Gone With The (Digital) Wind

Kim Lim removed photos of her husband on Instagram and the media became really excited

We delete Instagram entries all the time. It’s the thing we do. Sometimes, every single post. But, when Kim Lim (林慧俐), the influencer and beauty entrepreneur, removed a few on her IG page, the media consider that headline news! Ms Lim, as we learned, did not merely edit the contents of her IG, she apparently got rid of all the photos of her husband of barely four months, Leslie Leow. That is a big deal. Such is social progress. Even The Straits Times was into sharing Ms Lim’s daring deletion: “Her Instagram feed has recently been scrubbed of all photos of Mr Leow, including those of his proposal in September 2021 and wedding on Feb 22 this year”, they wrote. A Mothership report stated that “all traces of Kim Lim’s husband have disappeared from her Instagram feed”. Expunged! Was the guy obliterated? Or, were the deletions tantamount to someone’s death?

One of the earliest to report on the missing squares on Ms Lim’s revealing IG grid was the e-mag GirlStyle two days ago, describing her act as “mysterious”. It helps not that IG does not leave deleted posts blank so that we may know what was removed, even how many. Which led many in the media to wonder why she did what she did: Was it petulance, her “borderline personality disorder” that her father had previously identified, or the breakdown of her marriage? Does it matter? Could the deletion be part of what influencers commonly—and cringingly—refer to as “curation” (which, in the world of influencer engagement, is on-going)? The thing is, much of the contents of social media are what the account holders want you to see. Is it possible that Ms Kim now no longer wishes, for whatever reason, her followers to view those photos she presently does not consider viewable, even if, for most, the images cannot be unseen?

As we know, nothing, once posted online, disappears completely. The Leow’s expensive wedding planner, The Wedding Atelier, has not deleted the two IG posts (excluding those of the flashy guodali betrothal ceremony) of the couple in their matrimonial best. Not yet, anyway. Unmistakably ardent Kim Lim supporter, Icon (风华) magazine, too, has not removed the two photos they shared on their IG feed. Neither are those on the hashtags #kimlim and #klstyle—just to name two—taken out. And even on Ms Lim’s own IG page, her connection to her husband (as of now) is not totally ”scrubbed”. We do not know if Kim Lim wants all photos of her wedded to Leslie Leow deleted for good. A marriage is forever: Online, it is. Search and the images shall be found.

Illustration: Just So

Shit, Is Excrement A Thing Now?

From poop on the bed to possibly eating some, women are finding use for fecal matter

By Mao Shan Wang

I have not heard this much shit in such a short span of time. This should have been a load of crap, but it isn’t. A month ago, at the now-concluded-and-Twittered-to-death trial of Johnny Depp versus Amber Heard, the jury was told that Mr Depp one day learnt a clump of faeces was dumped on his side of the bed he shared with his former wife. Ms Heard reportedly admitted to a security staff that turning the bed into a toilet was “a horrible practical joke”, but she denied she said that. Instead, she blamed it on one of their dogs. Court documents seemingly did not provide information on how many day’s worth of turd laid in wait, but according to Mr Depp, the “fecal delivery” was not canine: “I lived with those dogs for many years. That did not come from a dog. It just didn’t”.

And then just two days ago, venerable newspaper The New York Times shared that Kim Kardashian said, “If you told me that I literally had to eat poop every single day and I would look younger, I might. I just might.” Literally jiak sai (食屎, in Hokkien)! And this was a serious interview about her new beauty line SKKN by Kim, and the gunk she hoped you’d put on your face. I assume what she is willing to ingest to defy skin ageing comes from her own defecation. I don’t know about you, but after thinking that the SKIMS founder entertains such a thought (seriously, who does?!), I am not considering the stuff she peddles, no matter how “prestige” she described them to be. Okay, people might be fascinated with her recognisable body, but, I am certain, not what comes out of it.

Never have I thought that there could be individuals for whom the leaving of excreta, human or not, where one sleeps is appropriate, no matter the extent of the failure in love. Perhaps it was, for Ms Heard, the ultimate revenge, since Mr Depp is no Chuck Berry, who was known to dabble in coprophilia (yes, there is a word for it, this love of using poop for some return of satisfaction). And Mr Depp did not tell Ms Heard, “Now it’s time for my breakfast.” Or, that Ms Kardashian would consider coprophagia (yes, there is also a word for it, this feeding on shit!), or, to be more precise, autocoprophagy, the ingesting one’s own, whether deposited (on a bed or elsewhere) or taken directly from the point of exit. In court last month, Ms Heard could not believe that her ex-husband was “going on and on” about the mucked bed. “Our marriage was over and falling apart… I couldn’t believe he wanted to talk about faeces”. I could, and I would.

Illustration: Just So

She Did It Too

Madonna did not change her face; she covered it

If Madonna is doing it, there is a possibility that women, even not a celebrity, would be adopting the full face mask, too. In a recent outing with her son David Banda in New York City, the pop star showed her much changed face covered with a full-lace headgear that exposed only her eyes and mouth. Although not quite as severe as Kim Kardashian’s take on the look that Demna Gvasalia conceived for Balenciaga, it is face fashion that is expected to take off massively, even if the look is thought to be intimidating. The balaclava’s popularity is of such great potential since Ms Kardashian made a statement with it at the Met Gala last year that even Gap has allowed Kanye West to introduced it for Yeezy Gap under the guise of a further collaboration with Balenciaga—the brand that appears to be ruling the world.

That Madonna, after making sure everyone is familiar with her new young face, is willing to have it nearly completely covered is indication of the power of the extreme end that fashion endears itself to these days. But while Madonna’s whole head is covered, she is not that unrecognisable, just as Ms Kardashian is not indistinguishable when completely suited up. The balaclava may obscure the face, but it does not blank out the personality under it. We know it is Madonna (although, to be certain, her face mask was not that hardcore since it was made of openwork fabric). What surprised us was not the encased head, but the extremely baggy tracksuit that the author of Sex wore—Balenciaga X Adidas, no less. Was it to better co-ordinate with her son David in a Gucci X Adidas T-shirt dress?

The drastically different ends that women stand in terms of fashion are thought to be the opposing reactions against the pandemic that has deprived many the opportunity to dress up, to express, especially publicly. So either go nearly nude or totally covered. Clothes are now mere shreds of fabric or a complete bale. Anything in-between is too old normal, too ancien, too dull. Our avatar is no longer an online proxy. It is here among us, tangible and tantalising. We really do not need the metaverse to reshape fashion. It is already happening in this protoverse.

Photo: madonna/Instagram

In Paris, Finally

Two years after she was named the winner of the inaugural Singapore Stories competition, Carol Chen showed a small collection in Paris last March. She said, it was “40 years in the making”. A worthwhile wait? And for whom?

Carol Chen (right) with a model on the runway in Paris

There is a stark difference between “show(ing) during Paris Fashion Week” and presenting a collection as part of the PFW calendar, set by the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode (FHCM), or, as it is popularly referred to in English, the French Fashion Federation. Carol Chen (陈慧敏), the Taiwanese-American whose eponymous label is referred to as a “Singaporean brand”, was careful to describe her debut in Paris as the former. Last March, a month before our COVID restrictions were lifted, Ms Chen participated in a fashion show in the French capital that was part of her prize, promised to her by organiser of Singapore Stories 2000 , the Textile and Fashion Federation (TaFF), that included a “retail collaboration with (the store) SocietyA”, as well as “one of the winning looks displayed in the contemporary gallery at Asian Civilisations Museum alongside renowned designers in #SGFashionNow”, and cash. In an Instagram entry before the presentation in The Westin Paris, she wrote that the “show is for Singapore, the country that made this opportunity possible and inspired me to design again”.

While that dedication might arouse pride among those waiting here for the next Andrew Gn to emerge, it was a tad misleading with regards to who organised the multi-label show or if TaFF was actively involved. Although Ms Chen and her segment were “sponsored” (or “supported”; she used the words interchangeably) by TaFF (the Federation had initially made clear—“airfare and accommodation not included”), she was in Paris as “Singapore’s representative for FD Paris fashion show during Paris Fashion Week 2021 (the presentation was postponed to this year due to the pandemic)”, as stated in the TaFF website. But what is the cryptic “FD” event that TaFF mentioned? After the competition, it became clear that FD is Fashion Division, a Jakarta-based organisation that is “the first International Fashion Career Center, redefining Fashion Learning by adapting French education system”, their website tells us. FD also organizes fashion shows (primarily) in Paris to coincide with PFW for designers of the region since 2019.

Carol Chen was the only Singapore-based brand at the FD fashion show, which primarily featured Indonesia labels selected and presented by Gerakan Ekonomi Kreatif Nasional (GEKRAFS) or National Creative Economy Movement of the archipelago to our south. It is not clear what the relationship is between GEKRAFS and TaFF, if any, or why there was a need to ride along with the Indonesians (including, curiously, the graduates of Bina Nusantara University, a private institution in greater Jakarta, as well as those from Lasalle and Ciputra, Surabaya). How the participation of Ms Chen, an American representing our nation, jibbed with GEKRAFS’s mission is not quite clear either. Further diminishing the SG presence, Ms Chen, who identifies as “hustler, designer, adventurer”, chose to work with Malaysian stylist Cho Wee Chee and New York jewellery designer Zameer Kassam (also the creator of her engagement ring). As it was at its inception, Singapore Stories were now told abroad through others, too. Could these be the individuals that Senior Minister of State Sim Ann, in describing the forces behind Singapore Stories, called “people who all care about the advancement of Singapore fashion”? The more caring non-natives?

After her win in 2020, Carol Chen told Vogue Singapore, whose publisher Bettina von Schlippe is often identified as Ms Chen’s “mentor”, in an editorial that she would launch her “first full collection during the most iconic week in fashion“. However full it was, only 10 looks were shown in Paris—one of them incomplete, or, as it appeared, missing a top. The model’s arms were sheathed to the biceps in opera gloves, but her body from the waist up was totally bare (save two strands of sparkly necklaces), so much so that she had to cup her breast during her entire saunter on the runway. The arms with the gloves that matched the waistband of the embroidered full skirt could be a substitute for a top (or bralet?). That is a presumption. But, Ms Chen could have forgotten to bring that garment since a bare torso was not a recurring theme. One other top (gowns dominated the show)—a wide band-as-boob-cover that strapped the arms to the body—had an unfortunate identity crisis: was it a bandage that failed as a bandeau?

The modestly-numbered autumn/winter 2022 collection, titled Florescence, was purportedly inspired by Gardens by the Bay, although it was hard to tell. In Ms Chen’s own words, it “depicts a futuristic world in bloom and the hope of a brighter future as the country (SG, of course) emerges from the pandemic to blossom again” (it is not immoderate to think that Ms Chen’s popularity at TaFF is attributed to her ability to gush with such propagandist gems). By “futuristic”, it could be assumed that she was referring to the metallic fabrics used, rather than any cutting-edge representation of clothing that might provide the viewer with a glimpse into the hereafter. The bi-coastal designer (the US is still home, and to which she also dedicated the show. It is, she wrote on IG, “the country that made [her] believe anything is possible”) is partial to visual tangles that correspond with Americans’ love for bigness. Colorado-born Ms Chen grew up in Texas, and spent time in Mississippi, too. All three southern states are not exactly known as fashion states. But, Ms Chen was certain to carry the US flag in Paris, offering what could be considered American-style prom fluff—gowns that tend to inch the viewer closer to cringe.

By “futuristic”, it could be assumed that she was referring to the metallic fabrics used, rather than any cutting-edge representation of clothing that might provide the viewer with a glimpse into the hereafter

Ms Chen seemed to design with the aim of resigning the fate of her gowns to her store Covetella (“Singapore designer dress rentals”), which is, as stated on their website, “currently closed”—it is, in fact, shuttered in November 2020. If the show pieces did not generate buyer interest, she could easily put them out to renters, with or without a shop. According to a 2020 Business Times report, our island’s clothing rental/subscription business amounts to some “US$3.9 million (or about SGD5.3 million) a year”, and growing. Ms Chen is known to supplement her Covetella stocks with her own designs. In 2017, she told Forbes that “Covetella gives you the true ‘Cinderella’ experience”, presumably with the fairy godmother (Billy Porter’s Fab G?) rather than a generator of cinders. The name she chose is a conflation of covet, to have inordinate desire, and Ella, generally a woman’s name and also, perhaps intentionally, the English moniker of the latter-day telling of The Glass Slipper folk tale.

It is not imprecise to say that her own label similarly provides the fairy-godmother-spun, off-to-the-prince’s-ball fantasy: Gowns to twirl in, and attract the attention of whoever, if not the targeted suitor. A former beauty queen (‘Miss Scholastic Achievement’ at the Miss Asian American 2004 and Miss Chinatown USA in 2005, and Miss San Francisco in 2006), the 40-year-old is partial to pageant pomp—and frippery. As she often recounts to the media, it was during a trip back to Texas to visit her parents that her mother alerted the daughter to the stash of gowns (nearly 100, it has been said) that were kept: Mrs Chen wanted to get rid of them. Rather than discard her beloved dresses or relegate them to, say, Thrift Town in Austin, the fashion entrepreneur brought them back to gown-starved Singapore and Covetella was born. “A knack for the evening wear business”, as she proclaimed, no doubt aided the birth.

Although her winning the top prize of Singapore Stories may have suggested that Ms Chen was a design novice, she was, at that time, a born-again designer. In the mid-2000s, after graduating from Barnard College (Columbia University) in psychology and economics, she decided to realise a “childhood dream (she) had forgotten”: To be a fashion designer. So rather than embark on a summer business program at Stanford, where she was accepted, she enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in San Francisco (it is not known what she studied). She worked in fashion after leaving school, but found—somewhat belatedly—that the couture that she loved “isn’t very scalable”.

She then decided to start her own line: C.C. Couture, which, at its height in 2007, was, as she regaled BT in 2020, retailed through 300 doors. But that soon met with an end when the 2008/2009 economic downturn struck, a neat confluence of the bursting of the US housing bubble and the global financial crisis. (Interestingly, she did not abandoned the label. The alliterative name is now spelled out: Carol Chen Couture). C.C. Couture, as our friends in the US tell us, can still be found in discount stores. The economic gloom did not deter her. Keen to remain in the clothing industry, she went into partnership with a family friend from Texas to produce cheerleading uniforms in China. A former cheerleader herself, the business seemed sensible to go into, but the Texan soon found out that life in Donguan (东莞, an industrial city in Central Guangdong), where the factory was based and where she lived, was not one without its “challenges”.

She worked in fashion after leaving school, but found—somewhat belatedly—that the couture that she loved “isn’t very scalable”

There is a discernible linearity in Ms Chen’s professional fashion adventure, from pre-college to the present. Pageant and cheerleading fashions are for show, worn before an audience. They have to be conspicuous, if not ostentatious. She does not play down these qualities in her couture, possibly drawing from her own experience as a wearer (and collector) of such gowns. One of a kind is the best descriptor, and the kind, if not in the pageant context, falls between The Star Awards (红星大奖) and the bridal packages that can be found on Tanjong Pagar Road. Her finale gown (above) in Paris, with the puffed and elevated shoulders that were evocative of Viktor & Rolf’s recent haute couture, and swirls of fabrics sweeping the ground, has been described as “amazing”, a superlative frequently uttered in beauty contests, many a time euphemistically.

Ms Chen wrote on Instagram before her presentation, “To show at any of the Big Four Fashion Weeks would already be incredible, but to debut at (sic) Paris is something I never could have imagined.” Few of her 28.9K followers on IG would notice the possible implication of that statement. Ambiguity aside (and therein, possibly lies the problem), those unfamiliar with PFW proper may think that organisers Fashion Division was participating in the FHCM event. FD’s Paris office had to issue a memo (also shared on IG) that they were “*allowed* (asterisks included) to organise events during Paris Fashion Week, including mentioning it. (They) can’t, however, mention that (they) are part of the official schedule, but rather OFF (in full caps) schedule.” Whether that was a blow to the show’s prestige, or the participants’ pride, it is hard to conclude. It is understandable that Carol Chen was elated that her clothes enjoyed the rarefied air of Paris during PFW. The question that is more pertinent: Would she return? With Covetella now shuttered, perhaps. Or would she, like others before her, be a one-season pony?

Photos: carolchenofficial/instagram

The Previews Of Balenciaga’s Cruise 2023

Kim Kardashian is a fan of Balenciaga and a friend of Demna Gvasalia. Since August last year, she has been helping the brand and its créateur preview what would become the key look of the current Balenciaga cruise collection

All covered. (Clockwise from top left): Kim Kardashian at the Met Gala in September 2021, three days earlier, a possible sneak peak at what she was to wear, the earliest head-to-toe body suit in August 2021, and in Prada, February this year. Photos: kimkardashian/Instagram

The recent Balenciaga cruise 2023 showed how “terrifying” the world that we currently inhabit is when Demna Gvasalia sent out models with latex head/face coverings that were once associated with luchadors (Spanish for masked pro-wrestlers). Every one of them on the runway in the New York Stock Exchange had their faces completely covered (some even their eyes when sunglasses were worn) as if they were performing in a wrestling ring. While this obscuring of the face became the talking point (more than the clothes, except those from the collab with Adidas), it was not without precedence in the shifting shape of pandemic-era fashion. In fact, Kim Kardashian has been ahead of the curve. With the help of Mr Gvasalia and—no less—her ex-husband Kanye West, Ms Kardashian availed herself as model experiment to push Mr Gvasalia’s ideas of representing the world’s multi-form terror, including, possibly in fashion.

Ms Kardashian made the most news when she showed up like an apparition, all black and ghostly and faceless, at last year’s Met Gala in a Balenciaga get-up. She stole the show. No omelette dress could come close to the stark spectral showiness. Despite its news-making outcome, Ms Kardashian told Vogue in February this year that she “fought against it”. It is understandable that she would. “Why would I want to cover my face?” The reality star is known primarily for her leave-nothing-to-the-imagination outfits. This total cover-up was more extreme than what the Taliban would have expected. According to her, “Demna and the team were like, ‘This is a costume gala. This is not a Vanity Fair party where everyone looks beautiful‘.“

The reality star is known primarily for her leave-nothing-to-the-imagination outfits. This total cover-up was more extreme than what the Taliban would have expected

Her reluctance, while comprehensible, is puzzling too. In August last year, a month before the Met Gala, she shared on Instagram a photo of her in a Balenciaga all-covered look, seen at a Donda event (she even had her kids with her). Three days before her appearance on the stairs of the Met, she was out in an outfit that would turn out to be very similar to those revealed at the Balenciaga cruise show. Was she already wearing the sample pieces then? After she debuted as host on Saturday Night Live, looking upholstered, Ms Kardashian was photographed in a set of hot pink coveralls, with her face again obscured (even the heels attached to the legging are by now familiar), suggesting that breathing, for her, seemed increasingly secondary. Close to half a dozen (or more) similar outfits were noted. In the business of digital gadgets, what she did would be considered “leaks”.

Even the Balenciaga autumn/winter show, despite its visual commentary on the Russo-Ukrainian war, did not give a clue of the reflection of terror to come, or total face covering. While Mr Gvasalia is not known for the bare-skin sexiness associated with, say, LaQuan Smith, his latest proposal for Balenciaga is the total opposite of sartorial emancipation, the antithesis of free-the-nipple enthusiasm, and contradiction to the believe that women really want to show more skin and exaggerated makeup, a la Julia Fox. Or, is this a sign that Mr Gvasalia never left the sphere of irony that he built, one that could be traced to the halcyon days of Vetements? Now that covering half the face is commonly seen, is the total concealment of the head the next new normal? Balenciaga would be truly prescient then.

A Branded Wedding

Kourtney Kardashian married Travis Barker in Italy, at a lavish, “sponsored” event. A win-win for the Kardashian family and the fashion house—Dolce and Gabbana

American bride and groom in Italy: Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker, outfitted by Dolce Gabbana. Photo: kourtneykardashian/Instagram

At the Balenciaga cruise 2023 show, staged on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange last Sunday morning, one supporter/model of the house was conspicuously not present: Kim Kardashian. The SKIMS founder was MIA because she was unable to attend; she was in Italy, specifically the resort town of Portofino, to witness sister Kourtney Kardashian tie the knot with fellow Californian, the Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker. According to media reports, the wedding was to be a weekend-long affair. As expected, the paparazzi attended too (including the fashion photographer Ellen Von Unwerth), ensuring that the Kardashian-Jenner clan in attendance was well shot. For a celebratory occasion, the family members, expectedly, were bedecked to the nines, and tens. Kim Kardashian was not in a semblance of a head-to-toe bodysuit; she was her usual Instagram-worthy self: Sexy. As more photos emerged with accompanying credits, it became obvious that the wedding turned out to be a resort-wide fashion show for a single brand: Dolce and Gabbana (D&G).

Soon, talk emerged that the bride and groom’s big day was “sponsored” by the Italian label, so were the outfits of the couple’s guests. According to an opus of an “exclusive” in the Daily Mail’s digital edition, MailOnline, Dolce and Gabbana and the couple agreed to “a deal set to give millions of pounds worth of free publicity to (the) controversy-hit luxury fashion house”. D&G was embroiled in a series of scandals pertaining to their opinions, as well as their marketing exercises that, in one case, angered an entire nation: China. It is not clear if the brand’s image has been totally salvaged, even when they are still the go-to label among attention-adoring film and pop stars, and revered by journalists such as Suzy Menkes. According to a report by CNN last June, “D&G is still struggling to win back China”, and their store count in the world’s most populous nation dropped to 47 from 58 (before the fallout). But things did pick up, modestly. In March, Dolce and Gabbana opened in Shanghai’s CITIC Pacific Plaza, giving the total in China a boost by one. Jing Daily shared that by the final quarter of this year, D&G would “open new men’s, women’s, and junior stores in fashionable Chengdo”, quoting the brand’s group communication and marketing officer Fedele Usai: “The company has always carefully paid attention to the potential and demand coming from emerging areas (of China).”

It is not clear if the brand’s image has been totally salvaged, even when they are still the go-to label among attention-adoring film and pop stars

It is conceivable that the brand still needs some help, and that the Kardashian-Jenners could be crucial to D&G’s protracted rehabilitation. A D&G-branded wedding for one of the world’s most recognisable family-brands could be the genius stroke in getting the visibility of the meretricious fashion raised, further. But a spokesperson for D&G denied that any sponsorship was offered, telling Business of Fashion that the former was merely “hosting this happy event”. MailOnline said that they “can reveal that the Italian fashion house has been closely involved in organising every aspect of the lavish wedding celebrations”. Apart from outfitting the attendees of the wedding, D&G reportedly had the couple stay in a mega-yacht—the Regina d’Italia, believed to be owned by Stefano Gabbana. The entire entourage was ferried to the wedding venues in Portofino—the L’Olivetta, a villa owned by Dolce & Gabbana and the 16th-century castle Castello Brown—in luxury speedboats by the Italian yacht builder Riva. Published photographs showed the vessels furnished with D&G accessories including cushions, throws, and towels in the house’s flashy animal prints or colourful clash of patterns (think: the D&G X Smeg home appliances). On land, a pop-up store, Galleria d’Arte, offered D&G merchandise for the wedding guests needing to buy a gift or memorabilia, as well as for tourists gathering to watch the Americans-marrying-in-Italy spectacle.

At the prop-like altar, the bride wore a white mini-dress that was unambiguously corset-meets-negligee. It spoke volumes when the the dress was staggeringly shorter than the cathedral-length veil. All around and beyond, it was an orgy of Dolce & Gabbana frocks (including the matriarch Kris Jenner’s one alto moda fluff among other gaudy outfits worn throughout the celebration) and suits, including the children’s. Theme: Italian OTT. D&G’s willingness and eagerness to caparison the whole clan was consistent with the founders’ love of la famiglia and the brand’s repeated depictions of multi-generational families in their advertising. It was reported that this massive exercise was “a first for the luxury and marketing industry”. Those who follow influencers on social media would know that a sponsored wedding is not unusual, although by one brand for practically the whole shebang is less so. In a Dolce and Gabbana/Kardashian-Jenner tie-up, it is hard to discern who needed the publicity more, but there is, in our present day, no such thing as too much hoopla and attention to selves. The brand and the family needed each other, and therein we find the contrived, even crazy happy ending.

Two Of A Kind: The Sheer Black Dress

If you are proud of your body, show it, even if under a dress

Sheer power: (Left) Rihanna in Dior at the Dior show. Photo Getty Images. (Right) One of the looks at the recent Gucci cruise 2023 show. Photo: Gucci

Now that Rihanna has given birth and the sartorial baton is passed to Adriana Lima (see her appearance at the Cannes Film Festival), stomach-on-full-display is on track to be the maternity look of the pandemic era. Rihanna’s “lingerie moments”, as we know by know, have been widely lauded as “stunning” and “redefining”. If Beyonce made the naked dress acceptable on the red carpet, Rihanna was certain to affirm the naked maternity frock’s commitment to a very public existence. No wonder Alessandro Michele was quick to offer one on Gucci’s latest runway that is rather similar to the Dior dress that the star wore in Paris, even if the Italian house’s version was designed first as a sheer dress (Rihanna reportedly had the Dior’s lining ripped off) worn on a braless (not-skinny) model rather than an expectant woman. Could Gucci be targeting expectant customers now that there is no doubt how nude some are willing to go?

These days, the encouragement is dress to ‘celebrate’ the body, not to hide it, pregnant or not, slim or otherwise. Conservative attitudes towards a woman’s bare baby bulge (or any bulge) has no place in today’s society, just as Harry Styles in a dress should not have to threaten anyone. Immodest, when it comes to dressing to go out, whether pregnant or not, is preferred because every body has to be exalted. In the ’60s, American civil-rights activists wore their “Sunday best” to show that dignity is not the reserve of the non-whites and they are not by default relegated to the lowest rung of the social order. Today, the “any-day least” allow wearers to demonstrate that the skimpiest clothes need not be just for the pool or beach, and less so for the confines of a bedroom. And baring is really not restricted to exotic dancers.

Conservative attitudes towards a woman’s bare baby bulge (or any bulge) has no place in today’s society, just as Harry Styles in a dress should not have to threaten anyone

Demi Moore on the cover of Vanity Fair in 1991, if you remember, stripped away all the pre-natal dress conservatism that the Victorians left behind since the 19th century. Sure, we had many women wear clothes that hinted at nudity since the Sixties, but those in diaphanous dresses that substantially show the body are mostly latter-day individuals with specific interest (obsession?). The easy shift to near nudity has been attributed to the need to show individuality, boost confidence, embrace empowerment, gain attention, express sexuality, and simply because they can. On our shores, the weather. Could it also be because it is still provocative, and provocation is fun—let you see, but not touch? Gucci’s sheer black number was simply answering to today’s needs.

In both cases, the naked dresses—an oxymoron if you think about it—have fabrics acting merely as a sort veil for the body. Like the silk screens Empress Cixi sat behind from, where she ruled in the 19th century, these dividers are not there to conceal the wearer or make them inscrutable (are women today as manipulative?). They are there for a peekaboo effect. Tease is very much a part of modern fashion’s commitment to overt shame-free self-expression. Even the retired Victoria’s Secret Angels were more modestly attired. Trenchant media support for Rihanna’s near-nude maternity style and Emily Ratajkowski’s unconcealing every-day wear would only boost Gucci’s desire to send other sheer black dresses down the runway. There would be more to come.

Practically Nothing

If little is worn and clothes matter not, is there fashion? Or, will we have another word?

Julia Fox in Alexander Wang out grocery shopping. Photo: Rachpoot.com/Splashnews.com

We call ourselves a fashion blog. But more and more there is treasured little left to write. Fashion is reduced to a veritable nothing. Increasingly, there is more skin shown by wearers than cloth. Fabrics are inconveniences, hindrances, barriers, and, if their use necessary, too opaque. Little bits are a lot simpler. Pasties are easier to design and produce than brassieres! A narrow bandage has more potential than a full-form bandeau. Once-upon-a-time-private parts are no longer completely undisclosed. Free the nipple is very near reality. In fact, if what are worn by many well-followed stars are to be noted, clothing as we know it—with the fundamental purpose of covering (which is sounding oddly dated)—would no longer have a future, or, if we were to be more hopeful, a dim one.

A recent photo of Julia Fox—in head-to-toe Alexander Wang from his recent autumn/winter 2022 presentation—shared online truly made us realise that there is nothing we can say about her clothes: She was not wearing much; she was basically in underwear. Is this fashion? Or, has fashion come to this? Her fans would say she was not entirely nude (she has, of course, worn a lot less). There was the denim blazer, but was that even a jacket worth talking about? Or should we compliment how destructed and crappy it looked? Or that she was carrying a beautiful jurse (jeans-as-purse!)? Ms Fox has, of course, mostly dressed (admittedly, a poor choice of word) like that since she came to public attention for her brief, for-all-to-see affair with Kanye West. And that’s the daunting and unnerving prospect: the near-nudity is here to stay.

As one fashion designer told us when we showed him Ms Fox’s photo, “I am thinking, since so many pop and film stars are flashing themselves for the world, they have, naturally, created a new normal. The public, who looks up to them, will think, if their favorite stars can do it, so can they.” But the question is still unanswered: Is it fashion? The designer replied indignantly, “Of course not, not to me. It is purely styling; it is not Gaultier doing innerwear as outerwear!” A follower of SOTD, who formerly worked for a luxury brand, agreed. She said, “It’s just ludicrous and I think these women wear such rubbish on purpose to get attention. It’s really looney bins and not fashion at all—their own invention of fashion and the press lapped it up.”

“It is purely styling; it is not Gautier doing innerwear as outerwear!”

We have, indeed, been wondering, too: Has the media encouraged this stripping (not merely revealing)? For every star baring herself—from Doja Cat in gold pasties under mere chiffon at the Billboard Music Awards two days ago to Kim K in nude bra and panty for Sports Illustrated’s current swimsuit issue—the press gleefully say they “rock” or—our extreme peeve—“stun”. If readers needed to be told that a certain actress or singer in close to nothing astounds, they already know she is not predisposed to, without the without. She needs the costume of a stripper. In fact, when she “stuns”, there’s a good chance she is as bare-skinned or as bare-breasted as it is legally possible. And that she is satisfying her (insatiable?) hunger for attention than fashion. Why would a lover of clothes not wear them?

The press not negating the lewdness once associated with strip clubs is operating within present-day necessity: The imperative embrace of inclusivity, now considered conducting oneself in a conscionable manner. Julia Fox in a narrow strip of fabric across her chest must be accorded equal opportunity to raves as Thilda Swinton in Haider Ackermann, if not more. Inclusivity is so compulsory in the business of fashion, as well as among adopters of fashion, that the unattired can be free of disapproval. Criticism is unacceptable because it would be shaming. We can’t say Ms Fox isn’t dressed for she can, as we are often reminded, wear whatever she wants, or omit. All women can, including the expectant. There is so little to say about what is worn these days since hardly any is; it’s no wonder more columns go to sneakers or meta-clothes.

To be certain, we are no prudes. Scanty dress as desirable dress is so omnipresent that anything that does not, in fact, amount to a dress is hardly terribleness of epic proportion. One fashion writer told us, “Nudity, in a post-OnlyFans world, is not sin, it’s just skin. Skimpy clothes is the future. Designers now need to go to school to learn how to make barely-clothes, but we may have soon another word for ‘fashion’. How about unfashion?” Come to think of it, un is a prefix of profound relevance. It’s skimpy too! Just two letters, yet with such descriptive power. So much of fashion today can be described with the simple un and so effectively: unattired, unclothed, undressed, unclad, uncover, unravel, untie, unline, unfuse unzip, unpick, unpin, untack, unsew, unseam, unseemly, unsuited, unfixed, unveiled, unfolded, unfurled, unrolled, untidy, and, of course, underwear and undies. Oh, for sure, unlovely and, definitely, underwhelming.

And This Is Miu Miu?

Rihanna does not need to mimick no runway look. She can, as we have been repeatedly told, wear anything she wants, however she desires, modest or not—mostly not

Rihanna, out for the night, scantily clad, again. Photo: Backgrid

In the duration of her internationally-viewed-and-followed pregnancy, Robyn Rihanna Fenty has exposed more of her body than the average expectant woman. But Ms Fenty, as we have been made aware, is not an average woman or mother-to-be. So whatever she has worn (or not) isn’t standard either, or maternity wear. Her visible stomach is the focal point of most of her outfits, from the first trimester to the present. The outers, if worn, do not provide cover either. Even if you follow the growth of her baby bump, it may not mean it grows on you. Not many women are comfortable putting their enceinte body in near-full display. Ms Fenty has not only been at ease; she has been eager too. And that, for many COVID-era societies of the West, is admirable, if not exactly imitable.

Such as the above look she adopted two days ago when she went out with A$AP Rocky to have dinner at their favourite restaurant, Giorgio Baldi, in Santa Monica. On social media, so many said she looked “wonderful” or “beautiful”, but no one said they wanted to dress like her. At a glance, it should have been an immediately recognisable ensemble, but Ms Fenty has taken considerable liberties with it and a double take would possibly be necessary to identify the brand. She would not wear something as it was intended (to begin with, she picked regular RTW pieces, nothing, as she vowed, from the “maternity aisle”). So this Miu Miu two-piece, part of the current spring/summer collection that is much loved, was given a Rihanna remake (she is, after all, a fashion designer!): The skirt was lobbed off to shorten it. And she dispensed with Miu Miu inner wear for—presumably—her own Fenty undies. The genius here is making Miu Miu as un-Miu Miu as possible.

Adut Akech on the runway in the same Miu Miu outfit for spring/summer 2022. Photo: Gorurway

Media reports were all raves and more raves: “Rihanna Bra & Skirt Set… Deserves All The Fire Emojis”, “Stuns In See-Through Set”, and our favourite—from Vogue—“One For The Record Books”. Some choice words excited journalists used included “glamorous”, “inspiring”, “incredible”, “style-forward”, “effortless”. The beauty of all this worship is that the goddess is, fashion-wise, faultless. Even if there was discernible wardrobe malfunction. Fans and journalists alike noticed her body glitter, her tattoos, even the linea nigra, but no one mentioned one exposure: In some photographs of her in the silvery crystal mesh top (and matching customised-to-be-mini skirt), part of her left nipple could be seen above the top edge of her brassiere that appeared to have slipped down on that side (it isn’t known why her bra was so loose). Or was that insouciant slide part of what Vogue euphemistically called the “risqué look”?

Just because the Miu Miu set appeared fetching on the model (in this case, Adut Akech), on the runway, it does not automatically mean the outfit would look good on the rest of us. Ms Fenty is, of course, a determined woman. Not to be told what maternity clothes are, or not, she is happy to break all rules (is there any rule in her rule book?) and go the opposite way by not covering a—not just the—large part of her body. It is possible that she was emboldened by the frequent rhapsodising of the press and social media. The more she revealed, the more she was lauded and encouraged. The reciprocal flaunts even gained her a Vogue cover. There was really no need to hold back. It is said that Rihanna’s pregnancy is important to expectant women—she empowers them, to the extent that she needs to be immortalised with a marble statue of her pregnant self sitting in the Metropolitan Museum of New York, among priceless antiquities of stone. If any pregnancy can be this powerful—and political?—and public, it would be Rihanna’s.

Gilded, Filtered, Twisted

As usual, attendees of the latest Met Gala stayed away from the theme as far as possible, or as abstrusely. From Gwen Stefani’s fluorescent pouf to Katy Perry’s black-swathe-on-white-mini-skirt, most were rather off the track, er, carpet. And the most anticipated guest came unexpectedly understated

Officially a couple, Pete Davidson and Kim Kardashian. Photo: AP News

It has often been said: All that glitter is not necessarily gold. Similarly, all that is gilded is not necessarily glamour. Sure, the Met Gala, specifically the show that is the red carpet, will have you believe that this year’s theme, Gilded Glamour, will be a showcase of stars all aureate and alluring, and not one bit absurd. Fashion and prosperity are all there for the green of envy to overshadow the gold of excess. Ironically, this abundance was not truly the case back during The Gilded Age (approximately 1870—1900), from which the Met derived this year’s theme. Historians will concur that The Gilded Age, from Mark Twain’s 1873 book The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today (co-written with Charles Dudley Warner), was used to disparage a time that was largely two sided: materialistic excesses on one and extreme poverty on the other. The Met Gala red carpet flaunt, of course, has never been a live history lesson.

According to Vogue, “Guests will be serving up their theatrical takes on white-tie dressing”. Theatrical is the operative word, but this year, the curtain was not fully raised, and the drama was not altogether fleshed out. Some even looked like stage hands enjoying the kindness of the costumer. “White-tie” really only applied to the men. The “fashion bible” quoted Anna Wintour saying, “What’s wonderful about the Met is that people feel very fearless.” Yet, Ms Wintour herself is, as usual, not quite the intrepid one. As the mastermind of this theatre, she appeared more like a wealthy patron on opening night than its marquee star. Or, rousing rebel. She is, of course, never a fashion radical, seeking safety in the deeply familiar—Chanel couture, and, this year, in a silhouette/look very identical to what she wore back in 2019. Still, attendees must abide by her bidding: set the scene, theatrically. As Ciara said later, “If you are not doing drama, why are you at the Met?”

References to the theatre aside, the Met Gala has more to do with films. Movie stars were also the more visible ones. The Met Gala is often referred to as the Oscars of fashion, and perhaps they aim to be. The presentation opened with host, former MTV VJ La La Anthony (in a body wrap of a LaQuan Smith dress and a ridiculous and distracting hat), speaking to the cast of the film Elvis. No one spoke at length about fashion or the theme of the night, instead they plugged the movie. So did Venus Williams, who wore a Chloe pantsuit and spoke about King Richard, the film based on her family, which won one public slapper an Academy Award. But there was no stage here and none of the evening’s hosts cracked a semblance of a joke. The evening was very safe, in more ways than one.

Quick Change

Blake Lively in two looks, Photos: Getty Images

Vogue says, “There’s a reason why Blake Lively is one of the Met Gala’s co-hosts this year. She never fails to wow on the red carpet.” And also why she keeps getting asked to come back. Ms Lively is no Tilda Swinton, and her “wow” attracts less fashion folks than those shopping for a prom dress. Yet, she has been the embodiment of the dressed-up Met turn-out. This year, she bettered herself with a change of look that simply involved the (assisted) releasing of a massive bow affixed to her hip. The Versace Atelier dress, inspired by the architecture of New York and engineering feat, the Statue of Liberty, as Ms Lively said, went from mostly copper bling to the bluish-green that the metal becomes when oxidation strikes, at a mere unfurling of that bow. Despite the quick-change finesse, modernity, as usual, escaped her.

Jordan Roth in two looks. Photos: Getty Images

But Blake Lively would be outdone. Theatre producer Jordan Roth may not be really known on our red dot, but after this Met Gala, he may be well remembered. Mr Roth, who has appeared mostly on-theme in past Met Galas, showed up in a Gothic Thom Browne construct: On top, a quirky black coat that appeared to be made to resemble a misshapen stereo speaker, complete with what could be the cone and diaphragm! At one point, he allowed the tented outer to slip down his lithe body, and it became a floor-length skirt. Then he stepped out of it, and that top-turned-bottom just sat there, waiting for the wearer’s re-entry! Was it a decompression chamber of sort as well?

Gold Slips

Golden girls. Khloe Kardashian, Kim Kardashian, and Sara Sampaio. Photos: Shutterstock, Getty Images, and Shutterstock respectively

Frankly, Kim Kardashian’s appearance—she was the last to hit the red carpet—was a much-larger-than-anyone’s-dress disappointment. After last year’s face-and-body-obscuring, red-carpet-negating anti-fashion of Balenciaga’s making, her subtle gold slip was not quite the daring we associate with her. Donning the Jean-Louis dress that Marilyn Monroe wore to sing Happy Birthday to President John F. Kennedy in 1962 was not a major reveal either, since the press had already reported, three days ago, that she spied the piece at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! museum in Orlando, Florida. And was determined to wear it, so much so that she revealed on the red carpet to La La Anthony that she had to lose 16 pounds (or 7.25kg) by totally avoiding sugar and carbs to get into it. Excited fans called it an “iconic” dress. On Ms Monroe at that time, it was; on the SKIMS creator for the duration she was on the red carpet, it wasn’t.

Curiously, sister Khloe Kardashian, a Met Gala first-timer (“following years of snubs”), wore a gold Moschino dress that looked similar to the elder sibling’s. And just as sheer. It is not known if the sisters (all of them, including the matriarch Kris Jenner, were there) discussed earlier what would be worn, but it was revealed that the ex-Mrs West was ensconced in a “secret” dressing room, even when, by then, her dress was not so hush-hush anymore. On the same beat, too, was the Portuguese model Sara Sampaio, in a slinky Michael Kors, with cut-outs to reveal her taut waist, making the Kardashian sisters look unnaturally and uncharacteristically conservative.

Brighter Brights

The bright brigade: Sebastian Stan, Gwen Stefani, Kiki Layne. Photos: Getty Images

It is hard to link neon with the gilded, but there it was—a blindingly bright green. It is not, however, J Balvin’s hair we are referring to, but the two-piece gown Gwen Stefani chose. A Vera Wang creation, it came with a cautiously shaped bra-top, as if to prevent the insecurity that afflicted Nicki Minaj. If there was one colour that kept popping up through the night, it was hot pink: SZA in Vivienne Westwood, actresses Kiki Layne and Ashley Park in Prabal Gurung, model Anok Yai in Michael Kors, and the many more Anna Wintour would no doubt know. But it was the Valentino pink of the brand’s recent season that appeared repetitive: Sebastian Stan (white tie, really?), Jenna Ortega (with leggings!), Glenn Close (escorted by Pierpaolo Piccioli), and Nicola Peltz (escorted by her husband Brooklyn Beckham). Fortunately, the Met decorators did not go with a fuchsia carpet this year.

Wedding Whites

Walking down the aisle or red carpet? Kylie Jenner, Miranda Kerr, Emma Stone. Photos: Getty Images

It’s always baffling when women appearing on a red carpet would want to look like a bride. Or, in the case of Emma Stone, a bridesmaid or flower girl. Ms Stone is often quite a red carpet eye candy, even if she is not usually a standout. But this time, afraid of outshining the brides (how did she know there would be at least one?), she chose a bland Louis Vuitton slip. Because conspicuous had to be Kylie Jenner? The cosmetic mogul wore her friend, the late Virgil Abloh’s work for Off-White: a bridal number with a bustier-dress over a sheer T-shirt. Really. Perhaps this was a bride off to a Calabasas wedding? And what about Miranda Kerr? Her Oscar de la Renta princess-bride dress was all audition-ready for the next Disney movie.

Falling Bustiers

Nicki Minaj and Nicole Peltz Beckham. Photos: Shutterstock

They did not amount to a wardrobe malfunction (at least not on the red carpet), but they looked uncomfortable, and they made for uncomfortable viewing. Nicki Minaj’s boobs appeared so very on the verge of popping out with every pose, at every turn that it was a wonder she had not screamed by the time she reached the top of the stairs. She revealed to La La Anthony that the reason she had to yank her Burberry dress up was “because they made the cup size a little too small”. Even that massive belt, presumably to keep the bodice up, was of no help. No idea why, even with the fact of the misfortune, she would not find something else to wear. Nicole Peltz was moderately better off. The newly-minted Mrs Beckham had on a sheer Valentino dress, with a scooped bustier neckline that was similar to model Quannah Chasinghorse’s by the largely jewellery-focused Antelope Women Designs. Although the former stayed more or less in place, it looked threateningly collapsible. Unsurprising that she clung on to her husband Brooklyn. Might she have worn a safer dress if her mother-in-law made it?

Heads Wrapped

Janelle Monae, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Precious Lee, Lily Aldridge. Photos: Getty Images

Just in case someone cracked an ill-placed GI Jane joke? Or was the air-conditioning in the museum too strong? The choice to have the head wrapped is an odd one. Both Janelle Monae and Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, in Ralph Lauren and Moschino respectively, wore rather similar-looking gowns, with halter necks and fitted, decorated hoods. Hard to say if they were inspired by synchronised swimmers or Joan of Arc. Interestingly, Ms Monae, while choosing to conceal her hair, did not hide her underarm tuft, confirming that such exposure is a very real trend, on the red carpet too. She confidently described her look as “gilded glamour from the future”. Precious Lee, in Althuzara, was on the contrary, more of the present; she did, in fact, look like the minute she ditched the sheer frock, she’d join a swim team. And then there was Lily Aldridge, dressed by her friend Cate Holstein of the “classic American sportswear” brand Khaite. Ms Aldridge sported a crystal embellished babushka to match her dress-and-train. Whether that was a statement pertaining to women of a certain nation at war with a neighbour, it was hard to say.

Oh, No!

Their own thing. (Clockwise from top left): Tommy Dorfman, Conan Gray, Odell Beckham Jr., Joe Jonas, Evan Mock, Cara Delevingne. Photos: Getty Images

It is never easy to guess why people choose to wear what they wear. After all, fashion consumers are encouraged to dress as they please, sans constraints personal or societal. So, we won’t start a worst-dresses list. Still, it has to be said that it’s ridiculous to wear a massive, floor-length puffer coat to a gala, as Gigi Hadid, in Versace, did, but is it not even worse to go rather topless to an event that celebrates clothes? Cara Delevingne wore something we can’t quite make out: did she even have anything on, other than body paint and large pasties, and the surprisingly modest Dior pants? Those who did not dare bare that much, chose cut-outs, such as Tommy Dorfman’s Christopher Kane dress with a bodice full of holes. And if you must feel cloth on your skin, but the nipples must not be completely obscured, perhaps Conan Gray, in a Valentino shirt-and-cape, had something going for him? Did he and Ms Hadid receive the same invite?

It is understandable that sports people want the ultimate comfort in what they wear to the point that even on the red carpet, they can’t part with what’s familiar to them. American footballer Odell Beckham Jr brought field side to museum steps in a Cactus Plant Flea Market velvet hoodie, made more expensive-looking with massive amount of jewellery. Joe Jonas, brother of Nick, pinched some poor bride’s (another one?) lace veil to lengthen his cropped Louis Vuitton jacket, leaving him looking neither bride nor groom. The most curious of the night is a suit of very un-evening persuasion. Model/actor/skateboarder Evan Mock wore one by Head of State. It has a cropped jacket with a scooped front that ended in the middle, above the crotch, shaped like a stomacher. Perhaps, he and Gigi Hadid received the same invite. Both of them had that torso-lengthening extension.

Fashion First

Standouts (clockwise from top left): Isabelle Boemeke, Renate Reinsve, Louisa Jacobson, Emma Chamberlain, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Christine Baranski. Photos: Getty Images

Thankfully there were those who tried harder. And they were the proverbial palate-cleansers. Brazilian model Isabelle Boemeke wore a delightful Noir Kei Ninomiya gilet and dress that were equal parts hardcore Goth and romantic flou. Norwegian actress Renate Reinsve looked statuesque in a cropped Louis Vuitton top that could have been a pair of soften cathedral roofs draped over her shoulders. Star of HBO’s The Gilded Age Louisa Jacobson (an ideal invitee?), in Schiaparelli Couture, redefined the mermaid gown with one that was sheer and with the tail of tulle cropped to the level of her shin. Also redefining the ages—Gilded?—was Emma Chamberlain in a very cropped Miu Miu-esque cream Louis Vuitton jacket and a clean-lined white skirt.

Taking a more androgenous route was Christine Baranski in Thom Browne. Under her sequinned caped-jacket was a white corset-shirt that possibility tempered the sum effect of what could have been a tad too masculine, too white-tie. Conversely, the most bo chap (don’t care) look, but with incredible attitude was Aussie actor Kodi Smit-McPhee’s Bottega Veneta white shirt-and ‘jeans’ (in leather!) combo that saluted the influential American style invention Casual Friday. But something extra did not: Red opera gloves! Now, there is there a touch of glamour, even if not gilded.

Update (4 May 2022, 9.20am): As it turned out, Emma Stone actually wore something from her own wedding! According to Louis Vuitton, the house “specially designed (the dress) for her wedding after-party”

This Sweatpants Had A Korean DJ “Kicked Off” A Flight

Even when no skin of her abdominal or limps were revealed. But the bottom she wore was considered by the airline to be “offensive”

Warning: This post contains image and words that some viewers may find offensive

South Korean disc jockey and music-maker Deejay Soda shared on Instagram, two days ago, with 4.3 million of her followers (in two separate posts) that she was booted out of a flight from New York to Los Angeles. She wrote—not quite effervescently—in English (as well as Korean) that American Airlines “kicked (her) off the flight and harassed (her) to take off (her) sponsored @RIPNDIP ‘F**K YOU’ sweatpants in front of people to board again.” The DJ, whose passport registered Hwang So-hee, is currently in the US on part of her coast-to-coast Starlight Tour. According to her, the airline staff told her that the free sweatpants she wore were “inappropriate“ and “offensive”. At some point, she stood “half-naked” in the presence of others.

As she said, the bottom in question was sponsored by Ripndip, an Orlando-born skate brand, available here at Well Bred. In black cotton, the S$125 sweatpants has a white, all-over print of basically two words: “fuck you” in full caps, with a foxy feline-looking creature peeking out of some of the ‘O’s. While the bottom was sponsored, it isn’t known if she was given that particular pair to wear or if she chose it. Nor do we know if she was required to wear it onboard as part of the deal or if it was entirely her choice. Ms Hwang was in fact rather covered up, sporting the brand’s black ‘Nebulan’ hooded coach jacket under a similarly coloured T-shirt. On her feet were black-and-white Nike Jordan 1 High. This look contrasted dramatically with Ms Hwang’s usual style, as seen on IG and her new music video Cold. Sexy is truly the best, even if inadequate, word to describe her style. Only Siew Pui Yi (aka Ms Puiyi) wears moderately less.

Korean disc jockey Deejay Soda. Photo: deejaysoda/Instagram

If what the the 36-year-old DJ claimed really happened, American Airlines has considerable explaining to do. Even if Ms Hwang’s choice of trousers is “offensive”, is making her “take off (her) pants in front of the whole crew and standing half-naked” while refusing to board her, if true, not “offensive” too (some of her supporters called it “abusive”)? It is, of course, odd that in the US, where free speech is so important and anyone can say anything, including the profanity-as-repeated-pattern on Ms Hwang’s pants, having them printed on one’s garment is more abhorrent than coming out of one’s mouth. Conversely, was the passenger, even with a business class seat that she was sure to note, not aware that what she wore could be objectionable? It was not just two words; they were repeated many times. Or, was she on the same page as Whoopi Goldberg, who wrote in her book Is It Just Me? Or Is It Nuts Out There?: “I would love to teach every kid to say ‘fuck’. That is a word that doesn’t have any effect. But ‘stupid’ and ‘dummy’?”

American Airline may disagree with her on that. According to their Condition of Carriage, the simple term of “bare feet or offensive clothing aren’t allowed” is stipulated. It does not, however, say what makes clothing offensive. But its staff, in making the DJ strip, spoke volumes. Would Ms Hwang’s usual boob-accentuating tops be considered incompatible with the American Airlines’ rules? We do not know. Nor, why Deejay Soda chose, assuming she did, that particular sweatpants. It might work in the dimness of her show venues, but in an airport and an aircraft, would it not draw unwarranted attention and annoy those for whom such blatant display of insouciant insolence is totally repugnant? One thing Whoopie Goldberg wrote is not wrong: It’s nuts out there.

Update (29 April 2022, 09:10): In a statement issued to the media, American Airlines wrote: “During the boarding process for American Airlines Flight 306 at John F. Kennedy International Airport, our team members informed Ms. So-hee of our policies and provided her the opportunity to change out of clothing displaying explicit language. The customer complied with requests and was allowed to continue travel, as planned, to Los Angeles International Airport”. They did not address Ms Hwang’s allegation of harassment

Product photo: Ripndip. Illustration: Just So

Shirtless Under A Suit: The Timothée Chalamet Effect

Mediacorp stars know an imitable styling idea when they see one. Applause?

Just a suit: (from left) Jarrell Huang, Desmond Tan, and Chung Kun Wah. Photos: #红星大奖2022/Instagram

By Lester Fang

It is hard to be the first. I mean to be a trend-setter. On the red carpet. At the Stars Awards. Okay, I am not going to censure what they wore last Sunday, but it is hard not to notice (or turn a blind eye to?) the trends that the clueless hosts pointed out or the fans of Mediacorp stars said they could make out. Most obvious among the guys, if you did not already detect, was going shirtless under a suit. That was so distinctly Timothée Chalamet at the Oscars last month that my first reaction—and second and third—was, “oh, no!” Could this be the reason why the annual Star Awards takes place after the Academy Awards—so that Mediacorp’s big and not-so-big names could get some sartorial ideas for their red carpet?

Local stars looking at what their Hollywood counterparts wear on the red carpet are like regular folks looking to influencers on social media to conduct their otherwise mundane lives: It happens. I am not sure, to be honest, how fashion-aware our TV stars really are (how did Elvin Ng [黄俊雄] go from last year’s Alexander McQueen to this year’s Versace is really beyond me). Or, how much they admire the style of Hollywood superstars that they feel confident enough to emulate them. Variety Tweeted shortly after the Oscars presentation, “no shirt, no problem, if your are Timothée Chalamet”. We are all aware there is no equivalent in Medicorp. There should not even be.

However, there they were: Baring their chest as Mr Chalamet did, but, reversely, in white. So excited with the prospect of seeing the barely exposed torso of everyone’s favourite actor and Bioskin Most Charismatic Artist awardee Desmond Tan (陈泂江)—shirtless under the Alexander McQueen neo-redingote with zips in front and the rear, where darts would normally be—that the highly excitable, rapid-talking co-host Seow Sin Nee (萧歆霓) squealed in delight: “我觉得你最吸引的大概是你的腹肌… 我看到了 (I feel that your most attractive [part] is probably your abdominal muscles… I see it)!” Whatever she did see, she was so gleefully pleased, it was as if she won a lottery. Unlike Mr Chalamet, Mr Tan was strategically buttoned up!

So were the other two shirtless ones: singer/songwriter Jarrell Huang (黄俊融) in a Q Menswear double-breasted, completed buttoned, and Yes 933 DJ Kenneth Chung (钟坤华) in one unnecessarily belted. They were not only covered, they were securely covered. They were in white too, as if the “colour of purity” could temper any suggestion of unwanted sexual inducement. This was, after all, family entertainment! And all of them had something in common too. Or, in common with Mr Chalamet: jewellery for the neck and sternum. Yes, if you follow suit (oops!), do so right down to the accessories. In the past, wearing a T-shirt under a blazer, as Xu Bin (徐彬) and Brandon Wong (黄炯耀) did, was considered too casual, even disrespectful. But last Sunday, just that simple extra layer was, for some, way too much.