Monthly Archives: December 2009

Cover Toon

The Japanese publication Men’s Non-No shows, in its January 2010 issue, that you don’t need a scantily-clad babe on the cover to sell magazines. Cartoons can be just as attractive. The latest issue sports a cover illustrated by manga artist Eiichiro Oda (尾田 栄一郎) of One Piece fame. The featured character is the pirate Monkey D. Luff (also known as Straw Hat Luffy), the lead from the said series. He wears a colour-blocked jacket by Sophnet, one of Monocle magazine’s favourite Japanese menswear labels. Manga fans will argue that Monkey D. Luff does not need such fashionable gear (he becomes a superhero not unlike Mister Fantastic when he eats the ‘gum-gum fruit’ that lend his body the properties of rubber), but even cartoon characters do need the occasional sartorial makeover. Son Goku (Dragon Ball) next?

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Sister (Class) Act

She glided onto centrestage, waving her hands as if to mimic an undulating sea surface. Or perhaps she was pretending to be a Chinese opera singer, manipulating her imaginery water sleeves. Whatever she was doing, however she moved, Corinne Drewery did not merely walk out to sing: she slid along as if on a cloud, exciting the senses like a waft of the rarest perfume.

Swing Out Sister was performing for the first time in Bangkok last night at an unlikely venue: Sanam Suepa, an unremarkable field next to the King Rama V monument on Rama V Road. With their trademark style that’s evocative of intimate candle-lit settings, the band was singing before an audience that looked like that had come for a PAD rally.

The concert was, in fact, part of Signha’s Bangkok Decembery, an all-nighter featuring Thai bands such as Jetsetter, Groove Rider, and ETC. Crowd-pleasers as they were, their rock-for-the-neighbourhood vibe only heightened Swing Out Sister’s cool-as-jade act that effortlessly fused jazz, pop, and a good dose of sixties soul.

Despite the dismal crowd, Corinne Drewery and Andy Connell and their band mates sang as if they were crooning for a Royal Command Performace. They seemed oblivious of what was before them, with Ms Drewery directing her attention to the five-row-deep fans in the front, who lapped up Butterfly, Twilight World, Am I The Same Girl? with palpable glee, prompting the singer to tease, “you know the songs better than we do!”.

She sang and moved as if intoxicated by her own music, delivering each verse with the same silkiness as her sleek bob and draped jersey dress. Sure, her voice lack the power of, say, Lisa Stansfield, and she does not enunciate like Shirley Bassey, but 25 years after the band was formed, Ms Drewery still sounded as smooth and sparkling as when Breakout became the group’s first smash hit.

Despite having levelled off in popularity (they’re virtually unknown here in Bangkok), they have remained well-loved in Japan, where they are, according to the BBC, “revered as minor deities”. This is hardly surpising when Swing Out Sister predates fashion-crowd fave and “sophisti-J-pop” mavens Pizzicato 5.

In the end, the band lavished fans with an encore (unlike the preceding acts) of Breakout, sung second time round to a rousing and danceable beat. When I left the park past midnight, with ETC cranking it up in the background, I wished it was cocktail hour in Capri.

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Toy Karl And Karl’s Toy

You don’t have to be a teen pop star or a mouthless cat, or a fictional war hero to be immortalised in plastic. Japanese toymaker Tokidoki has released the one-thousand-pieces-only Karl Lagferfeld (action?) figure that is more for fashionistas than little girls who sleep with their Bratz . The designer for Chanel looks unmistakably like himself: oversized sunglasses, and high-collared shirt, fitted suit, and chunky belt buckle that are supposedly from his K Karl Lagerfeld collection (mostly available in department stores).

This is not Karl Lagerfield’s first association with toys. Back in March, in the too-hip and too-crowded Paris multi-label store Colette, Mattel showed a Ken in the likeness of Karl as part of their 50th anniversary celebration that included an exhibition titled Barbie and Ken by Karl Lagerfeld. Karl-as-Ken is as likely and believable as Lindsay Lohan-as-designer (er, “artistic advisor”)! Fortunately, Barbie was allowed to remain Barbie (despite the clearly-Karl couture). Ken, apart from looking like the German-born couturier, was also Mr Lagerfeld’s constant companion, the French model Baptiste Giabiconi.

You could argue that Mr Giabiconi’s sartorial sense (for that matter, Mr Lagerfeld’s as well) is too polished for Ken, who, if I remember, is less of a fashion plate than his alleged girlfriend. In fact, so regular was Ken (read: boring) that Mattel had to engage the stylist Phillip Bloch to give Barbie’s arm-candy a makeover back in 2006. I don’t know how involved the stylist-to-the-stars was, but Ken still looked Californian and forever beach-ready. Mr Giabiconi, directed by his photographer-mentor, gave Ken a style that was not only modern, but long overdue. Sometimes, it really takes a mannequin to play a doll.

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Hand On Her Heels… No, Lips On Her Foot!

You’d think they would want to have a grab at her shoes. For something so coveted, you’d imagine they want to rip them off her feet. Or, in a fit of jealousy, pour Cabernet Sauvignon over them. But no! With the grace of a man laying his lips on a fair maiden’s hand or a queen knighting her faithful subject, one of them bends down to kiss the very feet of the wearer of the cherished shoes.

This was witnessed just last night at Aqua in the Four Seasons hotel. The owner of this pair of Jimmy Choo for H&M–a respectable, party-loving art director–had queued for five hours in rain-soaked Tokyo last week to lay her hands on the heels for two reasons: The first (and the most obvious), she desired them; the second, she wanted to win a bet.

As it was recounted that evening, one of her best friends was certain that the limited-edition shoes were not obtainable since the Japanese are known to be obsessive of such goods to the point that they would forgo sleep just to be able to aquire them. The Japan-bound art director, however, was certain she would be able to join if not beat her Tokyo sisters to the queueing game. A bet was made out. If the shoe lover wins, her Jimmy Choo-shod foot will be kissed!

Girls do know when to have a party. For most lasses, Tupperware, Botox, and pajamas are good enough reasons to get together for their girly indulgences, but not for these women. In cahoots with the very able and creative F&B department of the hotel, the art director arranged for a booze-filled bash so that the foot-kissing can be witnessed by the kissee’s group of close friends. This was better than a wedding party.  I suspect women, with shoes or no shoes, are simply better at kicking up some fun!

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Chinese Pottery Meets Analogue Camera Meets Sculptured Dress

Lomography has created quite a following for its quirky cameras despite not going the digital route. Fans adore the not-too-perfect images (due to the plastic lenses) and pop-up colours the cameras produce. You either love it or hate it.

To enhance the appeal of their cameras, the brand has always collaborated with designers to come up with unusual styling for their instruments, such as the Diana F+ Qing Hua by Hong Kong designer/illustrator Dorophy Tang (yes, spelled with a ‘p’). Keeping the camera’s retro styling (from the 60s), Ms Tang has added Ming dynasty blue & white floral motifs to its body, making it look like something admiral Zheng He would have used in his voyages across Southeast Asia.

The clunky camera brings to my mind Beijing artist Li Xiao Feng’s ceramic couture. While they may not be identical in medium and application, both individuals unabashedly pay homage to motifs from a long-gone era. Mr Li’s unwearable clothes, made from broken antique ceramic pieces, look soft as quilted fabrics even when the material he works with has the hardness of stone.

The Lomography Diana F+ Qing Hua camera is available at ZEN Design Showcase The F Concept Store for 4,700 baht. The special edition set comes with 4 of Dorophy Tang’s Shopping Baby illustrated postcards

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Fave Pic: Burn, Lady, Burn!

Just got my copy of Vogue December. I am enamoured with this photograph for two reasons: 1) It’s a beautifully conceived picture by the powerful duo of Grace Coddington and Annie Leibovitz, illustrating once again (we’ve already seen it in The Septmeber Issue) that Ms Coddington is the unsurpassed doyene of the pictorial narrative; and 2) Lady Gaga gets combusted!

English actor Andrew Garfield (of  The Other Boleyn Girl fame) and compatriot, the model Lily Cole, play Hansel and Gretel, Vogue‘s salute to the Metropolitan Opera’s production of the Engelbert Humperdinck’s version of the Grimm brothers’ take on a German fairy tale. The surprise is Lady gaga as the witch. But the real delight is that she gets burned in the oven. We know what happened to the witch in the end. Now, waiting for her singing career to get singed!

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Gators Ate My Shirt

Why have one when you can have eight of them, or even a congregation! Lacoste’s new treatment of the iconic logo is a case of the reptile(s) in a feeding frenzy. What’s available here in Bangkok is the version pictured above (and there are only 20,000 pieces worldwide), which looks like some harmless baby gators frolicking on the left side of the chest. Those that did not make it to the store are the “super limited editions” which sport the predators all over the body (middle, below), a treatment that is seen again on Lacoste’s all-alligator Christmas wreaths hung in their store windows.

The women’s collection Lianas

Launched this evening at the Metropolitan Hotel, the Campanas + Lacoste polos are the brainchild of Fernando and Humberto Campana, two brothers behind the Brazilian design outfit, Estudio Campana, known for recycling trash to make furniture. Their treatment of the Lacoste logo clearly referenced the designers’ own Alligator Chair (below). The Campana siblings join a list of collaborators that includes Junya Watanabe to re-imagine the once staple shirt of tennis courts. The alligator itself has gone through various treatments: up-sized, bleached, over-dyed, and now multiplied. Who knows, they might come alive next!

Campanas ‘Alligator’ chair

The Campana + Lacoste polo is available at the Lacoste boutique, CentralWorld, for 8,300 baht.

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