>> I've come to understand since being in Tokyo that far from meaning just a simple 'cute', Kawaii can mean anything that you find appealing on an aesthetic level.  It's a one-size fits all adjective that can be used to describe babies, clothes, a person's look, a toy or your mannerisms.  For someone who likes to have a BAZILLION adjectives to describe different situations – with cool, fantastic, brilliant, beautiful, spectacular, random being some of my most oft-used phrases that can all apparently fall under the kawaii-umbrella – this can be a little confusing.  Still, I've rolled with it and decided to co 
llate some kawaii moments from my Tokyo trip here that are not necessarily all CUUUUUTE in the sense that I would use the word, but definitely get the thumbs up, which is incidentally a physical gesture that I've been using a lot here to express how much I liked a shop/a piece of clothing I tried on/a bowl of noodles I've slurped…

I have no idea what's in this drink but it sat alongside all the diet/fibre/energy shot stuff…  I imagine it to be a one bottle formula which will magically make you regain your style mojo should you be going through a slow patch…

IMG_0943

There's been a lot of "Love is Life, Life is Art" phrasing floating around the slogan tees and window displays I've seen in Tokyo and this coffee shop that's outside the Gotemba train station (we went for a one-day jaunt to the Gotemba Premium Outlet Mall…) went along with that sentiment…

IMG_0944

It also had a lot of antique camera equipment strewn around the shop and inside the interior…

IMG_5246

I thought a stern parent was going to slap me silly for snapping this schoolkid.  I really just wanted to take a pic of the rucksacks which I think are an interesting shape.  They look like they might give some kids a backache but I love the curvature of them…

IMG_0957

Little Mai of Tokyo party/style blog Mai Sassy Girl has just got married and this is her HYPER cute (that's Kawaii in the truest sense of the word for me…) engagement ring where a heart has been hatched by an egg designed by jewellery label Q-Pot

IMG_0972

Another Q-Pot bit of cuteness also worn by Mai…

IMG_0973

Here's the happy couple… Mai's hubby Ryota works at Daikanyama menswear 'haute streetwear' store Bench at the Greene which actually made me mildly interested in streetwear….

IMG_0964

I thought it was slightly strange that a safety railing was butt-ended by a green Keroppi-esque frog.  I thought it was even funnier that this guy was standing next to it in total stoic seriousness…

IMG_0974

You'll see that Steve went a little CRAZY over the menswear offerings in Tokyo if you read his blog.  I just tagged along and admired merchandising, concept and even coveted a few of the menswear pieces for myself.  At Japanese menswear boutique The Contemporary Fix in Aoyama, they serve up lunch sets and drinks that were created by the designers that they stock…

IMG_5935

I also discovered the label Plumpynuts via this pair of leather and grey jersey trackie trousers that i very nearly bought had it not been the slight err…camel-toe issue.  They have a separate store in Harajuku that I've not yet checked out…

IMG_0967

In Daikanyama, I fell in love with Jeanne Valet, a vintage store that seems to have collated an amazing selection of clothes dating from the mid-1800s to the 60s with equal prominence given to both menswear and womenswear.  No photos allowed inside but I tried to sneak a few… 

The thing about Japanese vintage stores which have been fascinating is that they're able to hone in a particular aesthetic of vintage (not necessarily period…) and really stock the best of that aesthetic be it Victorian lawn/day wear and sailor shirts or chintzy 70s Gunne Sax dresses, as well as merchandising it in a way that makes everything a lot more appealing and easier to comb through.  Oh, and the prices aren't as hiked up as one would imagine given that they've been brought over from  Europe/America.  Jeanne Valet stocked a lot of sailor attire, heavy cotton work shirts and muslin dresses, all in muted tones and in fabrics that show real age…

IMG_6043

IMG_0981

Well, I suppose this pic would be the quintessential representation of kawaii.  Phil was Street Peeping her so I snapped her on the side…

IMG_5867

It's kind of refreshing going to an Asian city and seeing such a great abundance of vintage on the streets…

IMG_5870

There's no way I can name species of folliage here but the wall was so cool, it left me no option…

IMG_0985

…but to grab the fashion-blogger opportunity and blend outfit into wall…

IMG_6045
(Wearing Miu Miu bag, Alpha 60 dress, Limedrop blouse, Chloe sandals)

>> I might be in Tokyo but I've got eyes and ears firmly on London and even though I know my choice would still lie with awesome ramen, riDONCulous shopping and all that goes with the city of Tokyo, I did get a little twinge when I realised I'd be missing the opening of Topshop's 'Secret' Store that launched in the Oxford Street store in London and in the one in New York.  The product is also all online which means it isn't such a 'secret' afterall but the beauty of this two-week long pop-up space is that the physical stores get to create a fantastical space where the point is to look like the exact opposite of a normal Topshop store.  I wouldn't have been able to report on this were it not for this set of amazing images courtesy of the wonderful photographer Saga Sig, who was kind enough to go down last night to the space to take all of these beautiful pics for me to soak up on the other side of the world.  I gather that you enter a florist curated by Meadham Kirchhoff (if they ever had their own store, can you just imagine what a phantasmagorical delight that would be…?) and then through a 'secret' door, you hap upon a selection of treasure trove pieces all created in limited editions.  Topshop's website explains it all but everything seems to be a highlight as I discovered through these pics. 

Seeing it in person when I get back to London will be the final nail in the spending coffin and I'm itching to get back before these luscious blooms fade away in two weeks time when the secret door disappears… 

IMG_9687

IMG_9709

IMG_9664

IMG_9631

Nasir Mazhar's Spanish head crowns encrusted with lace, pom poms and jewels and geoemtric hair combs that blend the traditional with something more cartoonish and might be the perfect touch to frame my growing top knot…

IMG_9463

IMG_9489

IMG_9490

IMG_9647

Meadham Kirchhoff's stack of bangles that are sold in a set and meant to be worn ALL at once… I like this enforced 'pile-it-on' policy…

IMG_9552

Michael Van Der Ham's velvet wedges that come in two shades of blue to match the abundance of velvet in his A/W 11-12 collection…

IMG_9592

IMG_9627

IMG_9599

Emma Cook does tattoo print bras and knickers as well as a long sleeved body that lifts elements of past prints she's done…

IMG_9466

Maria Francesca Pepe has taken cue from her A/W 11-12 alphabet jewellery range and has done a set of letters spelling LOVE for you to pin onto a grey jersey vest or hang off a chain…or you can err…spell VOLE… if you're into rodents…

IMG_9555

Pamela Love's collection for Topshop lauched a couple of weeks ago but of course sits beautifully in a space like this…

IMG_9636

IMG_9467

In addition Topshop Boutique have also created a separate selection of pieces that will be limited in numbers including a lot of antique looking lawn dresses, broderie anglaise and the sort of 'forest girl' type attire that I've actually been seeing a LOT of in Tokyo at the moment…

IMG_9571

IMG_9507

IMG_9618

I'm also happy to find that New York knitwear designer Tom Scott gets a prominent presence in the Secret Store with some of his S/S 11 pieces in at the moment…

IMG_9498

IMG_9612

IMG_9667

Leave it to Louise Gray to fit perfectly into the setting of friends Meadham Kircchoff's fluoro, lurid florist…

IMG_9706

All photography by Saga Sig

>> It might sound a little condescending to constantly be surprised at the fact that Singapore seems to have a flourishing fashion design scene but honestly the wee wee size of the country does make you marvel at its ability to produce a sizeable number of designers presented at the Blueprint tradeshow this year.  One of them which caught my eye was Mae Pang, whose collection immediatley conjured up a more refined amalgamation of things that I might have seen in Cyber Dog, a cultish store that I've repeatedly brought up on the blog as a teenage novelty haunt.  The combination of black PVC, bright coloured mesh and particular sort of sheeny black polyester that harks back to the boxy jackets, oversized combat trousers and cut-out dresses that I was fascinated by at Cyber Dog.  It has to be said that I never actually bought anything.  The mere act of going in there was enough of a trip.  Plus I wasn't sure how I'd explain to my mum that a battery back in a t-shirt was totally normal. 

Mei has actually taken those elements and moulded them into a far more contemporary shapes in a mix of long and short pleated skirts, tops that are cut wide to create angular lines and strong masculine-led jackets, creating a set of pieces ripe for layering.  By the by, there are no excuses for the "It's too hot for layering in Singapore!" as I wore a few silk and sheer things mish-mashed together and actually felt fairly comfortable and even cold at times in the freezing air-con and Mae Pang certainly can accommodate the climate-specific mode of layering. 

The main thing that I took away from Mae Pang's collection along with a lot of the designers I saw at Blueprint, was that interesting design and interesting back stories were coupled with fairly low price points.  I did look through some of  wholesale prices in surprise althought It might just be my brain, inflated by United Kingdom prices.  That said, buying clothes that aren't necessarily mass-market and that have some sort of design provenance or independent voice at a middling levelled price seems potently relevant now. 

2F5F

9F 10F

13F 14F

15F 16F

The advantage of that price point benefit was immediately felt when I went to visit the new A Curious Teepee shop in Singapore and bought this mesh cut-out jacket/cardi from Mae Pang's S/S 11 collection that ended up costing about the equivalent of ¬£88.  That's a brack that's hovering just above Topshop prices essentially and given that there's a fair amount of design 'deets' in this jacket, I personally don't feel like quality has necessarily been compromised in favour of noticeable details such as the strategically placed cut-outs.  On the back streets of Cat Street in Harajuku in Tokyo, with my limited amount of luggage, I've got a nifty bit of affordable design that perhaps is the key to marking out a lot of South East Asian designers out. 

IMG_5850

IMG_5829

IMG_5821

IMG_5832

IMG_5853
(Worn with Miu Miu bag, Church's shoes, Sunspel t-shirt, vintage slip, Topshop trousers)

>> To Tokyo Bop or not to Tokyo Bop that is the question.  Steve and I have been playing 'assistant' to Phil Oh here in Tokyo whilst he's street snapping for Street Peeper.  We stood aside when one guy who upon seeing Phil, was so starstruck, asked him for his autograph, whilst citing Street Peeper as his favourite site on his phone and repeatedly saying "Wow!".  Mostly we've been style spotting in Harujuku and so I snapped my first pair of Tokyo Bopper shoes in action.  To those who are vaguely familiar with the Fruits/Harujuku scene, you'll be familiar with Tokyo Bopper… or at least you'll be familiar with the raised platform style shoes that grace their feet.  I've not been to Tokyo Bopper yet but their exhaustive blog has styles, customers and staff all wearing Tokyo Bopper in interesting ways, making me ponder about whether buying a pair would be the perfect shoe memento of my trip or a trite bit of Tokyo cheesiness…

Still, given my love of the raised platform I'll definitely be investigating this Harajuku institution to assess whether these will be joining my collection of heavy-soled creepers…

IMG_5873