Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend, Color-Free!

On my way out to New York for Thanksgiving break, I felt the sudden urge to grab my old Lumix LX3 and document the entire weekend in black and white. Here's a dog's eye view of what I saw:

I spent Thanksgiving day at my aunt's upstate,

in picture-perfect suburbia.

Then off I was to the city to revisit old haunts and discover new ones.

Bon Chon at Mad For Chicken, you can always count on it being orgasmic

too much jewelry (my brother's Cartier watch, Susan Rosen horsebit bracelet, my mother's white gold and diamond bracelet, Philip Crangi railroad spike cuff)

stairwell at the MoMA

beneath a painting by Jackson Pollock, the father of all paint-splatterers (Assembly New York coat, Barbour warm pile liner worn as vest)

wares at the Brooklyn Flea

lunch is the new after-dinner drinks (Number (N)ine sunglasses, chiffon shirt of my own design, necklace from India)

feigned casual conversation with the author of Feigned Perfection

skirt by Comme des Garcons

the street scene in NoLita

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

The draft of my letter to Santa might not be miles long, but the combined value of the items rivals the GDP of a small nation. What's in your (unrealistic) wish list?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Vintage Reworked Camel Coat

The thing about vintage clothing, or any bought clothing for that matter, is that you need not ever wear them in the state at which they come. Replace the buttons, cut up the collar, dye it black! Case in point, this vintage camel coat that I spent a little bit of money and effort re-working:

Number (N)ine sunglasses, vintage reworked camel coat, Ivan Grundahl jacket, H&M shirt and jeans, Tod's shoes

I bought the coat off eBay for next to nothing; but being an American size 38R, it was way too roomy, and the below-the-knee length was hardly flattering.

vintage single-breasted coat by American clothier Botany 500, who, fascinatingly, did Ryan O'Neal's wardrobe in 70's cult sapfest Love Story

I removed the stodgy brown buttons on the body and the cuffs,

laid the coat on buttonless, and I had an epiphany: laying each "breast" of the coat over another, I was able to wear the coat almost fully double-breasted with it fitting perfectly when closed. I then sped off to my local button store, picked up a bag of shiny silver buttons, and spent a good two-and-a-half episodes of The Nanny sewing them on. I also had to take it to the tailor to have it hemmed to a more modern, wearable above-the-knee length.

I may have spent more than twice the cost of the coat on enhancements and alterations, but it has since proven to be a versatile workhorse in my closet. I admit to partly having been swayed by the abundance of camel coats in fashion publications in print and online, but the classic piece does have its merits. It serves as a soft, eye-pleasing outer shell when a big black coat is just too dreary, and nothing looks better amidst autumn leaves than this warm, neutral hue.

I thought the silver buttons would make for an austere, modern accent against the camel as opposed to the more expected gold buttons.


vintage "salon" brooch from Amsterdam

Japanese silk kimono belts worn as a necklace

turquoise ring from Manila, age-old Tod's driving shoes

erroneously colored tote from the Tate Modern in London

Monday, November 22, 2010

Self-made Szymon

Polish-born Szymon Zürn made the move from Poland to Sweden with absolutely nothing, at one point having to rummage through trash bins for necessities such as clothing. Today, he has a newly-launched online boutique where you could purchase his creations, as well as learn more about Szymon and the things that inspire him. For fashion fans like me, it is a poignant sight to see a designer right at the cusp of taking off in his career, more so one that exhibits such talent that might foreshadow great things in the future.

Szymon Zürn's Moonlight shearling jacket with a soft lambskin outer, a key piece for this winter. There are only six of this jacket made, and will be sold first-come-first-served.

I fell in love with the jackets. The materials are luxurious, the detailing elegant, and the shapes refreshingly relaxed. They are all featured in his online store's second floor, where you'd find pieces of a higher price point than the jeans, t-shirts, and accessories on the first floor.

My second favorite, the Hard Knock jacket in dark navy cashmere wool, with a leather buckle closure. I love the oddly high soft collar, the subtle slit pockets, and the relaxed silhouette that is drapey yet still very masculine.

I had a little chat with the designer, and discovered a slightly quirky character behind the almost stately, sober clothes he makes:

The Dandy Project: Tell us about your move from Poland to Sweden. How did it shape your aesthetic as a designer? What parts of your style are from Poland and what parts are from Sweden?

Szymon Zurn: Hmm, tough question! I think there is a soulful, don't-give-a-f*** type of aesthetic in my Polish roots. And at the same time, an elegance that goes back to Poland's rich history before the First and Second World Wars. On the other hand, Sweden taught me more about the importance of having good brand communications and discipline in business. My need and desire to be better was born in Sweden.

the Quiet jacket with its almost ghostly hidden peaked lapels

TDP: Who are your favorite designers?

SZ: Gabriele Pezzini is a role model, as a product developer.

Gabriele Pezzini on a park bench of his own design, photo via Blog Esprit-Design

TDP: Who wears your clothes?

SZ: An aspirational person. A person of great wealth. Strong. He is tomorrow's success.

The Sunshine jacket in brown leather is described on the site as a "raglan-cut college jacket", but to me it almost evokes the elegance of a classic Chanel boucle jacket. Zürn reinterprets it with a heavy dose of masculinity by rendering it in that glorious brown sueded leather.

TDP: If you were to design a piece for The Dandy Project, what would it be?

SZ: A piece for the Dandy Project would be a jacket, which would have a feeling of a Birkin bag, with a golden clutch and details in gold, in a egg-shell-white leather, soft but with a streamlined fit.

TDP: What is your favorite food?

SZ: Polish pickle soup with a nice, fresh piece of bread. My mom's pickle soup of course!

a portrait of Szymon Zürn and his sewing machine, against a backdrop of people who inspire him to be self-made

Anti-aging Cream and the 25-year-old Lad

Women wear skirts, and men wear skirts too. Women in their mid-20's are starting to use anti-aging creams, I don't see why men shouldn't follow suit. So when California-based skincare company Dermagenics asked if they could send over a jar of their men's anti-aging cream for review, I took it as a chance to get started with my life-long skin regimen; after all, I turn 25 in a couple of weeks.

Dermagenics Men's Anti-aging Cream

Dermagenics Men's Anti-aging cream is all-natural, with antioxidants and peptides extracted from marine plankton and squalene, and helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, decreases pore size, and firms up the skin.


I have been using the cream for a couple of weeks now, and I'd say it's really light and not at all greasy, and gets absorbed into the skin quite quickly. It's been great at preventing my skin from flaking in the cold Boston fall winds. And if it's anything, last week, I pulled an all-nighter for a school project and slathered on some Dermagenics to refresh my face before heading to class, and my friend DeAnna conceded that I looked so much prettier than her after an all-nighter. I think she's ravishing, so anything more beautiful than that must be divine.

Dermagenics is kind enough to give prizes to two lucky readers of The Dandy Project. Just send an e-mail to thedandyproject(at)yahoo(dot)com, answering the question "Name one natural ingredient in Dermagenics Men's Anti-aging Cream." Hint: for once, read the words I write, or alternatively, find the answers on the Dermagenics website.

The two winners will be chosen at random. Contest is open to all readers around the world. Good luck!

EDIT: Congratulations to Elizar Sto. Domingo and Erik Donhowe. The prizes will be sent once I get both of your delivery addresses. Thanks to all who joined!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Giveaway: Springy Links

Otis Batterbee is a purveyor of fine English accessories that exude old-world appeal, subtly updated to suit modern tastes. They make accessories (many of which you normally wouldn't give much though to but could potentially up your style quotient by heaps): handkerchiefs, wash bags, luggage refreshers, and eye masks, all out of the dandiest fabrics such as English tweeds and cotton florals. I'm a huge fan of their Country Pile Travel Gift Set, and could very well imagine myself slipping on that nice jewel-red monogrammed eye mask halfway through the trans-Pacific flight in first class.

The folks at Otis Batterbee were kind enough as to give away a pair of cufflinks to The Dandy Project readers:
Otis Batterbee Primrose Floral cufflinks in cotton and silver-plated metal

They remind me so much of Spring, and in the middle of this damp, dreary Autumn in Boston, it would be nice to imagine wearing these on a crisp white shirt subtly peeking out of the perfect beige spring trench coat.

For a chance at winning these cufflinks, answer the question "What is your favorite season and what is your favorite thing to wear during that season?" Please include your e-mail address at the end of the comment.

Contest is open to all readers around the world. The winner will be chosen at 6 pm, Eastern Time, and will be contacted regarding shipping information. Can't wait to hear from you!

EDIT: The winner, by random selection, is Lee! I will be contacting you shortly. Thanks for joining, everyone.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The White Bag

There is a mischievous luxury in buying expensive things made of white leather and not giving a hoot whether or not they get soiled.

Prada Saffiano leather briefcase in cera (Italian for wax), which I think is the most glorious shade of warm white. It is what I'd call a dark white, if such a thing exists; I'd previously been worried that a stark white bag would distastefully stick out against my predominantly black everyday wardrobe, but this mellow shade does nothing but add a touch of light creaminess to my dreary, weary cold-weather clothes.

The structured and textured Saffiano leather, very similar to Hermès epsom leather, resists scratches and allows the bag to gently weather over time, as opposed to having it garishly scuff when accidentally scratched. The padlock is a welcome indulgent touch.

Big-label designers would often create handsome bags and neglect to place nary a zipped pocket inside. It's nice to see that Prada didn't skimp on interior functionality with an abundance of three pen holders, two zipped pockets, a card flap, and a phone pocket, all in matching leather.

trying on some toys: bone keychain from Opening Ceremony, robot from a shop in St. Paul de Vence

I've spent the past couple of years trying to outgrow going for big-ticket items from mainstream labels in favor of hunting for unique pieces by more obscure designers, but the it's greedy Asian in me that just can't help but hoard bags.

A Second Chance for Barbour

Nothing relieves a bad case of cognitive dissonance better than seeing someone whose style you admire sporting the same article of clothing you were feeling iffy about.

Philip Crangi in a Barbour International jacket (photo by Tommy Ton for GQ). Once in a while, there surfaces a street style photograph that speaks to you so intimately that it breaks through all the clutter out in the blogosphere, one so rich with inspiration you know you'd be looking back at it for months.

The hair, on the head and on the face, the dark round glasses with gold arms, the luxuriously yet casually knotted raw-edged two-toned wool scarf (any ideas on where I could find something similar?), and the perfectly distressed waxed cotton jacket all form the costume of what I'd imagine an aristocrat who's fallen out of favor with the nobility and now spends his days creating art in New York City's gritty Lower East Side, yes! That's what he'd wear.

I haven't been getting as much wear as I wished from the same Barbour jacket I picked up in London a few months ago:

I purchased it new, and well, that seems to be my major bone to pick with it. The buttons are a conspicuous bright gold, and the fabric almost too sticky and too heavy with wax.

To get the aging process started, I plan on wearing it in the rain tomorrow. While I'm at it, I might as well roll in the gravel and drag my back along the entire perimeter of my apartment building's coarse brick wall. Dear friends, Englishmen and Anglophiles alike, have you any suggestions on how best to weather my Barbour?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Singing Scentsations

Today, my nose smiled at first whiff of up-and-coming fragrance label Joya's two new scents: Composition No. 1 and Composition No. 6.

They sent me a couple of travel-sized rollerball bottles of their new scents under the FvsS line, and I couldn't be more pleased with what I received.

The more feminine Composition No. 1 is sweet and fruity; citrus fruits and white flowers come to mind. However, it was Composition No. 6 that sang to me; its description of being "a jolt of brisk cypress, crisp juniper berries and sparkling yuzu that is like jumping into a cold mountain stream first thing in the morning" couldn't be more true. It's an invigorating scent that is refreshingly not overtly sexual, but what I would describe to be casually elegant.

What I like about Joya's FvsS is the intimacy it suggests. It's an oil-based perfume, so it is absorbed by your skin, as opposed to being rapidly dispersed in the air the way an alcohol-based perfume would work. This way, it remains with you for a longer time as it gently whispers its fragrance throughout the day.

This sensuality carries over to the bottle design, and even in the way the perfume is applied:

The full-sized scents come in these roughly faceted porcelain bottles with 22-karat gold wand applicators.

faceted ceramic bottles in the making

brushing the gold-tipped wands

The video below takes us behind the scenes of the creation of these two scents, led by the (25-year-old!) founder and creative director Frederick Bouchardy.

What makes me happiest to own these scents is the fact that still very few know about them. Nowhere do I value uniqueness and perhaps even obscurity more than in the scents I wear; there are few things more dreadful than the thought of being one of the hordes of mall-roaming teenagers reeking of CK Be or Paco Rabanne. When I like a scent so much so that I wear it so often, it becomes an extension of my personality. My arrival at a crowded party has been known to have been sensed by my friends minutes before they see me: they smell me and know I'm there.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I.T Post: Promise for Print?

I was privileged to be commissioned by the talented Kwannam Chu to write an article for the Autumn/Winter 2010 issue of I.T Post. My copy arrived in the mail today and I was floored with awe at the aesthetic richness that literally popped out of the pages.

the front and back covers, recursively printed with images of a model forming what looks like vertebrae

I.T Post isn't so much a magazine as it is an art project by high-end Hong Kong retailer I.T. Under the creative direction of Kwannam Chu (also of the popular blog on menswear and male models, We Could Grow Up Together), it takes the traditional fashion-spread editorials to a new level with progressive styling, experimental art direction, and even three-dimensional elements. The magazine feels like a piece of art to behold; I think today's leading fashion publications could take a cue from I.T Post to give their readers a reason to purchase the hard copy.

A peek at the 3-D elements:

Can an online magazine pop up into a psychedelic clear dome filled with miniature standees of select looks from the latest Gareth Pugh collection and sit nicely on your coffee table? I don't think so.

in one of the editorials: a layered pop-up frame that appears to be decoupaged cut-outs lightly floating above each other

close-up of the frame. Note the spiders, the gecko, and the other creatures.

Select pages from the editorials:

a face mask of nuts and washers that would go perfectly with my nuts-and-washers shirt, Margiela money clip that I would totally use if I didn't carry my life in my wallet

The piece I wrote:

By now you'd have noticed my penchant of rhyming and alliterative titles.

I would always be the first to rally for the merits of having anything online, but it's great work like this that remind you of the delight of having such a thing of beauty to flip with your own hands and keep neatly on a stack in the middle of your living room that spell some faint promise for print media.

I just couldn't be more grateful to have been a part of it.

I.T Post is available at I.T boutiques in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing.

Arche Pop Up Shop

For all of you who will be in New York this week and the next, do check out the Arche Pop Up Shop in Williamsburg:

This project is a collaboration between my good friend Chris Reed and Nadja Nebas, and features t-shirts by Lacee Swan and jewelry by Ambit, among many others.

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