Saturday, 26 December 2009

Of Parkas and Kai Aackmann

My natural reaction towards parkas are that of posers, hobos and the homeless. I feel it's very hard to go out in a parka without looking like one of the three mentioned above, more specifically the homeless. I believe this is just me though, because I like to dress casual.

However, Korean brand Kai Aackmann changed my mind.
Kai-aakman is a contrasexual casual brand aspiring harmony of Animas and Anima, inspired by Carl Jung. Anima is the personification of all feminine psychological tendencies within a man, the archetypal feminine symbolism within a man's unconscious. The Animus is the personification of all masculine psychological tendencies within a woman, the archetypal masculine symbolism within a woman's unconscious.
Kai-aakman applies this perspective into fashion aesthetics. The true beauty deep in every human being's potential ambivalence is being reinterpreted into mix and match of..everything. Avant-garde dresses meet masculinely-tailored blazers, which could be matched with comfort baggy pants. You could see from comfort casual t-shirts with cute typographic play to feminine skirt, or masculine dress-pants. Black-and-white colors encounter aesthetic prints. Every color, fabric and item you could find in Kai-aakman collection is odd and fun, sleek and chic. No one can tell you what to wear or how to match with. Just enjoy playing mix-and-match of Kai-aakman's chic and fun outfits.
The description itself already attracts me what more if you're selling me homeless parkas?
I know it doesn't look great here but look it has a similar campaign to Burberry's Art of the Trench. I don't know who followed who but it's an awesome one. I present to you, Art of the Parka.
First instinct tells me Sam would notice the dogs first before the parka itself. I love the quilted detail within the jacket and how she paired it with sport shoes and not look hobo. Because I definitely would.
Hippie hobo love! Denim, flares and a tambourine at that, so not me but she pulls it off so well!

I am loving how these two different boys make the parka look like two different ones! How?
Howdy. I am a fellow red indian who loves parkas.
This is my favourite style out of all of them. I am impressed at how versatile everything is. She puts on the jacket to play out a more causal look, takes it off and is immediately spiffy with the grey blazer.

Coincidentally, fishtail parkas (its specific name) were first used by the United States army in 1951 to protect soldiers from the elements of the Korean War. The originals are now lovingly collected at premium prices. Never knew that did you? Neither did I. I found out because when I started blogging, the word 'parka' completely slipped my mind and I had to wiki 'jacket' to jog my memory. Hence stumbling upon this lil' tidbit of information that might come in handy when you're in Who Wants to be a Millionaire or The Weakest Link. Don't forget to thank me.

Also, do check out Kai Aackmann's webby. They have some pretty interesting stuff. I especially love these.



If you're into K-dramas like me, the brand also dresses a lot of the leads. Korea's F4, Boys over Flowers are completely decked out in Kai Aackmann. Yummmmm.

- Sue

Friday, 18 December 2009

An Unusual Obsession

Hi guys!

I've got something new for you today. Let me indulge you in one of my little obsessions of late. I have this tiny obsession with everything South Korean: clothes, fashion, looks, beauty, food, dramas and variety shows. It's an obsession that's pathetic because I don't understand nor read a word of Korean. Why? Hmmm that's a hard one.

I like their make-up because they focus in enhanching your looks and the outcome is an enchanced you that look like you don't wear a milligram of make-up, if that makes sense to you. I love their dramas because even though story lines are recycled i.e. 2 guys and a girl, the inevitable heart-breaking scenes that make you cry or the uber romantic scenes that make you squeeeeeee with delight, I can't help but fall for the good looking actors and the amazing chemistry in the dramas. I love their variety/reality shows because they are so freaking funny. And their clothes, omg, don't let me start on how fast they mass produce designer inspired clothing/shoes at the speed of sound at affordable prices. I want to go to South Korea!

One thing I got out of this obsession is the enlightenment of the world's longest standing war between the North and South Korea. I always knew there was a war, an ongoing famine in the North and a dictator that's mad but I never ever seriously considered the human aspects of such a complicated war. Families separated from each other for more than 50 years not by distance but by political needs. A place where self-volunteered delusions keep you and your family safe. A place where you think you're in the best situation possible compared to the outside world which you were never allowed to step into even though you are always hungry. A lil like The Matrix I suppose.

I downloaded documentaries, watched youtube videos on surviving escapees and read even more. I even went as far as purchasing this great little comic/graphic novel.
I have come to the conclusion that world aid only supports the dictatorship in North Korea which will in turn cause more suffering as this gives more power to the dictatorship. Everything sent there is controlled and only trickles down to those who support the regiment. I am a total geek I know. Now that I know what's happening I feel so sad for them. I feel equally sad for the South Koreans who can only watch from afar as their families and their people are forced to suffer.

You can only imagine my horror when I found out that an ambitious Swedish startup, Noko Jeans produced jeans in North Korea. The 1100 jeans are only available in black as blue jeans are associated with the capitalistic US of A. The jeans are retailing at $220 a pop and started selling in early December.
As much as I can understand Noko's motive to increase the world's attention towards North Korea, it seems to be out of bad taste for them to capitalise on the rarity of the Made in North Korea brand name, like how designer brands capitalise on the Made in France/Italy brand. Plus, Noko thinks it's great that they are bringing in outside interaction into the world's most isolated country. I think it's great but isn't that what NGOs are there for? Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea has high rises and modern ammenities but I suspect its residents have been selectively chosen based on their 'loyalty' towards the government. The rest are either in impoverished villages or prison camps.
Mind you I have nothing against the premium jeans, they look great. I mean the Swedes design excellent designer jeans but I am just against the idea of bringing in investments into a country that doesn't love its own people equally. It is just another feather in Kim Jong Il's cap to further control the country and brainwash its people on North Korea's so called 'commuinist superiority'. I don't think they have successfully sold in terms of numbers based on previous expectations of the rarity of the jeans. A Stockholm departmental store pulled the plug on the first day of sales due to the negative image that could be associated with the jeans. They are currently only selling online.

I am not sure how you feel about this issue. Fashion has always had its fair share of controversies, sweat shop conditions, real fur and horrendous pays. I've always tolerated the fact that we are sold items that cost 20 times less than retail price. But going this far to make a brand name stand out is just way out of line. Perhaps it increases the skills of North Korea's selected people but what help does that do for a country that chooses to keep to itself?

I am no political firebrand, I am however for fashion that's non-political and non-religious. Fashion has power and it shouldn't be used in this way.

- Sue

They're here!

The Rosalind Kemp trompe l'oeil collection is for sale on the Oasis website! I covet everything.

A top that looks like a tuxedo jacket!

A T-shirt dress that looks like a trenchcoat. I think it has pockets. POCKETS!

A tank dress that looks like -- well, the website says "prom dress", but it looks like one of those odd dresses with underwired bodices that you see so much of at Topshop. British people are totally keen on this type of dress. I can only conclude that it is because they usually have cleavage worth showing, unlike some of us (sob sob).

A top that looks like a cropped cardi!

I can't deny that my inner Penangite auntie is pointing out that this seems to be a devious scheme to get people to fork out more for what are basically simple T-shirts. Which made me wonder -- couldn't you make a trompe l'oeil creation of your own if you wanted to?

The answer appears to be: yes, but it'll help if you know how to sew.

This girl made her own trompe l'oeil trench dress by hand-stitching a trenchcoat design onto a dress.

Better than my idea of "white T-shirt + a black marker pen", but also way more difficult!

Since I'm hopeless at sewing, I suppose I will just have to content myself with a marker pen and T-shirt on some lazy Sunday afternoon. Sigh.

I shouldn't really be looking at clothes anyway, since I've bought way too many things in the past two weeks. Sure, most of them were sternly sensible -- suits, dour black dresses and suchlike for work -- but a couple of them were purely frivolous, like the over-the-knee boots.

And a couple of the sensible purchases are so cute as to feel as frivolous and unnecessary as a sundress, like the black suede Mary Jane heels I acquired today.

The fact that they're suede makes them considerably less sensible than they would otherwise be -- I Googled "care of suede shoes" and was horrified at how many things will kill a suede shoe (basically, everything). Wearing suede shoes outside appears to be a, ahem, shoeicidal move.

But they felt so justifiable! They are ridiculously comfy. Check out the rubber treads on these things.

They are the only heels I've ever worn that almost feel like sports shoes. It's the shock absorbent quality of the sole.

I suppose I will just have to hope for the best. And find a good water/stain repellent spray.

- Zen

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Over the knees and far away

I guess I have turned into a fashion victim. Doubtless when I return to London over-the-knee boots will be on everyone and will start to be like gladiator sandals -- so over-exposed that I cannot tell whether they are beautiful or ugly, because I instantly fall asleep upon seeing a pair. But I've been wanting a pair for a while, and then I spent a night browsing Mina magazine and sighing over the adorable Japanese girls in high boots and tiny dresses, and the very next morning I saw these in Nose for less than £40.

Reader, I bought them.

I could have resisted, of course, but what's the point of life if you don't give in to temptation once in a while?

I will first link you to Coutorture's Trend Report on over-the-knee boots, though they will not really help you understand the allure. When Google found me the page I settled down for a happy fifteen minutes browsing lovely designer variations on over-the-knee boots, but I just could not get into them because the models are so depressing. I mean, just look at this girl.

This is by Pucci -- the very same Pucci, as The august Manolo reminds us, who makes the smiles. Look, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being thin and I'm not in favour of the "give this girl a sandwich" model of body positiveness. (If we are pushing positive body image, then everyone should get to feel good about their bodies, including super skinny girls.)

But does this model make the smiles? Her grim face; her depressing shoulders. It is not even the thinness that gets to me -- she is thinner than my personal ideal, but the gorgeous models in Mina are pretty skinny. I'm fine with the idea that models, particularly high fashion models, are not meant to be pretty -- if they were, the ridiculously beautiful Ljubenka Milunovic would be modelling a lot more haute couture. But should they really be so aesthetically unappealing that I am actively repulsed by clothes I might otherwise rather like? Perhaps I am not the target audience, however.

Anyway, now for examples of meeee wearing over-the-knee boots! I first tried them out with the top I was wearing and the short shorts I favour in Malaysian weather. (Of course, in weather where I could actually wear over-the-knee boots without drowning in sweat, I would be wearing tights with such an ensemble.)

Ivory top - Seed; black pinstripe shorts - Momoe/grey puff shorts - Primark

I'm not sure I would wear this ensemble, though. Too sexy.

I did like the effect I got when I swapped out the fitted top for a long flowy top I got in Hong Kong years ago.

Loose tank top - 2%; black pinstripe shorts - Momoe

The advice I found on a random fashion website that over-the-knees should be worn with loose-fit clothes turns out to be true! I'd also like to try a variant on this Isabel Marant look -- one of the few where distaste for the model did not completely overwhelm any liking for the style.

I like the sort of chillness of it. And it looks super comfy!

But obviously, being both lazy and traditionalist, the main way I am going to style these boots is with tiny pretty little dresses. Bright prints optional, but preferred.

Little green dress with orange-and-white potato print pattern - boutique in Dataran Sunway

Grey dress with fan pattern - Leather Lane market

But while I really love the combination of mid-thigh-length dresses and over-the-knee boots, my favourite picture from this session is this one, where you can't even see the tops of the boots.

Off-white dress - Bang Bang Clothing Exchange

It looks so cool! Clearly these boots and this dress were made for each other.

- Zen

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Shoe Krahzy

Shoes buys from home! I thought it would be interesting to contrast the styles and prices between shoes from Malaysia and the UK.

I find shoes sold here extremely high, to the extent that they look like high rise buildings stuck underneath shoes.

Maybe it's just me but I cannot imagine myself walking in those heels, towering over people in the day but coming back with the worst feet ache at night.

For example,
Lulu Guinness in Alexander McQueen runway shoes! I thought Lady Gaga was bonkers in her video apparently there is someone krahzier than Gaga.

Another one from Lulu Guinness.
I don't know whether to tell her to work it with those Nina Ricci's or to go into a mental institution.

I lean towards the latter. Practicality is my priority any time of the day.

So here are shoes purchased from home, how they look like and how they're priced. Mind you I am always after bargains so my price ranges may be a tad skewed.

First bargain! I loved it the minute I set eyes on them. They were the perfect pair of studded heels, enough to make an make a serious outfit look more roughed out. These pair of heels may look plain and simple but I just love how the T-back extends the length of your legs, not to mention the height of the heels on these pair (3 inches). I got them for RM35.90 (£6), half price from Voir. Brilliant buy if I do say so myself.

The second pair.When I saw it sitting on the shelf, I thought it was rather interesting, plus I liked the fact that the clasp was in gold. Tried it on for fun and it went straight to the till with me. It wasn't on sale but lucky me, I had a RM30 voucher in hand. I got these off from Vincci at RM39.90 (£7 ish).
I just love the criss-cross pattern. Heels are pretty much okay, around 2 inches. It is surprisingly comfy too considering that they are from Vincci.

The third and last pair.The one thing I honestly don't understand about the shoe industry in Malaysia is the lack of simple court shoes. Seriously, if they were in leather, they would look super gaudy, if they were in PVC, they would look super cheap and are a pain on the feet. I don't understand!

I hunted these down for my graduation and as another pair of work shoes. Because of Malaysia's love of sling backs and all things strappy, I found them at the very last minute, right before I was about to leave to the UK. They were a tad bid expensive, RM299 (£50) from Lewre. It is okay though considering the prices in the UK for a pair of leather court shoes. In fact it may be cheaper if compared to the likes of Jones and Russell and Bromley. Plus it was from Parkson, where you get RM10 vouchers for every RM150 you spend on members' day, not to mention Bonus Link points, similar to Nectar but wayyyy better in terms of value of points.

I love my shoes a lot unfortuntely I love my Barclays bank account more. I never thought buying shoes fom the UK was worth it because the quality just doesn't justify the price I have to pay. Maybe this will change when I finally get a job, but till then, I will endeavor to find pretty shoes at prices that are kind to my wallet.

- Sue

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Clothes I actually do own

After a frenzied spree of indulging in crass materialism in a shopping mall or two!

I used not to see the point of trompe l'oeil, but ever since I saw this pattern for Schiaparelli's Bowknot Sweater via Ravelry, I've been slowly coming around to it ...

Classy, eh?

So when Susie Bubble posted about Rosalind Keepe's Trompe L'Oeil collection for Oasis, I was ripe for conversion. I covet nearly everything in the collection! It's the combination of black and white (my favourite lack-of-colour palette!) and cartoonishly thick lines that enchants.

My favourite piece is this jacket/cardigan.

It's so cute!

I was therefore quite pleased to pick up this white trompe l'oeil tank top for RM25. It's not to say cheap for a tank top, but as long as I manage to keep it away from destructive curries, this simple white top is something I'll be wearing again and again.

White trompe l'oeil tank top - P & Co.; black jacket - Topshop; grey skirt - Colours; cuffed black socks - Isetan; red patent shoes - Clarks

I've been coveting this dress for a while. I realise it looks extremely similar to this grey dress with fluorescent yellow letters -- the similarity not reduced by the fact that I wore exactly the same belt over it -- but hey, I know what I like. And it was on sale!

Print shift dress - Message; black patent belt - Far East Plaza; bag - Vincci; cheapo white socks - Scarlet via Jusco; red patent shoes - Clarks

Anyway, you can never have too many shift dresses with quirky prints and pockets, IMO.

The bag is a Very Serious Bag which I'm hoping to be able to use for work. I like the shape and the texture is lovely, but I wonder if it might not be too heavy. It's all right now, when I don't do too much walking, but it may turn out to be too unkind on the shoulders when I return to London.

Finally, poyo picture for no reason.

I found my dad's Ralph Lauren polo shirt hanging out in my wardrobe one day and decided to try it on. Discovery: the only way to make an excessively large polo shirt look cool on you is to pose in a funny way.

And even then it might not work!

- Zen