Dress Watch: Chanelling The Victorian Nightgown

Miu Miu nightgown dress SS 2016

It’s been suggested that Raf Simons had inadvertently launch a minor trend: the day Victorian nightdress, specifically those shown at Dior’s spring/summer 2015 collection. These were not, contrary to its popular description, frumpy bedroom clothes; these were sensational and ‘pure’ enough that the Bennet sisters would have worn them, even in the earlier Regency Period, to the suitors-awaiting Netherfield Ball.

It is, however, not clear how well these Dior dresses fared since no figures were released. More significantly, they weren’t considered the epitome of modernity or sexiness in a time when so much fabric for a single outfit is contrary to the less-is-more preference of women with ample not to conceal. Still, the trend prevails for yet another spring/summer season and we’re quite happy that it has. One of these outdoor-ready night gowns that we find positively charming is the above by Miu Miu.

Prada’s sister line (not diffusion, we should add) has always approached fashion as wackily as their fan base allows. No period, no occasion, or the suitability to either is off limits. It is not surprising then that some form of a nightdress should appear since Miu Miu is no stranger to house clothes as out-and-about attire.

The lace-trimmed ruffles caught our eye. While they may be associated with spinsterhood-bound women, the ruffles, in a V-formation that seems to underscore the high neck, are, in fact, off-beat romantic in a way that Chloe Sevigny would appreciate. And there’s the print: drawing of lit candles that clearly had been burning for hours, adding to the whole night clothes spiel. Rather Florence Nightingale, we thought. Or, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Things get a little tricky in the silhouette of this viscose dress, which the cheery salesgirl in the Miu Miu boutique was keen to point out, is based on the “boyfriend cut”. We assumed she meant “boyfriend shirt” but we’ll take her word for it. There’s nothing wrong with the roominess. It’s rather refreshing given the excess of body-con dresses on social media. However, for most women, used to emphasising the waist, presented with a tented (read: maternity) dress such as this may be like putting a cart before the horse.

Miu Miu ruffled maxi-dress, SGD5,900, is available at Miu Miu, Ion Orchard. Photos: left, style.com; right, Galerie Gombak

This Not-So-Blue Monday

The music of new order like you’ve never heard them before


Orkestra Obsolete

By Raiment Young

Thanks to BBC Arts, I was able to listen to a remake, not remix, of Blue Monday, the biggest UK 12” single of all time, and, playing for seven-and-half minutes, one of the longest. This new version by the little known and almost mysterious band Orkestra Obsolete is the stuff that makes my spine tingle. Possibly New Order’s best-known track, Blue Monday was an important part of my musical education in the early ’80s that had nothing to do with Michael Jackson. It was also the second part of my initiation into electronic music after Kraftwek, Yellow Magic Orchestra, and Depeche Mode.

And it’s been awhile since something so aurally captivating has filled by work space. Blue Monday and so many ’80s indie-dance-rock have been subjected to such frequent runs through software manipulation such as Digital DJ that, no matter how imaginative the remixer, much of the result sounds the same. Orkestra Obsolete, as its name suggests, brought a piece of modern music back to a time when software was not part of the line-up in a musician’s arsenal. The point in time is 1933, and the instruments used are those available that year.

Orkestra Obsolete 2

The result is music that has the lushness of yore, but a vibe of the present. Unfair a comparison it may be, but it does remind me of the 1997 ‘tribute’ album El Baile Alemán by Sēnor Cocunut, aka Uwe Schmidt (also Atom Heart), considered one of Germany’s leading composers of electronic music. While El Baile Aleman’s Latin-flavoured sound is poles apart from (and more ‘exotic’ than) Orkestra Obsolete’s experimental output, both share the same sense of analogue adventurism that is oddly compelling.

According to pop lore, Blue Monday was the result of the testing of a new drum machine—the Oberheim DMX. The band, however, claimed that the song was written as an encore track to be played at the end of concerts, during which fans had always left disappointed because New Order did not do encores. Lead singer Bernard Sumner once told the media, “I don’t really see it as a song. I see it as a machine to make people dance”, further corroborating the drum-machine test theory. Whatever may have been the case, Blue Monday went on to be a Brit pop/disco anthem identified with the ’80s, just as Soft Cell’s camp remake of Tainted Love was and still is.

Orkestra Obsolete 3

Despite its success in the UK and, later, in the US, Blue Monday did not really catch on in Singapore until Zouk’s Mambo Night, hosted by DJ Adam Low. When I first heard it during those retro-themed sessions, I was dismayed that it was considered a retro track, yet thrilled that I was able to dance to it under the immersive sound system that was part of Zouk’s heady appeal. To most Zouk-goers, Blue Monday was too indie and off-key sounding to be mainstream-danceable. I wonder what they’d think of Orkestra Obsolete’s take today.

Another aspect of the band’s appeal is the music video released by the BBC. This noir-ish recording has the mood and the seduction of a fashion film, possibly one by Prada (and Wes Anderson?). The band members in suit and bow tie, too, look like they’re part of Prada’s world, with eye masks that would win the approval of Green Hornet fans. Orkestra Obsolete has possibly created the soundtrack to Muccia’s next show. As it’s sung in the song, “now I stand here waiting”.

Photos: source