McQueen Ad

The McQueen label never used to advertise as a wish of its late founder and designer Alexander. I remember him saying how money spent on very costly magazine advertising can be better monetised on his garments or on his staff. It’s all very valid and admirable for his devotion to fashion itself. But I’ve got to admit I have always felt the absence of McQueen advertising has prevented fans (not necessarily deep pocket heiresses or princesses) to see the drama of McQueen in an accessible way. After all, some brands do try to translate the language on their catwalks onto photography. (And on a completely irrelevant note, this is the precise reason why I believe fashion videography is not the future, it is a must. So for Nick Knight to have set up Showstudio he is 500 lightyears ahead of his contemporaries and Gareth Pugh and Ruth Hogen are definitely visionaries too.)

So to open the September Issue of Vogue America to have seen a McQueen advert for the first time brings a smile to my face. It just immediately stands out. There’s fairytale, there’s melancholy, there’s life and death. The image is supernatural and ethereal at the same time. It’s unlike the sterile and religious Ads on every other page.

This continuation of the McQueen drama from the catwalk is a step well-taken. Sometimes the stubborness of a designer can be a truly admirable thing that is crucial in keeping the integrity of the house. But at times stubbornness can turn feudal and lead a brand to the cliff — for example in the case of artist Christian Lacroix.

And McQueen should be grinning and nodding behind the clouds now, having seen Sarah Burton not fayring so badly so far. Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone

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Royal Wedding – Make Up

 In case you’re not sick of all the Royal Wedding style news already, today Bobbi  Brown released three make-up briefs for the Middleton clan. Bobbi Borwn narrates:

Bride

1. Start with clean, fresh skin. Even out skin tone with Corrector, Concealer and Foundation.
2. Sweep Ivory Eye Shadow all over the lid.
3. Apply Rockstar Metallic Eye Shadow on the lower lid.
4. Blend Slate Eye Shadow into the crease.
5. Line upper and lower lash lines with Black Ink Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner, making sure that the top line is thicker than the bottom.
6. Brush on two coats of Black No Smudge Mascara.
7. Smile and sweep Pale Pink Blush on the apples of the cheeks.
8. Dust Pink Quartz Shimmer Brick high on the cheekbones.
9. Apply Sandwash Pink Lip Color on lips, followed by Crystal Gloss.

Maid of Honor

  1. Begin by applying Corrector, Concealer and a little bit of Foundation for beautifully even skin.
  2. Warm up the face with a skin-tone-correct Bronzer.
  3. Sweep Bone Eye Shadow across the entire lid.
  4. Apply Long Wear Cream Shadow in Ash on the lower lid only.
  5. Perfectly define the eyes with Long Wear Gel Eye Liner in Black Ink on the top and bottom lash lines.
  6. Open and curl the lashes with two coats of Lash Glamour Extreme Lengthening Mascara.
  7. Play up the cheeks with Blush in Sand Pink.
  8. Softly brush a Highlighter Pen high onto the cheek bones for added definition and shimmer.
  9. Apply Blondie Pink Lip Color on the lips, followed by Confetti Lip Gloss.

Mother of the Bride

  1. Start by giving the skin a clean, natural glow with Corrector, Concealer and Foundation.
  2. Apply Bone Shadow from brow to lash line.
  3. Keep the eyes beautifully natural by sweeping Long Wear Cream Shadow in Cement across the lower lid.
  4. Define the upper lash line with Long Wear Gel Eye Liner in Caviar.
  5. Finish the eyes with two coats of No Smudge Mascara in Black.
  6. For the perfect pop of color on the cheeks, try Blush in a fresh shade like Apricot.
  7. Lips are kept soft and natural with a swipe of Brownie Lip Color.

Caleche

My parents’ bedroom is always full of treasure. I discovered father’s porn when I was in primary school. I went to afternoon classes then, and both of my parents had to work. Nobody would notice when I sneaked up to my parents’ bedroom during lunchtime: my nanna would be downstairs in the kitchen, preparing lunch. I’d lock the door, silence the TV, and enjoy about fifteen minutes of raw human pleasure.

The porn back then was different to what the internet offers now. It wasn’t entirely based on the male vision.  The woman wore beautiful clothing. A be-bowed silk blouse and a camel a-line skirt. Hair glued sleekly to her skull. Red lips. Demure white heels. She would throw her head back, and looked thoroughly unaware of being filmed. It was sensual, real, and if the film was a perfume, it would have smelt of sex and passion. The porn nowadays would just smell of plastic. Cheap, mass produced plastic. Father’s porn was the sexual education I never received. I’m glad it was good education.

Next door to father’s VCRs were mother’s perfume collection. I toyed with the perfume more openly. Almost a hundred viles, bottles and tubes were housed in a delicate plastic drawer inside the cupboard.

Mother forbade me from spraying the perfume. So I always headed to the cupboard, picked out the bottle which stood out most prominently and quickly uncapped it and spritzed.

It was a tall one. It looked like a pillar in Roman architecture. It was gold capped with amber liquid inside. I loved the tangy smell. It was a deep, deep orange. It smelt as if somebody’s just eaten an orange inside the interiors of a vintage Rolls Royce. I remember I felt incredibly sophisticated.

With Pierre Aulas encouraging me to buy that “bottle” I have been thinking about for weeks now. (“You smell it once, put it away and literally don’t go back and smell it until at least a month later. If you’re still thinking about that, go back and try it again. If it evokes the same emotion as it did a month ago, go for it.”) I ran out the door to buy a Mitsouko parfum today. I showed it to my mother.

Mother brought out a box (she stowed away the entire perfume collection a while ago, I have no idea why), and there it was, the Caleche. Almost twenty years on, I finally know that the tangy perfume I’ve been secretly spraying myself with, is the legendary Hermes Caleche.

I immediately sprayed some of the amber elixir on my wrist. I lament that the top note has evaporated and I can no longer smell that familiar orangy scent. Nevertheless, it feels good to be reunited with something I’ve missed for so long. Caleche still makes me feel sophisticated. Aulas is right.

Fast Fashion, so long.

After seven years in exile, the reality has finally dawned on me that Hong Kong is now home. My royal possessions have been residing in their ten cardboard boxes for over a month, and I didn’t have the heart to release them from their prisons. I knew there’d be tears once I knifed open the duct tapes. The inevitable would be: some elements that once glowed with an aura in the store, spoke to me on the shelves, and with whom I since had a loving relationship for years…

I knew I’d have to call time on some of them.

This afternoon I finally did the unimaginable. Out came the vintage Bally shoes. Out came to 50s circle skirt. Many of the purchases that reflected craftmanship, history and good taste went straight to the display cabinet. Out came the Primark top. I remembered the day: in the Hammersmith branch of the store, the princessy hue of this T-shirt drew me towards it. It had two ribbons sewn across the T-shirt. Vertical to the ribbons, some fringed threads fell freely from the “eyelids”. And the T-shirt was a very romantic face. Pink face, long, seductive eyes. It reminded me of the face of a cabaret dancer.

Today it doesn’t look so seductive. One button has fallen off from a row on the back. The long lashes are disorientated. At best, the cabaret dancer’s face looks like a failed and forgotten artist, whose battle with drugs has always been futile.

I have to let it go. Our times were good.

What I can’t believe is, after three hours of unpacking, half of the boxes actually ended up in the bin. There are H&M purchases that no longer fit. There are Zara shirts that I don’t even remember existed. There are shoes that I bought because they looked “cool”. There are items that were uncomfortable, wrong, disgraceful.

“Why did I buy them in the first place?” I pondered.  And what Lily Cole said in a Guardian interview suddenly dawned on me. “BUY LESS, PAY MORE”.

Ever since I got back to Hong Kong, it is amazing how little I have purchased for the past year. Of the several items I bought, they were so BLOODY expensive that I had no choice but to really care for them. I know I will love them to no end no matter which corner of the earth my wild soul takes me to. Without knowing what I was doing, Lily Cole has summed it up for me.

I now think I deserve the best. Not the half arse stitches that exploited workers in India toiled away their days and nights to sew. Not the bargain fabrics that Primark, or Giordano’s minuscule budget allowed. My wardrobes only have room for love, and not grotty items that have child labour written all over them.

Pay no attention to the double chin and focus entirely on my ears

Toot Toot, a footwear boutique on Gough Street is one of my prized finds recently. If you saw Homeless you have to go further along, right down towards the end of the street.

The pint size boutique sells self-designed bags, shoes and boots plus vintage jewellery sourced from America. I bought a pair of red patent pointy heels with an interwoven toe cap. Brilliantly made. Although no half size available for this authentically designed heel, Toot Toot made to order one for me.

Off to the other side of the shop are shelves with beautiful clipped on earrings. They have alarmed me enormously to a glaring old hole in the fashion stratosphere du jour:

Note that 70s is coming back in full swing: off-palettes, wide legged trousers, psycho colour blocks etc etc. One that is missing from the agenda are CLIPPED ON EARRINGS. The key is maximalism, stud full of blings, so stringy that it’ll distract from your abundant cleavage.

Now go on a rampage for clipped on earrings, now available from your mother’s jewellery box.

Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone

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What do you drink?

“Bottle Water is the most revealing substance for showing us how the global capitalist market works today. It tells us that we’re no longer buying things for their use value. In a sense, we are buying choice. We are buying freedom. We are buying all sorts of insubstantial things,” says Richard Wilke, professor of anthropology at Indiana University.

Indeed. What bottle water are you? Mariah Carey famously requests Evian as her bath water. Evian is also available at London Fashion Week. Jennifer Aniston is the face of the Gatorade pure water. Over here in Hong Kong, Watson should be the choice for healthy and bright children, as seen on their city wide national campaign… What you drink as H2O isn’t a frivolous choice made between bottled and tap. Or that’s what the bottle water multinationals try to tell you.

Today during dinner mother and I discussed the ridiculousness of the price of designer handbags. Validity of this discussion is amplify by the fact that we have both acquired authentic designer bags from trusted source (ie the brands themselves) at rock-bottom, or rather “value prices”.

My mother owns a red quilted chanel in calf leather (sans chains), bought at the grand price of $1,900 (about £150) at a Chanel staff sample sales. The bag has seen 90% knocked of its tag. The bag is perfect, just as it should be on the Chanel boutique shelves. Except: the person who served her didn’t offer a glass of champagne or water, didn’t handle her bag in white servant gloves. The bag is no frills: $1,900 worth of leather, zip, clasp, threads and craftmanship. In my view, a price worth paying.

I owe a rather modern artifice. It possesses the kind of “new silhouette” goggledegoop that I’m a sucker for. After all, how many messnger bags and totes in variations of colours, materials and sizes can the wardrobe accommodate? It is the only piece of Phoebe Philo circa AW10 that I want, and you know the bag I’m talking about.

The shop which sold it was near Gough Street in Central. And rather unglamorously it situates towards the end of a wet market; where butchers sell beef in the glory of their open carcasses, fishmongers gut fish in the full view of padestrians. Nonetheless, the shop is unmistakably interesting.

In walk I, through shelves of pencil cases, purses, totes, messenger bags made out of recycled milk cartons (we don’t use plastic milk bottles here, rather a material like the UHT milk containers), newspaper and such. They are strengthened to weave like a Bottega Veneta bag, and they are in the range between $300 and $600. Owner of the shop Max Wong, also a designer, conceived the idea and decided to make these in his factories to sell too.

Max Wong’s factory also makes manufacture samples for Balenciaga, Alexander Wang and Céline. I don’t know how exactly does the fashion mights choose their factories, but I presume like any businessman would, they test out who’s the best fish on the market?

And from Max’s shop I spotted a squarish shopping bag in its lonesome, sitting on the shelf unloved. Mainly it is its princely $3,500 price tag comepared to the Pug bag (literally a bag shaped in the outlook of a pug) going for $380 that deters customers. But it is trying to grab peoples attention with its novel shape and beautiful design. A love affair is not to happen until now.

I inhaled its aromatic leather in its full glory. I caressed its sheepskin handlebar, its suede exterior, calf skin side finishing, and full sheepskin interior. The bag’s phermone intoxicated me. Houston, we have found heaven.

Back to a Céline boutique, the very same darling in canvas begins at $19,000. Would you say a shopping bag is worth 19,000 packets of pocket tissue? Or about 6000 apples? Or 2 cleaners for a month? Or 4 and a little bit domestic helpers for a month? You’ve got to be shitting me. No matter how much I love Philo’s designs or how successfully Céline has reinvented itself, god no.

Max Wong went on to tell me that it is a sample made for Céline. I didn’t follow up on whether what he said is true. He neednt tell me that. By the look of the bag: immaculate seams, excellent sewing techniques, perfect shape that holds up… It doesn’t need to be a Céline. Its the kind of craftsmanship I’m willing to pay $3,500 for. No more, no less.

Well, my newly acquired love can certainly accommodate a 2-ltr Evian. But at a restaurant I will still order tap water. And at 7-11 I will still buy home brand water on offer. Ask any chemists how different is H2O and H2O, and how easy it is to reincarnate the composition and taste of Evian locally without rocking up tragic “water miles” half way across the globe? Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone

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Patricia Field

 

I had the pleasure of meeting with the styling queen of HBO a couple of weeks ago. Maybe I wasn’t articulate enough, or maybe she has already said it all with the gazillion interviews she has done with other media outlets. Nothing was worthy of reporting other than this:

1. What do you think of Santa’s outfit?

It’s a good colour.

2. Do you ever see Santa being an inspiration for the catwalk?

Jeremy Scott. His designs have been comedic.

Patricia Field, if you just youtube her, talks as if she has a swollen tongue and drags her words as if the keeeyyboooarrd isss stiicckkkyy anddd theee syylllabbllleess aarree long.

Which leads me to leave you on this note:

I am desperately in need of a large nose to suck in more juicy ideas into my already shrinking head because of the lack of stimulation (in the city).

Rant Rant

Firstly, I have abandoned this for a while. But it was Adam Philips, a lad who graphic designs for McDonald’s who asked: “You created Kiwibiwi.com? My mate from the UK showed it to me and no wonder why I thought you looked familiar the first time I met you. It was you and the woman who wore a cherry on her head I saw!”

“Oh my god I can’t believe people actually read my blog, that’s why I have half abandoned it.”

“Well, I’m guessing they do. Don’t abandon it. You can say whatever the fuck you want to say there.”

I remember why I got into fashion in the first place. It was its creativity and its constant evolution. Nothing is more fun being in London during fashion week: there are these junkies who’d put a negligee and a pair of military boots together and you’d think it is an outfit pulled out of a hat. Somehow, weirdly, it does look aesthetically pleasing.

Fashion in London is a two-way affair. While the catwalks massively influence what will be seen on the high streets, the fashion show goers in their own way affect what will be seen on the catwalk for the next season too. So it’s a good cycle: fashion lovers become fashion perpetrators. And those who feast on what’s available on the street without a question, well, they are perceived as followers. They are scavengers of the London style scene.

It’s completely different here. People get excited about something because they are made by Hermes (uck), Louis Vuitton (double uck) and Ed Hardy (uck to the power n).

A printed silk scarf from Hermes (note: for those who don’t know, the art of printing was invented in China THOUSANDS of years ago. Silk existed as a writing instrument WAY before paper surfaced), a Louis Vuitton monogram patent leather handbag (let me see, the last time I saw a patent leather handbag was 2 seconds ago, when I looked in my wardrobe and there were five)… So? These “news”, aren’t exactly “news” by any standard.

There’s no individual style here per se. Money, rather than the people at the receiving end of fashion, seems to be the perpetrator of “trends”. The media goes at length to dig their heads in the sand (even fill their heads with it) in order to convince themselves a $200 plastic watch can’t be cool because it’s made of petroleum derivative, not of endangered animal or rare metal that money approves of.

Take the example of Juicy Couture. What’s the difference between a pair of cotton stretchy pants and a pair of cotton stretchy pants? They are the same until the first pair was sold at Times Square at an elevated price of one wozillian dollars, while the second was at an outlet somewhere in Wanchai. So does the Juicy Couture store opening at Time Square deserves a mention? You tell me. I am only a lowly inexperienced journalist who has no idea what style means in Hong Kong. (Refer to paragraph six)

Now I might appear I despise money. I don’t despise it, nor do I worship it that my eyes are blinded by the aura of God. There are ways to earn money without ripping apart your integrity. There are ways to spend money without perpetuating a vicious circle (rich conglomerates get free press, newspaper runs out of space to cover a collection by a fresh grad, talented designer becomes visual merchandiser).

I’ll leave you on the note of what Elli Hakami (director of programme development at Discovery Channel USA, also a former BBC employee) has to say about attitudes towards creativity in the UK and in the USA (capitalism model which Hong Kong thrives on)

“In the UK we talk about the most innovative programme we have come up with in the past year. In the US, we talk about what your end of year results were.”

The Reason Why Carine Was Banned

Isabelle Guichot, CEO of Balenciaga was cutting the ribbon earlier today at Hong Kong’s first Balenciaga boutique opened by the Gucci Group themselves.

When she was asked about the ban Balenciaga imposes on French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld, Isabelle said,

“It is the conflict of interest. They do many freelance job on the side.” And in between words Isabelle was referring to what has been on Carine’s mind and thus the clothes in the magazine are the projects that she works for on the side.

When asked whether Carine will be welcomed for the next show, Isabelle did not say for certain, but she said “we prefer journalists who are a bit…” she searched for a word and when suggested “genuine”? She nodded. Her reply probably implied that Carine will continue to be banned for the upcoming Balenciaga show scheduled later on this week.

Kiwibiwi the commented that Carine is lovely, I hope she will be welcome by Balenciaga again. And Isabelle replied, “Yes Carine is nice.”

This has put an end to the speculation over why Carine was banned from the AW 2010 runway earlier this year.

Isabelle is due to fly back tomorrow for the Balenciaga runway this Thursday/Friday night.

MONKI MONKI MONKI MADNESS

The reason why my heart just stopped, the sounds surrounding me have reduced to a blur, and the squealing noise emitted from my purse! MONKI, a company based in Sweden and is 60% owned by H&M has arrived in Hong Kong. Chic Scandinavian style ala Hel-looks etc etc is finally doable in Hong Kong without breaking the wallet. I am sooo excited! I already own an immaculate bow bracelet (in faux leather) given by my boss! Maybe, just maybe even though I have to live without Charity shops, I can still look chic! The shop will open at Langham Place on the 30th September!

Tiltillating seduction — you’ve got us teeming with raw anticipation, MR TOM FORD!

That was the latest we’ve seen of Tom Ford’s design for women. More precisely, woman, for Julianne Moore at the premier of Ford’s debut film — A Single Man.

He has privately showed his latest and first collection under his eponymous label during New York Fashion Week on the 13th September, 2010, to a select few of the industry’s most esteemed editors and stylists — such as Carine Roitfeld (French Vogue), Anna Wintour (US Vogue), Suzy Menkes (International Herald Tribune), Hilary Alexander (Daily Telegraph), Jim Shi (freelance contributor to the likes of the FT, Vogue China, V Magazine, Marie Claire). They have all signed confidentiality agreements.

Photography was banned at Tom Ford’s Madison Avenue flagship where the fashion show was staged. Everybody except Terry Richardson, Tom Ford’s turn-to photographer who takes charge of all of Tom Ford’s advertising campaigns, was allowed to snapped away like a child at a candy store. Richardson laid on the floor, spreaded out on the carpet, and clicked away senseless at a star studded cast of models. These pictures will not be released until January 2011, when the clothes are manufactured and are ready to go, in order to prevent plaigiarism.

The impressive fleet of models included Stella Tennant and Beyoncé, Julianne Moore and closing the show — Daphne Guiness who decorated her look with her own diamond jewellery.

 According to reports, Tom Ford showed every outfit there is to turn any woman into sex kittens  — the revamped Le Smoking, courtesy of his mentor Yves Saint Laurent (who never approved of Tom Ford to the degree Ford would have liked, according to Betty Catroux), structured pantsuit in black and in leopard, sheer gowns with frills, chatreuse chiffon blouse…

Beyoncé, according to Suzy Menkes, “in a silver sequined dress, sashayed toward Tom Ford… turned by the marble fireplace, where vases were filled with cherry blossoms intertwined with orchids, tossed her ample curls and revealed a hazy tease of nudity on her famous booty.” The diversity of  models that Tom Ford has used, from single ladies to yummy mummy  (Karlie Kloss to Natalia Vodianova), from skinny to curvy (Freja Beha to Beyoncé), has demonstrated Tom Ford’s confidence in satisfying every woman’s need.


Despite the hush-hush nature of the show, Hamish Bowles managed to sketch the outfits on Karen Elson and Beyoncé as seen on Vogue.com.

Only Tom Ford can bring back the exclusivity in fashion. The days when haute couture or even trendy fashion was only available for the few private eyes to see. This day and age when internet can air a show to 10,000 miles away almost instantly, this Tom Ford way of masterminding his [truly] debut collection is certainly ingenious.

He has sent the fashion world wild with delicious eagerness. Oh wow, I don’t  remember feeling so restless for a collection ever before.

Lady Gaga has laid bare the raw reality of skin and fur…

She is certainly the most thought provking popstar we have seen to date. You can see the unfurbished version of this article at the bottom. But on the train home, I realised the meat suit is so much more than just raw beef.

It’s September. It’s the new season in fashion. This fall, the minimalist leather trend prevails the pages of fashion magazines. Céline popularised the leather skirts, there are leather jackets there, fur overalls there. Where do these animal skin and fur come from?

Lady Gaga has dressed the raw reality of skin and fur. If people were so adamant that being dressed in fur and skin is just fashion, that it is their right to choose an ostrich skin handbag or a croc Birkin. Then why does Lady Gaga look so wrong in an animal suit?

She has definitely made me re-think the meaning of fur and skin. I marvel at the luxurious feel of python skin. I love the soft fur of mink. I would love to own a bona fide leather hand bag. But what is the cost of making one?

Why does mink fur feel luxurious, a leather Céline dress look appropiate and chic, yet a raw beef suit is vulgar?

Now do you see the genious of Lady Gaga?

******************************************

Old version: Certainly a very talented pop star, she knows how to grab headlines and sell tickets to her shows. Her endless flamboyant dress antics today ends in a bloodshed — Jackass style. She wore a meat suit to the VMA awards and said “I was born this way”.

Grr. Style? Perhaps. Beauty? When I can’t even bear to open my eyes to look at this photo I think the meatsuit has veered off the territory of beauty (certainly) into the far away galaxy of disgusting.

It doesn’t take an animal rights activist to shout — Gaga, you have gone too far this time. Think about the starving kids in third world countries….

Earlier Lady Gaga posed nude in a beef bikini for Vogue Homme Japan.

Alexander Wang Spring Summer 2011

First reaction: stomach turns. 2 more exits, feeling a bit nausesous, “sorry, am I at an A-level textiles graduation show?” Then projectile vomit ensued until the very, very end. When the out-of-the-dustbin styles have disappeared and Taekwando and detective inspired jackets salvaged my now stomach acid laced mouth.

I have never been a huge fan of Alexander Wang. I think this show is the manifestation of why. He has always been a hit or miss. One season out of three an idea will strike him and the presentation will be good, nice and consistent. A lot of the time he has no idea what the fuck he’s doing. Even the front rowed Bill Cunningham looked quizzical, he must be asking “what the fuuuccck??”

Back to business, to sum up, Alexander Wang has returned to his college days, applying a patch of material block here, a cut out there. His inspiration was a dress from a charity bin for $5. He chopped off bits and pieces and replaced said area with juxtaposing fabrics or when he was really clueless — he simply ignored the unstylised empty space. WHAT A MESS!

[Even the shoes are fugly… College experimentation prevailed, he has cut out a Timberland boot to arrive here. I hope none of them are named after any models this time]

I am sorry, but I cannot understand how did he amass so much media attention in the first place. He struggles with ideas and yet he insists on putting out 4 collections a year (either Anna says so or to keep up with the demand from department stores).

Actually, if you squint — some of the pieces aren’t that bad. If you pick a jacket out, you wonder why didn’t it get matched to a skirt or a dress? What can I say? SACK THE STYLIST!

Prabal Gurung Spring/Summer 2011

Before we talk about the clothes, can I just say I am blown away by the shoes. If I were allowed only one item for New York Fashion Week (albeit it has merely just started), it will be these Nicolas Kirkwood for Prabal Gurung shoes.

In an interview with the US Vogue, Nicolas admitted that he has never met the Rodarte girls nor Prabal in person, the designs were forwarded to and fro via emails, et voila, Nicolas’ first runway shoes of the season — utterly brilliant. Girly and bold at the same time, it might be kitsch to say, but these shoes will go with everything. And so far, judging from the distinctly prevalent whites and monotones on the runway, these will be the investment of the season!

It might be rude to say this but the shoes have stolen the show. Have you noticed the lack of accessories on Prabal’s girls? Well, with these heels, there is no need.

In an interview that Kiwibiwi’s done with Nicolas recently, he mentioned that there will be bolts and nuts for the Rodarte runway. He will also be playing with “wax” (wax?). He will be utilising fun elements for the runway shoes that aren’t necessarily his signature, but are fun to do anyway. Nicolas is also doing shoes for the Erdem runway, focussing on Erdem’s signature prints. And now, more of these orgasmic shoes!

I am a sucker for colour blocking. So when the show opened with psychedelic clash of acidic colour — bright pink, cyan and orange — in a form fitted dress! Wow! The best thing about this dress is the thought Prabal put into the chest/collarbone patch. It gives the illusion of an elognated shoulder, making everybody a clothes horse.

He also showed a lot of trend worthy palette common at NYFW — the nudes, the whites and the yellows. Above right are two nudes apt for the office.

The print goes back as early as August when Associated Press went to his studio for an interview. The print was on a painted bit of paper hanging on the wall. LOVE the cape. (See below for alternative views)

Generally a VERY good collection for a one year old brand. I’d wear everything to be honest. Prabal does brilliantly from casuals to workwear, tea dresses to dinner dresses.

Let’s hope he is not going to turn into another Jason Wu or Alexander Wang (money minded to the point they have forgotten what is the meaning of excitement and thrill)…

Dior Shanghai Ads Caused a Stir

I DON’T THINK THESE ADS CONDONE RACISM. BUT RATHER THEY PLAY INTO A RACIAL STEREOTYPE WHICH IS AN EASY WAY OF ADVERTISING. Good taste or bad taste? Neither. It is laziness.

Firstly I’d like to point out that for the past few seasons, I’ve made it known repeatedly that I’m not exactly fond of Mr Galliano’s repetition in a lot of his recent collections: haute couture looked like pret-a-porter; autumn winter played like spring summer; year 2009 looked like year 1950, so on and so forth.

I used to be Galliano’s fan, a fervent fan for his ingenious designs, something jaunty and out of the blue which really, really moved the fashion world to the edge of their seats.

So for Galliano to repeatedly disappoint many of his fans, I remember asking, “has he lost it”?

Secondly, I dismissed “lazy designs”  as a cause for his design repetitions. I pointed my fingers to a bunch of money-minded people in the boardroom — who wanted to sell as much clothes by doing as little as possible.

When Galliano showed in Shanghai, he said something along the lines that “what’s the point of showing Chinese influence on Chinese territory”, that he wanted to bring Paris to China, bring House of Dior to China.

I originally thought: if Lagerfeld could take the time to incorporate Chinese influence in his Beijing collection and made it a brilliant French show, made the clothes completely modern and still retained that Chanel flair, why couldn’t Galliano do it?

I also remember thinking distinctly that: what could Galliano be so occupied with right now that he couldn’t take time to read a book, walk a street in Shanghai or even watch some old videos of China?

But yeah, I thought at the time: sure, a beatnik, playful, functional and colourful collection that was easy on the eye and the body would sell like a dream, one of the prime concerns for couture houses in the time of an economic downturn.

But I knew better. It was laziness; and the advert is a joke which Galliano or the House of Dior is playing on us. Having spent so much time at university in London, and even though at the time of his study there weren’t that many Chinese students, he knew and still knows the sensitivity between races. Having been in his current post for so long, he knows where is market is.

He knows that Dior sells in China. And in the same mentality like Mr Jacobs for Louis Vuitton, he knows that whatever he puts out, whatever he markets, whatever comes out of the runway of LV and in this case Dior, whether the products are good or bad, beautiful or ugly, people will still buy it. Similarly, an ad, however poor taste, will be swallowed and digested without question.

Galliano knows the symbolism which these photographs represent. At the first glance of this , one immediately acknowledges the presence of the white lady. Then one sees that she is standing amid a crowd of people. A crowd of people — singular. A unity. As a background. The third thing you see is their uniform cut-and-paste faces — they are identical, expressionless and above all — rigid.

We will call this genious marketing — “wear Dior, and you’ll stand out from the mundane crowd”. Only if the marketing department weren’t that lazy and instead put a Shu Pei or Tao in place of the white lady. Then can they escape the accusation of being racist.

But if you think about this: it takes meetings and debates to decide on a fastening on a dress, how can a mistake like this ad escaped any notice?

So the last question is: has our buying habit encouraged the luxury business’ laziness? Do they think that with effortless effort they can still escape the squinty eyes of the fashion world or of the international public, in the name of “keeping the house alive”? Or is Dior sending the Chinese a message?

Exclusive Interview with Anna Dello Russo

She emerged from a bustling room, behind a dense crowd of shoveling assistants and stylists. What I first saw was a giant pair of cherries, and then her toned arms, and then her face. I thought she was involved in a photoshoot — afterall, a rigid lace corset which is barely enough to cover your derriere isn’t exactly your average 3pm outfit. But Anna Dello Russo isn’t your average woman. She is the number one stylist in the world, one of the most recognisable faces in fashion, proud owner of 6000 pair of shoes which require an apartment to display.

“I am wearing Dolce & Gabbana today,” Anna speaks slowly and clearly in English, with a slight Italian twang, “and the shoes are Manolo.” Last time we checked, she had 6000 pairs, mostly heels, but there was a pair of white glitter mary jane flat too. How far has her shoe wardrobe advanced since then? She hesitates, and says, “I have lost count. But I am a collector of fashion you know. Everything in my apartment is archived and catalogued. I display my shoes.”

Anna says she doesn’t collect any vintage pieces, but rather she documents the fashion from our living memory. And since she styles many catwalks and adverts for the world’s biggest fashion brands, does it mean that she gets her collector’s items for free?

And then her friend Sarah Rutson, Lane Crawford’s fashion director of 15 years, a face that is commonly seen on blogs such as Chictopia and Sartorialist, appears at the door and Anna shrieks elegantly, “where are those shoes?” She is referring to the pair of black Yves Saint Laurent suede heels. She had tried them on earlier and she needs to buy them. “It’s a pair of 7 and a half. 7 and a half.”

Sarah told us that during fashion week, Anna told her that “I am envious of your job. I only ever do photoshoots and I’d really love to style some customers. Maybe we can trade positions one day!” And here is Anna. She is here for two days, giving styling advice for some private customers (first a banker mum from Credit Suisse; then a Beijing client dressed in Pucci and carried a Hermes Birkin, who flew down especially for the session) at Lane Crawford’s Platinum Suite, overlooking the Victoria Harbour.

Anna styled while she answered my questions, “when I am not busy, throw a question at me!” She taught the banker mum how to wear this season’s chicest look — a round neck knitted jumper on a wool A-line skirt. The lady emerged from the fitting room, and stared at her reflection. Her expression was quizzical. Afterall, bankers are a conservative lot. A jumper is perhaps too Alexander Wang for a Chanel kind of girl. And such is the difference between styling a shoot and styling real people. The functionality associated with clothes isn’t an element at the top of Anna’s equation.

Anna went into her fitting room, came back out and asked, “Where’s the thin belt?” Her voice sent assistants scrambling around the room, “Never lose a moment! Fashion is a moment!” And indeed it is, fashion is ephemeral according to Karl Lagerfeld, and one has to constantly evolve with fashion in order to stay on top. Anna takes this concept to the extreme — she wears clothes off the catwalk. Soon after a look has stormed down the runway, it will be Anna’s next outfit.

When the lady tries on the clothes and Anna has a free moment, I ask Anna to explain what does she mean when she writes on her blog, “I don’t want to be cool, I want to be fashion”?

“You know, people don’t dress up nowadays. Everybody tries to be cool. For example, Kate Moss. She is an adorable girl. She is cool. She wears t-shirts and jeans. But I am born fashion. I love fashion, I love clothes, I love brands. There’s nothing vulgar about it.” Anna is unapologetic about dressing up. And indeed why should she? She has impeccable taste, her style influences millions worldwide. She has got the figure to flaunt it, so why not?

Anna keeps fit by swimming and practising yoga everyday. “If I work in Milan then I walk my dog, Cicciolina.” How about her makeup routine? “I have a flexible body. My body is really good for clothes. But I never wear makeup because I have an androgynous face. If I wear make up I look like a tranvestite. For skincare I use La Mer, and nail varnish YSL.”

Indeed her body is perfect. She looks much fitter than on photographs — she somehow looks thinner in real life, but she is definitely not a waif. She looks healthy. Her proportion is perfect. Although she hunches when she stands, her shoulders are straight and her legs are firm and toned. She has a befreckled back, perhaps evidence of a lot of sunning in Portofino?

“I used to holiday with him every year. But this year we only spent a couple of weekends together.” Anna is referring to Stefano Gabbana, whom she says without a hint of hesitation that he is her best friend in fashion. Is it any wonder? Earlier this year, Stefano twitted Anna’s photo via his account. It was the back of Anna descending some steps in the background of an azzaro sea. And most of the time Anna can be spotted in Dolce & Gabbana outfits, two seasons ahead of time. Does she style the boys’ show as well?

“I never speak about the shows I styled. The designers should be given the right spotlight. I used to style many many shows, but now I am more selective. Maybe only once or twice a season.”

Anna says her proudest moment in fashion is during fashion week because “it is like the Olympics. You prepare for it before. You get into shape. And during fashion week you see the results of what you have worked so hard for. And you know September is the most important week in fashion, and it is also the best issue for my magazine, Japan Vogue.”

The creative director and consultant for Vogue Japan works from Milan, and travels to Japan twice a year. According to Vogue Japan’s fashion market director Saori Masuda, “Anna creates the look for the Vogue girl, and is in charge of the whole feel of the magazine. Anna follows the photoshoot for Vogue Japan in Milan.” Saori is writing an article about Anna for Vogue Japan, which will be out in late November. “Anna is very friendly. She is very direct with what she wants. She is very inspirational.”

It has been rumoured that Anna puts fashion before men. The fact that she is never snapped with any straight male companion has fueled the rumour. So what is her view on men? “I can only say that don’t overdress when you go out with men. They don’t like it. They don’t like excessive. But of course I love men. I think gay men with fashion, [she makes a perfetto gesture], but straight men… But I love men, of course.”

Bleu de Chanel by Martin Scorsese

Kiwibiwi has exclusively learnt that Bleu de Chanel – the first Chanel fragrance to be released in 4 years – will be available in Hong Kong from Chanel Beaute counters on the 15th August.

The manly fragrance features Frankincense, Ginger, Sandal Wood as base notes; vetiver and citrus as top note. Kiwibiwi has yet to take a sniff of the sample product yet, but it is believed that the fragrance will not be Jacques Polge style extraordinarily groundbreaking.

A Bleu de Chanel film is directed by Martin Scorsese, with a soundtrack by the Rolling Stones. Filmed in New York, French actor Gaspard Ulliel – who played Hannibal Lecter in Hannibal Rising, the prequel to the Silence of the Lamb – plays a man stuck on his first love, Sofi. After a long break, the man bumps into Sofi on the street. He feels unsure if he still loves her, or if he is still living in a fantacised world of their imagined romance. In the end, he overcomes his doubt, and continues on with his life.

I can’t wait to see the film and smell the product!