.

check out the flipped coat collar

He rocks the tux!

In his down time, he drops off mail in a cool black and cream leather jacket.  

His lover, played by Leslie, sports quite a covetable fuzzy cardigan...  

...which is much like a pared-down, men's version of Rodarte's "it" cardigan of fall 08.


In terms of entertainment value, I enjoyed Kar-Wai's 1994 film Chungking Express the most.  It stars Takeshi Kaneshiro as (a rather sloppily dressed) cop, Brigitte Lin as woman in blonde wig, and Faye Wong as Faye.  

Woman in blonde wig is such an iconic character, she almost seems like an illustration to me.  Her red-rimmed sunglasses sum up her quirky mystique.  

For the whole time Brigitte Lin (right) appears in the movie, she wears this immensely classic and universally flattering trench dress.  Faye Wong on the left.  

Faye sports an easy, non-overstyled pixie cut that would work as well today as it did back in 1994.  

Saving the best for last, I think In the Mood for Love (2000) presents an overload of fashion inspiration.  It is the Wong Kar-Wai movie that people equate with great style.  Set in 1962, it stars Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung.

Perhaps the most striking among all the fashion shown in the film are Maggie Cheung's cheongsams, or Chinese dresses, of which throughout the entire film, she wears the same style in various fabrics.  They are unlike anything I've seen before, to be honest.  With their movement-inhibitive ultra-high collars, cap sleeves, very close-fitting bodices that taper down into a graceful pencil skirt, they draw a silhouette that is so sensually womanly.  

With minimal accessories and big beehive hair, the effect is not campy 60's retro, but rather very high fashion.  

Tony Leung's character does not disappoint either.  Perhaps my favorite part of his look in this movie (he was in the other two also) is his immaculately slicked-back hair.  

Even in a tank top and dress pants, he looks dressed to kill.

Throughout the film he wears sharp, slim suits with decidedly vintage ties.  

Funny thing about this movie, though, is that the characters played by Tony and Maggie are the only ones dressed like this; others are styled rather ordinarily.  It's as if the two live in their own world of primness and calculated beauty.  Through his use of fashion, Wong Kar-Wai can evoke messages other filmmakers would fail to bring forth, or at least don't communicate in the same way.  

Though they didn't end up together, at least they can look back and say they made quite a stylish couple, don't you think?

Can you think of any films that have greatly influenced your style?  Do share!

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