Can the little red dot stand shoulder to shoulder with the little black dress? A native islander and friends look at fashion (and such) in Singapore, and, occasionally, among her neighbours, and a little further afield
It takes a certain woman to wear Celine. She must be of a certain age (young, of course), have a certain height (tall, of course), a certain weight (thin, of course). And a certain insouciance (haughty, of course). If that’s not particularly inclusive, that’s because it is not. Hedi Slimane has a very specific woman in mind for Celine. That’s why in the show credits of the autumn/winter 2022 collection, it is clearly stated that it’s Mr Slimane who casted the production (and did almost everything, including the directing and filming). That is why he very specifically chose the pride of Thailand, Lisa (born as Pranpriya) Manobal of Blackpink, pictured above, as his purported muse (her second video-runway presentation for the house). Ms Manobal, of Swiss and Thai parentage, is 25 years old, 1.67 metres tall, and weighs about 45 kilograms. With a look that is part sexy, part schoolgirlish, and part ingénue, she is perfect. A native of the Isan province of Buriram, Ms Manobal is now the face of Parisian street-style cool, starring in Celine’s current ad campaign, Portrait of a Musician.
Mr Slimane, as it is popularly known, has a thing for singers and songwriters. This season, he has specially commissioned (and even co-produced) for his stubbornly still filmic runway, a track, Byron is Dead, by the American indie hipster-rocker Leah Hennessy, performing as Hennessy, her New York band. The song is a catwalk-as-disco extension (spin-off?) of their charming and infectious and immensely likeable dance-punk cover of The Waterboy’s We will not be Lovers (from the 1988 album Fisherman’s Blues), which purportedly first drew Mr Slimane to the alt-leaning artiste, looking somewhat Byron-esque in the MV of that single. It is admittedly a delicious pairing—the electro-moody pulse-thrust contrasts with the first venue, the 18th century interior of Hôtel de la Marine in Place de la Concorde of the French capital (designed by the same man behind Versailles’ Le Petit Trianon, Ange-Jacques Gabriel) and beats suitably in the “architectural pavilion”, as Celine describes, of the second that Mr Slimane has designed on the grounds of Hôtel des Invalides. It is doubtlessly a controlled affair, based on the exact obsessions of one man.
Mr Slimane told Vogue in 2020 how crucial music is to the clothes: “I just immediately recognise the sound that reflects the character I want to depict in a show and that could give a rhythm for a specific allure and walk for the models,” adding, “the soundtrack and cast are what define the styling, its degree of credibility, its authenticity. What you hear and what you see are all part of one thing, one world as a whole.” It is, of course, Mr Slimane’s world, his whole—an aggregate comprising everyday staples that have been raved by fans as “elevated” (the hoodie now an elliptical dress?). This has always been his approach, but whether anything is raised to a higher level is not always discernible. It is as if he plays the wardrobe master on tour with a rock musician. Mr Slimane does not design the way, say, Glenn Martens does. He has a keen affinity to ‘looks’ of the past and recreates them with the vernacular of today, born on the streets of Paris. There is always a vintage-y vibe. As one fashion journalist told us, “give me a few hours in Chatuchak, and I’ll be able to style a collection like that!”
Called Dans Paris (in Paris), the collection purportedly harks back to Celine’s roots. But it has less to do with the decade of its founding (in the ’40s) than the years of its heydays (in the ’60s and ’70s). Turtlenecks are the base for many of the ensembles, worn with thick chain-link necklace, under tops/outers that would be familiar among work-wear aficionados. Jackets are either oversized and slouchy, or boxy and cropped. Denim jeans of a lighter wash are prominent, with their stitched/laundered/unstitched hem. So too are slim-fitting skirts of varying lengths that suggest either secretarial sleek or party-girl scantiness. Leather this or that are aplenty too. Hedi Slimane’s Celine is the go-to label when women need something considered “dressed up” and the compulsory cool, whether a night with the BFFs or impressions-are-important dates. The dress with a ruffled top, the side-boob-revealing halterneck blouse, the long sheath with cutouts at the waist and the slit in the middle—and others—attest the truth of that observation. These are feel-good clothes for a good-time out. And the times are back.
A bottle of whiskey in hand may be sexy to many, but Blackpink’s holding of a Chivas Regal is not welcome in thehomeoftomyam goong
This image of Lisa with a bottle in her hand (as well as others) is not welcome in Thailand. The Blackpink member in her latest advertising coup with the Scotch whiskey Chivas Regal is disallowed in the country of her birth, to the extent that circulating the said photographs on social media by fans is an offence too. Alcohol advertising is banned in Thailand, across all media, despite the country’s very own successful alcohol industry. Local news reports have been reminding would-be violators that the penalty is a fine of up to 500,000 baht (approximately S$20,260) or a year in jail, or both. Critics of the hefty punishment imposed pointed out that traffic offenders are fined no more than 1,000 baht (or about S$40). Perhaps this explains why the Chivas Regal images do not appear on Lisa’s Instagram page.
According to a Bangkok Post headline from last week, the Thai “govt warns against sharing Lisa Blackpink’s whiskey ads” (the photo used for the story was picked from the singer’s Facebook account). In addition, “the Office of the Alcohol Control Committee is considering action against people who post and share images of Blackpink superstar Lisa Manoban promoting a brand of whiskey”. They did not identify the brand. The director of this committee was assigned by the Department of Disease Control—under the Ministry of Public Health—to “investigate anyone who propagates the forbidden images on social media”. The rapper is expected back in Thailand this week, after being away for close to three years, to visit her family and to spend her birthday (she turns 25) at home. Is the authorities’ warning a reaction to her homecoming and the possible frenzy that would result? K-pop stars endorsing alcohol is not new. In fact, fellow Blackpink singer Jennie is promoting the Korean brand Chum-Churum. There is no warning by the Office of the Alcohol Control Committee of the punishment that would be meted out to Thais sharing images of Jennie holding a (much smaller) bottle of soju.
Lisa (aka Lalisa Manoban [officially spelled Manobal]) is Thai. She was born in the province of Buriram, some 300 kilometres northeast of Bangkok, that was once part of the Khmer empire. Some observers feel that she was singled out as she still holds the That passport. Local media often call her a “homegrown superstar” although she was trained in South Korea under YG Entertainment since the age of 13 and is now based in Seoul as she pursued her unstoppable entertainment career. When she was accepted at the label, she was their first non-ethnically Korean trainee. Blackpink debuted in 2016, and the band’s rise was nothing short of meteoric. She is now a solo act too, with a single Lalisa (her Thai name) launched last September, garnering more than 450 million views on YouTube to date, even when the critics’ reviews were, at best, mixed.
The Chivas Regal pair-up made Ms Manobal the whiskey brand’s “first female ambassador in Asia”. It is not known why she accepted the ambassadorship or if she was, at that time, aware of the implication that would bear out in her home country. She claims to like whiskey (calling herself a “whiskey fan” in relation to her Chivas Regal work), but she has not mention before a fondness for Thai ‘whiskey’ such as SangSom, which is popular in Buriram. While this may be her first alcohol endorsement, Ms Manobal isn’t unknown for her paid association with fashion brands. In 2020, she was singled out by the house of Celine, where she was purported to be Hedi Slimane’s muse. She soon became their “global ambassador”, and was recently photographed by Mr Slimane for the spring/summer (March 2022) issue of Pop magazine, sans lao wiski. Adoring Thai fans have that to share freely, and legally. โชคดีค่ะ
Orbituary | The American writer was, at age 80, a style icon, thanks to Phoebe Philo
Joan Didion as model for a Céline advertisement in 2015. Photo: Céline
In reports bursting all over the Net like opened Christmas presents, we learned that Joan Didion, the high priestess of American “New Journalism” and literature, and a former Vogue writer, has died. Her publisher Knopf said in a statement that the cause of death was Parkinson’s disease, a brain disorder that often sees sufferers shaking or walking with difficulty. Ms Didion passed away at aged 87 (as did Coco Chanel), in her home in Manhattan, New York. It is not known how long the disease ailed her. Regular readers of her work would know that Ms Didion had a nervous breakdown in the summer of 1968, as she recounted in The White Album. Consultation with a psychiatrist revealed that she was ill with vertigo and nausea, and multiple sclerosis. She was also suffering from migraine—so frequently and so badly that she was inclined to write about it. “Three, four, sometimes five times a month,” she described in the 1968 essay In Bed (also published in The White Album), “I spend the day in bed with a migraine headache, insensible to the world around me.”
But the world did make sense of her. Or, many women of the ’60s and ’70s did. Unafraid to express what was in her mind, Joan Didion spoke for her peers—hippies, liberals, English majors, especially would-be writers. She was born in 1934 in Sacramento, described as “the dowdiest of California cities”. Yet, Ms Didion herself said, “It kills me when people talk about California hedonism. Anybody who talks about California hedonism has never spent a Christmas in Sacramento.” Her forebears came to Sacramento in the mid-1900s, and their pioneer experiences affected her growing up, which informed her debut novel Run, River, about the coming apart of the marriage and family of a Sacramento couple whose great-grandparents were pioneers. Ms Didion would, in the book of essays, Where I was From, censure her first novel as the work of someone “homesick”, and considered it spun with false nostalgia, creating an idealised picture of life in rural California that she would say did not exist.
According to her, she did not dream of a profession in writing. “I wrote stories from the time I was a little girl,” she told The Paris Review in 1978, “but I didn’t want to be a writer. I wanted to be an actress. I didn’t realize then that it’s the same impulse. It’s make-believe. It’s performance. The only difference being that a writer can do it all alone.” But write she did. In her final year in the University of California, Berkley, where she read English, Ms Didion participated in a writing contest, ‘Prix de Paris’. It was sponsored by Vogue. She came in first, and was offered the position as a research assistant at the magazine, then edited by Jessica Davis. She moved to New York to take up the job. In the beginning, she wrote mostly captions (then, not the one lines they are today), but she would eventually have her pieces published in the magazine (it was during her time at Vogue that Run, River was written).
Joan Didion in her signature black top.Photo: Everett/Shutterstock
Much of the dates are quite muddled now. But reports suggested that she was with Vogue from 1956 to 1963. Ms Didion, apart from writing the caption, also had duties that “involved going to photographers’ studios and watching women being photographed”, as she recounted in Esquire in 1989. We can’t be certain if she had worked under the inimitable Diana Vreeland, but if Ms Vreeland joined only in 1962 and was made editor-in-chief a year later, it is possible they were at least colleagues, if not superior and subordinate. Ms Didion did not cover the fashion beat, but she did, as we understand it, contribute—sometimes, without byline—to the column People are Talking About, and she profiled stars, such as Woody Allen and Barbara Streisand (who did not appear on the cover of Vogue until 1966), and even reported on the death of Marilyn Monroe, whom Ms Didion described as “a profoundly moving young woman.”
She eventually left Vogue. Some reports suggested that she was “fired” for panning the 1965 screen musical The Sound of Music, which she described as “more embarrassing than most, if only because of its suggestion that history need not happen to people… just whistle a happy tune, and leave the Anschluss behind.” (If true, she was not the only one whose review cost her her job—Pauline Kael of McCall’s too was dismissed at the time for calling the film “the sugar-coated lie that people seem to want to eat”.) One good thing came out of New York: Joan Didion met Time staffer John Gregory Dunne (younger brother of author Dominick Dunne), whom she married, at age 28, a year after she left Vogue, and in whom she found a sparing partner in writing. The couple moved to Los Angeles and would stay for more than two decades, during which, they adopted a baby girl, their only child.
In LA, the Dunnes would come to be known as “Hollywood insiders”. Not surprising since Ms Didion’s brother-in-law Dominick Dunne was a Hollywood type, having started his career in television in New York and was later brought to Tinseltown by Humphrey Bogart to work on TV productions there. The younger Dunne socialised with the likes of Elizabeth Taylor (and would draw on his Tinseltown experiences for his later novels). The brothers collaborated on the 1971 romantic drama The Panic in Needle Park. Ms Didion and her husband wrote the screenplay and Dominick Dunne produced the film which had Al Pacino in his first leading role. The writing duo (and director Frank Pierson) also wrote the 1976 remake of A Star is Born that starred Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson.
Joan Didion pictured on the cover of her book of essays. Cover photograph Hencry Clarke/Conde Nast via Getty Image. Photo: Jim Sim
While Hollywood appeared to suit them and their adopted kid, the movie town in Ms Didion’s writing was rather mercilessly dissected. In We Tell Ourselves Stories in Orderto Live, she wrote: “California is a place in which a boom mentality and a sense of Chekhovian loss meet in uneasy suspension; in which the mind is troubled by some buried but ineradicable suspicion that things better work here, because here, beneath the immense bleached sky, is where we run out of continent.” She told Vogue UK in 1993 that “Los Angeles presents a real culture shock when you’ve never lived there. The first couple of years you feel this little shift in the way you think about things. The place doesn’t mean anything. Los Angeles strips away the possibility of sentiment. It’s flat. It absorbs all the light. It doesn’t give you a story.” As she wrote in A Trip to Xanadu, published in the collection of essays Let Me Tell You What I Mean, “Make a place available to the eyes, and in certain ways it is no longer available to the imagination.” She was even more scathing when it came to the film industry and, in particular, film criticism, calling the latter—which she had previously done—in her 1973 essay Hollywood: Having Fun, “vaporous occupation”.
Apart from her style of writing, she was also noted for her style of dress. The Guardian, in what could be a fan-motivated homage, recently called her “a luminary of California cool”. It is doubtful that Ms Didion would describe herself that way or relate to that praise. And she would likely attribute her getting the job at Vogue to her writing, not her dress sense. It should be stated that the 5-foot-tall (about 1.5 metres) Ms Didion was an attractive young woman and it was possible that her appointment at Vogue had something to do with her looks. The magazine had a reputation of hiring mostly attractive lasses. But she must have had sartorial verve for her editors then to send her to watch women being photographed by—to name one—Robert Mapplethorpe. In fact, in one such session, an unidentified subject was so displeased with what she saw in the Polaroids that Ms Didion had to offer her what she had on. As she recalled for Esquire, “I lent the subject my own dress, and worked the rest of the sitting wrapped in my raincoat.” That had to be an agreeable outfit.
The dresses that she seemed to like were often long and loose. And sometimes, typical of the hippie era, floral-printed. She would wear them with flip flops, reflecting, perhaps, the Californian predilection for the unapologetically casual, as exemplified in the cover photo of her on Terry Newman’s 2017 book Legendary Authors and the Clothes they Wore. She had on a long-sleeved tee-dress; barely covering her thonged footwear. Her hair was slightly dishevelled; her left hand was holding what looked like a purse, and the forearm was folded across her waist; her right hand was on her left thigh, a cigarette barely noticeable between her thumb and index finger. These could possibly be one of the looks that inspired Phoebe Philo, who—during her time with Céline in 2015—had chosen Ms Didion, then 80, as the face of a Céline campaign. The New York Times would call the casting “prophetic”: Not long after, Saint Laurent, under Hedi Slimane’s watch, released their own ad with a geriatric beauty, the singer Joni Mitchell.
Joan Didion (right) with daughter Quintana Roo Dunne in a Gap ad from 1989. Photo: Gap
Céline’s image of Ms Didion was photographed by Juergen Teller. It showed her, from a somewhat top view, in a black dress that could have been from her own wardrobe. She wore a pair of oversized sunglasses that recalled what she used to wear in the ’60s/’70s and that obscured much of the top half of her face; the blackness of the shades contrasted with the paleness of her skin and underscored her thinning greyish hair. She also wore a necklace with an ember/copper-coloured pendant. Miss Didion told NYT that she “did not have any clue” to the chattering interests—online and off—with regards to her striking Céline appearance. Not everyone was that impressed. In her column ‘Ask Hadley’ for The Guardian, Hadley Freeman wrote, “It’s depressing to see your idol used to sell expensive clothes.” In fact, it is not known if Ms Didion herself wore expensive clothes, however iconic her looks were. Recently, The Cut opined, “Clearly, she had great taste and a point of view. But was it that special?”
In fact, the Céline modeling assignment was not Ms Didion’s first. Back in 1989, she was photographed by Annie Leibowitz for Gap’s ‘Individuals of Style’ campaign. She appeared with her daughter Quintana Roo Dunne (who died in 2005, just two months after her father John Gregory Dunne passed away). Both women were in USD19.50 black turtlenecks, with the mother sporting a barely visible chain. At the bottom of the image, the copy read: “Original. It’s how you twist the fundamental into something new.” That “Original” styling of Ms Didion would be reprised—not “twisted”—26 years later in the Céline ad. Many of her fans associate the writer with black turtleneck (or the mock sibling) tops, and she in them had transcended time. Even with grey hair, the look spoke of no zeitgeist. It was not that special.
“Style is character,” Joan Didion said in the1978 interview with The Paris Review. Although she was referring to writing, she could have been alluding to her own sartorial choices. Many women relate to Ms Didion’s famed itemised packing list, as described in The White Album. “This is a list which was taped inside my closet door in Hollywood during those years when I was reporting more or less steadily,” she wrote. “The list enabled me to pack, without thinking, for any piece I was likely to do. Notice the deliberate anonymity of costume: in a skirt, a leotard, and stockings, I could pass on either side of the culture.” Or, between Gap and Céline, either side of fashion.
Daniel Lee has done things for Bottega Veneta that women of very specific taste adore, so much so that not only is the maker of the famed intreccio leather now trending madly, its designer is winning more fans after being awarded thrice at this year’s British Fashion Award: Designer of the Year, British Designer of the Year—Womenswear, and Accessories Designer of the Year.
The accolades perhaps explains the “Bottega effect”, accelerating its trickling down to the high street. Mr Lee, former director of ready-to-wear at Céline under Phoebe Philo, has not transformed Bottega Veneta the way Nicolas Ghesquière has for Louis Vuitton, for instance. Yet, the effect is apparent, even palpable. Mr Lee called it by the vague “done-up elegance”, which is, in essence, gently tweaking what is considered classics, such as this single-breasted trench coat.
What is, perhaps, appealing for many women, is that the coat comes in a recognisable form, including details such as epaulettes and cuff straps. Nothing too out there. But the British designer is able to make small adjustments that at one look, one knows this is an outer with a difference. He has simplified the trench by making it single-breasted and by removing the storm flap, even at the back. And instead of knee-length, he has chosen to bring the hem near the calves.
But the most striking feature has to be the bi-coloured, bi-textured effect. The base of the trench coat is in a grayish poly-cotton gabardine, and the top half of the body bonded with black leather (which leaves the underside of the collar untreated, yielding an appreciable two-collar effect). But this is not the horizontal separation of colour (usually split at the waist). Mr Lee, instead, chose a diagonal diversion, which give the trench an appealing duality: part cool-classic, part rebel-tough. In the presence of the abundance of oversized track tops and ever-larger puffers, this is definitely more desirable and spot-on chic.
Bottega Veneta trench coat, SGD6,750, is available to order in stores and online. Photo: Bottega Veneta
Hedi Slimane’s first men’s wear collection for Celine is in store. Who’s excited?
By Ray Zhang
I did not want to dismiss the hottest debut this year. Not just like that, not prematurely, not without first seeing the clothes, close-up. You may want to know I am not an Hedi Slimane fan ( I don’t think any of us in SOTD are), never have been. What I feel about his Celine for men is not going to be, for his die-hard followers, fair, but this was what I saw. It was not a cursory glance, but a close examination, as close as it gets.
While I had expected Mr Slimane’s aesthetic repetition, I came away certain again that he was telling me what I’ve seen before is what I shall and should see again. Newness is not new, as he communicates through familiar “Teddy” jackets. Don’t expect change. By now you should know he isn’t giving any. If you thought this was a reprise of his Saint Laurent, which then divided fashion opinion, you did not think wrongly or unreasonably. In the Hedi Slimane l’operamode, one note is the best note.
Even the interior of the store is a throw-back to the years before his current tenure. Now, somehow the rigidity seemed intimidating. The stone walls, the harsh lighting; the minimal metal-frames-as-racks, suspended from the bare ceiling; the floating shelves, protruding from walls; the sterile glass cabinets; the industrial boast; the deliberate coldness that hits you like a slap—they stubbornly told me, to hell with my expecting things to be different.
In the end, it was the first Celine men’s collection that I have come to view. A Web browser might be useful in seeing the clothes as they were shown—in full swagger, but it is in a retail setting, where the clothes do not gain from the deceptive art of styling and the bodies that match those of Mr Slimane’s rock world, that I get to see the collection as individual pieces. Do they hold up individually? Lest I am mistaken, these are not badly made clothes; they just don’t fall into a category I can confidently say ‘designed’. Reprise, yes. So, as shirts go, as jeans go, as blazers go, they hold up to Uniqlo.
This, of course, risks being called comparing apples to pears. But what crossed my mind when I saw a viscose Western shirt in shadow check (that I later learn is part of a “classic shirt” range) with nothing a design lecturer might be able to point out to her students as creative, was “Gap”! After what Raf Simons did to the Western shirt at Calvin Klein, you’d think the bar for such a chemise (if there’s still demand for it) was raised. Mr Slimane obviously does not care about raised bars, which, to me, still suggests an indolence of approach, more so if you concur that there’s considerably more effort at Levi’s Made & Crafted.
Even the T-shirts, today an important entry-level category, can’t evoke a hint of admiration; their graphics made Off-White’s arrows look exceedingly artistic. The one with the oversized Celine logo, printed wholesale—it could have been Converse! Surprising were the shape of tees, which appeared to be for those who have spent considerable time in the gym and need tops that can allow the fabric’s tensile strength to be tested. The sleeves were so abbreviated, they seemed capped—the better to emphasise biceps! Sure, Mr Slimane most likely did not intend for them to be worn as a muscle tee, but they look decidedly from a time when clothes needed to give extreme musculature definition.
It is understandable that during the time he was at Saint Laurent, doing clothes that sat just above the humdrum, customers were into ‘looks’ rather than designs. As separates, those pieces were simple and easy to wear, evoking a rock-cool sensibility that is understandably appealing. But don’t people tire of what in Thailand is called same-same? There is, of course, nothing wrong with doing simple. The offerings of Lemaire, Jil Sander, and OAMC are oftentimes the antithesis of complex, but they don’t cross into the spirit-dampening space of nothingness. Pick anything in the Celine store, hold it up, and you are likely to return it to the rack than bring it to the fitting room.
But it was the fitting room that the sales staff was trying to persuade me to go to. When I stood before a plain white skinny shirt in an admittedly seductive cotton poplin, he asked me what my size was. When I took a tuxedo jacket in wool crepe to have a closer look and a surer touch, he pointed to the nearest mirror and told me I could slip it on. When I stroked a pair of dark denim jeans that looked totally linear from waist to hem, he said that “the store has only skinny”. Was that criticism of the old Ganryu jeans I was wearing? When I moved away from the clothes, he looked at me with what I thought were pupils of pity.
By then, I concluded that the sleek and stubbornly forbidding interior camouflaged the clothes’ total lack of warmth and allure. As quickly as I went in, I left. Not even a shirt cuff tugged at my interest. I didn’t feel a thing.
You know what is going to be big come July (or whichever month the autumn/winter 2019 collections will drop)? Culottes. Seriously, culottes. Hedi Slimane has revived for Celine a garment that has for decades laid low, cery low. This is not to be confused with skorts. Mr Slimane’s are clearly “split skirts”—bifurcated, if you must get technical, or trousers cut to resemble a skirt, something that would remind those old enough the original Charlie’s Angels. Or, in our mind—imagination, really, Miuccia Bianchi Prada going to a political science class at the University of Milan.
For his second Celine women’s collection, Mr Slimane seems determined to prove to his detractors that he can do more than skinny or body-hugging. As reported in the media, Mr Slimane took a peek into the Celine archive. And this was the output—not a re-imagination, not a re-construct, but a facsimile, as the clothes appear to us. Mr Slimane has never had any use for irony or twist; he won’t either now. This could have leapt out of the pages of How to Dress like a Frenchwoman, if it was published in 1975.
To be honest, we don’t know what Celine really looked like in the ’70s (except for some old ads we found online), when it rose in popularity. Founded in 1945 by Céline Vipiana as a made-to-measure children’s shoe store, it became, by the ’60s, a sort of Biba of the time, but more atas. The brand slowly projected the cool it was known for in the mid-’70s. Then, Ms Vipiana was still designing the line and she continued to do so until her death in 1997, aged 84. When LVMH took Céline into its fold and Michael Kors became the first designer to revive the brand, Céline was destined to be Celine, a hugely global French brand towards 2020… and much talked about, but not because of its content. Phoebe Philo was a minor extended distraction. Ironically, Mr Slimane’s approach seems to go back full circle, to where Mr Kors started.
How Mr Slimane changed the direction of the brand when he came on board and how he disappointed many is, until today, still discussed. The aesthetical shift now, we sense, is less about reacting to criticism than to once again reach back, a habit that had affected every fashion house that Mr Slimane steered. It appears to us that when he looked at the old output of Céline, thought to be those of the mid-’70s, he was really casting his mind to the past—as he did at Saint Laurent—to rehash. How else does one explain the obsession with pussy bows?
Mr Slimane’s Celine, therefore, seems to be joining the dots to reveal to us a picture that explicitly say FLASHBACK. Again, we can’t be sure this is close to Celine of yore (was Ms Vipiana mad about culottes?), but it does reflect an era. Some dresses looked like what Karl Lagerfeld did for Chloe in the ’70s. Or, perhaps what Alessandro Michele has been doing for Gucci, only Mr Slimane’s are better fitted. Some blouses looked like his take of what YSL muse Loulou de la Falaise might have worn back in the day, and already seen in Saint Laurent, circa 2013. And those below-the-knee schoolteacher skirts—your grandmother would know. Or, Diane Von Furstenburg. Hedi Slimane would be a worthy contestant against Marc Jacobs for the Look Back King of the Year.
Or course, Mr Slimane could not totally abandon skinny—he built a career on them pencil silhouettes. So, some pants are still reed-thin, the denim jeans too. But he did abandon baring skin. This is modest dressing! More? If you look closely, how many silhouettes are there? Three, maybe? Will this be the new merchandising norm? We had to again remind ourselves that Mr Slimane is not a designer like John Galliano, nor Demna Gvasalia, nor JW Anderson. Karl Lagerfeld, maybe. Frankly, we thought the Celine autumn/winter 2019 show was Butterick come alive.
Is Celine Men designed for Hedi Slimane himself? If so, that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Our comments here then risk being redundant, but bear with us.
Recently, we looked, again, at Hedi Slimane’s last show for Yves Saint Laurent Homme (titled Black Tie), his first and last show at Dior Homme, and his first and last show at Saint Laurent and we came to the conclusion that having reshaped the silhouette of men’s wear as early as 2000 (that Black Tie collection at YSL was prelude to everything he did at Dior Homme later and further down the road), Mr Slimane probably has no desire to change what he was responsible for: that certain leanness and rock ‘n’ roll edge. That skinny jeans (even skinny track pants!!!) still dominate the male wardrobe is testament to his aesthetical influence.
Unsurprisingly, his first stand-alone Celine presentation for men could have been a Dior Homme show or Saint Laurent. The models walk similarly, if not look similar. The Celine collection is, we were told, called “Polaroids of British Youths”, but, to us, it really is Pete Doherty all over again. Or, even Liam Gallagher (sorry, chap!). Mr Slimane’s brand of indie-rock cool has always veered towards England, never mind if he himself lives in Los Angeles, and is known to be into the music scene there. The English just does it better.
Hedi Slimane is not Hedi Slimane if he does not do slim—boyish to boot. To be fair, for Celine Men, the skinniness is not so extreme. The boys are still lean, maybe not quite skin-and-bones as before, but they are primarily boys, unlike the models at Junya Watnabe, who cast grown men, middle-aged and above, for his Silver Swagger collection. Mr Slimane has his signature down pat: the silhouette is compact (nothing oversized) and the line straight. As with his women’s wear, he is not partial to ample space between body and cloth.
On a whole, the clothes look rather basic despite their rock musician posturing. One duffel coat is so unspectacular that you are sure that if you wish to ape the look, a very similar version available at Uniqlo can be had for a song, pun intended. You sense, too, that you may have seen some of the items elsewhere. A couple of the leather jackets look like they have appeared at Saint Laurent during Mr Slimane’s tenure there, while others such as the trim blazers with narrow lapels, now already commonplace in TopMan.
An unapologetic designer, Mr Slimane is not about to explain why he took the path he has with Celine Men. He dishes it, and fans will lap them all up. Some members of the media say he is firmly helping men to return to an elegant way of dressing; they point to the collection’s missing sneakers. We’re not sure that many guys will abandon their T-shirts and their joggers at Mr Slimane’s catwalk command. This does not sing of his Dior Homme moment. Additionally, other brands, too, are signalling the shift away from streetwear. What then will be his Celine’s allure?
It is hard to say. These days, fashion also includes the power of social media not just the dictates of the runway. Or, one trending shirt (yes, Jeff Goldblum’s!) We can’t be certain that those who educate themselves about fashion via the Net won’t say this is an uninspired variation of a theme. It’s been seen and if we didn’t do them then, we’re not going to do them now. Or next fall.
In one fell swoop, the new Celine was effectively telling former, less-attenuated fans and customers to eff off! But all is not lost. Until the return of Phoebe Philo (or not), some names to consider…
Spring/summer 2018, Phoebe Philo’s last collection for Céline, shot by Juergen Teller. Photos: Céline
By Mao Shan Wang
Enough of harping on what Celine is today or, come January, when the new collection drops, what there is nothing to buy. Trends come and go, so do labels: Look at Lanvin. Besides, loyalty is not as valued as it was before. Only tech companies appreciate loyalty. Apple wouldn’t be where it is today if customers were fickle about why they like the brand. But if there’s something that can be gleaned from the world’s second largest smartphone maker (okay, third-largest since Huawei has overtaken them in August, according to media reports), consistent aesthetic identity is key. An iPhone will always look—and feel—like an iPhone.
Fashion is, of course, not the same as communication devices. It does not have to be user-friendly and it’s a lot more manic and far more mutable, having to update itself up to six times a year, and, now, with monthly drops. But, perhaps due to this need for constant renewal or, rather, refreshment in most cases, some kind of brand consistency is necessary. Unfortunately, for fashion—the luxury business, brand recognition alone is enough, not nearly substance and not nearly astonishment. And since egomaniacs are often installed as creators of the brand’s products, they would like to obliterate what came before. It’s a matter of how ruthless.
Sure, we’re all going to move on to something else. No one died a sartorial death after Michael Kors decamped Céline to continue his own label. I don’t remember anyone knowing at that time that they desired the unsexy but alluring shapes that Phoebe Philo introduced until she did. Fashion is variegated, and there will be others, while not entirely the same as the Céline that, as The Gentlewoman rightly noted, “cut through fashion’s tired fantasy… for sharp reality and hyper-luxurious clothes”, are surely just as genial, pleasing, and intelligent. These are my pick.
Dries Van Noten
I was resistant to adding Dries van Noten to this list, but in his spring/summer 2019 show, I saw quite a few pieces those willingly labelled Philophiles would find compatible with their wardrobe: the loose-hanging jackets, the easy-fit shirts, the modern-sporty outers. Mr Van Noten did not always design like this, but his designs have a certain romance that is increasingly missing in today’s clothes, and an artsiness similar in spirit to what Ms Philo introduced in her latter years at Céline, a welcome flourish at a time when minimalism was being redefined for the post-Helmut Lang era customer.
This may not seem like an obvious choice. The designs of Haider Ackermann is, however, on track to welcome former Céline fans. The non-body-defining shapes, a slouchiness that suggests I-don’t-care androgyny, and a palette that has more in common with the holy than holi are, to me, the sensibilities that Philo followers can relate to and would desire to buy. What I consider a plus, too, is that Mr Ackermann, who, in 2010 was tipped by Karl Lagerfeld as a possible Chanel designer should the latter bow out, constructs in such a way as to never let the clothes look too dressed-down.
It’s hard not to be lured by Luke and Lucie Meier’s clean lines for Jil Sander, arguably the Phoebe Philo of her time. Amid all the noise that fashion now rides on, the Meiers’ quiet tones and gentle shapes are as refreshing as a palate cleanser. Some people think their aesthetic is minimal to a point that it’s almost suited to conventual life. But it is precisely the serenity that the clothes—with quirky details such as extra-wide, inside-out seam allowance and ungainly cuffs for sleeves—project that the more and less restrained Philophiles will adore.
Christophe Lemaire and designing partner/wife Sarah-Linh Tran have a chemistry between them that fans and the media alike call poetry. Together, they have created a Lemaire that has more oomph than when Mr Lemaire soldiered on alone under his earlier eponymous label while simultaneously designing for Lacoste. Comparing the duo’s work with Ms Philo’s is probably not fair since Lemaire offers more intriguing details, such as odd pocket placements and alternatives to traditional fastening positions, which, in marketing speak, could be considered value-added. And what value!
While Cathy Horyn thought that Loewe “might be getting too relaxed”, I thought that Jonathon Anderson did it, if true, for the right reasons. As counter stroke to the onward march of street fashion, other designers are pushing for tailoring, sometimes extreme tailoring that encases the body too closely and with shoulders that look ready for war. Mr Anderson, on the other hand, has guided Loewe on a different path. There is dressiness and crafting to the clothes, but with ease in mind. I don’t mean “relaxed” though, I mean freedom from constriction, from efflorescence, even the zeitgeist. Individualism doesn’t mean one has to forgo discernment.
Relieving Celine of its accent above the ‘e’ is minor change compared to dropping Yves from Yves Saint Laurent, and that perhaps was the point: Hedi Slimane was not planning to reinvent the sewing needle at Celine. Instead, he brought unfinished business at YSL along
We guessed it, and yet we were still bothered, perplexed, annoyed. It’s like the end of a romance. You know it’ll soon be over and yet when he/she is gone, you feel the pain, or anger. Hedi Slimane was not expected to expand the look Phoebe Philo left at Céline (as spelled when she was there) the way his successor at Saint Laurent, Anthony Vaccarello, continued Mr Slimane’s rock-chick-waif-groupie look. Yet, we were still dismayed. Perhaps it was the late hour of the live stream (2.45 am!), but mostly it was the annoyance of having to view his last, by-then-repetitive Saint Laurent collection all over again.
We weren’t sure but was the collection about a true singular vision? Mr Slimane is no visionary and his Celine is regrettably short-sighted. Or, was he pleasing an already sizeable fan base of an increasingly commercial rather than innovative fashion business climate? Surely there are those who have remained with Saint Laurent and those who have moved on. Or is this output of a designer that hitherto is, for the most part, one-note? This seemed like indolence at design level: he could have simply bring along the paper patterns from his previous tenure. He was at Saint Laurent for a mere four years (2012 to 2016). Sure, he not only made a huge impact to the fortunes of the house, but also promulgated the idea that luxury fashion can look like fast fashion, which may mean he did not have enough time to really conquer and rule, although divide he arguably did.
The skinny jeans and pants that he popularised at Dior Homme still bolstering ascendancy over other silhouettes in both women’s and men’s wear (even their office clothes!) today is probably not enough. If he wants to leave a lasting legacy, there has to be a persistent aesthetic singularity to better overrun an over-shared world. When Mr Slimane took over Dior Homme in 2000, fashion editors spoke of how he “idolised” teen-ish, waifish rock musicians or such a look. Eighteen years later, at 50, his kind of idolisation could be construed as bordering on the paedophilic, yet it did not bother Mr Slimane or his supporters, including one Karl Lagerfeld, because fashion is, since the advent of pret-a-porter, about youth. He continued with Celine’s debut men’s wear the skinniness and gangliness that he first mooted 18 years ago, as if times have not changed, as if men’s taste have not altered. He even told the media that Celine men’s clothes are unisex, and women are free to buy, which harks back to the female interest in his Dior Homme. Interestingly, he didn’t say that the women’s clothes are unisex and available to men. Remember Phoebe Philo’s Celine appealed to guys, with Pharrell Williams her number one fan?
With a casting that would have the black community cry out tokenism, Mr Slimane again made sure that not only was the Caucasian face his ideal beauty, body diversity was not part of his universe. In fact, these clothes—their smallness, slimness, and shortness—were really for adolescent boys and girls: the boyishness and girlishness augmented by the skinny ties that men past a certain station in life stay clear of and the little dresses with a very fixed waist that women of a certain age normally avoid. Is Mr Slimane’s Celine the new Gap for the children of the wealthy whose numbers are rising all over the world—for certain in Asia? Or is this fashion’s own Peter Pan syndrome?
Some members of the press have taken to justifying Mr Slimane’s design direction than saying that it is lacking in, say, newness (a bad word in fashion these days), among other things. He has proven himself to be a commercially successful designer, they reasoned. Celine, as most people know, is part of LVMH, one of the most powerful luxury conglomerates in the world, if not the most powerful. So there is fear of commercial reprisal. Or, the denial of invitation to future shows. God forbid that a fashion editor should watch live streams like the rest of us! Mr Slimane was known to take umbrage at members of the media who did not share his view or who were not keen in what he did. The relationship between the press and luxury brands has always been a complicated one, and the love-hate relationship, for a lack of better description, is mostly concealed by love, no matter how dismal or disappointing the output of the brands. Love lost, as some journalists—including prominent ones—have learnt, is not nearly recoverable.
At the end of the Celine Hedi Slimane show, there were audible screams of approval. These can’t be construed as anything but love, which means we shall see more of what may be teetering close to ennui: little dresses—black aplenty—and those, equally compact versions, with flourishes such as flounces; boyfriend jackets that, when worn over said dresses, made the latter look even shorter; biker jackets for serious rock cred; and skinny suits that, any skinnier, would be compression wear. Mr Slimane is not the least vague about where he intends to take Celine under his charge. Just because you were given a name at birth and trained to be a lady does not mean that someone, further down the road, can’t lead you astray, and make you a tramp.
Photos: (top) screen shot/Celine live stream, (catwalk) indigital.tv
Lady Gaga bagged a Céline to help Hedi Slimane hint at what he’ll be doing for the house Phoebe Philo departed from. But, does it really say much?
The thing that struck us first was the quick show of gratitude. It was reported that Lady Gaga was “gifted” a new Céline bag, and it wasn’t enough that she flaunted it across Paris in the welcome presence of the paparazzi, she wasted no time in posting the said bag on her IG page with the social media savvy of a KOL, product in full-frontal glory. These days, of course, there’s a name for all this: influencer marketing.
Effective splashiness aside, we have no idea what that kumquat-coloured extra-long and form-fitting singlet has got to do with that ebony handbag (very Halloween colour combo, we’d say), but it is possible that Lady Gaga was trying a chromatic counterpoint to what appeared to be a very black, very dull, very easy-to-ignore bag. Three months down the road, you’ll not remember it existed, except perhaps that Lady Gaga was the first to carry Hedi Slimane’s debut Céline bag.
No name as yet was ascribed to the structured bag. If we weren’t told this was a Céline, we would have thought that this was something from the Belgian bag maker Delvaux or Valextra, the FJB-distributed Italian brand that was doomed to close here. Lady Gaga’s arm candy of a bag looked a tad too conservative for a songstress who dares to challenge the conventional wisdom of what can be worn on the body. If Margaret Thatcher were still alive, she’d probably be very delighted to carry it to 10 Downing Street.
Hedi Slimane’s Céline bag, as Netizens have pointed out, walks the path paved by the Hermès Kelly. Trapezoid in shape and with a flap cover secured by a gold latch-and-lock, it is far more traditional and conservative than anything Mr Slimane’s predecessor introduced for the house. In fact, Mr Slimane is not known for his bag designs even when he chose to adopt Phoebe Philo’s bags-first strategy (which Saint Laurent bag do you remember now?). This isn’t the Trapeze; this isn’t the Luggage Tote, and this is definitely not the Puzzle, so successfully designed by Jonathan Anderson for Loewe. Another bag to have forever? Fashion deserves better.
UPDATE: It’s been reported after our post that Hedi Slimane has redesigned—unsurprisingly—the Céline logo and the name is now spelled without the acute accent on the second ‘e’, as in Celine.
After last year’s Fraktar bag hack, is the nondescript and omnipresent plastic supermarket bag the next big thing?
Stylish, extra-large and extra-thick plastic bag offered by Actually @ Orchard Gateway
By Ray Zhang
Ten years ago, a dear friend of mine gave me a birthday gift that came bundled in a pink plastic bag, typically used by vegetable sellers—yes, the wet market staple. To be sure, he wasn’t a fashion forward type although he worked in fashion his whole life. And he definitely did not have a crystal ball to see a decade into the future, when anti-fashion fashion has taken root in fashion, and spawned fashionable bags with a provenance that can be traced to sellers of fresh comestible.
That the lowly plastic market (and supermarket) carrier can now have fashion cred may be attributed to our predilection for choosing low to yield high. Does the T-shirt not come to mind? Let’s, for convenience, put the blame on Demna Gvasalia, that provocateur-in-chief at the house of Balenciaga. He had picked common bags—for example, those usually associated with mainland Chinese moving vast quantities of city goods back to their rural homes during festive seasons such as the Lunar New Year—to make them into high-end, covetable carriers. It culminated in the re-make of Ikea’s Fraktar tote—in leather, of course—that could be seen as Mr Gvasalia doing a DHL for the equally humble shopping bag.
Muji’s nylon shopping bag can be folded flat and fitted into an attached slip case that comes with a loop at the top in case you’d want to add a carabiner to it
But that wasn’t the last of the common bags that Mr Gvasalia has given a luxury spin. Last month, his Balenciaga launched the “supermarket shopper”, an undisguised shopping bag not normally associated with fashion once steeped in the tradition of couture. The thing is, it isn’t yet clear if a leather “supermarket shopper” will have the same impact on popular fashion the way Celine’s leather shopper did back in 2009 (which predates Balenciaga’s own leather ‘Shopping Tote’ by eight years).
Brands are following Balenciaga’s lead. But rather than leather, plastic is presently king. Phoebe Philo, as a parting shot perhaps, created plastic supermarket bags to be sold as merch rather than for you take your in-store purchases home in one. Just a month ago, Raf Simons, too, got into the act, and released a see-through version (called, what else, RS Shopping Bag!) with Voo Store, one of Berlin’s most progressive multi-label fashion retailers. Mr Simons’s version is clearly pitched as a collectible, not to be used when you next go shopping and you want to play eco-warrior. The plastic supermarket bag has achieved It bag status, which, admittedly, now sounds rather quaint.
The nondescript store bags given to shoppers at what was once Maison Martin Margiela. Their version is not tubular, with stitched hems on both sides of the folded gusset
The nondescript store bags given to shoppers at what was once Maison Martin Margiela. Their version is not tubular, with stitched hems on both sides of the folded gusset
Like many fixations of fashion designers, this one isn’t terribly new. For the longest time, Maison Martin Margiela, pre-John Galliano, packed your purchases into supermarket-style shopping bags in white cotton that was akin to calico. (A leather, for-sale version was also released under the sub-line MM6.) I can’t tell you convincingly enough (now that such bags are a fashion item) how surprised I was many, many moons ago when I was presented with that bag after buying an MMM leather jacket at its Rue de Richelieu store in Paris. Surely they could do better, I had thought. But there was something decidedly appealing about the idea of a luxury item housed in a non-luxury bag that I found myself traipsing the City of Lights for the rest of the day in this plain and un-labelled sac with some satisfaction that I can’t quite describe now. A wink-wink moment perhaps. Was this how Mr Gvasalia had felt when he thought of the shopping bag for Balenciaga? Or was he being nostalgic of his days at the influential house?
The supermarket shopping bag—not as article of fashion—has a rather long history. According to popular telling, the grocery bag that we know so well was invented by Swedish engineer Sten Gustaf Thulin in the early 1960s. What Mr Thulin had in mind was a one-piece bad that can be formed by folding, welding and die-cutting a flat tubular plastic. This he did for Celloplast, a Swedish company known for producing cellulose film and for processing plastics. Celloplast was quick to patent the making of the plastic shopping bag and the rest, I think you’d agree, really requires no detailed recounting.
Shoppers in Tokyo are often seen with shopping bags attached to a carabiner that’s hooked to a belt loop. Here, a velvety plastic bag from retailer Bayflow that’s printed with a message: “Respect nature, respect fashion. Stay healthy and simple, comfortable and beautiful.”
Oversized shopping bags—carried over the shoulder like a tote—are often spotted in Bangkok where shoppers carry them to house large purchases
While the bag of our current interest has been mostly associated with the wet market and the supermarket, versions in more durable nylon and with attractive prints started to appear when retailers discourage shoppers from using the plastic versions as they are not biodegradable and will add to the woes of inadequate landfills. Some cities such as Hong Kong and Taipei started charging customers when a plastic bag is required for their purchase. With demand for bring-your-own-bags rising, many bag manufacturers started producing reusable, washable, and long-lasting nylon shopping bags that can be folded neatly into a little package no bigger than a wallet.
In Japan, Tokyo especially, not only are these attractive bags available in supermarkets, they are sold in stores such as Muji and Uniqlo and trendy shops such as Beams and Urban Research. The basic shape is the same no matter where you find them, but there’s where the similarity ends. Patterns are almost always the eye-catching part, but, for me, it is how the Japanese carry them that I find so fascinating. Many guys have them secured to their waist with a carabiner. Some would tie them to their bag straps in a way that can only be described as fetching. Once, in Tomorrowland, the multi-label store, I saw a woman with a black nylon shopping bag. Nothing terribly interesting in that except that she had one handle looped over the other, which was slipped on to her wrist. There was something terribly artful in the bag-and-wrist composition. It reminded me of the Japanese azumabukuro, a traditional cloth bag that—at least in Japan—is anything but ordinary.
The myriad colours and patterns cheerfully offered at Seoul retailer Åland, as seen in their Bangkok flagship store
Today, fancier shops call them “marché (which is really French for market) bags”. At Muji, their version is labelled as “tote bag”, which adds to the mild confusion. The thing is, these fancy takes on the supermarket bag are not likely going to be seen in the likes of Fairprice. But where would you carry them to, then? Except at Ikea, home of the Fraktar, few retailers in Singapore discourage you from expecting a store-issued shopping bag, for free. In fact, at many supermarkets, shoppers are known to ask for more than they require. When will this habit be shaken off? When will the use of our own unique shopping bags be a common sight?
Or perhaps the structured, hardware-festooned bag of unambiguous designer standing is over. Who even remembers the Baguette now? Isn’t 1997 a long time ago? This is the era of Vetements, the time of looking at seemingly commonplace, unremarkable things to make them objects of desire. This is, after all, the age of the sweatshirt made good.
Doc Martens ‘Aggy’ sandals with patent leather straps
These are man-repelling shoes, and mothers frown on them too. Still, women are willing to embrace them even after being weaned on towering Blahnik stilettos or dainty Vivier heels. The almost-sudden love for styles that look like orthopaedic footwear, however, is not really a new affair. For as long as there have been Birkenstocks and Teva river sandals, women (and men) have loved being clunkily shod.
Since we have been talking about Kate Moss in the previous post, it is, perhaps, interesting to note that the popularity of Birkenstocks has never really waned since she wore them in one of those iconic pictures shot by Corrine Day. And that was in 1993! Those double-strapped, thick-soled ‘Arizona’ slip-ons with the generously ample toe-box (perfect for wearing to the pedicurist) are still available today, and any time at the Birkenstock boutique in Wheelock Place, you’ll see them being snapped up.
Corrine Day’s shot of Kate Moss from the 1990s
While Ms Moss’s clothes received much of the world’s attention, especially those unsightly cut-off denim shorts, her choice of footwear too had far-reaching impact. Indeed, throughout much of the mid-Nineties, Birkenstock sandals (including those from the sister line Papillio) and similar were the deliberate choice of many savvy souls who could make the unattractive attractive, a proposition quite often witnessed at the house of Prada. Challenging conventional notions of what is beautiful does not have to start at the face or the body, it can, as Birkenstock has shown, begin at the feet. Prada, too, had made their share of so-nasty-they’re-cool shoes. As Miuccia Prada told T Mag last year, “The investigation of ugliness is… more interesting than the bourgeois idea of beauty”. That search has never ceased and can still be exemplified in the current line of sporty sandals, some festooned with faux gem stones (to augment its kitsch value?).
Prada’s canvas sandals
Back in the Nineties, the Birkenstock allure came hot on the heels of Doc Martens, a brand closely associated with grunge. Grunge—“a hippied romantic version of punk”, as defined by its proponent Marc Jacobs—may have largely exited the scene when Mr Jacobs was ousted from Perry Ellis in 1993, but the penchant for unfeminine thick-soled shoes was so pervasive that many designers wondered aloud if women will ever know how to wear heels again.
Today, Birkenstock sandals may not be everyone’s cup of bubble tea since the dubious beauty of their designs does not seem to commensurate with the steep prices they charge, but theirs is a lack of appeal that has, through time and one model endorsement after another (lately, Miranda Kerr), changed perceptions. They are able to do this by remaining unattractive, serving as counterpoint to the surfeit of ‘prettiness’ that has, for too long, prevailed in women’s wear. They predate, for foam resin clog lovers (!), similarly girthed and wide-toed, but covered Crocs. These shoes, unfortunately, are not “pretty ugly”, a deliberately oxymoronic compliment paid by Vogue in describing Birkenstock and its kind when the mag sang the shoes’ praises last July. With Crocs, a name that clearly alludes to a certain hideous-looking reptile, they’ve forsaken beauty for the beast.
Celine cross-strapped sandal in patent calfskin
Lest we have been giving too much attention to Birkenstock, we should also point to Celine for those only concerned with recent developments. Phoebe Philo first introduced her take on Birkenstocks with those fur-lined ones, seen in the SS 2013 collection in Paris in the fall of 2012 (and now also reinterpreted by Givenchy as seen in the ‘Barka’ sandal). By Christmas that year, fashionistas were spotted on Orchard Road with their Birkenstocks in anticipation of an idea burgeoning into a trend. As we saw with Ms Philo’s first bag—the Paddington for Chloé, it was really a matter of time.
A year after the Celine debut, flat and clunky sandals have yet to retire to an ignored corner of the shoe cabinet. As the popularity of these shoes hit a high point, here at SOTD, we’re partial to the Doc Martens ‘Aggy’ sandals. We like the thick sole, the wide white corridor (with orange stitching!), and, as with a Birkenstock, the long-wearing comfort. Call us boring. We don’t care.
Prada sandals, from SGD1,250, available at Prada, Ion Orchard. Doc Martens Aggy sandals, SGD259, available at the Doc Martens, Wheelock Place. Birkenstock Arizona sandals, SGD99, available at all Birkenstock stores