Miu MIUSB

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>> Ok so three days of solid shopping in Tokyo may have pumped the air into my head rendering me nothing but a credit-card swiping drone who pats herself on the back after 'scoring' some item or another (I need to decease using that word‚Ķ I didn't SCORE anything.  I merely handed over my own money and bought it.)

Miu Miu Musing III_atmosphere

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I'm not going to recap what went down at the first Miu Miu Musing event held at the beautiful 1st floor of the New Bond Street store in London a couple of weeks ago, one that follows the two hosted by Shala Moroque and Andre Leon Talley in New York in an intelligent way when the mighty BOF has done it so superbly.  What can I say?  The short of this discussion "The Pace of Fashion", hosted by Moroque and moderated by Imran Amed of Business of Fashion was that Suzy Menkes totally bossed the convo by consistently coming up with very salient points, with which we (including the likes of Paula Reed of Grazia, Lisa Armstrong of The Times/soon Telegraph, Penny Martin of the Gentlewoman, Karen Langley of Dazed & Confused etc etc etc‚Ķ) all nodded in agreement.  It felt a little like at a seminar at uni when there'd be that one person who'd ALWAYS have something good to say and you're feeling like the point that you had in your head was a pile of poo so you just end up staying mute.  I did pipe up a few times when anything "digital" came up as did Alex Fury of SHOWstudio.  What surfaced in the 'conversation' wasn't anything particularly new, but it's always good to rehash and reflect that the current fashion calendar has its ups and downs in relation to when things go into stores, customers always want something new hence the relevance of pre-collections and that different levels of media speeds be it weeklies, monthlies, bi-annuals or the internet suits different purposes and as a conclusion, it's a good thing to be able to choose.  Huzzah to the last point and we'll have to see whether the way clothes are presented will be changed to meet customer/media satisfaction.  An edited video is also available for all to watch should you want a better gist of what went on‚Ķ

Now on to more pressing matters‚Ķ from the Miu Miu Musing‚Ķ I got a Miu MiUSB that made me squeal in that aforementioned airhead manner that I've adopted in the last few days.  The mere appearance of a weighty gold bar is always good in times of economic uncertainty but it's the 4GB storage on it that really got me excited.  The mini sequin coin purse that accompanied the USB stick also has a pleasing sequin effect which means you can switch it from silver to multi-colour sequins with a "wax on, wax off" action.  I've huffed so much umami goodness in the last few days and so many lovely store air fumes that I actually seem to be under the impression that gold ingot USB sticks and sequins are the main points to take away here… 

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Kita-Kore Kicks

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I owe this post entirely to Fashion Hayley and her useful travel tips that she has wonderfully passed over on her Tokyo-focused blog.  Without the help of Hayley, I would have gone under the silly assumption that the shops in Harajuku in Tokyo were the height of independent spirited creative expression because I am essentially playing tourist here and unashamedly doing so.  I'm well aware that the shopping areas that are viewed as homogenised, commercialised and overcrowded in the eyes of knowledgeble locals are all of course a vivid novelty to Tokyo-newbie me who went once a decade ago.  Kita-Kore in Koenji, a few stops away from Shinjuku is probably all a bit old hat to Tokyoites.  I don't want to feel like I'm writing a post that is the equivalent of me writing about Camden Town in London going "Hey so there's this area called CAMDEN… it's like well punk!"  Hopefully it's a peek into something ever so slightly out-of-the-way.  If you're all Koenji know-it-alls then just bear with me and sympathise with my Tokyo inexperience.

Down a path near the Koenji station, that has an odd combination of sexy gir bars, a tonkatsu place served by an old lady who always wears roses in her hair and a branch of Tesco's (one of only two in Tokyo!) is a ramshackled building that you may or may not walk pass depending on whether the front, street-facing store Hayatochiri is open or not.  It joins four other stores that form the shop collective Kita-Kore, a far far cry from the sheeny shiny malls of Shibuya and Harajuku.  When people use the word DIY aesthetic to describe the shops/designers in Kita-Kore, I'm not sure they realise the ACTUAL amount of DIY that has gone into this place…. roofs that need to go over the corrugated iron framework to prevent rain from getting in, laying down floors and other general bish-bash-boshing around that probably wouldn't be allowed to happen in cities with strict building regulations but in this little street, anything can go and the result is something that I think feels like something to be treasured as an experience.  That's just my fresh eyes of course.

I'll be separating out my bundle of purchases that I came away with post Kita-Kore but here's the rundown of the special five…

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Hayatochiri was our first step into the Kita-Kore world and it's filled with studs, a certain sect of Japanese childhood kitsch, manga covered walls and a mix of reworked vintage and self-made fantasy pieces.  It was like a curiosity shop where something would jump out at you and make you squeal "Wow…this is so effing cool!" in that wide-eyed teenaged way.  Perhaps that's the Japanophile in me that secretes the most part of my family (my youngest sister is learning Japanese from J-pop and chat rooms…).  Beyond the Japonica, there were some pretty awesome vintage pieces that were not there to be identified by genre but were just simply awesome pieces in their own right.  The custom pieces included studded masks and caps as well as patchworked shoes, backpacks and pieces that were remade in a way that doesn't feel cheesy. 

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Always good to see my childhood heroine Arale pop up…

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As you can see from the bulging bag, I scored as did Phil of Streetpeeper (who is our de facto Tokyo guide) … all shall be revealed in Kita-Kore-Goods that will need to be done in London…

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Up the rickety pastel-painted stairs, past an uneven roof top that has a luminous lilac sofa and we're into Southpaw by Nincompoop Capacity.  The name of course doesn't mean a whole lot but this titchy space houses an amalgamation of Nincompoop Capacity the label which currently is doing a line of brightly coloured loopy knits, vintage bits and bobs all in pretty pastels and with a slightly leaning towards lingerie and 'sweet' Lolita style and a customised vintage line called Cathy that mixes an aged aesthetic with pretty trimmings on clothes that a 3 year-old girly girl might wear.  That might sound a little odd but pieces like lace-trimmed pyjama tops and knitted shorts all have potential for those that don't want to look like a human version of Care Bears.   

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Scuffed up creepers of course are always guaranteed to make me happy…

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Back round the side of the building and we're into the third shop and there's an Alice in Wonderland-esque pocket watch that intended to swallow up a HUGE chunk of our time as we ended up spending a couple of hours in the latter of Kita-Kore's wondrous collective…

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Garter was where I fared best in terms of shopping.  If this was in Dalston Kingsland Road, it would be a picked over and ransacked in an instant because of its selection of comparatively reasonably priced.  I came out jumping like an idiot because a score like a Jean Paul Gaultier Junior jacket for ¬£30 or a Moschino jacket for ¬£100 was wholly unexpected in a city where vintage can be sold at a premium (I keep hearing tales of Japanese vintage buyers clearing out vintage shops in America to bring back to Japan…).  Vintage Thierry Mugler, Montana, Versace, Moschino were all present alongside some contemporary labels like Romance was Born.  The proof is in the huge bag that I hauled out of Garter…

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…as seen here…

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…this palm tree print jacket came out with me and went straight over my similarly-coloured outfit consisting of a Christopher Kane t-shirt and an Antipodium dress…

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Up the stairs and we got to ilil, owned by Rachel, our English speaking Kita-Kore guide who was kind enough to explain why this heck was this idiotic looking blogger was taking hundreds of snaps to the other shops.  Rachel hails from the UK originally but has lived in Tokyo for yonks and is currently craving Monster Munch and Ribena.  Grass is greener and all of that.  She too, shares a love of studs but uses them in different ways when it comes to her leather or denim jackets painted and adorned in a way that feels more artisinal than customisation for the sake of customisation.  Again, throw in few bits of vintage and a few pieces by local label Banzai, in partiucular a tiger backed jacket that ROARS at you with its plushness as well as a near-complete set of Japanese i-D (I think it existed for about a year in the early 90s…) and I'd gladly spend another hour or two here.  I have to thank her for being impromtu translator as well as talking us through all things Kita-Kore!

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Finally we were down in the comparativley sparse Dog which incidentally has a more jam-packed store in Harajuku that I'll head over to soon.  Dog have just had their floor redone in a crazy black maze formation covered by clear perspex.  The store houses feels more like an art installation as strange found objects mingle with Kei Kagami shoes (that feel practically like a museum artefact in themselves…) and a few select customised vintage pieces. 

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In lieu of my recent Buffalo-post, I had to get a snap of these Vans and Reebok trainers that have had their soles considerably raised in a similar fashion to the way they raise them at the East Village Shoe place in New York

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The final piece to bid this mammoth post adieu had to be this customised quilted jacket that fakes a Chanel in a way where possibly the faux might be preferable to the real…? 

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Somehow Kite-Kore has breathed new life into the term 'DIY aesthetic' by going at it with gusto and a truly 'come what may' attitude.  There's nothing contrived about all the shops and despite the rehashings of aesthetics that might ostensibly be 'done' or 'over' to some of us, I never at one point felt like I was nodding my head to something I've seen before.  Like I said, the Japanese/Tokyo context may be the key ingredient but perhaps that's no bad thing.  I've not fully explored EVERYTHING in Tokyo (is that even possible?) of course and speak as an overly enthusiastic outsider but I came away on a Kita-Kore high!

Note: The area Koenji has other stores too to explore but we got there a little late alas.  It's a safe bet to go on the weekends after 2pm ish to ensure shops are open (the late openings are made up for 10pm closing times!).  Hayley's Google Maps here is a MUST for Koenji exploration…

Double Note: You can also read more about an extremely cool retail/creative exchange exhibition between Kita-Kore of Tokyo, the girls of No Discount from Melbourne and Primitive in London (I've still yet to go… but I WILL WILL WILL) here, exposing the postive sort of style-roaming that the world is doing…

Soaked in Soie

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>> @£*__!(£*@!!I'm in TOKYO!!@**&$)£@@!$$

I thought that small announcement warranted some keyboard symbol diarrhea.  This would have been a bogstandard "Look! I'm HERE!" post coupled with some unfortunate snaps that were taken a little hastily as it was pouring down with rain on us, but there is one mighty saving grace.  It came down to Meadham Kirchhoff's S/S 11 red silk polka dot dress that has been gathered and stitched up in all sorts of beautiful ways that comes with a matching Peter Pan tie-up collar and coral lace-edged slip, and very handily landed into my suitcase for this Asia-bound trip.   a) I wanted to pack as many pretty natural fibre-made pieces in as possible anticipating the climate and b) I sort of knew I'd be walking around feeling like a gawky ball of awkwardness in amongst Kawaii girls and this is such a delicate dress that it almost commands for you to be nothing but careful and composed.  That reflects the physical state of the dress.  The "dirty/pretty" undertones of Meadham Kirchhoff's thinking for the dress have already been shoddily dissected many times on the blog (mainly here for A/W 11-12 and here for S/S 11) but it's the contrast between innocent polka dots and lace-trimming and the warping of silk that makes for a dress that goes beyond being beautiful in construction.  There's a ruckus of fun still to be had in this dress after rainy Tokyo but for now, it's off a bevy of hidden shops, sticker machines, YEN to GBP calculations and of course, more belly-filling action…

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(Meadham Kirchhoff dress with matching slip and collar worn with Whistles jumper, Miu Miu bag, Church's brogues and black socks)

Magic Milin

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>> The abundance of playful cuteness that comes out of Thailand doesn't seem to want to stop at the likes of Disaya and Sretsis who have made an international impact.  From seeing a strong Thai contingent at Sinapore's Blueprint tradeshow last week, I've briefly cooed over the brand Greyhound and now it's time for more prolonged cooing over Milin.  Milin Yuvacharuskul aka Mimi for simplicity (yes, I'm one of those dumbasses that truly looks perplexed when I see a Thai name because of fear of incorrect pronounciation) graduated from Central Saint Martins in Fashion Design BA and after styling and design experience in London and New York, she moved back to Bangkok to start Milin together with design team members Guarboon Chuanboon and Puchong Nilratana. 

As opposed to trying to remember long names though the thing about Milin and in a way, similar to a few of the other Thai brands that have surfaced to international prominence is the potent combination of prettiness that isn't overly sugar-coated, reasonable price points and useful wearability.  Yup, these clothes are made for spending quite a flirty balmy day in and for the S/S 11 collection 'Sense and Sensibility', Milin seeks to delve into a dream world that is translated into a palette of colours that do make you want to waft away into a candy floss cloud filled spaced (wearing these clothes of course‚Ķ).  The colours run through the day starting with light blue skies to sunset pinks and oranges and then ending with stormy grey skies and a starry night scape and the resulting prints were created by using various digital photography modes, adjusting focus, shutter speed and exposure.  With the ever-popular exposed upper midriff parrallelogram shapes, the super flared out pleated skirts and the longer skirts and wide-legged trousers to balance out the flesh-baring tops, it has slotted right into the sort of summer dressing that I now realise that I finally crave after experiencing balmy Singapore.  

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I've luckily come away with a memorable touch from the collection in the form of these platform heels that come adorned with pale blue pleated criss-crossing straps that swing about like pony tails at the back of your heels, putting some Milin magic on my feet that will hopefully make few taxing steps in the months of July and August when I plan on taking more elongated breathers…

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