Emerging from Behind the Set

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>> In the past two years or so, it has felt less and less insider-y to drop names such as Simon Costin or Bureau Betak into written context, when discussing shows, editorials and campaigns.  No longer are set designers and production companies strictly for hush hush fashion industry convos, but instead they have become part of the behind-the-scenes-movement in fashion that an increasing number of fashion consumers and enthusiasts wish to partake int.  Set designers and production companies themselves have also pushed themselves to the forefront of this reveal-all dialogue, by starting their own internal blogs (special commendation for Bureau Betak's blogging efforts), having internal PRs who seed out information about their latest work to relevant press such as It's Nice That and willing participation in features like, The Business of Fashion's Creative Class series.

Beyond being physically on set at fashion shoots and at the show though, perhaps the real power and depth of set designers and production companies' work can't be truly felt.  Better then that consumers get to engage with set designer greats through store windows and installations and right now, two set design greats have been let loose on the town.  For those of you who are fans of Tim Walker's work, you will no doubt know his set design favoured collaborator Shona Heath.  J. Crew seems to be building up the anticipation for their first flagship store in the UK, with a pop-up in Central Saint Martins campus in Kings Cross and now they have employed Heath's mad skills to create a 3D installation of a fleet of London taxis throttling their way alongside 165 Regent Street.  They're not your normal London black cabs though.  They come adorned with rococo swirls and are painted in delicious Fragonard colours.  Suspended on the second storey of this large store front, it's certainly a spectacular distracting interlude whilst J. crew get their store ready in time for the official opening on 1st November.  

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A ten minute walk away, Robert Storey, who assisted Heath prior to going it alone and is now a brilliant set designer in his own right, has taken over the open atrium space in the Opening Ceremony store in Covent Garden.  'Folded Reflections Suspended' is a continuation of a series called 'Explorations of Space' which began at the Patternity Super Stripe exhibition.  "I wanted to create an installation for Opening Ceremony, that would sit harmoniously inside the store whilst also attracting shoppers' attention," says Storey.  "I hoped to create something which could reflect my style and also emphasise the playful charm in the brand's identity."  Colours inspired by artists such as Josef Albers and Donald Judd now grace his rotating plywood sculptures, catching your eye as you peek through the windows into a curious space inside the store.  

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Jumping from Pad to Bag

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I'm a sucker for a good old trompe l'oeil.  It's a description/phrase that I probably overly rely on when I feel like obnoxiously throwing in a superfluous bit of French just to spice things up.  I haven't OD'ed on the phrase yet and have recently found myself a veritable trick of the eye in accessories brand JumpFromPaper.  Based in Taipei in Taiwan, JumpFromPaper was started in 2010 by designer duo Chay Su and Rika Lin, who both graduated from uni in graphic design.  They approached their 2D drawings of bags with a whimsical "Why not" mentality and began to develop their ideas into 3D bags by working extensively with local factories until finally they came up with a small run of four styles.   

It's tricky to explain the physical USP of the JumpFromPaper bag without seeing it for yourself.  Basically they've drawn out a 3D representation of a bag with cartoonish black outlines but when you look at the physical bag itself, the "3D" looking surface, complete with the appearance of the curved dimensions of the side of the bag, are actually completely flat.  It's quite literally an illusion that jumps from paper to a physical bag and is physically then padded out with zippered black canvas at the side and back to make a functional bag.  

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"It was very difficult to get the physical construction right!  It is because the construction of JumpFromPaper is totally different from that of all the other bags the factories have made.  We spent so much time even making the factory understand the side and the front were actually on the same surface! Also we made a lot of efforts trying to find out the best way to present the black graphic outline and the angle, which is the soul of JumpFromPaper.  Our goal is to make people confused at first sight, then soon catch our ideas and laugh out loud.  We LOVE it when people couldn‚Äôt tell it is real or not!"

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Which is exactly what I did when I opened up the JumpFromPaper package, laughing a little at the pranked up surface but then slowly becoming fascinated by its physical construction.  It's a bag that does indeed defy conventional bag construction.  The volume of the Swing Swing bag style I'm wearing here is smaller than what the 3D surface suggests but still manages to fit in everything you need for day to day use.  Where JumpFromPaper have sacrified normal designer bag materials such as leather, they pack a hell of a punch on the design front and happen to be quite affordable with prices ranging from USD60-110 (they have a global online shop as well as various regional sites depending on where you live)

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Worn with Acne jumper, Tommy Hilfiger stripy shirt, Purl Harbour knit shorts

"Our collections are always inspired by those mis-spending time on cartoons and comics in childhood!  Our team are all heavy internet users and love collecting things.  We've been collection funny and weird pictures and quotes and have a huge wall in our HQ for it all.  For us, anything with a sense of humour could be inspiration."

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Now JumpFromPaper have built up to the level where they've sold 40,000 bags last year, with numerous stockists all around the world.  The line is split into two collections, the Original line, which consists of more functional totes, bowling bags and satchels for both guys and girls and a more fashion focused Themed line.  Their latest collection entitled "Time Machine", inspired by an imaginary jazz party held in a pothouse, takes a more feminine stance, with cross shoulder striped bags and polka dot and bow enhanced handbags.  In the future they're going to be trying out new materials to see how their 3D/2D/3D illusions could develop as well as getting their voice heard on an international level.  JumpFromPaper seem to be yet another example of Taipei's emerging/emerged fashion scene that are keen to do things their own way, guided not by "Western" set precedents but by trying to forge their own aesthetic.   

"In a way, young Taiwanese people are sort of getting tired of mainstream fashion.  People are now eager for something new, something they've never seen before.  With this vibe, young desingers have more courage and motivation to build up their own brands.  JumpFromPaper was born in the most laid-back city in Asia – Taipei – and the chilled-out life is probably one of the attributes.  lots of people come here for its relaxed vibe.  There is always something happening here.  New designers, new brands, new concept stores – people are encouraged to do something in this dynamic city."

Time Machine collection… 

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New colourways of their Original collection… 

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Forthcoming A/W 13 Traveller collection… 

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Doraemon 4Evaaaaaa

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>> It doesn't take much to pull me out of a illin' state.  Even if I'm still sort of house-bound and can't quite stomach all the things that are good in life (namely bacon, bread and pasta).  Doraemon to the rescueeeeee!  Last week when I dropped by Eternal Youth Gallery in Dalston to see Gary Card's masking tape creatures imagined from his own Abandoned Amusement Park Attraction, I also came across Anna Ryon's hand painted Doraemon tee.  Judging by the reaction to my Instagram pic (a helpful and highly reponsive barometer, no?), seems like I'm not the only one who has much love for Doraemon.  Except nobody wants the properly printed and sanitised look and feel of Doraemon's official merchandise.  Too shiny and pristine for my liking.  Better then that Ryon, who is also a photographer/student of anthropology and sociology, put paintbrush to garment and did her own painted spin on this veritable anime icon.  She's labelled her painted pieces Massive Crush and whilst for now, she's just casually painting on ready made and found clothing (which she'll be selling on Etsy soon), she plans on collaborating with a friend to work on their own silhouettes to use as canvas.  

For now, I have my very own Doraemon two piece, courtesy of Ryon, and can hark back to the days when mama Lau would dress me and my sisters up in matching two-piece sweatshirts and tracksuit bottoms or tees n' shorts festooned with totally not legit Sanrio, Doraemon, Dragonball and Sailor Moon characters, that fell off the back of a truck in Ladies Market in Hong Kong.  I declare that summer isn't over yet until I've cycled around London on a reconditioned Mamachari bike, wearing my Massive Crush stash and a big goofy grin.      

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To Four Markets We Go

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>> "My mind's telling me no, but my body's telling me yes!" So says, the Casson Londont-shirt I'm wearing today, echoing the wise words of R Kelly.  Except it's my body that's telling me no as I'm currently battling a chronic case of IBS, something nobody really wants to talk about, but a lot of people have.  Clutching one's stomach in pain is not conducive to blogging so today I'm doing a quick and easy upload of photos from the Tokyo/Bangkok/Shanghai/Mexico City trips I took last year.  In particular, I tried to mine some markets in every city, which tend to always be the source of some strange and wonderful sights, with their own quirks that are unique to those cities.  In Tokyo's Meiji Park flea market, Sanrio, off-cut of kimono fabrics and vintage Hawaiian shirts were the dominant themes.  At Bangkok's Train Night Market, a slightly cooler respite from the cray-cray JJ weekend market, I loved the creepy night-lit toys, retro drinks signs and mahussive pieces of furniture that did make think about trying to sort out freight shipping when I was there.  There were never going to be any real bargains at the tourist-y Dongtai Road antiques market in Shanghai but I did love touching up the abundance of Miao tribe skirts and Qing dynasty robes.  And finally at La Ciudadela in Mexico City, which is admittedly a market full of souvenir fodder for tourists, I unabashedly indulged in all that riotous colour, which Mexico does so well.  Now I'm willing my body to co-operate so that I can function properly for upcoming trips to Seoul, Tokyo and of course the usual slew of travel for fashion weeks.  Hopefully R Kelly won't mind too much if I temporarily switch the Yes and No in his lyrics.  

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Meiji Park Flea Market, Tokyo

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Talad Rot Fai/The Train Market, Bangkok

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Dongtai Road Antiques Market/Flower, Bird, Fish and Insect Market, Shanghai

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La Ciudadela, Mexico City

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