Fashionary

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>> Aaages ago, fellow Hong Kong-er Penter Yip sent me an email about his idea for a sketchbook for fashion design students, compiling a useful compendium of information as well as a moleskin-esque pages that had templates laid out ready for sketching.  I think I may have shot back a somewhat skeptical email questioning whether there was the need for a tempated sketchbook.  I pooped over this entrepeneur's idea and now I'm eating my rotten words, pungent with the stench of stinky tofu. 

The resulting product Fashionary is now in its second revised edition with rave reviews a-plenty and demonstrating that there is in fact a need for the product.  Steve bought one for me and one for himself (they come in men and women's editions) from new London cutsey/gifty store 3939 in Clerkenwell to encourage any creative juice spillage onto its pages.  Whilst the bulk of the pages with dummy templates caters specifically to fashion students and designers, it's the front section of Fashionary that surprisingly throws up a good amount of information that any fashion enthusiast/blogger/journo will appreciate such as a guide to pocket shapes/styles, illustrated seams and stitches, size charts, fashion week calendars and brand/label indexes.  It's not wholly comprehensive but there's enough information to feed the brain some general fashion fodder that it sometimes needs – such as knowing the difference between an Imperial collar and a Mandarin one or knowing that the American, Eureopean and Japanese standards for care labelling.  I may not fill the pages with anything other than normal Moleskin crap such as lists for Waitrose shopping or books-to-borrow but I definitely appreciate some of Fashionary's practical info that will see me peppering posts more fruity fashion language. 

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Delving into Pockets

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Somebody sent me an MA dissertation interview with the question "How long do you think the minimalism trend will last?".  I was sort of aghast really – is a whole design movement/aesthetic really a "trend" that can be levelled with say lampshade skirts or banana prints?  You can probably guess my answer to the question, and I feel much the same way about utility/work-wear inspired threads – that these design aesthetics must somehow exist ALL the time in some format or another and not just pass by fleetingly because of the profound way they have cornerstoned clothing design.  Particularly for workwear-inspired clothes, these are afterall threads that work dilligently, giving you a lot of companionship for your hard-earned buck with their pockets, buckles, simple cuts, breathable fabrics and neutral colours/shades.  Likewise, in menswear, workwear is a not a trend but a way of clothing being, suited to the slower pace of men's shopping patterns – i.e. wearing things to death and refusing to buy anything new until it is literally falling apart. 

Eudon Choi may have once designed a powder pink trench (that I still wear to death…) but its candy floss shade disguises a whole host of precise detailing that is a big pointer to his aesthetic for the last two seasons that consists of a luxurious take on utility wear, borrowing principles from menswear but amping it all up so that it looks interesting enough to the greedy feminine eye.  From the S/S 11 collection, it was this 'Sigrid' jacket with its nude mesh panels, various pockets (a total of five on one jacket) as well as the varying shades of slightly military-inspired tinged beige, olive and grey in garbadine and cotton jersey that made me want to delve into Choi's pocket-laden collection…

Sigrid jacket

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… and so into the sketchbooks I went, finding that above all, it was the "universal and democratic appeal of cotton' that dominated his findings and the resulting collection.  Eudon's accumulated inspiration imagery spans from WWII fighter pilot suits to factory workwear and overalls to 1920s tennis outfts with the emphasis on 'industry' and 'uniformity' and a bygone era of clothing that were designed for a functional purpose without necessarily incorporating decorative/superfluous details.  I'm intrigued by the cited vintage emporium that he visits on Old Kent Road which sells vintage workwear and uniforms where he gets a lot of inspiration from.  The trick for Eudon has been to extract the aesthetic beautfy from these images as well as the original source garments and whilst there's been a tendancy for like-for-like repro of these garments, especially seen in few menswear 'workwear' brands, in womenswear, that method just wouldn't wash…

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… which brings us onto the subsequent and resulting collection.  The palette extends itself so that colours that may not have featured on say a turn of the century factory uniform has its place here with shades like a dark plummy purple, a dusky pink or an icy blue. 

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Using subtle elements of Eudon's source imagery/pieces means details such as the 'suggestion' of an apron or just the transplant of a pocket on a skirt is all the detailing needed to support his theme…
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Exaggerating certain elements such as adding more pockets, pumping volume into the sleeves, playing with lengths, pushes pieces like Eudon's take on the hunting/poacher's jacket or a fisherman's vest beyond being just a simple replica.

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The Sigrid jacket at the top of this post will hopefully be joining the pink trenchcoat come January to form a collective onslaught of Eudon Choi outerwearand the proof will be in the hardcore wearing, totting up how often it goes on my back over the years but my guess is that with some small make do and mending, the jacket will hopefully see some tumultuous times spanning a long period of time.