Offline Emojis, Wearable Smileys

By Mao Shan Wang

SOTD got me into a smiley (and smiling) mood. No sooner had I downloaded the Comme des Garçons Holiday Emoji than I realised I wanted a smiley to wear, not to send via an app installed in my smartphone. I don’t want something on a T-shirt—an easy-to-fade digital print—either, but a physical thing that can swing and be twiddled with, like a pendant.

This matter of keeping the fingers busy is the unfortunate result of a childhood habit of pinching and twisting the corners of my pillow case, a preoccupation left curiously unchecked by my mother. The love of smileys is an on-going affair with adorable circular things delineated in an age when cuteness was a lot simpler, if not innocent. We don’t easily lose the fixations of our growing-up years, do we?

I first saw this Ruifier smiley bracelet on the wrist of a friend’s mother who had just returned from a “conjugal refresh” in London. I thought it looked totally charming on her, especially when she had paired it with a Breguet watch that looked like it was born in the Belle Epoque. For many her age, a jade bangle is the preferred wrist adornment. But as SOTD had pointed out before, women of a certain maturity are susceptible to cute. Smileys really don’t recognise age or marital status just as they know no gender.

Ruifier is marketed as a “fashion and fine jewellery brand”, which I surmise, is for grown-ups with mature taste, but its designs are contrary to anything as staid as those of, say, Tiffany’s (even when Holly Golightly’s favourite jeweller has fine-tuned their image with the help of Grace Coddington). It’s reported that G Dragon is a fan: that should cast an interesting light on the label. There’s no denying that fine, as with luxury, these days has to look accessible even when they may be unattainable. Ruifier’s smiley accessories may perhaps look entry-point to some, but they belie the brand’s high-end quality and points of sale.

Conceived by founder, Central Saint Martin’s alumna Rachel Shaw (a Londoner of Asian descent), Ruifier jewellery seems to extol the belief that a smile is infectious. A happy countenance is, in fact, Ms Shaw’s design constant. Especially alluring are the rings set with either eyes (represented by Xs) or lip (represented by a stretched U), and when the two are worn together or “stacked”, as the brand describes it, they form an expression of catching gladness. I definitely second that emotion.

Ruifier bracelets and other jewellery are available at Club 21 e-store and Pedder on Scotts. Photo: Ruifier

Cheers, CDG Emojis!

With the launch of Comme des Garçons emojis via the App Store, the brand that Rei built looks set for online domination

cdg-emojiComme des Garçons is not all that weird and bizarre after all. Just like the rest of us, it, in fact, loves emojis! While it isn’t the earliest fashion brand to march forth in the digital world (its IG and FB accounts came on rather late) by engaging those whose lives are more active online than offline, it is, as far as we’re aware, the first to introduce its own emojis. Launched after midnight in Tokyo on 23 November, CDG’s Holiday Emoji pack is possibly the brand’s most commercial and engaging marketing push yet.

For the rest of the world, the Holiday Emoji is available from today (here, a party at the CDG store in Hilton Gallery later this evening will mark the occasion). Each of them is based on the heart-shaped smiley first introduced in the Play line of T-shirts in 2002, then described as “a sign, a symbol, a feeling”. Did CDG already know 14 years ago that the now-too-popular logo will become an emoticon? The cute quirky smiley—first red before black, blue, green, even gold versions were added—was designed by Filip Pagowski, the Polish artist and occasional CDG non-model model (in the ’90s when the brand was heavily into ‘personalities’ such as John Hurt and Lyle Lovett), who had submitted the design for a different project before Play had its day under store lights.

cdg-aoyama-2cdg-aoyama-1The windows announcing the launch of Holiday Emoji at CDG’s Aoyama flasghip in Tokyo. Photos: Meiru Matsuya for SOTDcdg-aoyama-3Merchandise featuring Holiday Emoji and the Play logo in CDG Aoyama, Tokyo. Photo: Meiru Matsuya for SOTD

Play took off as soon as it was born. In no time, it was given its own space rather than sold together with CDG merchandise when Dover Street Market was opened in London in 2004. Its success, however, was scoffed by many a CDG die-hard fan mainly because by 2008, the already recognisable logo was widely copied and available on knock-off havens such as luxury fashion’s green mile Patpong in Bangkok. But strangely, counterfeit for CDG does not lead to demise. Play continues to be tenaciously popular. A visit to the Play box-shop at the lobby of Gyre Omotesando in Tokyo inevitably means a queue (although in the line are mostly souvenir-hunting tourists).

Now that it’s evolved into a smiley with different iterations for different occasions, CDG’s Play logo seems destined for ubiquity since emojis, also known as stickers, are presently preferred to words when we send messages—oddly still called ‘texting’. In fact, there, too, is something old-fashioned about the Holiday Emoji. Looking like they’re drawn by hand rather than with, say, Illustrator, these characters are noticeably one-dimensional and naïve-art-like when compared to Line’s wildly popular animated couple Brown and Cony. Yet, it is perhaps this hand-drawn quality that could make them even more endearing.

cdg-emojis

In giving Mr Pagowski’s icon more than one expression, CDG has also humanised it. In the beginning, you couldn’t really call it a smiley since it did not have a mouth. Now, it is given one to better communicate a range of emotions that an emoji is expected to express. The heart-shaped guy (we’re assuming it is male since it has not really shown feminine traits) is finally able to show happiness, as well as sadness, which, in modern communication is as vital as the thumb down—something Facebook is still unwilling to provide.

Emojis, of course, go beyond communicating one’s thoughts at one moment. CDG’s is supposed to show the gamut of holidays or holiday moods. In the 25-piece line-up, there are also those that indicate the weather, such as thunderstorm. Well, even a feel-good holiday such as Christmas (represented by he in a Santa’s hat) may be a stormy day. As for the one with the broken heart, well, isn’t it good counsel for the brokenhearted to go for a holiday? Put your preferred emoji here.

The Emoji Comme des Garçons app is available for download on the App Store or through the iMessage drawer. Additional reporting: Jun Shimamoto