For Your Inner Magpie

Ambush charm bracelet

The work that Ambush’s Yoon Ahn showed for Dior Homme at the Paris Men’s Fashion Week in June spotlights one of the most hyped street-style jewellery/clothing labels out there. That Ms Ahn, co-founder and designer, was singled out by Dior designer Kim Jones to finish the customary catwalk strut at the end of the showing is indication of her place in the streetwear-invades-luxury-houses scheme of things. Simply put, she’s well-placed.

We have never taken a close look at the jewellery of Ambush before. This recently caught our eye: a silver charm bracelet not without charm, but as bracelets with detachable dangles go, it isn’t affixed with anything that surprises or beguiles. Its appeal, therefore, lies in the fact that so few jewellery brands offer charm bracelets, particularly those that are unashamedly bold and busy—unlike the discreet prettiness of Pandora.

For Millennials, this is cute as it comprises articles not associated with contemporary living. In fact, the retro choice seems to counter the modern iterations of these things: the signature lock (as oppose to the digital kind), key (the lock’s companion, now in the shadow of card, password, or biometrics), teddy bear (rather than any gaming creature, such as those from the Pokémon clan), a stalk of rose (not those bearing pixels or the result of 3D printing), a pen cap (substituting the stylus or even finger for visual and text input), safety pins (instead of Velcro), bottle cap (over the screw-top version), paper clip (in place of the also-old staple) and an old-fashioned symbol (perhaps only the designer knows its significance). For the rest who’ve been there, done that, this exhibits lame nostalgia.

In fact, Ambush, created in 2008 by Ms Ahn (a Korean-American) and her husband Young Kee Yu (aka Verbal—a Korean-Japanese), makes expensive jewellery based on rather common objects without really elevating them. While the duo’s personal taste reportedly veers towards happenings on the fringe, the designs of Ambush is far more commercial and relatable, perhaps to better appeal to the legion of fans who happily adopt street style with more passion and dedication than they do cats.

Ambush charm bracelet, SGD2,130, is available at DSMS. Photo: Ambush

From Seoul With Love And An Infectious Beat

By the end of 2012, Psy’s Gangnam Style was not only a massive world-wide hit, it became the first video to receive one billion views on YouTube. With a similarly catchy tune, is Seungri’s new single Where R U From going to beat it?



Big Bang may be on hiatus as four of the band members have been enlisted, but they are not done with making the news. While serving the army, frontman/Chanel muse G Dragon was allegedly given preferential treatment when he was admitted to hospital early this month to receive treatment for ankle injury, T.O.P was indicted in June with marijuana possession and is discharged, awaiting re-assignment to public service duties, while Taeyang, looking like he has gained weight, “dominate(d) the stage with hot performances at a military band concert” three weeks ago.

The youngest and the sole member of Big Bang not called for national service yet isn’t lagging behind either. Seungri, or Lee Seung-Hyun, released his first, full-length studio album The Great Seungri on 20 July, and the second single Where R U From is now predicted to beat Psy’s Gangnam Style, if not to equal the latter’ spectacular success. It’s not hard to see why. Where R U From is Seungri at his most cheerful and confident in a music video that is possibly the most irreverent in the brief history of K-pop.


The video released a few days ago has already garnered more than four million views. It features the all-dancing Seungri attending a re-staging of the Kim Jong Un/Donald Trump summit, although, admittedly, both leaders are very poor stand-ins. Korean pop stars are rarely political creatures. Seungri’s cheeky jab at the Kim/Trump meeting, singing “we go hard/attention; we go high/attention”, perhaps reveals uncommon smarts and awareness in the world of manufactured Korean pop songs.

Musically, Where R U From can’t be considered ground-breaking since the happy tune, electronic sounds, pulsing bass, and catchy refrain are similar to Psy’s Gangnam Style. In fact, this could have been Psy’s follow-up single. Instead he succumbed to the pressures of building on the success of an earlier hit and released the forced output Gentleman. The title, in Psy’s case, is, of course, ironic, but it is even more so that it is label mate/same-camp competitor Seungri who plays the suave, horse-ridding, socially-positioned great one to the hilt.

This is Seungri at his handsomest too, projecting a suave confidence that nearly alluded him as he synced with Big Bang’s out-there, gender-bending flashiness. (Thank goodness he has dropped the blond hair because of scalp problems.) Good looks and a good tune make better pals than band mates, and Seungri is able to twin the two into an image that has an old-fashioned idol edge to it. Few K-pop stars rely on such effortless poise to project unchoreographed polish. He sings, dances, and DJs in the new music video as if he does not need to outdo the hyeongs who have gone solo before him.

And there are the well-appointed suits, blazers, and 007-ish tuxedos that he has been wearing a lot as a solo act (including the MV for the precedent single 1, 2, 3 that could have been Motown gone hallyu). Whether this is a deliberate shunning of the visual excesses of K-hip-hop or the attendant street leaning, it is not certain. Seungri appears totally comfortable as a grown-up, sartorially sharp singer. It doesn’t matter if Where R U From sounds like Gangnam Style. The Great Seungri is definitely not the next Psy.

Photos: screen grabs Big Bang channel, YouTube/YG Entertainment

Instafame… Instashame… Instafame

On social media, it can be fast to rise and quick to fall. And rise and rise again. But who’s really watching?


Elaine Heng.jpgScreen grab of Elaine Heng in an Owndays marketing video

By Misha Wong

The media called the “spat” a “saga”, yet that had not caused influencer Elaine Jasmine Heng to lose any influence, let alone face. Not in the slightest. Despite a frankly embarrassing video that she posted to explain her side of the story behind the dispute with jewellery brand By Invite Only, Ms Heng’s popularity has increased. Her IG account in April, following the public row, registered 83.7K followers. Today, just three months later, the number has jumped to 86.3K, a 3.1 percent increase in a quarter of a year, not bad at all if you consider tourist arrivals to our island for the whole of last year was a 6.2 percent rise over 2016.

I don’t know if, in terms of reach, that’s impressive, but I think that that’s quite a lot of people—assuming there are no bots among them—following an individual with no apparent personal attributes one might call impressive. Or, fashion flair that can be considered inspiring. Whatever reason people have been compelled to click ‘follow’ on her page, it is not clear. Yet, Japanese eyewear retail chain Owndays saw it gainful to engage her for their latest video marketing. The dubious professional standing of some influencers be damned.

I suppose that’s the beauty of social media: there’s no difference between Instafame and Instashame. Who was it who said even bad publicity is good publicity? Ms Heng’s questionable antics with some of the brands that have engaged her did not appear to have put a damper on her career-via-social-media. Since By Invite Only’s should-be-ruinous disclosure, she has been engaged by Marigold Peel Fresh and the Singapore Maritime Foundation, to name just two. Is it possible that By Invite Only is a small business and their experience with Ms Heng would not have knocked off the IG/FB star’s stature among those organisations with marketing muscle who are besotted by her?

Elaine Heng 2Screen grab of video of Elaine Heng, looking like alter ego Si En, promoting Owndays online and in store

I supposed Owndays engaging a social media habitué is understandable and a matter of time. They are no longer the sole player in prescriptive eyewear retail that offers quality and affordable glasses “in 20 minutes”, and for all to see the assembly process. Compatriot-competitor Zoff has taken a slice of the pie and local upstarts such as Glimpse is quickly setting itself up as a worthy rival. Owndays’s aligning with Elaine Heng (let’s keep it short!) is strategic given their desire to be a long-term player in the local retail scene, and possibly a bonus, considering that they are likely keen to reach out to her friends, followers, and contemporaries. This isn’t just influencer engagement, this is influencer employment.

In the video, currently screened in-store, Ms Heng, dressed—all white—in a wrap-dress that could have been sponsored by Love, Bonito, and looking all wide-eye eager for her “experience”, she performs as if this was a spin-off of StarCrossed, the Toggle series that made her an actress. Trying on glasses offered to her by a store hand, she uttered flatly, “My artsy friends would love this,” pretentiousness in tact. Who would have guessed that just three months ago, this was the same defiant, argumentative, and hungry girl who posted a video of herself challenging the reasonable charges against her while slurping noodles?!

If you believe that what goes up must come down, then you may be well served to know that in social media, coming down means you land on a trampoline of unwavering supporters who would send you back up again. Users and perusers of IG and the like have short memories. Influencers and (the more desirable) KOLs (key opinion leaders) take advantage of that, deflecting unwelcome attention with ever-more drool-worthy photos of themselves. As Huawei spokesperson Peter Gauden told the BBC about the P20 Pro’s camera capability and can perhaps describe influencer obsession: “Their Instagram feeds will look far more premium than all of their friends, and it will give the appearance, of course, that they are living in a far more premium life than everybody else.” The representations of present fun, splendour, and indulgence would obliterate past—even recent—misdemeanors. Ill behaviour, bad manners/profanities, and dubious practices are prevalent enough among the community that most followers—kindred souls—prefer to sweep aside the misdeeds of their idols in favour of absorbing (and liking) glorious posts.

KOL & MediaKOLs have their own line when registering at media events. Photo: Zhao Xiangji

Influencers and KOLs are such a force to reckon with that at media events, they have their own registration line. More often than not, their numbers are larger than those representing traditional media outlets, so much so that some journalists who see themselves as the real deal have chosen not to attend so as not to be outshone by the darlings of the influencer-sphere. It amuses me to see how brand marketing heads, themselves social-media types, eagerly court influencers and KOLs—feted as celebrities, adored as ascendants.

For the followers that the brands are really after, influencer posts are entry points and exposure to popular consumption. Many young consumers look to this group of self-made stars rather than trained journalists for what is trending (not necessarily selling). Whether influencer association or involvement leads to sales conversion is not quite clear. Brands are mostly tight-lipped about the numbers, as I have learned. Many seem to agree that it has, by and large, been about branding than sales lead.

Influencers know this: they are not directly responsible for driving sales. The crux of their business is the number of their followers. The quality of past brand collaborations is, therefore, possibly secondary to those who presently engage them. Elaine Heng, as I see it, knows that. So do many others. Lapses in judgement is more likely brushed aside in social media than in, say, print media, where advertising dollars loom large above the heads of writers whose column inches seek to delight the ad sales department and corroborate advertiser claims. I am not sure why there is unbridled trust in what influencers can truly offer. Or why unquestioning confidence in their true abilities outside drawing followers by large numbers endear influencers to marketers. Could it be some kind of envy that prompts ardent affiliation: Looking across the street and seeing a nicer house, bigger car, better-dressed influencer?

Daryl Aiden Yow 2018Photographer-influencer Daryl Yow waiting to tell fans how he did it. Photo: Zhao Xiangji

Another rise-and-fall Instagrammer is possibly waiting in the wings to leap up again. He rose to be a hot-shot photographer, then he’s not. He was in demand and then he’s reviled. He had hundreds of photos and then he has only one extant black square. His is possibly the most unpopulated IG account now, all because he was exposed as a Photoshop-dependent plagiarist, who created montages on a photographic base not belonging to him without crediting the source. Digital tools may have elevated him, but, tragically, it is digital media that brought him down, specifically stock photos. Yet, I think Daryl Aiden Yow (like Elaine Jasmine Heng, many influencers like using a second Christian name), already apologetic, is waiting to bombard IG with more of those sweet, pastel-hued photos that had attracted 100K+ followers to his page.

On social media, originality is in the eye of the beholder. One, accordingly, does not have to be transparent about sources as long as one appears authentic. I do not know if Mr Yow had from the beginning considered originality crucial to his work. The Nanyang Poly alumnus, who studied mechatronics, had an early pop start as a singer with a predilection for Taylor Swift songs. He sang for his school’s open house and even posted his listenable renditions on YouTube. He was also able to count namesake and fellow YouTuber Dee Kosh (aka Darryl Ian Koshy) a fan, even when the Power 98FM DJ admitted that he isn’t a Taylor Swift fan. It probably did not dawn on Mr Yow that while you can do cover versions of songs, you don’t generally do cover versions of photographs, and stay mum about it.

No one is able to tell me why Mr Yow didn’t eventually pursue singing. His online musical career was reported to have won him fans in Asia, and that was probably his first taste of fame and following (unlike his photos, his songs are still online and can be found on his YouTube channel). Somewhere along the career line, influencer as a profession summoned. Who had he hoped to influence, he had not made known either. When had he taken up photography, it wasn’t certain. How had he learned it, no one bothered. It is conceivable that, as with his singing, Mr Yow is self-taught. Like the recording of his tracks, he appeared totally dependent on digital means as well as enhancers. Covers and sampling in music-making are so accepted that the budding photographer seamlessly made them crossover to his lens work, and was not eventually able to draw the line between what’s original, what’s not, or what’s half.

Darylaiden IGScreen grab of Daryl Aiden Yow’s IG page at the height of his fame. Photos: Daryl Yow/Instagram

Perhaps the world of rose-tinted photography and KOL fashion was more appealing to Daryl Yow. Before he established himself as an influencer-photographer with the numbers, Mr Yow was working with professional and life partner, Isaac Tng, artist/digital designer cum non-practising architect who runs the boutique design-and-branding agency Sixmoredays. Prior to Sixmoredays officially establishing an office in December 2015, both fellows were working on-the-go in the cafes and bars in the Tanjong Pagar area, where they, according to those familiar with them, were often seen with their notebook computers. So regular were they in the area that in 2015, Mr Tng was able to know that “a café in Duxton was going for a very low takeover fee” and offered himself as matchmaker. At about the same time, Mr Yow, who told The Straits Times in 2016 that “women’s clothing tends to fit me better”, had set up an online fashion retail business, Putongren (普通人), with a partner—fellow Instagrammer Dingxuan (IG: Twiggtwiggz) on IG, where unspectacular (“basic”, some called them) clothes were sold. KOL Andrea Chong (IG: Dreachong), as I see, isn’t the only photogenic influencer that he had aligned himself with.

It is said that Mr Yow learned a lot from Mr Tng, who has been described as a go-getter, and is, between the two of them, more of the conceptualiser and “visionary” (in 2015, when he wrote on Facebook that “Scoot makes it a point to take a jab at everyone else in their marketing campaigns”, he did not foresee that three years later, someone once close to him would be the subject of Scoot’s cheeky jabbing). Some observers thought Sixmoredays’s aesthetic distinction “feels Taiwanese”, as seen in Mr Tng’s design for the company’s homepage, the Putongren logo, and others, attributing it to the designer’s frequent visits to Taiwan. The duo worked well together, I was told, and their services mostly came as a pair: one for content, the other for the images. (Early this year, fellow influencers spread that Daryl Yow and Issac Tng parted ways.) Like most business owners fresh from school who prefer the start-up path, both creatives emerged in the scene with no/little corporate exposure.

It is perhaps helpful to understand that in today’s one-man/woman-operated, business-via-social-media setups, experience is not vital, and is, in fact, to those thinking that it’s an easy leap out there, an alien concept. Why bother with experience—a long-drawn affair—to impress when social media platforms can springboard you to greatness, fame, and likes? If models and singers could do it, why not graphic designers and photographers? Instagram and its kind allow their users to post as many photographs as he/she can, even those of dubious origins. In rushing out this online portfolio—containing entries in the thousands, influencers need speed, not ideas independent of anyone or anything else. Few, if any, will choose what Robert Frost called The Road Not Taken, one that seductively “wanted wear”.

Darylaidenyow IG July 2018Screen grab of Daryl Yow’s Instagram page today

It’s not hard to see that the race to fame triumphs over originality. Influencers can’t wait to influence, to make it to the top of the heap, to count as “key”. Originality becomes subordinate. Digital creatives today have a tough time making their representations stand out because there are so many of them in the Instagirl/boy set that is out to make money. The barriers to entry are low enough that even those never remotely connected to employment are jumping and racing to the top. It’s alluring up there: a new aspirational target. Look where Kylie Jenner is perched on—a pile reportedly making her the world’s youngest “self-made” billionaire, according to Forbes; and drawing an estimated USD1 million per post, according to WWD.

Despite what can now be considered to constitute a legion in our city, I do not imagine that social media stars are the same as you and I, the casual blogger. Not only are they a brand on to themselves, they’re also their own enterprise, complete with staff and office. Admittedly, I am thinking of Andrea Chong. I don’t know how much she makes per post, but I’m certain I won’t be discussing my pay grade with her anytime soon. It dawns on me that with her coasting along and posting of what every other influencer of her ilk posts, unvarying is perhaps a lot easier to try than original.

To base one’s own output on material already out there is commonplace enough that even retail big-wigs such as ION Orchard wasn’t able to escape the urge. The hope is that whatever one does, it’ll win raves instantly and then quickly gets lost in the buzz. Just because there are followers does not mean there are watchers. Unfortunately for Daryl Yow, the noise dimmed enough for his oversight to boom. And the watchers to pounce or trolls to trounce. Just as search engines can bring you to the farthest corners of what creative ideas are put out there, it can also draw you close to the stuff that looks a lot like yours. Google search provides unimaginable breadth to what’s available in the digital world and, as ardent users know, one does not search by text alone; one can search by images too.

The opening up of the online world—expansive, descriptive, and affective—has led to what people who are dedicated to their craft call a “crisis of creative originality”. Honestly, I don’t know if it is really a plight yet. In the case of Daryl Yow, there were as many who condemned as those who shrugged indifferently. Social media is gripping perhaps because there are flying gods and fallen angels. I guess Depeche Mode was right when they sang with foresight, eleven years ago, “The sun will shine; the bottom line: I follow you.”

From Farm To Fashion

Loewe stays with British actor Josh O’Connor through spring/summer 2019. Is O’Connor to Loewe what Eddie Redmayne was to Prada?


Loewe SS Campaign 1

Inclusive has been a buzz word in fashion for quite a while, but it is men’s wear, more than women’s wear, that is likely to cast an unlikely face to front a brand. Loewe’s signing up of Josh O’Connor, again, for their spring/summer 2019 season (above) is a case in point. That designer Jonathan Anderson will pick a fellow Brit is unsurprising, but that a relatively unknown, un-megastar, and un-hunky individual is selected is fascinating.

Mr O’Connor is not what you would call handsome, not as you would Daniel Craig or Michael Fassbender or Henry Cavill (perhaps wrong choice, given the controversy now plaguing him). Among the younger actors, he’s not as swag as Freddie Stroma (Pitch Perfect) or Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service). In fact, you would likely place Mr O’Connor in the class of recent leading men who do not negate their man-childness, and are not defined by their musculature, such as Timothée Chalamet of Call Me by Your Name fame or Ben Whishaw in the 2008 film version of Brideshead Revisited.

In fact, Josh O’Connor has something more: youthful courage and insouciance. Without, let us add, the intellectual inconveniences of Mr Chalamet’s Elio Perlman.

Loewe AW Campaign 1

Fashion folk started taking notice of him when he appeared in last year’s Francis Lee-written-and-directed indie charmer God’s Own Country, for which Mr O’Connor was awarded Best Actor at the British Independent Film Awards (BIFA). Screened last week at The Projector as part of Pink Screen (one of the many activities of Pink Fest that leads to Pink Dot this Saturday), God’s Own Country has been inaccurately described as the “new Brokeback Mountain”. It’s stretching it to connect the two: little similarities except that in both films, love was forged in remote parts of the world.

Mr O’Connor plays Johnny Saxby, a tortured soul caught in the humdrum of cattle and sheep husbandry, who falls in love with hired Romanian help Gheorghe Ionescu (Alec Secareanu). Johnny Saxby’s internal turmoil palpitates with anguish—life is hard and boring in the Yorkshire moors. As if toil and turd aren’t enough, his love, when he finds it, “wears forbidden colours,” as David Sylvian sang thirty-four years earlier. Mr O’Connor’s feel-for-him performance is compelling to watch: his troubles are those of a conflicted soul, and there is a realness to his performance that brings to the fore the tenderness and insecurities of men in love.

And somewhere in there, cup noodles have a cameo role and the seasoning packets not only add flavour to the instant meal, but also relish to the romantic tension of a love that, in the rough, wind-whipped countryside, dares not speak its name.

Loewe AW Campaign 2

Mr O’Connor’s appearance in the Loewe campaign for spring/summer 2018 seemed to continue with the compelling indifference he projected as Johnny Saxby. You wouldn’t guess if it’s not said that this is fashion communication. It was so under-styled it could have been a Gunze ad. In many ways, it recalls Eddie Redmayne’s (The Danish Girl) appearance for Prada in 2016: a film character in an advertising shot, only Mr Redmayne, also traditional-handsome-defying, was styled to look more like a fashion model. Loewe’s, lensed by Steven Meisel, showed a somewhat country lad unusually into books (and we thought people don’t read anymore). Mr O’Connor doesn’t just read any book; he’s perusing classics such as Gustave Flaubert’s tragic Madame Bovary and, perhaps, just as tragic, Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

If you look closely, these book covers are nothing you have seen in the stores. Not yet, anyway. According to media reports, these are old—read “archival”—fashion photographs of Mr Meisel, and reimagined by Loewe, now into book publishing, as cover jackets. Amber Valletta as Madam Bovary!

If classic literature can win new fans, maybe the genre needs a seemingly conflicted character selling its appeal through a luxury brand’s marcom, designed to look anything but high-brow. Jean Genet, we suspect, will approve.

Photos: Steven Meisel/Loewe

These Are Without Tongues

Puma X Andrea Pompilio Monte Sandal AP.jpg

By Shu Xie

Onitsuka Tiger’s collaboration with Andrea Pompilio has always yielded some rather atypical kicks. This season, apart from those with the usual patchwork uppers, they have come up with a sneaker, conspicuously missing the tongue.

The tongue-less shoe, which Onitsuka Tiger calls ‘sandals’, could be a blessing if you, like me, are easily annoyed by those tongues that do not come with two slots in the centre through which you can guide the laces so as to better hold the tongue in place. Although tongues gone askew is not a pretty sight or comfort to the upper feet, many sneaker makers still do not consider how they can be secured.

Onitsuka Tiger X Andrea Pompilio’s Monte Sandal AP appears to solve the problem of the movable tongue by dispensing with it altogether. The lace guards and eyelets are also missing. In their places are a simple strapping system—forming a zig-zag—for laces to go through. Although the leather straps can be a little abrasive if you choose to go sock-less, they can be kinder to your feet if they’re first treated to a good shoe conditioner such as the Saphir Renovateur before use.

When you slip your feet into them, they feel like kungfu shoes. If you look at them from the top down, they look like Mary-Janes (with lace harness). Either way, these are kicks that, to me, will go well with wide-legged pants or, if you’re so inclined, ‘skorts’.

Onitsuka Tiger X Andrea Pompilio Monte Sandal AP, SGD169, is available at Puma, Suntec City. Photo: Puma

Just One 👗 Emoji

Today is World Emoji Day. Come 2019, emojis would have been around for 20 years. After close to two decades and more than 2,500 ideograms later, there is, interestingly, only a single dress emoji in the small, shared wardrobe


Fashion emojis

By Clara Wong

It’s amazing how fashionistas, Twitterers, and Instagrammers have done so well with only one dress emoji. Yes, a sole, singular, solitary sundress. Social media diehards would not repeat-post a dress that they have worn, but emoji creators would have us believe that when we’re communicating online, one belted dress is enough. Yet, no one; no KOL is complaining. Sure, there is a blouse in the offering, but as many of you would attest to, that’s not a dress. You can buy a blouse on its own, but you wouldn’t wear a blouse just by itself. A blouse is only half an outfit, an incomplete ensemble, or, as my boyfriend would say, a plug without the socket, a bolt without the nut… until I told him to stop!

Today is no-holiday World Emoji Day, an occasion that should appeal to the users/senders who have reportedly sent 814 million emoji-containing messages via mobile phones in 2016. Apple has announced that it is “celebrating” this day by offering “more than 70 new emoji characters” to their slew of gadgets millions own. These emojis include “more hair options to better represent people with red hair, gray hair and curly hair, a new emoji for bald people, and new smiley faces that bring more expression to Messages with a cold face, party face, pleading face and a face with hearts.” People do look different—hair, smiles, et al—but apparently they don’t dress differently.

Emoji clothing & accessoriesThirty items in clothing and accessories emojis

Give or take an item or two, Apple and all other OSes and apps have mostly availed about eight articles of clothing in their tiny selection. Under the category of Clothing and Accessories, which falls under Smileys and People, there are 30 items, compared to at least 88 facial expressions available (not including the selectable skin colours ascribed to each) from a reported 2,623 official Unicode emojis in 2017. What’s puzzling to me is the presence of the graduation hat or even the top hat. Oh, there’s the crown too! Are our wardrobes akin to costume shops?

To be honest, I don’t use clothing emojis at all. The limited representation does not, well, represent my wardrobe. In fact, on Line, I like it better when the earliest iteration of Cony was without clothes (okay, Cony is a sticker, not an emoji)! If, for whatever reason I have to tell the person I am WhatsApp-ing with that I am going to wear a dress, I’d have texted, “I will be wearing my striped shirting Sacai dress”, not that I would ever need to be so specific. Or, even announce that I would be wearing a dress, but you know what some friends are like: they just have to know! 🙄

Dress emojisDress, according to OSes and apps: from top left (clockwise), Apple, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Messenger

To be fair, while there is one dress emoji used by different OS or app, each is depicted differently from the other. Still, they’re all based on a single dress silhouette, as if drawn from the result of searches. Apple’s is the most three-dimensional and realistic of the group although I am not sure who’d wear this colour that could have been derived from the chart of emulsion paint—misty teal, perhaps? It is noteworthy that while Apple has aligned itself with the fashion industry, its emojis are not terribly fashionable or fashionably attired. Twitter’s dress sports very short straps which could mean the wearer likes it very high above the bust and snug at the armpit. Facebook Messenger’s strapless piece would be a delight to those who wants fashion to be more inclusive: it is generously girthed and the bustier-bodice looks proportioned for a well-endowed woman.

The thing is, face emojis can often be more specific than words, but the dress emoji is not. A red pouting face is the face of displeasure: nothing ambiguous there. But what does Microsoft’s red-dress emoji say? It is not evocative of Valentino; it does not communicate power or passion; nor does it say you’re a creature of fashion. If anything, it suggests to me something generic, standard, common—a dress unencumbered by trends. It’s girlish, which is not surprising, considering that the majority of emoji senders are young and likely sundress-loving (reportedly between ages of 25 to 29), and hence not threatening. It’s season-less too, which could mean the dress emoji, like all emojis now honoured on World Emoji Day, are timeless—to be used year in, year out, again and again.

Two red dressesGoogle ‘red dress’ and chances are, you’ll quickly find a match to the search giant’s own emoji

The red dress offered by Microsoft is perhaps the most consistent with what you may find online. While it may not get featured in Vogue, it is likely that this dress has its place in most wardrobes. As it turns out, the opposite is true too. If you search the hashtag of this dress emoji on IG (yes, it has its own hashtag #👗), you’ll be surprised that there are few dresses, sleeveless or otherwise, and fewer still in red. So it’s true: people tag blindly. To delve into this further, I looked at Google Trend, and the data today on the red dress emoji revealed that in terms of search, Iraq showed the most interest, followed by Pakistan! Maybe the Talibans aren’t rigorously enforcing rules and maybe it’s true what they say is worn under burkas.

Fashion has always been quick to adopt the icons of the online world. Emoji-emblazoned clothing, shoes, and bags are nothing new. Even Comme des Garçons launched an emoji collection, although theirs is nothing like what is commonly used in our messages. But the reverse is not the same. Emoji designers are not looking at fashion, not even Kim Kardashian’s Kimojis (admittedly there are barely any clothes there) or Virgil Abloh’s sweats and such. Which leaves us with one dress. And, oddly, that kimono, a leftover from the time emojis were conceived and first used, nearly 20 years ago, in Japan. Clearly, those Unicoders were no Hello Kitty fans.

Two Pairs Of Handles

Bimba Y Lola leather bag

By Mao Shan Wang

Sometimes, a pair isn’t quite enough. I mean, don’t you occasionally wish you have more than two hands? That is, of course, not possible (I don’t know what bio-science, sometimes aberrant, will think of next), but you can wish for a bag with two sets of handles. And Bimba Y Lola has exactly that bag.

The Japanese would be quick to call this a “two-way” tote because you can carry this in your hand, as well as over your shoulder. However, Bimba Y Lola, Spanish and as straightforward as Zara, simply calls it a bag, which, of course, it is. But those finicky about exact description will call this a tote, and merchandisers will gladly add that this is, give its orientation, specifically an east-west tote.

But let’s not quibble. If I can be honest, this tote is not exceptional. Even the Balenciaga-ish branding in white is extraneous despite some members of our local media call it “headlining”. It’s your usual, beach-bag-style quadrilateral with a top wider than the base. Yet, it attracted me. The handles specifically: a pair of long-enough nude leather straps that can be placed over the shoulder (but not for cross-body use) and another pair of short, rigid, metal grips not unlike those you’d find on old-fashioned, supermarket wire baskets.

Inspiration based on supermarket hardware is hardly new. Remember Chanel? An entire show was staged in a make-belief Chanel-branded store that prompted looting after the presentation. Bimba Y Lola does not pretend to be what they are not, but there is something cheeky about this tote that will appeal to those not-too-many women who want something highly usable yet quirky.

Bimba Y Lola is the label of sisters Uxia and Maria Dominguez, nieces of Adolfo Dominguez, who, together with compatriots such as Antonio Miro and the highly regarded Sybilla Sorondo, had successfully exported Spanish names abroad in the early 1990s. The Dominguez sisters’ father happens to be the founder of Sociedad Textil Lonia (STL), one of the biggest players in the Spanish textile industries. Born in Bilboa in 2006, Bimba Y Lola, named after the sisters’ dogs, appeared to be positioned as a more fashion-forward alternative to the likes of Zara, or anything under the Inditex group.

The news early this year was that the sisters were looking for a buyer to take over their label. This came around the time when their uncle’s public-listed brand was not giving investors a rosy picture. I was told that the Spaniards hesitate to lump Bimbo Y Lola with the rest of their high-street names, and it is understandable. Bimba Y Lola is far more interesting (sorry, that’s the only word I can think of now) than their Spain-born competitors.

In fact, they have consistently produced such stylishly gripping (better? 😁) clothes that many stylists here consider the brand a well-kept secret. Their bags, for example, are so whimsical and alluring that they make Kate Spade’s look staid.

Back to the two-handle leather tote. I suspect many women will find the metal handle a tad too hard to hold (even with the plastic guard) and may hurt the palm when the bag is too well-stuffed and there isn’t a willing boyfriend to share the weight. If so, go to Tokyu Hands and buy a padded PU handle grip. You can do yourself that favour.

Bimba Y Lola leather bag, SGD625, is available at Bimba Y Lola stores. Photo: Bimba Y Lola

A Lull There Was

Positively a lull. Has ready-to-wear taken the excitement and excess away from haute couture?


Chanel couture AW 2018 pic 1Screen grab of Chanel haute couture autumn/winter 2018

All the talk (bluster?) about streetwear pervading ready-to-wear and impinging on popular imagination seems to be taking its toll on high fashion. The recent couture season that ended a few days ago was perhaps one of the dullest in recent memory, as if designers were taking a defeatist stand against what are unavoidable aesthetical changes sweeping through luxury brands. The usually rousing presentations of Chanel, for example, gave way to an uninspiring, drab-as-pavement-stone show, set on a recreated promenade with the bustle of a cemetery.

For most part of fashion today, marketing and the resultant hype have taken over design. Haute couture, once distant from the brouhaha that characterises ready-to-wear, is now 4G, but on which frequency does it connect, it isn’t clear. Nor is it evident that it’s as connected as other product categories brands are now expected to percolate. It appears to be in re-evaluation mode, with designers going back to what their respective houses are known for, not trying to narrow down to what is modern. It is in the past, when it was an exquisite time for couture, that createurs of the present can find something glorious to bring back or to reminisce or to parody.

Despite Valentino Garavani’s tearful reaction to Pierpaolo Piccioli’s superb collection for the house that the former founded, this couture season had not been one that was particularly moving. Presentation-wise, pret-a-porter has already stolen the show for years; it has taken the leadership role (does haute couture still sell perfume?), with cruise as its commercial director. In terms of design, commercial consideration is a prime concern, so is millennial appeal. Even the young not financially endowed enough to buy need to be adequately thrilled so that their wealthy contemporaries would bite.

Yet, haute couture has lost its ability to stir us deeply, a kindling not palpable since the heydays of the art in the ’40s and ’50s, and, maybe, Yves Saint Laurent—a collection or two—in the ’70s or Christian Lacroix in the ’80s or John Galliano’s Dior in the ’90s. In fact, not until Raf Simons’s debut at Dior in the fall of 2012 did we hold our breath when the clothes came out, model by model, look by look, airy sumptuousness by airy sumptuousness. And we have not since. Gone are the times when “clothes were devastating. One fainted. One simply blew up and died,” as Diana Vreeland said of Balenciaga.

Don’t get us wrong. Haute couture isn’t down-graded in any way, craft-wise. The clothes are still the epitome of the best in handwork and hand-guided dressmaking. But is it in high fashion’s favour that only upon close examination do we get to see its magic? Has it become a mere crucible in which the metiers can be put on their mettle? Or has designers become tired (or old) battling the reality of casual dress everywhere in the world to want couture to be more about dreams? Unremarkable—no matter the fabric, the beading, the embroidery—will just be conspicuously ordinary.


Chanel couture AW 2018Photos: Chanel

The house decided to set the show on one of the most recognisable boulevards in Paris, not as a nod to streetwear, but as proscenium to a collection that would otherwise lack both context and vitality. Karl Lagerfeld has so successfully lend commercial clout to Chanel couture that it is increasingly harder to tell it apart from the ready-to-wear or even the cruise if you don’t, for instance, unzip the slit on the sleeve—a recurrent idea this season—up to the elbow to see how exquisite the inside is.

While Mr Largerfeld is wont to repeat an idea that he likes, the zipped sleeves appeared so frequently that what was unexpected quickly became tedious. Perhaps such a detail is necessary for otherwise quite a few outfits would be rather standard Chanel skirt suits of characteristic tweed. And there were so many of them suits, in the not-so-arresting colour of concrete. When dresses did appear, they looked like they belonged to a doll’s wardrobe, until Ant Man came along with his blue Pym Discs.


Dior couture AW 2018Photos: Dior

Dior’s pale hues and kindred nudes have been said to give the collection a “sombre vibe”. It’s surprising no one said that the colours threaded on the edge of dull. Or, on the conventional silhouettes that Maria Grazia Chiuri had preferred, as cheerful as sampling room toile. These colours may have been alright if the designs on which they were tethered to weren’t so impassive, so unimaginative, so ordinary. The nearly one-silhouette collection is generous to the many customers for whom embroidered silk tulle nipped-in at the natural waist is the epitome of moneyed femininity.

As with Chanel, the visual divide between Dior couture and its pret-a-porter is seam-narrow. Ms Chiuri has steered Dior in the direction of consumption and political reality, and what she, as a woman, thinks the majority of womankind wants to wear. Hence, there won’t be the second coming of the New Look. The selling point would be its familiarity, not only of the Dior of yore, but also of the present. Vive le classique?

Dolce & Gabbana

Dolce & Gabbana alta moda AW 2018Photos:

Although not on the Paris calendar, Dolce & Gabbana’s flashy Lake Como presentation—part of the Italian couture offering, Alta Moda—was very much tribute to the haute of dressmaking. Or, was it to show that they could surpass Gucci? If not in goofiness, at least in over-the-top camp? In case we do not already know that Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana could out-shine, out-bead, out-glitter, out-embroider, out-lace, out-appliqué everyone, the duo piled everything into their couture, minus the kitchen sink.

To some (or many, considering there are loads of their supporters), only such visually thrusting fashion is fashion. If fashion is of the moment, these clothes are the now that seizes you. Who needs mileage? Not today’s see-now-buy-now customers. Seeing now and buying now could also mean forgetting by tomorrow. Which, perhaps, explains why Dolce & Gabbana’s clothes don’t differ that much between collections, couture or not. More is more. No one needs to remember the seasons past when there will always be more more. Rather, it’s about the ostentation that can delight at that very moment. For that you don’t really need a description.


Givenchy couture AW 2018Photos: Givenchy

Claire Waight-Keller is on a high as people have not forgotten her design for the Duchess of Sussex’s wedding. She has not only done English monarchy proud, she has done all of England proud, and, in doing so, shone the light on the couture might of a house once associated with royalty, both of the ones based on thrones and those based in Hollywood.

These are clothes, one assumes, that duchesses and their ilk would wear. And between them some gowns actresses, inspired by duchesses, would pick for a red-carpet night. On that note, Ms Waight-Keller knows who she’s targeting. She has looked hard at the Givenchy archives, just as Maria Grazia Chiuri had at Dior, and hoped that among her audience and customers there may be an IG-gen Audrey Hepburn, never mind the latter’s kind of elegance on a inimitable gamine frame does not exist anymore. These were precisely-cut, moderate clothes for an imprecise and immoderate world.

Guo Pei

Guo Pei couture AW 2018Photos:

Even after setting up an atelier in Paris, Guo Pei has always seen fashion through her own Chinese, post-Mao, pre-market economy lens, offering couture that has, up till now, been a Beijing fantasist’s idea of what Western dress is about. Surprisingly, her latest collection was less fairy tale than usual, and, in fact, showed a maturity and—dare we say—sophistication that we never thought possible from her studio, named Rose.

This time, Ms Guo’s collection projected the “beauty of strength” of architecture by way of Gothic churches. It appeared, perhaps, a month and a half too late for the Med Gala. Still, the working of architectural forms and details into her designs was far more controlled than anything she had done before. If the reading was too literal—cupola equaled skirt, for example, this is because she has yet aligned herself with the difficult art of subtlety. The clothes, although still stiff and probably not too comfortable to wear, were at least not inverted hulls of ships.

Jean Paul Gaultier

JPG Couture AW 2018Photos: Jean Paul Gaultier

Freed from the need to do two pret-a-porter collections a year, Jean Paul Gaultier would, one might guess, have quite a lot of time in his hands to dream up a stupendous couture collection. He did not. Some said this was classic Gaultier: reworking traditional tallieur—this time, the le smoking—and not, as usual, discounting the camp. The thing is, 28 years after the advent of the conical bra that Madonna adopted faster than she did the children of Melawi, is Jean Paul Gaultier still the enfant terrible of French fashion?

To be sure, Mr Gaultier appeared to be still having fun. These clothes would probably appeal to those nostalgic for the days when he was not following the beat of other houses, when he wanted to “modernise” haute couture, when his clothes cheekily challenged gender conventions. However, are there still any rules in the book to break? Now, when nothing in fashion shocks anymore and there are those such as Nicki Minaj who dispenses with the brassiere altogether, Jean Paul Gaultier’s glammed-up camp looked somewhat unrelated to the present. In fact, Mr Gaultier no longer needs to show us his jabbing at conventional tack and taste, or How to do That, to steal the title of the dance single (“house couture”, featuring a young Naomi Campbell and a pair of pirouetting scissors!) that he released in 1988. We’re not suggesting he pares down, but he could do with some reining in. The time is right.

Maison Margiela

Maison Margiela Artisanal AW 2018Photos: Maison Margiela

John Galliano’s Artisanal collection for Maison Margiela forced the eyes to look—front and back, top and bottom. The eyes has to travel! From Martin Margiela to Mr Galliano now, Artisanal—launched in 2006 and blessed by the Chambre Syndicale de la haute Couture—has remained a challenge to the visual understanding of what is wearable on a body, or attachable (iPhones clamped to wrists and ankles?). And that makes it compelling. Mr Galliano’s vision this season perhaps owed more to Comme des Garçons—the bonding, the missing/hidden armholes, the body-misshaping wraps—than the maison’s predecessor/founder, but it continued to test perceptions in haute couture of what can be constructed, by hand no less.

“At least there was effort,” said a follower of SOTD in response to a “quiet” couture season. That is without doubt. Yet, sometimes one wonders if there was too much effort, to the point that this collection was almost a parody of Mr Galliano’s uncommon creativity, bordering on the absurd or the alien (Na’vi people, perhaps?). These were complex creations and there was much to unpack. No vanilla shifts for Mr Galliano, nothing so undeviating. While other designers sought to project outward from the body, he opted for ligature: he Christo-ed the body. The tulle binding was, in fact, previewed at Mr Galliano’s first men’s Artisanal collection a month earlier, but it was more constricted in the women’s version, as if restriction is a new covetable aesthetic, the way the wasp waist—shown in the men’s Artisanal—once was. Trust John Galliano.


Valentino Couture AW 2018Photos: Valentino

Pierpaolo Piccioli’s Valentino couture begged to be seen again. And you did because, frankly, it was too sumptuous to take it all in in one WiFi-dependent viewing. Mr Piccioli explored the myriad possibilities couture offers as if he had stumbled into an atelier for the first time. He is, of course, not new to the support of the skilled hands and he has charmed before, but the exuberance of the collection felt like this was a maiden effort, a prodigious showing, a tour de force. For a moment, you thought haute couture has always been this wonderful.

This was affirmation of the mysterious enchantment a designer is able to offer when he stokes his imagination with the skills available to him, and magnify the sum of the parts. And such high degree of pleasure: Those ruffles! Those flounces! Those bows! Those tiers! Those shapes! Those poufs! Those prints! Those patterns! Those colours! Those embroideries! Those feathers! How they held you spellbound! In a reality/data-driven world, it was nice to see dreams come vividly alive.

Viktor & Rolf

Viktor & Rolf Couture AW 2018Photos: Viktor & Rolf

Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren celebrated their 25th year with a collection that revisited what they have done before—the complex, the astounding, and the beautiful. This time, they seemed to say that they can do them even more complex, more astounding, and more beautiful. White was the predominant colour, a clean palette with which to better imprint their boundless imagination and make a pitch for couture’s special place in the fashion universe. And Mr Horsting and Mr Snoeren did not hold back. By this, we do not mean an injudicious use of the crafting arsenal available to them. Rather, both brought to the fore a very persuasive, not manic, display of wearable art—a theme that they explored in the autumn/winter 2015 season, tempered by a unique, high-brow, alluring elegance.

In that year, Viktor and Rolf, like Jean Paul Gaultier ten months earlier, ceased the operation of their pret-a-porter. Their dedication to haute couture is clear to see in the collections they produce: always above the ordinary, with ornamentation that reflect deft hands and keen eyes. Both Mr Horsting and Snoeren are not shy, for example, of ruffles and bows: they applied them with a fervour not even Marie Antoinette’s dressmakers can match. Few designers of today handle these flourishes as nimbly and imaginatively as these two. With them, the craft of couture is celebrated. No applause would be too loud.

Through Thick Than Thin

Like most things in fashion, heels are not created equal, We are, of course, not just talking about height. Some heels are simply more desirable than others despite their falling popularity. And some are re-imagined to bring heels, well, to another level, forgive the cliché.

Jacquemus, in the brand’s usual cheeky fashion, are proposing that women wear the pumpkin of heels, not asparagus. And if the amplitude of girth isn’t enough, it has made both sides quite unalike. Mismatched shoes are nothing new, of course (for a long time, anti-establishment types have been known to buy two different shoes and swap sides to wear), but mismatched heels, they’re a recent fascination. And Jacquemus is a leading proponent, with Selena Gomez one of the earliest adopters.

These 13-cm (5-inches) heels are made of solid wood, and their massiveness disqualifies them from being vertiginous even when they are by no means stout. Body-positive heels! Like wedges, these heels give the impression of steadiness, defying gravity. And since they are weighted, unlikely to buckle. Practical considerations aside, are these as attractive as their anorexic cousins, the stiletto?

Well, it depends. For as long as the stiletto is an article of seduction (sometimes weapon for murder!) or the symbol of glamour and status (Manolos!), slender will triumph over stumpy, limp over butt, Louboutin over Fenty.

If heels are less about sexed-up aggression, they could be wedges of wit or height of humour. Indeed, these Jacquemus fraternal twins would be a delight to those who derive more pleasure when their heels are not one plus one. Rather, when they are ying and yang.

Jacquemus mismatched wood block heels, SGD760, are available at Dover Street Market Singapore. Photo: Jim Sim

The Runner You Won’t Run In

More dad shoes. Are these adequately papa-like?


Alexander McQueen Runner

When Alexander McQueen collaborated with Puma in 2005 and released their first kicks a year later, no one thought of describing the odd sneakers with less than sleek looks “dad shoes”. More than ten years after the pairing, dad is no dud.

To be sure, the early Alexander McQueen X Puma sneakers—inspired by what was described as “Anatomical Veins”—were more sci-fi-looking than papa-off-beat, but the latter designs of the diffusion line McQ with Puma were, to us, rather prescient. We are referring to the Tech Runner, all chunky mid-sole and complex piecing of the upper. The Balenciaga Triple S, dare we say, arrived somewhat belatedly.

Alexander McQueen, without its founder—himself a known sneakerhead, reportedly with over 500 pairs to his collection—continues with the silhouette first seen in 2014, the year Ricardo Tisci re-imagined Nike’s Air Force 1, an exercise that comes years after Mr McQueen brought luxury fashion to sneakers by teaming up with Puma.

The latest, called the Patchwork Runner, has kept to the spirit of what was introduced four years ago. Even with “Tech” struck off its name, this Runner has not lost its technical vibe. Like much of the dad’s shoes now, there is a thick mid-sole—this slightly elevated at the rear. The mid-sole is white, today’s preferred colour, and is base to a mixed-fabric upper that is reminiscent of the older brother of 2014.

Overall, the Made-in-Italy shoe has the heft of what fashion-oriented sneaker fans love. This come from the generous padding, which envelopes the foot comfortably, Since this, is after all, expensive footwear of fashion, it is unlikely anyone—us included—will take it for a run. Those who cop a pair may not be certain of how it performs, but they could be clear that, while the Runner may not go on track, they are on trend.

Alexander McQueen ‘Patchwork Runner’, SGD1,195, is available at Alexander McQueen, Scotts Square. Photo: Jim Sim 


Dress Watch: This One Shape

Fashion search Jul 2018

By Mao Shan Wang

For a lack of something better to do, I Googled ‘fashion’ on my idle Samsung Note 8. Since I am still on 3G, the result came back at the speed of what the wired schoolgirl seated next to me would call “snail”. Still, Google responded, not with the result I was expecting, but a banner ad, first. This appeared under the Google search bar—after the tabs—and comprised a row of tile ads discreetly labelled “sponsored” in the right corner. Static banner ads appear so regularly in all manner of searches that I don’t really pay attention to them. But this time, I did because this one stood out, if only for the uniformity and banality of the product offering.

The header “Shop for fashion” did not exactly correspond to my search. The offering, too, did not match anything that I had searched previously: not specific article of clothing. To be sure, I looked at my search history: I have never searched for dresses. Google’s data is perhaps not quite reliable. To understand how this came about (although I could have guessed), I clicked on the light gray circle in which a small ‘i’ was centred, and was rewarded with a pop-up that asked “why these ads?” I clicked on the text and a small drop-down window appeared. A list of the websites that featured in the banner ad was provided. I clicked on the first and was immediately told that “This ad is based on: Your current search term; Your visits to other websites”.

So, fashion equals dresses? And I have visited other websites that would place me as the right customer for frocks of the same ilk?

Wanting to see where this would take me, I clicked on the first tile. The page that appeared is part of the mobile site of Light In the Box, which touts itself as a “a global online retail company”. I came face-to-face with the featured dress, not the homepage. No time to lose when you shop online, I suppose. The green floral dress on a cheery-looking lass was described as “Women’s Going out Plus Size Casual Swing Dress” (initial caps as captioned), which seems to me one-word redundant: we have as yet reached an era of men’s dress! In addition, the model was far from plus-sized. I am, as my friends would say, under-sized.

Unimpressed, I hit the back button and tried the second tile. This time, I was hyperlinked (a word unimpressive now, but was once, to me, the digital version of teleported) to the page of the said dress in My Theresa, “THE FINEST EDIT IN LUXURY FASHION” (all caps as headlined), now owned by the Neiman Marcus Group. The Dolce & Gabbana “cotton-blend lace dress” that greeted me was sans a model. It looked like an entity was wearing it, but nothing was there.

Two dresses

Are these what women are buying? I have not heard of Light in the Box, yet I was shown a link to their site; I have never looked at Dolce & Gabbana online and here I was offered one of the brand’s dresses to buy. What is it about my browsing habit that allowed Google to suppose I share the same taste in dresses as other web users? I am assuming that other online viewers are attracted to these dresses because appearing in the ad side-by-side were a quartet of dresses of very similar silhouette—the first two almost identical, except for the USD2,488.40 difference in price.

I know dresses sell. I have been told by so many buyers I know working for department stores and private labels that the one-piece is never hard to move off the racks. While I suspect a certain style—round neck, body-skimming bodice, natural waist, and a flowy skirt—is popular, I did not expect it to be this popular: showing up in an ad four-in-a-row (and more!). Is this what makes a trend? Is this how women know what is trendy? Is this how women are guided to make wardrobe choices?

If this is any indication, women are buying the same things. Perhaps, the question to ask then is, why are women dressed alike?

It would appear that e-commerce have more influence on consumer fashion choices than catwalk slideshows or fashion editors’ picks or the best street styles from fashion weeks. To see what other styles Dolce & Gabbana offered in My Theresa, I continued my search by narrowing it to just one brand, and there they were: more dresses in the one silhouette that refuses to go away. For actual merchandise, it would seem that brands do not vary their offerings very much. This is a dress shape that sells, why try another? And when women are familiar and comfortable with such a dress, why would they want to experiment with something different?

Wondering what would show up if I had searched ‘dresses’, I gave it a go. My trusty Note 8 was as unresponsive as my wardrobe when it showed me the result. Again, the “Shop for fashion” banner surfaced. Of the four dresses showed at the top of my screen, one did not look like the others. It was a USD195.60 one-shoulder, slit-high-on-the-left-leg gown called the “Disco Drape Dress” from the multi-label e-shop Revolve. The other three were similar to the ones that coughed out from the search ‘fashion’. This time, the priciest was a printed Gucci linen dress tagged USD4,870. Frocks, as Google search proved, don’t discriminate: they align themselves to every price point. Rich or poor, women can look the same. And they do.

Badge Of Honour?

You’d think they won’t go further than smartphone covers. But with Prada’s ID case in stores, there’s nothing that you use in your life that luxury brands wont try to cover


Prada ID case AW 2018

In the past, carrying a designer key ring was a big deal. It said something about one’s economic status or love of things designer. Now that we are in the age of the key card and biometric authentication, key rings are not only less seen, they are reduced business  and licensing opportunities for luxury brands.

The product development divisions of fashion houses, however, don’t quite give up. From trinkets for bags to protective covers for smartphones, the product category keeps expanding, outpacing even those of department stores. Joining the ranks of non-fashion items given a luxury riff this season is the humble ID case; only in the case of Prada, not so humble.

These first appeared in the Prada autumn/winter 2018 show in February. It is not unreasonable if you had thought there were used as props. But Prada rarely shows things they do not intend to sell in their stores. We took a close look at the ID case recently and found it to be more decorative than practical.

The clip-on version comes with two slots, but neither are large enough for an EZ-Link card. The windowed slot on the right can be used to frame a passport photo, not an actual security ID you are likely to use to gain entry into your secured work space. Who, we wonder, would like to wear their selfie on their body like a badge? KOLs, don’t you think?

Prada Saffiano leather clip-on ID case, SGD290, is available at Prada stores. Photo: Zhao Xiangji