September 26, 2015

5th Year!

As I said one year ago, it won't be until my 5th year of blogging that I perhaps begin to think I've been at this for a while. Now that the milestone has finally been reached, I can't say I feel any more experienced, but I can say I feel more content. My blog has opened many doors for me - it got me my first fashion internship and my first paid fashion job. It has become a conversation topic that has allowed me to both connect with new friends and reconnect with old acquaintances. It has become a source of creative pride and happiness. Thank you, everyone, for your continued support.

But with that, I want this milestone to be less about me, and more about you. And so I leave you with a few words:

I want. I will. I am.

A dream (I want), which with dedicated pursuit and an unwavering passion (I will), will eventually evolve into a reality (I am). This is my mantra, and maybe it can speak to some of you.

These will be tumultuous times; some days you will believe in your dream more than others. You will both gain admiration from those you least expect, and be rejected from those whom you most seek approval from. But you have to push.

I hope you will take the time to think about what you want. And when you've figured that out, work relentlessly and know without a quiver in your heart that you will be that person.

Who do you want to be? Who will you be? And years (or months, or even days!) from now, when that flickering flame of passion has become a raging fire of purpose, I want you to come back and tell me exactly who you are.

Image Source: Favim

September 4, 2015

Fall 2015 Couture

It's been a long time since I've blogged about runway, and I do regret it! Runway holds a special place in my heart; it was a huge part of how I had cut my teeth in fashion. It was through watching runway shows with wide-eyed fascination that I learned about each designer's modus operandi. The more of a designer I watched, the more I was able to slowly identify bits of commonality between each collection, arriving at an understanding of a designer's unique aesthetic. As well, high fashion not only honed my eyes to pick up on the tiniest of details in an outfit, but to also step back and decipher a collection's overarching message. Runway exposed me to a world of incredible creativity and fantasy - a world where rules and boundaries exist only to be broken.

Regardless of how influential fast retail, celebrity culture, and street style have become, to me, runway remains the epitome of fashion. So it is with happiness that I bring you my highlights of Fall 2015 Couture:

Maison Margiela

John Galliano at Maison Margiela (renamed from Maison Martin Margiela back in Janurary) brought back a type of fashion that is now a rarity: the unabashedly unwearable. This collection shattered all preconceived notions of beauty, and presented us with the 'ugly'. Silhouettes were mangled, with exaggerated protrusions extending from the body (wrists were given extra bulk with scarf-like gloves), and even potato sacks were given their time to shine. There was a small, underlying feeling of barely-contained creative madness, as if the snip of a single thread would cause it all to unravel in chaos. And in fact, Galliano clearly played with that idea of deconstruction, seen in a trenchcoat hanging for dear life from the small of a model's back, or sharp blades attached to the back of heels with mere strings. What was most astonishing, however, was the single row of seats along either side of the runway. It was clearly a private, exclusive, intimate setting, perfect for presenting the collection as more of an exhibit than a show.

There are very few people out there doing fashion in the way Galliano does fashion. One cannot even attempt to make sense of this collection by labelling it as avant garde, because 'art' is the only word that does justice to what Galliano has done. Galliano is clearly having fun in his new role, allowing his eccentricity to run free (while still remaining surprisingly modest outside of his work, as he no longer appears for a bow at the end of a show). He had beautiful years at Christian Dior - years I will never forget - but judging from the amazingly positive feedback, Galliano is right where he should be.

Watch the full show here.

Christian Dior

Speaking of Christian Dior, Raf Simons really impressed me this season. Besides the pretty sweetness of the airy dresses, I admired his demonstration of unexpected combinations through meddling with just a single item: the coat. Lusciously weighty coats differed from left to the right - one side sleeveless as if the coat were a cape, the other a full sleeve decked out in lush fur. The two different sides were almost visually slashed down the middle by models' hands clutching the coats shut at the chest (the clutch coat...a favourite look of mine). There was a restraint in the way the models paraded down the runway, but there were hints of temptation in the sheer dresses and peeks of bare skin. After all, the coats only required the release of a clutched hand...

Watch the full show here.


After learning this was a new start for Schiaparelli after the replacement of Marco Zanini with Bertrand Guyon as head of the design team, I began to understand why I paid more attention to this collection than those previous. Guyon focused on juxtaposing light and heavy (filmy dresses weighed down by cocoon coats bearing massive pockets), and played with unexpected or exciting texture (a motorcycle jacket done in a sheer white fabric with a reflective sheen, or coloured fur against brocade pants and transparent blouses). What I found most well-done, however, was the subtlety of the surrealism the brand is so known for. Embroidery along a shoulder in the shape of an eye or trompe l'oeil handbags resembling a manicured hand or postal letter were sly but effective. And lastly, the strings of rhinestones adorning the neckline and backs of two models were incomparable in their beauty and easily the height of the show. Zanini enjoyed the exaggerated, the bold, the OTT - and while that can be fun, it can be occasionally difficult to pinpoint a purpose. Guyon is subdued, but perhaps we could argue, more impactful.

Watch the full show here.

July 27, 2015

Where There's a Will, There's a Way

I used to blog a bit about bridal a couple years ago, but there was only so much a single teenage girl could write about wedding dresses. I'm still not quite that qualified to speak to the world of bridal, but when Weddington Way challenged me to restyle one of their bridesmaid dresses into a summer date outfit, I thought I'd give it a go. Being a girl who tries to make the most of her clothing, I was drawn to the concept of giving further mileage to a dress that is commonly perceived as something you wear only once. Using the Dove & Dahlia Isabelle dress in turquoise sea - which, with its own built-in pockets, is already designed to traverse the line between dressy and casual - this is how I would re-work a bridesmaid dress for a flirty rendez-vous:

Dress: Weddington Way | Denim Jacket: maurices | Handbag: Chloé | Sandals: Rene Caovilla | Necklace: Seaman Schepps | Bracelet: Chloé | Ring: Joomi Lim | Sunglasses: Steve Madden | Nailpolish: Dior | Perfume: Hermès 

A date outfit should certainly be nice, but most importantly, it should be comfortable. I would never be the type to wear short-shorts and high heels on a date, because dressing stylishly comfortable is what translates into killer confidence. So for this look, I aimed to not overwhelm with too many awkward bells and whistles, instead keeping to a comfortable (but still very feminine and pretty) flat sandal. I also find modesty to be a greatly endearing quality to have, which is why I've chosen to both cover-up and dress-down the dress with a cropped denim jacket. I used gold jewellery and pink-tinted aviators to add polish and glamour to the entire look, and for finishing touches, threw in a swipe of blush pink nailpolish and a spritz of Hermès Kelly Calèche (my favourite perfume).

Any item in your closet that you've relegated to 'one-time use only' has the potential to be restyled into an entirely new and inspiring look. After all, where there's a will, there's a way. With a bit of creativity, this bridesmaid dress can now accompany you on your own journey to finding love.

July 20, 2015


I used to blog a bit about the latest fashion trends (check out my Trends tag), but I realized I haven't done so in a while! Coincidentally, this is a great time to take it up again because I have noticed a very ubiquitous trend taking over the streets since last summer:

The plaid shirt tied around the waist.

What's interesting is that this trend isn't quite as new or as old as you might think. Besides being characteristic of the grunge era, I still remember how my mom used to tie her sweaters around her waist out of pure practicality in the '90s. Back then, it was less an accessory and more a way to simply free up the hands.

But this past year, the trend has been revived as a purely decorative piece, with particular focus on plaid button-ups. The first time I saw this trend in action was on a girl who had tied a blue plaid shirt in a breezy, lightweight fabric over a pair of white shorts, white t-shirt and white Keds. With each step, her plaid shirt fluttered in the wind like a skirt. It was very soft and clean, yet still edgy at the same time. She was a great example of downtown polish, and to me, she was oh-so-cool.

Even guys have been getting in on this trend, and major props to those who take that fashion risk (JusReign, I'm looking at you! In addition to being downright hilarious, this guy's style is always 100% fresh).

But, like a good song that's been played too many times on the radio, this trend became stale from endless copycatting. As a university student, I saw this trend EVERYWHERE on campus. And it wasn't even interesting to see how girls interpreted the trend...because everyone wore it the same way. Every girl had a red lumberjack shirt paired with black separates and biker boots. Don't get me wrong - it's a decent look - but when you start seeing the same outfit several times a day, you begin to appreciate those who make the effort to break beyond the mould. Furthermore, I began to feel like people were wearing the trend for the sake of wearing the trend. Thought has to be put into what type of shirt you tie around your waist; I saw too many instances where the shirt was too big, too small, or too forced against the rest of the outfit. My tips: the shirt should frame the hips without being too bulky, and fit with the rest of your outfit either as a statement piece or as a continuation. But you can't wear a trend just because everyone else is wearing it - you have to make it your own. That's when a trend ceases to be just a trend, and instead becomes an extension of your personal style.

I love trends. They are an opportunity to experiment beyond your comfort zone and discover new ideas. But let us never forget that personal style is a craft; it requires an element of authenticity that cannot be satisfied by being a mere slave to trends.

As for me, I might give this particular trend a go. It's petering out towards the end of its lifeline, but perhaps the best time to take up a trend is when no one else is expecting it anymore. I already own a skirt with a built-in sweater around the waist (a gift from Japan, and is what I assume a copy of this 3.1 Phillip Lim skirt), but I may play around with my multicolored Lauren Ralph Lauren plaid shirt made from an airy fabric, a denim button-up, or maybe a sweater or cardigan with interesting texture. I won't be going grunge, but I might take inspiration from the one person I continue to think wore this trend the best - the girl who wafted through the streets in her blue plaid and white Keds, showing us what true confidence and style is all about.

Image Source: Kati-Rose, Aelida, AllWomensTalk

July 12, 2015

What's Up?

As boring as I sometimes think it is for you to read about my shopping adventures, I find blogging about specific fashion items to be a valuable exercise in exposing oneself to fashion's smallest, most fundamental unit of output. At the end of the day, these are the products that end up on the retail floor - these are the products that will have the most direct and intimate relationship with the consumer.

And so without further ado, let me share with you my excitement (and disappointment) over a couple of things I came across while shopping yesterday:

Marc by Marc Jacobs Metropoli Bucket Bag
Walking into Nordstrom, this was the very first item I took notice of. First of all, bucket bags are without a doubt this year's It Bag. I've seen a myriad of versions over these past few months, but this Metropoli Bucket Bag from Marc by Marc Jacobs has a little special something that makes it worth singling out - and that special something is a snap-flap envelope pocket stitched onto the exterior of the bag. While some of you may consider that pocket useful for carrying coins, I devise that it's the perfect size for slotting in a set of business cards. Forget those plain old metal business card holders everyone has. You have to admit that pulling a card out of your $400 Marc by Marc Jacobs handbag is much, much cooler.

Kate Spade Glitter Ursula New York Sunglasses

Remember how I tried on a pair of Kate Spade Shira Glitter Sunglasses last month? Well, I saw this glittery rendition of the Ursula New York, and I just couldn't resist! I slipped them on, and once again, Kate Spade surprised me with how good her frames look. Somehow she makes frames that fit my face perfectly, a rarity for a girl with a flat nose bridge and wider visage. I was pleasantly astonished by how chic, glamorous, and subtly retro the sunglasses were. Kate Spade, please continue to design eyewear because your frames are works of magic!

Freddy WR.UP Pant

Now on to something decidedly...less magical. Freddy is a new addition to one of my local malls, but my first impressions of it left me baffled. Its storefront was dominated by the Freddy WR.UP Pant, which according to the Internet, is a pretty popular product on Instagram and Facebook. The so-called WR.UP technology is said to shape and lift your derrière to epic, curvaceous proportions. If you ask me though, this sure is one unattractive way to achieve a perky behind. It's ridiculously clear that the jockstrap-like seaming is cut to create two exaggerated spheres on your rear-end; I don't quite see the appeal of so obviously declaring that you have to fake it to make it. Not to mention the seaming in of itself looks much too busy, with the bottom seam really just reminding me of visible pantyline. I, for one, am not keen on having my booty look like it's being pinched and pushed through a contraption which, let's be real, resembles a sort of strange wedgie. 

July 7, 2015

Worst Behavior

I've been talking a lot about retailers lately, but the retail landscape is in such an interesting state of change that I can't help but give my two cents. So if you'll excuse me, I'm going to vent about a recent development at one of my local malls.

In my city, there is one mall that everyone goes to. It is the ne plus ultra of malls where I live, and people will travel from all ends of the city to shop there. During its expansion and renovation a few years back, Forever 21 became one of the highly anticipated tenants. It was the only Forever 21 available in the city, and it occupied a vast area of square footage (as all Forever 21 stores do). The store was always teeming with women (young and old), and when I went shopping with friends, we'd never fail to take a look inside. If you've followed my blog since its early days, you'll know I'm hardly a fan of Forever 21, but I certainly do not deny it as a strong force in the retail industry.

So when a shocked co-worker of mine appeared by my desk with news that Forever 21 had closed down, neither of us could believe it. We were stupefied. It is unimaginable to think Forever 21 had been lacking in profits. Could it be that the rent for such a large store was too much even for the fast fashion giant? After all, Forever 21 had nearby neighbours of Tiffany & Co., Tory Burch, Anthropologie, Free People, Michael Kors, Burberry and Nordstrom...only to name a few. Our mall has been working to craft a higher-end image, and perhaps the neighbouring tenants hiked up the cost of rent. But even so, we were not convinced such a highly successful retailer would find itself crumbling. Perhaps it wasn't that Forever 21 wasn't good enough for us, but that we weren't good enough for it?

Regardless, while the loss of Forever 21 does not sadden me, I found myself peeved by the retailer that ended up replacing it: Urban Behavior.

The only Urban Behavior store I've seen before was in one of our dingy malls - one whose only claim to fame is a Walmart. In fact, according to that mall's most current list of stores, it appears even it has ousted Urban Behavior. For all I know, Urban Behavior is basically a struggling retailer. So why is it now occupying prime retail space in our biggest mall?

Clearly, the explanation escapes me. As cheap as Forever 21 is, at least it makes the effort to offer trendy clothing. Urban Behavior, on the other hand, makes poor quality clothing in very typical, uninspiring designs. There is certainly a place in the market for such brands - there are many shoppers out there simply looking for what they call "cheap, cute clothes" - but does a store like Urban Behavior really deserve such a prime retail location? In contrast to Forever 21's bright, gleaming storefront, the Urban Behavior storefront is now dim and gaudy, making it a bit of an eyesore against its higher-end neighbours. In all honesty, I can't deny there is a part of me that hopes I won't be seeing Urban Behavior in that space for much longer.

Image Source: Forever21, Urban Behavior

June 21, 2015

Closing the Gap

Gap has been having a tumultuous year. Back when former Creative Director Rebekka Bay left the company in late January, I posted on Facebook that I would address the issue...eventually. Turns out my procrastination has somewhat worked in my favour, as it was just announced this week that Gap would be closing 175 stores.

Let's start from the beginning. Patrick Robinson was hired on at Gap back in 2007 to revive the brand. He was a vibrant character, and he brought with him a youthfulness and hope that the company could shed its bland exterior and strike a note with buyers once again. I don't think he quite managed to accomplish the company's goals, as it was only until late 2011 that I found a Gap item worth blogging about. But as luck will have it, Robinson had already been dismissed earlier that year.

Another year later, enter Rebekka Bay. The irony is, Bay was brought on for the same reason Robinson was: to revive the company. Once a boulder starts rolling, there's little you can do to stop it. The revival efforts just kept on coming, one after another. There has to be a point when one realizes revival has simply become a desperate fight for survival. Under Bay, the brand lost what little lustre it had left. It was selling incredibly dull basics - khakis, t-shirts, blazers - with absolutely no unique design elements. They were just khakis, just t-shirts, and just blazers. On occasion, there were one or two pieces that'd pique my interest, but more often than not, I'd walk into a Gap store and be bored by the end of it. Gap fell into what I call the Bermuda Triangle of fashion retail. Average quality, average prices, average design - deadly middle ground that leaves customers halfhearted and uncommitted.

So then fast forward to 2015. Rebekka Bay has been removed - in fact, her entire position has been removed. Gap stated it would fly without a pilot, opting instead to leave design responsibilities to a team. Having a design team run the show isn't a bad thing (see: fast fashion retailers, Maison Martin Margiela's old model), and I was very curious about what would come out of it. As they say, two heads are better than one. Perhaps what Gap needed was just a bit of diversity.

But in February, Gap hired Wendi Goldman as the Executive Vice President of Product Design and Development. While the position in of itself was new, Goldman had essentially taken over Bay's role. The brief headless-design-team experimentation was over, and now we find ourselves in present time, with 175 Gap stores set to close in North America and Europe. The white flags are up, and defeat is in the horizon.

I understand the history of the company as quintessential American sportswear, and am sad to see that in this case, sticking to one's roots is like shooting poison into one's veins. I do believe there is a place in the market for casual separates with an all-American flair, but the pieces need to be done right. There needs to be either quality construction or unique design. After all, wardrobe basics can be bought for a couple bucks from fast fashion retailers - Gap needs to prove it has more to offer.

Image Source: GQ, Elle, Social Broadcast Network