Archive for the 'Fashion & Style' Category

Happy 2011!

Friday, January 7th, 2011

It’s a week into January 2011.  And I’m shocked to realise I haven’t posted anything in over two months.

It’s been a busy time, these past two months.  Six weeks of November and December were dedicated to UNIFEM and the office Christmas party, that was exhausting.   And also totally worth it.  I wish I had taken photos at both those events, but somehow I didn’t.

The Christmas/New Year’s season was spent focused on applying to business school.  If you’re surprised, I understand completely, given that a year ago I was fairly certain I wouldn’t be applying.  Partly as a result, fashion has been on my mind even more so than usual.

I wish I could have  seen the New Year’s fireworks over the bay.

I really want to go on vacation.  A visit to Bangkok, a trip to Milan/Barcelona, and then also to Mt Kinabalu.  And today I claim full funding for everything, I can’t wait to see it.

Happy 2011, may it be the best year yet!

The Great Sale Season!!

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

It’s upon us, finally!  The two month long Great Singapore Sale (GSS) season, along with end-of-season sales worldwide.  Hope everyone has been diligently saving up and scouting out their dream purchases! 🙂

I probably need to pace myself a bit better…  in just two days my tally is currently:

Etro: 2 dress shirts and a silk sacrf
Prada:  1 structured doctor’s bag and 1 pair of perforated Oxfords

And I’m still patiently waiting for a Marc Jacob’s tote to go on sale, as well as a certain Bottega Veneta clutch.  As I was telling someone yesterday, the trick for designers/labels is to create really special things that move the customer to action – how can you not buy something you find unbelievably gorgeous, iconic and unique?

Same goes for non-clothes too.  I bought this gorgeous LED table lamp from SPACE with a significant mid-year sale discount (which makes it just about the same price as buying it direct from Europe or the US).  If you’ve ever seen the Kelvin LED from Flos, with it’s space-age looks and functionality (magic touch sensor on/off switch!!),  I’m sure you’d be seduced too!

Maybe some pictures will be forthcoming…  we’ll see.

Work is awesome, I *heart* my current project, it’s so cool!

Siem Reap was such a beautiful, delicious, inexpensive and satisfying long weekend vacation.  Everyone should go!!

It’s men’s fashion week in Milan! FW 10!!

Monday, January 18th, 2010
FW10 menswear looks are being shown in Milan… and the big news is many of the shows are streaming live from the runway!  Burberry Prorsum (looks ho-hum at first glance, but I do love a good military-inspired collection), Prada, Dolce & Gabbana  and others all have live (and on-demand) streams of their entire runway shows on their websites.  What a treat!  Instant gratification!!  Except we can’t try on or buy these clothes for about nine more months!!!
Prada FW 10 featured beautiful cropped knits like this...  (Source: and this!  (Source:

 I *heart* <3 the cropped sweaters at Prada – can’t wait to try them on in just nine months or so!

That is, if I can get over my annoyance at noticing that despite a massive cast of some 50 male and female models at the show, Prada didn’t seem to have cast a single non-white model.  Not one black or Asian model that I could see, and I did look.  Very disappointing, given all the attention the industry has given to diversity on the runway and the progress that seems to have been made (especially in editorial and campaign work, in my estimation). 

Doubly disappointing given that for years Prada has been notoriously lacking in diversity on the runway but after several years of increasingly bad press the house had very visibly cast a couple of black and Asian models these past few seasons.  This feels like a terrible regression. 

I can understand, accept and even welcome tokenism, so for a cast of 50 to not have a single non-white model is really difficult to accept, especially given that the show had no discernible theme that demanded an all-white cast (and in any case even the “we had to fit with the designer’s inspiration” argument has it’s limits, with the visually poignant counter-argument in John Galliano’s FW 09 show which was inspired by “frozen Ukrainian brides” yet featured not just icy-blonde and blue-eyed Eastern European-types who made up almost the entire cast of 31, but also Chanel Iman–half black and half Korean–looking stunning…  dressed as a frozen Ukrainian bride).  And never mind that Asian consumers in Japan, China and elsewhere are probably Prada’s largest and most profitable customer base.

I’m kind of peeved, but wish I could pick Miuccia Prada’s mind about this.

PS:  The Prada runway show probably could have benefited from more flattering lighting – as in the photos above, all the models looked harshly lit and kind of sickly.

Chanel Iman at John Galliano FW 09 (Source:

 In case the make-up, clothes and styling don’t seem particularly flattering on Chanel in the above picture, go see the pictures or YouTube videos of the full show and you’ll see that she looked just as good as the other models and fit right in.

Around the corner… to another holiday!

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

The big Christmas to New Year’s holiday season is barely over and marketing has already shifted gears to focus on the next big date: Feb 14.  Of course, this year that’s both Valentine’s Day and also the first day of the lunar new year, so it’s big.

Today at 10pm, after an entire day of almost no food, I speed-walked a good mile to the nearest not-so-nearby McDonald’s and ordered a Mega Prosperity Burger upsized meal (and various other things, but we can leave that aside for now).  It’s a giant, double-beef-patty long sandwich with black pepper sauce and fresh onions, but that’s not the point.  The point is that it’s a Chinese/Lunar New Year offering that’s been launched even as Starbucks is still serving special holiday treats and I saw maintenance workers just starting to take down the boughs of faux holly in the mall.

And then yesterday I bought my first Louis Vuitton trinket of 2010, an adorable and probably utterly impractical coin purse/clutch shaped like a chicken!!  It’s part of the new Animaux collection that’s apparently meant to commemorate Valentine’s Day… and the collection was launched worldwide on 1 Jan 2010.


Isn’t it fantastic??  I *heart* hens!  Actually, there’s a more attractive “songbird” version in a lovely blue colour, but I had to get the chicken… of course!!  The LV website hilariously tries to justify this piece of frivolousness (after all, it’s based on toy animals that the Vuitton family used to make, supposedly) based on it’s practicality.  First of all, it’s called a “Bird Clutch”, as if it has any possibility of serving as an evening clutch bag – this is an item that would be hard pressed to hold a box of tic tacs, no joke…

From the LV website:

Inspired by the wooden toys from the 1950s found in our archives, the Bird Clutch is a playful design in glossy Monogram Vernis leather. A delightful gift idea as either a coin purse or a bag charm.

Size: 4.9″ x 4.5″ x 0.4″

-Large capacity for coins
-Room for several credit cards
-Golden brass chain to hook the coin purse to a D-ring
-Foam under patent leather for extra softness



Let me state for the record that I just tried, and not even one single standard sized credit card will fit in this “clutch”…  but I still love it!  And I guess many other people agree with me, because the hen is already out of stock online (on Jan 3), while the songbird is still available.


In the past three days I’ve just about finished three books, so we’re off to a good start, at least.  And in three totally different genres too – a light-hearted breezy read about the world of fashion by a fashion journalist (The Meaning of Sunglasses), a pensive/sombre novella by Kazuo Ishiguro (A Pale View of Hills), and hopefully tonight I will wrap on the thoughtful critique of Harvard by former Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68 (Excellence Without a Soul).

Reading the latter has really made me yearn anew for years past.  Or perhaps it’s just the comfortably fuzzy embrace of rosy nostalgia.

Between Christmas and New Year’s…

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

…I’ll be in Bangkok, enjoying the pool, the gym, the spa, the tailor and the mall.

Just got back from my first massage of the trip, less than three hours after landing in the city 🙂  I found myself searching several 7-11s for Yakult before I suddenly realised this hunt was based on an misfiled palimpsest memory from Shanghai rather than Bangkok.  So Betagen or Meiji it is then.

I should do a little shopping post.  As I was telling confessing to Terence, I tend to shop in spurts, a little like binge eating.  Given the relative dearth of new purchases in October and November (is that even factual?  Need to check), December was rather a new high (or low, depending on your point of view).  I’m not sure I even dare to number the bags I bought…

1 x Etro zip tote in structured wool (50%+5% off! And I had $60 in vouchers)
2x YSL oversized muse tote in dark brown and, er, darker brown  (definitely don’t need two, one of these needs to go in the next few months)
1x Chanel navy lambskin tote (vintage)
1x Bottega Veneta woven purse (I’m thinking this will work as a clutch)
1x Mulberry maxi-sized Roxanne in coated canvas (60%+10% off! Plus I had a $50 voucher)
1x Prada portfolio document holder in black saffiano leather

That’s not too bad, right…  seven?  And one’s a repeat that will be liquidated shortly so it doesn’t really count, so six for the moment.  I do have my eye on a few others though, and there were definitely a few that very painfully got away.  I have however also purged four older bags (Gucci x2, Chanel x1, Fendi x1), so it’s really only a nett addition of two.  And two of the items are barely even bags (a clutch and a document holder) so…  🙂

Then there were the shoes.  I got black lace-up ankle boots from Prada (50% off!) and another really fabulous pair from Mr Hare (irresistible at 40% off and free international shipping from!).  Plus there was a random but pretty pair from Zara in soft grey leather.  In my defence, I’ve just gone through my shoe collection, and the only thing I really don’t need more of are brown suede ankle boots (or tan suede dessert boots, or khaki suede chukkas, you get the idea).

Can’t wait to go to the mall tomorrow.  Maybe after a quick run at the gym.


Edit: While in Bangkok I bought (via online channels)  another large Gucci travel bag and a pair of Burberry Prorsum shoes…  whoops.

Where has the time gone…??

Monday, November 30th, 2009

I note with great shock that my last post was all the way back in August…!  I can only say I’ve definitely thought about blogging at least every other week since then.

I promise that at some point I’ll do a round-up post because this year definitely deserves that – it feels like it’s been an unusually eventful year.  Maybe it’s time of my life, but my peers and I are passing through a series of milestones – weddings, babies, first promotions, first retrenchments, lots of firsts, both very welcome and not so welcome.  As I said, its been an eventful year.

Since August, I lost a rooster (to illness), made a big road trip from Texas to Boston, worked on three more cases and most importantly hopefully gained lots in wisdom–something none of us can have too much of… which reminds me a little of handbags! 🙂

And bags I’ve certainly accumulated more of… some from the usual suspects, like Prada, LV and Tods, and a few less expected, like VBH and Dormeuil.  Yay bags!

Maybe I’ll post some pictures next time.

Year of the Ox; Musings on the state of fashion

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

It’s upon us!  Happy Chinese New Year.  I am grateful to be home with family and friends.  Our traditional Reunion Dinner was even more lively than usual this year with the addition of another family.  Instead of New Year’s eve, we had brought the dinner forward a day to accommodate my sister who was on call at the hospital all of today (a touch depressing to have to work for 36 hours on a holiday).  So we had one of our aunts and her family join our early Reunion Dinner, making it the 3 oldest siblings on my father’s side of the family, along with the family matriarch, with whom I really should spend more time while I can.

Me, Puff Puff and Peapie Rooster, 25 Jan 2009

Another thing to be grateful for is the fact that this week-long break falls right in the center of the very intense case I’m staffed on in Shanghai.  Literally as I was stepping out of the elevator to go to Reunion Dinner, the most important meal in the Chinese calendar, my phone rang with a call from my manager in Hong Kong.  My heart sank not a little. 

Blessedly it turned out to be a false alarm – my manager’s phone had accidentally dialed me while in his pocket.  I wonder why I’m first on his call list?  (Later that night at 5am his phone left me a voicemail of him leaving some woman’s apartment… Don’t think I’m not going to tease him about that when I see him again next week!  I’m sure he was just at some house party, or perhaps at his sister’s, but he is single, which makes it all the more amusing.)

Only three-ish more weeks on this case.  And blessedly, again, I can now look forward to an unexpected trip home in two weeks because my class at work is having training.  I love my job, I love my job! 🙂

As business and economic news continues to paint a grey picture, fashion is very clearly suffering.  The Fall-Winter shows for next season are some of the gloomiest, most uninspiring stuff I’ve seen in years.  Gone is the exuberance of feathers, hand-painted fabric and gratuitous fur.  All has been replaced by conservative classics in black, charcoal and navy. 


I’m not sure what I think of this strategy.  If Burberry Prorsum and Prada–usually some of the most interesting menswear shown–are only showing ultra subtle variations on classics that most men already own (navy double breasted blazers, black wool peacoats, black oxford lace-ups), are these really the pieces that are going to sell and save these companies?  I’m personally not sure.  For the first-time buyer, perhaps that’s what they want, the basic Burberry nova check scarf (also easily available everywhere for about $20 from counterfeiters or me-too manufacturers, and under $100 from Burberry factory outlet stores).

But for the rest of the market (the majority of the market), we already have the black pima cotton crewneck t-shirt, the dark wash jeans, the khaki trenchcoat.  And even if I needed a new one, say a cashmere car coat, how am I going to differentiate among all these designers making the same thing?    As numerous consumer psychology studies have shown, people are worst at deciding among many similar things, they are much more likely to choose to buy nothing.  I know that if I walk by Dior, Jil Sander, Marni and Giorgio Armani and they are all selling the same thing (black leather wallets, white cotton dress shirts), I’m apt to just give up and leave empty handed.  And with the price points these labels are at, I might as well buy my coat from Zara or have my tailor in Bangkok make me a bespoke one.

That’s where I think designers putting out collections based on optimism have got it right.  Yes, we may all want to be more restrained and thoughtful with our spending, but if I am going to be tempted to shell out for a luxury item in the coming months, it’s going to be for a Gucci Tattoo print Babouska tote, or an Etro duffle bag in mottled green python.  In other words, it’s going to be something aspirational, fabulously unique and impeccably made.  And if you make it affordable (the Gucci bag is about $800 if you can find a store with stock, the python duffle will probably be $700 at 60% off), then I’m sold.  In this FT article, the same message is clear: “We are not seeing people trading down,” [Burberry Finance Director, Stacey Cartwright] said. “What we are seeing at all levels of the pyramid is people just spending a little bit less – there’s less footfall to start with and when people come into the stores they are just holding off on buying that second or third item.”  If you ask me, if there was a second or third amazing lace handbag or brocade cardigan, these shoppers would be much more likely to buy.

In any case, this past Fall-Winter 2008 and Spring Summer 2009 seasons will likely be the last great shopping seasons we see for a while.  Both these seasons were designed and priced before the financial crisis, and a lot of the Spring Summer merchandise was probably ordered before retailers like Saks and Neiman Marcus reported huge declines in sales.  Lanvin was still showing whimsical neckties made of feathers, and Dolce & Gabbana were pushing ironically opulent formal wear inspired by sleepwear.  Even thinking about this makes me sad.  Fast forward three or four months and Chanel has fired 200 staff in Paris, Bill Blass has gone out of business (along with Waterford Wedgwood) and the industry is awash in dire predictions.  Burberry has announced up to 540 jobs cut from payroll (coupled with it’s 30% rise in sales spurred by steep discounts, this caused Burberry Group shares to rise 12%).  So stock up on as many beautiful fashion objets d’art you can afford, for in the coming seasons they will be harder to find (and certainly less heavily discounted).

As for me, I should definitely stop heeding my own advice.  In the past two months or so, I’ve bought so many bags that it’s bordering on an unhealthy obsession…  The list so far:

–Salvatore Ferragamo Origami frame bag – I’ve waited literally a year for this to go on sale for the price I wanted.  Yay!
–Fendi Bag de Jour in blue Zucca denim- what a great price for a great bag!  After buying it at Changi T2 with Terence, I found it being sold online at for about 25% more (where it was also sold out)
–Marc Jacobs Daydream bag – I really want the one in Orchid instead of the brown one I got…  still tempted!
–Gucci Positano Scarf Tote – not that exciting, but functional?
–Chanel vintage lambskin large chain tote – I’ve eyed these for a while, now I have one! 🙂
–Prada FW06 nylon and marmot fur bag – has to be seen to be believed, what a gorgeous beauty!
–YSL oversized Muse in Terracotta – I still want a dark brown one… we’ll see

That’s seven, and there are still others: two more Prada satchels, a Bottega Veneta canvas tote, an enormous Burberry duffel/tote in gold from the Shimmer series (irresistible at 50% off), a Ferragamo shopper, a Gianfranco Ferre laptop case and a couple of clutches from Calvin Klein (an amazingly textured pewter number that was selling at 80% off) and Etro (trying to get my total purchase of two fantastic belts up to qualify for a gift).  That’s… fifteen??  Since December? 

Yet I still want a Givenchy Sacca tote, and those other Gucci and Etro bags I mentioned earlier.  Erk.

Fashion capitals…

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

One of the more impressive pieces of news I’ve read recently:

Reuters reported on a ranking of the top 25 fashion cities as done by a media group last month, and while the top ten cities include all the usual suspects–New York, Paris, Milan, London, Tokyo–ringing in at 10th place is… Singapore! 


But then again the number two city is Rome (?!), so who knows what statistical quirk helped put us above Berlin, Sydney and Barcelona.

Back to our regular programming

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

I’m so hungry right now.  This morning after I finally dragged myself out of bed I hurried to write a (horrendous) response paper on Nietzsche’s The Use and Abuse of History, which took long enough that when I finally made it to the seminar room Prof C had already finished talking about it.  Gah.  This after I spent hours reading tiny print on Mexican buses…  why does this happen so often?  Anyhow, my tummy was rumbling all through class, and I am just biding my time until dinner is served in 15 minutes – at about 4.30pm they usually put the first batch of food out.

Speaking of food, last night I came back to find, at 1.30am, a huge selection remaining at Brain Break, which is unusual.  This selection included my favorite bread (club wheat), peanut butter and my preferred jam (strawberry).  Plus there were actual whole chicken quarters in gravy from some kosher event, so I microwaved one of those and devoured that too 🙂

In happy news, I came back to find a big wad of cash in an unmarked envelope on my desk, buried under the pile of papers I evacuated from my KIV folder right before I left for Mexico.  Yay!

And right now, it’s snowing?!?  Of course.  After all, it’s April in Cambridge, and it was 70F yesterday.  Naturally.

I can’t wait to type up my Fall 07/08 style report.  I finally got caught up on all the shows I missed while thesis-writing.  Thumbs up for video podcasts! 🙂

Oaxaca City, Day 3

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

I am proud of myself for getting out of bed this morning before 5.30am in order to make the first bus out of Mexico City to Oaxaca City.  Although truth be told that was probably the worst four hours of sleep I have ever experienced…  so many people banging in and out of the room and talking at all hours.  And why are the overhead lights so obnoxious?  You would think that hostels would quickly learn to install smaller floor lamp type lighting so that new arrivals at 3am do not awaken the entire room.  And to oil the horrifically noisy door hinges!?!

The bus ride here took about seven hours, during which I slept, ate some freshly baked cheesecake I bought at the TAPU terminal, finished reading Arundhati Roy´s heartbreaking The Cost of Living, listened to my iPod and started on Nietzsche´s The Use and Abuse of History, assigned for my theory class.  I did not have very much time in Oaxaca, so I spent all of it shopping for the things I came here to buy.  Mexican chocolate, mezcal–another agave cactus-derived fermented drink like tequila but this one uniquely from Oaxaca state, handicrafts, especially hand-woven textiles–some of which are gorgeous but far too expensive for me.

I just got back from my main meal of the day–not counting the spicy soft white cheese, freshly-cut pineappe and papaya, and tirimisu-type cake I bought at various local markets.  I went to the buffet and cultural show at the upscale Camino Real Oaxaca hotel.  The food was alright, at least I got to try both the local hot chocolate and various kinds of moles.  The interesting cultural show–nine different traditional dances presented with different costumes–was a reenactment of a big local festival in July when all the peoples of Oaxaca state come together and celebrate their culture.  I forget the name of the festival right now.  Details when the pictures make the upload.

So tired already.  Must go to bed.  And then tomorrow another early bus to Puebla, enroute back to Mexico City.

PS: I want a pair of those lovely straw sandals the men wore for the second dance!