Friday, 19 June 2015

Deutschland & Österreich Harper's Bazaar

Vienna's S/S 2015 fashion week had only taken place somewhere in the early Spring, so when I visited recently this month, clothing racks were still abundant with crisp and hot off the press pieces. I know this from popping in and out of local clothing boutiques in Vienna, spending an entire day exploring from Karlsplatz to Zieglergasse. As a result of all that touring, I've derived three conclusive facts about fashion in Vienna accompanied by some highlights of Harper's Bazaar DE, June/July 2015 issue.

1) Viennese people take fashion very seriously.

I recall one boutique where I was trying on a mint tweed moto only half an inch bigger than my standard fit. Now in my defence, it was on a 70% sale and down to 39 euros, I think I know a steal when I wear one. The boutique owner warned me not to purchase the oversized jacket, pointing out the slightly off shoulders. At that time I thought I could pull it off with some tapered pants, oversized clothing is always workable if you're a regular thrifter. However, the expression that laid on her face was as if I've committed a shameful sin if I were ever to be seen walking around in public in an "ill-fitted" jacket ....of her own design? I realised the oversized, improper fit was not for the Viennese fashion crowd. Perfectly tailored and on-point needle worked garments dominated here, people take fashion very seriously.


2) As serious as they get, they still dress with a level of comfort.

I'm a person of heels, only because where I come from, choosing to walk miles on a road as a genuine mode of transportation is a humorous joke. Vienna is a walking city and if you wear high heels on the steps of Stephansplatz - you will stick out like a sour thumb. Condé Nast Traveller released an article last summer entitled "How Not To Look Like a Tourist in Berlin". It sternly demonstrated how practicality and not beauty drove their fashion sense in Berlin, now this is obviously not Germany but the same relaxed culture flows in their fashion roots. They've established a fine and balanced line between being stylish as well as comfortable in their street styles. Flinging designer logos in public were also not of the norm but that didn't mean people weren't draped in designer goods.


3) Trust me, they know their stuff.
I wanted a tangible view of the fashion culture and so I did what I usually do, I set off to buy local fashion magazines. I've always seen them as the greatest souvenir one can collect, you get an idea of the luxury culture and it records the date within the souvenir itself. The Viennese Girl can only show me so much. I arrived at Thalia one afternoon and in the midst of my search at the fashion section- I was so taken back by the volume of available fashion publications. How would I ever be able to differentiate which of these fashion magazines were local, national or just plain German? Spun with confusion, I approached a woman who appeared to look like she was in her mid-30's, sunglasses perched upon her nicely tucked hair behind her ears. And so, I initiated the conversation:

"Excuse me, i'm looking for a local fashion magazine, do you know what would be a good read?"
There was a brief pause, a positive one because what was to come next was an influx of 101 well executed fashion knowledge.

She swayed from one section to another, knit-picking magazines and telling me what to avoid and what not to. I realised, I had hit the jackpot. "German fashion can also be Austrian fashion but Viennese fashion cannot be German fashion but sometimes it can also be German fashion, oh and Flair is good." By the end of her parade, I was hugging a mountain of fashion magazines. I thanked her as we exchanged our farewells and I filtered through the pile she had composed. Being short on cash, I had to put down Flair. I rushed home that day to my elder sister who I had left waiting for 30 minutes outside the hotel suite, I told her I had found my goods- she was apparently not amused by my tardiness. I was beaming too much at this rate because I got my fashion magazines. They did not disappoint! She did not disappoint. She knew her stuff and she was Viennese. So Viennese know their stuff. Or I was just lucky but whatever, this story had to be told.

Whether you're travelling across central/western Europe or just mildly interested in dressing like a fashionable Austrian, I sincerely hope these photos I took of the magazine can serve you well.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Why do you?

Three months ago, Harper's Bazaar Singapore released an article called "Why don't you?" by Diane Von Fustenberg. The irony (obviously done on purpose, i'm not that daft okay.) in this is that Diane, who wrote this as an up-to-date spoof to Diana Vreeland's former magazine role - almost shares the same name as Diana. Just a vowel away, when you think about it. Compliments to Harper's Bazaar Sg, that was a very bold move.

I'd like to believe that Vreeland wrote the Harper's Bazaar column for 25 years not just to give eccentric suggestions, but also to question and mostly, ridicule the morals and culture of the typical modern American woman at that time. However, DVF's version wasn't enough for me to represent a modern twist. I think the article was light and playful, which isn't a bad thing but I do feel that there is more to say. More to show, more to highlight and most of all...more to question.

In my response, I've come up with my own, exaggerated version of the iconic column with sarcastic answers. This time addressing a younger generation, under the superficial idea that we are constantly fed by social media as a peer steered society. If Vreeland showcased a fashion decade of materialistic ideals, I want to awaken the opposite. It only makes sense to question "Why do you?" instead because we've grown far from the Vreeland years into a more rebellious, curious generation with the capacity to always have an opinion towards everything Vreeland would've questioned. I'll be throwing in photos from vintage magazines just to fill up this dramatic post visually. The following answers are not direct quotations, so here is an insincere apology in advance if you feel addressed because you weren't, so get over it.

W h y   d o   y o u  . . . 

This is the way boys see you what you do solely because your gender role prompts you to? 

Of course I shouldn't cry, it's an unspoken rule that men don't cry in public. 

Be a Weed

...think conforming to having no fashion sense makes you a unique individual when really that in itself is a fashion statement that doesn't make you any different? 

My 6 year old jeans and Tshirt is all the effort I can muster up every morning.

Twiggy 1

..feel the need to identify with a certain beauty figure to represent your own beauty? 

 What if #strongbrows are the new thigh gaps?

Vanity Fair

...humblebrag on social media as if trying to maintain a modest personality? 

Why do people tell me that I sound like a native English speaker for an Asian, i'm confused!

Prized possession

...depend on your smartphone so much? 
I don't know what my phone number is or anyones' really. Who does anyway?!

 more for cats than a starving nation? Miao!
Pink dress and turquoise shoes

Bonnie Doon
...have more pretty shoes than good memories that don't involve being in bed and binge watching on Netflix
I have F.R.I.E.N.D.S. and a great shoe rack.
ShadesMystrece so many books but still can't see things in a broader light? 

Only on vogue.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Village Press Day - AW '2015 Menswear

A few weeks ago, Sol gave me his invitation for Fashion Press Day in London. If you're not familiar with how the commercial side of fashion works (I had no idea actually), press day in a nutshell is a large exhibition in some giant studio that occurs right after the runway show. It's where editors, stylists, journos and stockists get a chance to know more about the design aesthetics, price range and the designer. Lookbooks of every collection are also available. You get guided around every collection and each piece of garment, explained in detail to you of it's construction and idea. This served as a free masterclass on menswear for me to be honest. 

It's really fascinating because if you're relatively new to fashion as an industry, you've probably only thought designers showcased their designs in runways and stores. When in truth, these exhibitions and open press days are just as crucial for any designers who want to break into the market.

All this seriousness aside, I arrived at Old Street - probably the youngest looking creature in the building and I awkwardly went to check in as "Sol" in the registration. I will admit the food lounge and free ice-cream was the first thing that had caught my attention but then I was brought through rooms of designer racks and suddenly ice-cream didn't seem to matter anymore. Deep note; there are greater joys in life than ice-cream and I found it in designs. It wasn't overwhelming like fashion shows, it was very cool and unhurried. So here is the breakdown on some menswear I knit picked from Village Press Day - Autumn/Winter 2015.

Fashion Press Day - Menswear

I went to the iconic first because those collections had consistent designs, the quintessentials like varsities, bombers, materials of PU leather and nylon. This typically included SUPRA, Majestic Athletic, Brooks etc. The Autumn/Winter season for their heavyweight jackets had a twist though, patchwork patterns along the arms which really allows the jacket to have a less streamlined concept - which is how people usually associate them. Although some people prefer them empty in order to get their own personalised patches, I still think it was a fancy, symmetrical tweak to their original design.

Fashion Press Day - Menswear

Next up, were the contemporary designers - my favourite kind. A pink thunderbirds sweater from Lou Dalton says it all for me. She really knows how to carry forward male tailoring with classical cuts but modern prints. From online streaming, most of Lou's work can be seen very culture influenced, youthful but also always has that preppy finish to it's tailoring. I think, how in just a single collection, she puts together this thunderbird comic sweater with a classic black trench style- really does bring out that aspect. Thunderbirds are go?!

Fashion Press Day - Menswear
Fashion Press Day - Menswear
Fashion Press Day - Menswear

The first thing that pops into my mind, whenever I come across a Miller design is COMPLEXITY, COMPLEXITY and COMPLEXITY. I remember when I got a hold of their previous collection, Matthew Miller had sent a long, luxurious, navy vest from their Untitled Mixed Media Collection. A vest right? How much complexity can a vest actually board on? Well, you tell me because when you're presented with a slip on, v-neck, pleated, layered, two different hemlines - in one single "simple" vest, you start to question the normality of a vest. Despite simplicity being conveyed in the designs, it's really well.....complex. From afar, the rack looks like a contemporary minimal assortment. Closer look, the range of materials used (hence: mixed media) on even basic garments like a biker jacket brings out the structure that makes Matthew Miller so distinctive. On a completely different note, check out this LookBook I made a few months ago featuring some Miller Designs, modelled by Mu'izz from WearriorInstinct

Fashion Press Day - Menswear
Fashion Press Day - Menswear
Fashion Press Day - Menswear

Ever since I stumbled upon Peter Jensen's menswear, I've had the vision that if I was born a boy - I would dress myself from head to toe in Peter Jensen's designs. I'm a lover of colour and print, I think they bring out a humorous side of fashion we forget nowadays because everyone prefers streamlined content and monochromatic styles. His Peanuts collaboration emphasised on Snoopy and Charlie Brown, again nodding towards the designer's quirky comedic style.  It's clever and gives a charismatic side to the link between personality and the clothes you wear. Peter being Danish includes that in his designs but with a balance of a London subculture.

Fashion Press Day - Menswear
Fashion Press Day - Menswear

Kit Neale leans more towards an abstract approach for me, even though many label him as a contemporary designer (I do too). The use of print and a dynamic colour scheme are the foundations of his designs. It's modern, cultural and also youthful - which really strikes me because today's generation of fashion subcultures are so eager to follow through the minimalistic (again, monochromatic or all white) drift in style. Kit Neale challenges that but is still able to represent his designs with the younger crowd and appeal to them with this exciting and vibrant characteristic. 

We need more colour in this world but we're too into personalisation and having an identity in our clothes that we tend to just stick with a comfortable scheme. I will stop here and continue onto womenswear on another post before I turn too philosophical, as I often do with fashion.