Friday, December 31, 2010

Firework Fun and Footage of Foolery

To my readers who have been following the blog for the last two years, and to those who have tuned in just now, here's wishing your 2011 be delightful and...

H&M jacket, April 77 jeans

It was my brother, my sister, and I on the street outside our house on New Year's Eve: the air was smoky, the sky awash with fireworks, and the music blaring from my iPod dock was almost as loud as the explosions on the ground and up above. We really didn't feel like dancing, nor did we feel like spending the first couple of hours of the year sewing the footage up into a music video.

From my set of crazy siblings to yours, happy new year.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Norwegian Rain

A rainy day in Boston is not a pretty sight: cheap plastic galoshes and rain jackets of the Northern Face persuasion abound. I always find myself in the middle of the thunderstorm, refusing to give in to functionality, in my khaki cotton trench, rolled-up white pants and beige suede shoes, looking like a doused dirty cotton ball. Looking fly and staying dry in a rain shower is not an easy feat, that's why I am excited about Scandinavian brand Norwegian Rain's offerings, which they dub as "extreme rainwear technology meets Japanese simplicity and traditional men’s tailoring".

Norwegian Rain's installation at the launch of the Bergen pop-up book in Milan

Norwegian Rain combines science and engineering with style and luxe materials: their hooded coats are made out of recycled hi-tech membrane textiles from Japan, and are lined in cashmere for warmth. Here are my favorites:

A double-breasted raincoat in the richest rusty brown herringbone, to be worn atop my abundance of black everyday clothes:

The deliciousness is in the details: note the inner belt placed for optimal fit when the jacket is left open. There are also three inner pockets where one could stow away the detachable hood in fair weather.

the coat buckled up with the side outer belt

A sharp, military-esque single-breasted raincoat in olive:

I love how the silhouette changes dramatically when buttoned or belted.

Norwegian Rain's signature piece, the unisex raincho:

I'm partial to any silhouette with the vaguest resemblance to a kimono, and the idea of looking like a dark samurai in the rain appeals to me deeply.

The raincho, easy and unbelted.

Scenes from Norwegian Rain's presentation at the White Show in Milan, June of this closing year, where they showcased their raincoats alongside art installations brimming with the absurd:

a mannequin hand grasping for a palm

...or an egg

the brand's creative director Alexander Helle and bespoke tailor/designer T-Michael

Norwegian Rain coats are available in their online store, and at the Skostredet 9a, Bergen, Kirkegaten 20/Posthallen, Oslo. Oslo-ites: you lucky fellows get a discount of 120 EUR on the new collection if you hand in an old coat as part of "Project Winter Coat", a charity that helps provide warm coats to people in need.

photos via Norwegian Rain

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Printed Portfolio

Paul Smith was one of the first designers I ever harbored a liking for; I remember saving up for his floral-print shirts in psychedelic colors back in my early college days. And though my taste for color vacillates between austere and harlequin through the years, the fact that I keep coming back to Paul Smith's pieces proves that kook and whimsy never go out of style.

I stepped into the Paul Smith flagship store in London last summer, and couldn't help but step out with a memento of my visit:

Paul Smith portfolio depicting a Mini Cooper decked out in the brand's signature stripes, hanging high from a crane

One thing I love about Paul Smith pieces is that he always brings that something extra, oftentimes unseen.

I was delighted to find that the bag was lined in a kingly shade of purple.

I (cumbersomely) carried it around the shows at the last Fashion Week in New York:

Here I am with a bunch of fashion folk I don't really know. Worn with +J coat, shirt of my design, April 77 jeans, ASOS shoes. (photo via click/clash)

Nothing says fashion journalist as much as the act of carrying around a stylish bag, overstuffed and handle-less, to reinforce the thesis that beauty of the impractical nature is most aspirational.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Easy Shirt

There was just a yard and a half left of this cream and chocolate printed textured silk at the fabric shop, but I knew I had to get it and have my tailor make it into something. I envisioned a short-sleeved shirt in a relaxed silhouette: easy and comfortable, yet elevated by the luxe fabric and the subtle touch of a slightly stiffened collar. This is one of a series of vaguely Dries-inspired shirts I've collaborated with my tailor on. Here's what came out of it:

printed silk shirt, my design

Christmas lunch was at my grandmother's house, right above her balut factory. I was feeling slightly plumped from all the holiday face-stuffing, and it was just way too early in the day to step out in one of my kooky concoctions, so I deemed it the perfect occasion to don my "easy shirt".

Number (N)ine sunglasses, shirt of my own design, Cheap Monday trousers, ASOS shoes

My grandfather's delightfully ostentatious steel and gold and diamond-encrusted Rolex, culled fresh from the safe. I thought my pile of dark metal bracelets (Philip Crangi, Susan Rosen, Number (N)ine) helped tone it down a notch from naff to somewhat ironic.

natural leather woven shoes from ASOS

My go-to shades since summer, these Number (N)ine keyhole sunglasses provide that subtle eccentricity I think every outfit could use a little bit of.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Revisiting the Rolling Stones

Sick of fierceness, I, together with many other creatives in the fashion industry, am currently harboring a fascination with the effortlessness and softness of the 60s and 70s. So when Harper-Collins came to me and asked if I wanted to review their new book "The Lost Rolling Stones Photographs: The Bob Bonis Archive, 1964-1966", I didn't think twice about having them send a copy over.

a copy of "The Lost Rolling Stones Photographs: The Bob Bonis Archive, 1964-1966" atop my "inspiration stack", comprised of magazines of mostly British and Japanese origin, art books, design books, and the like

This collection of never-before-seen photographs is a time capsule of an era when both music and fashion were undergoing revolutionary change.

On a pedestal, smack in the center of all that change, was a band of young men: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts, Ian Stewart, and Bill Wyman.

They were merely starting out as rock stars, communicating through their sartorial choices what they envision the relatively new concept of a rock star should look like. And the results were phenomenal: experimental and free-spirited unlike anything the Hollywood machine turns out these days. The photos of these baby-faced startups show an honesty and integrity in their style that many in today's entertainment industry lack.

The footwear, naturally, stood out for me:

Mick Jagger wore ankle boots and too-short trousers with such deftness.

Keith Richards dabbled in crushed velvet boots... and succeeded.

The eyewear was noteworthy too:

Keith in a pair of dandy (and most likely women's) sunglasses

sharp sunnies and a contrast-trim top

Perhaps it's time to revisit colored lenses?

book courtesy of Harper-Collins

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Ultimate Flying Outfit

'Tis the season for traveling across great distances in inhumane conditions just to be home for the holidays. Wearing head-to-toe oversized university apparel might be physically comfortable in those merciless skies, but I couldn't imagine how great of a beating my self-esteem would take having to be dressed so poorly for all those hours in transit. Hence, I constantly find myself on the quest for pieces that straddle the line between comfortable and stylish---gems that comprise my travel arsenal. Taking on the challenge by my friend Brandon to "bring style back to the skies", allow me to share with you what I wear when I fly:

1. Large black sunglasses hide jetlagged eyes and double as a sleeping mask when the airline you fly is too stingy to provide you with one.

black shield sunglasses by Number (N)ine

2. A relaxed jacket comfortable enough for you to sleep in, rendered in a luxurious fabric such as silk satin or jersey to keep you looking polished for both the authorities and the onlookers. This one comes in a palatial black-on-black silk brocade, with a shot of lime in the lining.

silk Chinese jacket by Shanghai Tang

3. Roomy pants, because sharp tailoring can almost be piercingly painful at the fourteenth hour on the cramped coach seat you've been tossing and turning on. I got these trousers in extra-large and belted them to my size, folding in a pleat under each of two belt loops to create my very own quick DIY pleated pants.

trousers by Cheap Monday

4. Rings, both sparkly and colorful, keep me sufficiently entertained during those short windows of time at take-off and landing when use of any electronic device is prohibited.

bird head and "incomplete traffic light" rings from the Brooklyn Flea

5. Slip-on shoes, because though lace-ups may be handsome, hopping about to get them on at the end of a security line of annoyed travelers isn't.

slip-ons by defunct footwear label 3:33

6. And a bag of the perfect size, spacious enough to carry all your documents and a couple of snacks, yet not so big as to tempt you to stuff in half your apartment, causing you to look like a weighed-down wanderer.

Saffiano leather travel bag by Prada

Here they are all together:

note how wearing all of The Dandy Project's travel essentials head-to-toe makes one look more Asian than usual

I've once made the mistake of wearing stretch skinny jeans on a long-haul flight that started to pull at my leg hairs after a few hours up in low-moisture altitudes, resulting in prolonged excruciating pain. Do you have any flying foibles you'd like to share?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Cable-knit Confection

In these hibernation-inducing climes, one thing throbbing on my wishlist is a cable-knit sweater in rich ivory, comforting like a full-fat cup of eggnog.

the classic cable knit jumper by Sunspel, an English heritage label that has "spent 150 years perfecting the art of timeless clothing"

I like the popcorn-esque texture of the bumps on this knit.

With relaxed black trousers, bare feet, and that rose gold watch that I dream will appear magically on my doorstep come Christmas morning, this marshmallowy sweater will make for the perfect outfit for lounging around the house during the holidaze.

photos via Sunspel

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Cream Cap-toes

I'm counting on these cream laceless cap-toes to be my go-to shoes for the next season or so. I needed a pair to replace my vintage black lace-ups with holes growing on the soles, and I thought these Margielas would add a subtle, neutral, yet unexpected touch to my wardrobe of dark non-colors.

Martin Margiela cream laceless cap-toe shoes

I had already worn them out last weekend on the damp, salt-covered sidewalks of Manhattan, and the scuffs and stains are evident. I'm not worried at all; others would say they're starting to show wear and tear, I say they're starting to show character.

Margiela's signature single-stitches at the back of each shoe

the odd shower cap-esque dustbags

You ask if I plan to wear these with my very recently purchased briefcase of the same shade, and I say, "Most certainly!" To tell you the truth, I'm quite tired of that carefully calculated mismatched look; so much thought and effort goes into orchestrating this seemingly unintentional nonchalance that it ends up looking contrived. Matchy-matchy is fresh again, it's easy, and it makes me feel like all is right with the world.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fashion Fridays at Topman NYC

My friends in New York, this might be fun:

Should it fail to amaze, grab one of their amazingly soft slinky low-cut tank tops, head to the register (don't forget your school ID!) and call it a night.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Orthodox Inspiration

I know this has been posted a while back, and I can't believe I've neglected to share this with you guys. I was snapped by Mordechai Rubinstein of Mister Mort, one of New York's most regarded street style photographers. He is a classicist; and though I may not completely agree with everything he says, I respect his opinions on how he thinks men should dress. His point-of-view most definitely comes out in the images he takes.

Pendleton wool hat, Topman blazer and shirt, Comme des Garcons belt, H&M jeans, Prada bag, ASOS shoes

It was a rainy day that Fashion Week and I thought I'd wear my new wide-brimmed Pendleton hat as an umbrella alternative. Mordechai called me from across the street and told me how much my outfit reminded him of what Orthodox Jewish Bochurim wore back when he was in school. I was loosely inspired by the austerity of the Hassidic Jews' and the Amish' traditional garb, and it brought me such joy that he found my get-up remotely amusing.

navy cut-out monk strap shoes from ASOS

Philip Crangi railroad spike cuff, Number (N)ine cuff, Casio watch

Mordechai's animated write-up was quite entertaining, but if you're up for a few more laughs, check out the comments section and count the scathing remarks on my Prada "purse". Thanks, Mordechai, it was an honor!

photos via Mister Mort

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