bighat1 Acne x Stephen Jones “Nero” hat

Oh, my, god. Becky, look at her hat.
It is so big. [scoff]
It looks like one of those giant tea cosies.
But, you know, who wears hats like that anyway? [scoff]
She only wears them because she can hide her dumb top knot underneath..
I mean, her hat… it’s just so big!
I can’t believe the shape… it’s just so round, it’s like, so out there, I mean— gross. Look!
She’s just so… CRAY!

I like big hats and I cannot lie
You hat-haters can’t deny
That when a girl walks in with a frosty and chilly look
And a big thing on her head
You get jelz, wanna put on a cap
’Cause you notice that head is hot
Deep in wool and felting
I’m hooked and I can’t stop wearing
Oh Acne, you and Stevie J are a perfect pairing
My mates tried to warn me
That that wooly dome would make people LOL
Ooh, grey Band turban
You say you wanna get on my cranium?
Well, wear me, wear me
‘Cause you ain’t that average millinery
I’ve seen them at Ascot’
To hell with fascinators
You’re pumped up,
Got it goin’ like a turbo heater
I’m tired of magazines
Sayin’ big hats are for shows only
Take the average dowager and she’ll say that
Hats gotta pack a-lotta punch
So, ladies! (Yeah!) Fellas! (Yeah!)
Has your girlfriend got a hat? (Hell yeah!)
Tell ’em to size it up! (Work it!) (Work it! (Work it!)
Work that bulbous head!
Baby got hat!

bighat2 Band of Outsiders knit turban

I want to apologise for being absence for all of… five days (well, four if you count Saturday) but I’m not.  I’ve cooked, hosted and scoffed to my heart’s content with five different kinds of meat consumed over the past week.  Faced with a glut of leftovers, I’ve been pottering around at home, knocking my head against the wall, seemingly with little to blog about style wise, unless the way I drape streaky bacon over my stuffing mix tickles your fancy.

Then I realised I hadn’t really taken the (admittedly narcissistic) opportunity to blog up the way I’ve done up my hovel and all the bits and bobs that I’ve accumulated to fill up the rooms of my hovel.  I’m not going to lie.  In fact, I may sound a touch smug.  I have fully relished my first opportunity to paint, hang wallpaper, bang holes in walls and buy bits of furniture (that aren’t from the bargain basement in Ikea…) for the house.  With twice the amount of space to play with than my old Holloway flat, I no longer live in peril of a random shoebox or coat falling on top of me.  After two months of managing the renovation of the bathroom and kitchen in the new house (much thanks to Aspect.co.uk and Kitchens Unlimited – you were tops) and getting my trusty Papa Lau to do most of the donkey decorating work, I moved in last December and have since been slowly building it up decorative layer by layer.  It’s finally gotten to the point where I have to resist homeware overload as every interiors/lifestyle store holds temptation.  I’ve *just* about weaned myself off my daily visit of Clippings, Decor8 and the ever trusty Houzz.

The dangerous thing about it this whole house malarky is how my attitude towards interiors mirrors that of my clothes.  Hurrah you might say.  Except that my love of colour, print and ridic cartoonish-ness needs to be tempered because a) you have to work/live with a room interior for longer lengths of time than when you wear a super loud outfit and b) this house belongs to both me and my boyfriend Steve, who favours the subtler and dare I say more tasteful side of things.  There’s also all the fashion gubbins to contend with.  Bags, shoes, accessories and other paraphernalia aren’t ever going to be seamlessly concealed behind magic white cupboards and nor do I want them to be.  In effect, they’ve had to be incorporated into the “schemes” of the rooms (can you tell I’ve been lapping up The Great Interior Design Challenge?)

Challenges aside, as I’ve spent the past few days enjoying holing up in my house, I’m happy to say that I’m now mega house-proud.  It’s not exactly #chic-to-the-next-lev or Elle Decoration ready but it was never going to be.  I’d liken my house in a similar way to my personal style – it’s basically an overdecorated cake, with far too much icing, too many candles and extra ornaments.  It was never going to be that minimal Scandi interior blog thig.  Nor was it going to be floor-to-ceiling psychedelic cray.  It’s something in between with opportunity to be amped up should I become braver, with my weapon of choice be it paint, wallpaper or washi tape (going to attempt to washi tape the entire staircase soon…).


Living/Dining Room – I’m not sure why I was hell bent on the combination of grey, white and yellow (with a flash of pale blue).  It might have been the Miss Print “Mountains” wallpaper that led the way.  Or the Knight Mills rug but once I got going it was hard to not go matchy-matchy.  It’s a running joke with friends that we’ve stuffed our smallish room silly with no less than six different kinds of chairs with my favourites being the grey moustache chair that I use as a desk chair and the white geometric Charlie Crowther-Smith dining chairs.  I’m not the biggest fan of Made.com (late-late deliveries…) but they came good with this Je-Uk Kim Lovebird sofa.  Special mention to Shoreditch-based furniture company Unto this Last for the slat and step shelving, which you used to be able to order in a ton of colours (now they only offer three) and Chiaozza in Brooklyn for making all your multi-coloured display shelving dreams come true.

0E5A1855Wearing adidas SLVR hat, Marni shirt, Peter Jensen striped skirt, Christian Dior slippers, checked socks from Tokyo sitting on Charlie Crowther Smith “4” chair with Unto this Last slat bookshelf in the background.

0E5A1800Habitat “Naoko” armchair with Kenzo blanket, Notknot “Good Luck” yellow pillow, Seven Gauge “Lolli” knit cushion, two large grey Swash cushions, Louis Vuitton blanket

0E5A1827Givenchy “Rave” tote, Roksanda carrier bag and Proenza Schouler x Master & Dynamic headphones on Knight Mills “Pilot” rug

0E5A1734Lounging in Ryan Lo jumper and Calla jeans on Made.com Lovebird sofa by Je-Uk Kim and Swash cushions

0E5A1203Chiaozza frames painted with custom colours 

0E5A1293Vintage Ercol desk against Miss Print “Mountains” wallpaper

0E5A1299Little Miss Sunshine/Bubble print from Selfridges

0E5A1230A load of “stuff” on Unto this Last step shelves in pale blue and yellow

0E5A1323Ikea Hönefoss hexagon mirrors on wall, Matt Pugh candlestick holders, West Elm honeycomb vase, My Drap napkin roll

0E5A1319Kristina Krogh green galaxy print

0E5A1321“Summoning of Radiations and Wavelengths” painting by Dee Dee Cheriel

0E5A1315Kristina Krogh print

0E5A1840Burberry blanket cape on Moustache chair and vintage hall runner

0E5A1546Marimekko teapot and plate, Loewe brooch, Hermes candle

0E5A1559Assortment of cacti and stone shaped vase on Hairy and Grainy cheeseboard, Delfina Delettrez earrings, YSL mini bag on Restored copper table.  

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Kitchen – This room is still recovering from the four day cookfest and plus it’s fairly utilitarian (cream and grey) and not so interesting on the pretty pretty front.  I’m oscillating between organic wooden things and garish crockery.

0E5A1478LSA paddle and dip set, assortment of Iris Hantverk utensils, Sebastian Conran cookery bookstand, Muji oven mitts, Polpo book

0E5A1492Hybrid Seletti plates


Hallway – The star of my entrance way is the neon yellow Brose Fogale Camerino valet stand.  It’s never going to actually hang all our bags and coats but isolated in one area I can kid myself that I’m the sort of person that might only have one or two bags and a few pairs of shoes.

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0E5A1506Lean Man console with Hay trays and Studio Arhoj piggy bank


Landing – I yelped quite a bit when pictures like the Givenchy M/M Paris invitations and the original Julie Verhoeven illustration were finally hung, only because I’ve never ever hung a picture up having lived in rented properties.  That was almost as monumental as buying the house itself.  The wooden vintage shoe cabinet came from a very friendly eBay furniture seller based in Germany, who called up several times to ensure safe delivery.  I also love that the owner is called Axel.  I’m going to try and bid on more stuff just so I can converse with Axel.

0E5A1410Shoes from L-R: Comme des Garcons brogues, Chanel trainers, Celine slip-ons and Buffalo platforms on the vintage shoe cabinet with Julie Verhoeven’s illustration peeking in the background.

0E5A1729Converse rubber chucks, Acne x Stephen Jones hat and Bernstock Speirs visor on the dressmaker’s dummy, the rolls of tape that I’m definitely/maybe/maybe not going to use one day and the Nike Air Force 1 Mid

0E5A1421Givenchy M/M Paris invitations


Bathroom – Again, more utilitarian than interesting.  White subway tiles, Victorian/Edwardian-esque tub and sink and errr… a lot of white.  I basically wanted the Soho/Tribeca Grand bathroom in my house minus the quirky wallpaper.  My baby sister Jennifer’s “You got pooped on” “It’s my hat.” comic strip illustration is the smidge of whimsy.

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0E5A1434Illustration by my sister Jennifer Lau

0E5A1442Aesop, Suzanne Kaufmann, Chanel, & Other Stories… stuff

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Special special love to this pair of spade chairs by Faye Toogood, the standouts from our ridiculously large collection of chairs.  They came with a note that simply said “Sit.”  Trust Faye and her sister Erica to send something minimal yet salient.

0E5A1722Wearing Somewhere Nowhere furry sweatshirt, The Layers striped skirt, Christian Dior slippers on Faye Toogood spade chairs in black and white.


Guest room formerly known as the out-of-sight, out-of-mind room – This room was a tip for such a long time that I now just love going in every once in a while and sigh.  I’m still deliberating whether it needs some paint or yet more wallpaper but I’ll enjoy its clean state for the time being.  The decoupaged flamingo chest of drawers upcycled by Lady MucknBrass on Etsy  got a lot of love on Instagram and I’m excited that this former fashion nail technician turned furniture upcycler will be opening a shop in Crouch End early next year.

0E5A1646Lady Mucknbrass flamingo chest of drawers, Surprise Surprise light by Stephen Johnson, Marni bag

0E5A1659Kenzo Kalifornia Gommato bag, Little Sunny Bite pouch, Studio Arhoj figurines

0E5A1639Wearing J.W. Anderson x John Allen tapestry top and Toga jeans on top of boucherouite rug from Marrakech

0E5A1705Dior print and books, Nicholas Kirkwood sandals, Acne clutch, Somewhere Nowhere Woo Hoo armbands, Isabel Marant La Montre watch on Made.com Stroller desk


Our bedroom – There was only ever one wallpaper I was interested in for our bedroom.  I’d been looking at Kirath Ghundoo‘s work forever, mesmerised by her seemingly random vortex of glitchy geometric patterns doused in pretty pastel shades.  My dad was tutting the whole time he was putting up this Mosaic wallpaper, perplexed and confuzzled by the patternation.  A year in and I haven’t had a pattern migraine yet.  It’s just been augmented by a lovely wall tapestry that my other sister Yonnica Lau made me for Christmas.

0E5A1399Wearing Victoria by Victoria Beckham pink tracksuit and pretending to be Luna P on John Lewis by Ercol bed, Hay bedsheets, Sian Elin cushions

0E5A1368Confetti System garland, UE Boom speakers, Meadham Kirchhoff shoes, Confetti System decoration, Studio Snowpuppe paper light, a doll of me made by Iain R Webb

0E5A1338Wall tapestry by my sister Yonnica Lau

0E5A1587Wearing Katie Jones jumpers and Kit Neale trousers with Marc by Marc Jacobs tote on boucherouite rug from Marrakech

When I was featured in the i-D x Business of Fashion #BOF500 film, I said something on camera that was singled out and duly lambasted on i-D’s Instagram.  “The fashion industry is about creativity first and foremost and hopefully commerce second.”  Commenters flagged up my naivety and deemed I was living in a la-la land.  Maybe I am but when faced with a fashion industry that crushes creativity, I’d rather keep my rose-tinted specs on.  Crushed is exactly how I felt when it was revealed last Friday on Style.com in an interview with Maya Singer that Meadham Kirchhoff won’t be staging a show as part of London Fashion Week next season, with the reason being that they don’t have the funds to do so.  Since then, Vogue.co.uk has reported that Meadham Kirchhoff remain on the schedule whilst they are “figuring the right way forward.”  Is it the end?  Nobody knows but the Style.com piece and their last S/S 15 collection clue you into the harsh reality of the industry today.  Suffice to say, should Meadham Kirchhoff find themselves unable to carry on, I’d question whether this is an industry that I personally want to be a part of and work in.

Ed Meadham and Ben Kirchhoff need no introduction, especially on this blog – I’ve extolled and raved about them numerous times.  Why they matter goes beyond mere product or the niceties of a solid collection.  Ever since they began on their quest on discovering the Cosmology of Women, the industry has been in their thrall and eager to be swept under their spell of fantastical and emotive dreamer fashion.  They reached a pinnacle when they presented raging Courtney Love’s in satin dresses and ballerinas in fanciful fluff and frou-frou in their spring/summer 12 collection named “A Wolf in Sheep’s/Lamb’s Clothing”.  Above any surface-driven aesthetic, it’s the don’t-give-a-fuck spirit inherited from London’s premier fashion provocateurs (Westwood, Bodymap, Galliano – all bearers of the essence of what makes British fashion so great) that garnered Meadham Kirchhoff a diehard fanbase .  It’s a fanbase that turns up in their hundreds outside their Hackney studio for a chance to be street-cast in their fashion shows or grab a piece of discounted MK.  They are girls and boys around the world Tumblr-ing their love for Meadham Kirchhoff through moodboards, collages and emojis.  I’ve literally seen people go misty-eyed and enter trance-like states when the subject of Meadham Kirchhoff comes up.  For those that get it, the love runs deep.

At Meadham Kirchhoff’s recent sample sale, rails were stuffed with archive pieces.  It was a clear out of epic proportions and it felt like precious pieces of Meadham and Kirchhoff were going for a song.  You can immediately debunk the myth that the duo are maverick conceptualists who make unwearable clothes once you’ve copped a feel of their pin-tucked chiffon dresses with intricate cutwork or embroidered peasant blouses that are finished by hand.  Every time I’ve worn something by Meadham Kirchhoff, people will invariably comment on how beautiful and lovely it is and then look slightly perplexed when I tell them who it’s by.  Selling has never been a problem either as they told Style.com openly that they sold everything they made and tellingly, their collaboration with Topshop last year also sold out in minutes.

So how does a label that has feverish fandom and beautiful and desirable product, find itself unable to carry on?  Louise Gray, a former kindred spirit on the London fashion scene also succumbed to the pressures of being out alone on the island of idiosyncratic creatives.  On one hand you could say that perhaps the audience of these designers are niche and small.  And if they have enjoyed longstanding support sponsorship from schemes like New Gen and still can’t make it work, then the problem lies with their collections.

On the other hand, maybe we should think about whether a one size fits all fashion system works for every single designer out there.   Are the pressures of bottom lines in department stores and boutiques restricting the breadth of their buys?  Are the number of collections required of designers fatigueing an industry – where the truly sublime can pass people by in a flash because our attentions are so diverted and divided?  For all the strides that London Fashion Week has made in recent seasons, are we still succumbing to the same pitfalls of the 80s and 90s where support out there for designers who aren’t necessarily business minded is lacking?  Hungry press and retailers demand shows to drum up hype and hub-hub, but when they are so costly and take out so much resources from young designers and start-ups, why not use alternative modes of presentation and communication?  And in an age where boundaries are removed through the internet, can a brand like Meadham Kirchhoff with such a fervent following reach out to their customers directly, cutting out the middlemen?

Meadham Kirchhoff and Gray’s demise is further evidence of a fashion industry where taste has been quashed through a conventional and ultra polite filter.  Everything needs to be instantly sellable, commercial and anything remotely madcap won’t go the distance or even make it to the rails.  And yet we still dance under the masquerade of an industry that promotes the new, the exciting and the innovative.  Their disquiet of this ruthless industry was expressed in their  bolshy and anger-driven spring/summer 2015 collection.  It was two fingers up at the establishment.  In an interview with i-D, Kirchhoff was lucid about designers today that have to bend over backwards to meet the needs of the industry.  “I think you have a culture of designers at the moment that is about pleasing the journalists and the buyers and saying yes to everything.”

Still, perhaps there’s a different outlet or route for these nonconformist creatives out there.  Gray is currently teaching and has also been working with Lulu Kennedy on Lulu & Co.   Could there be a house out there for Meadham and Kirchhoff where the financials are in place to put their talent and skills to good use?

Until solution are found, I will continue to lament the dearth of “difficult” designers – as in their clothes might be tricksy or their characters tempestuous.  Everything comes too easy today with Instagram-able personas and rack-ready product.  This isn’t the industry that I fell in love with.  I’d rather be in la-la land than a no-man’s land of drone-like fashion and conveyor belt creativity.  We need to be careful that we don’t eradicate the very reason that make us do what we do.

Published originally on i-D 

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0E5A1115Old MK, New MK, All Good MK – these are clothes that I won’t part with for love or money…

After London, Tokyo comes a close second when it comes to buying vintage.  I haven’t shopped the world over to give an accurate comparison but as “select” and “curated” vintage goes, Tokyo can be hard to beat.   That will sound odd as Tokyo sits in a continent that is by and large vintage-shy (fear of wearing dead people’s garments affects the swathe of the Chinese for instance, as I grew up defending vintage to relatives).  But there’s got to be an explanation as to why I come home with a trunk of secondhand gems every time I go.  Even my two day trip for Dior last week yielded more than a few things.  There’s the secondhand designer finds of course, mainly down to the resale chains like Ragtag and Kind.  But there’s also unique vintage shops, who have gone to America and Europe to scour fairs, markets and dealers, and seem to have found all the bona fide goodies with their early bird diligence.  They then create specialized vintage emporiums that are a far cry from many of the 70s’ polyester and 80s’ tat ridden overpriced stores that London falls victim to.  Not to say that London doesn’t have real deal vintage places – but another advantage Tokyo vintage spots seem to have is that they’re less picked over and new goodie drops feel like they’re more frequent.

I wanted to highlight a few of my favourite places and recent finds that make that pricy trip all the more worth it as I increasingly drift towards vintage that feels special and more often than not, are veritably old (as in dating back pre 1950).

Birthdeath – I didn’t find out about Shibuya vintage spot until this year when Nagi from the ever-awesome Disco Nail directed me there.  Browsing the store and their website, it feels like they’ve cultivated a lifestyle as opposed to merely a vintage store, where record rarities meets pristine Victoriana and 70s-80s new wave garms.  The breadth of periods covered by the selection is broad but the common thread is that every piece feels purposefully chosen.  A quick browse begot me a 1930s’ ruched sleeved capelet and a 1920s’ geometric printed slip dress.  They also sell new menswear labels like blackmeans, which has its own counterculture thing going on.  Birthdeath is the sort of music meets fashion hub that you’d think would be more prevalent in London (or in the UK in general) but weirdly isn’t.

Shibuya NC bldg 1F, 1-9-4 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku Tokyo

birthdeath

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J’Antiques – Everybody and their mum who has been to Tokyo will know J’Antiques.  It’s the equivalent of Rellik in London.  What’s interesting about J’Antiques is the equal billing that both menswear and womenswear get.  Actually in general, vintage in Tokyo is freely available for both sexes unlike in other cities where it’s normally weighted in favour of women.  But J’Antiques excels in sheer selection.  Rare denim, seriously old workwear, beautiful Victorian to 1930s’ cotton lawn dresses, East European embroidery, old Chinese robes… basically anything that has decorative and historical heft can be found here.  It can be expensive but the things I’ve found like this tartan blanket dress was fairly reasonable.  And if absolutely no garments take your fancy, the stack of quality French linens by the front are definitely worth rifling through.

2-25-13 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo

jantiquesPhotograph from A Continuous Lean

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Jeanne Valet – This is one of the first vintage places that I stumbled into by accident.  It’s worth looking upwards inside this tiny shop where clothes hang high from the ceiling.  Also ask the helpful (and English-speaking – a rarity sometimes in Tokyo!) staff if you’re looking for something specific and they’ll climb up into their turret to get it from their stockroom.  Victorian, old military, 1960-70s’ designer pieces, rare scarves and men’s workwear are its specialties.  The last time I was there, I was vaguely tempted by an early 20th century Shakesperean stage costume but opted for a men’s striped denim shirt instead.

13-6 Daikanyama-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

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Toro – Somewhere between Shibuya and Harajuku up on the 4th floor, Toru is a little bit hidden and in its teensy square footage, they get a lot in.  Everything from a Victorian corseted jacket to a 1960s’ Oleg Cassini two-piece suit can be found and every piece has been cleaned, repaired and restored properly.  I indulged in my love of intricate smocking with a dusky pink dress with beautiful folksy detailing.  Actually, I’ve never not found an instant !Love! piece whenever I’ve been in.  As with much of Tokyo’s shopping, bar or restaurant scene, sometimes the best places can be found on higher floors, away from expensive ground rent.

4F, 6-19-17 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

toro

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 6 (Roku)This place is a bit of a mystery to Google in English.  I can’t even give you an exact address other than it’s near Nakameguro station.  It’s signposted by a simple “6” sticker on the door and on the 2nd and 3rd floor you’ll find the most amazing collection of rarities – military, denim, sportswear, leathers, varsity jackets – whatever category it is, they come up trumps with brilliant examples.  That might sound very menswear-centric but that’s precisely what makes it so interesting to go through meticulously (I once spent two hours here…) because every piece has its own possibilities to be worn as womenswear.  When I was going through my Chinese dragons fixation, I found this blue silk shirt – the owner told me it was worn by servants in the Qing Dynasty court.  I found that tale a bit far-fetched but I do like that it’s different and older than the embroidered dragon robes and shirts that you tend to find dating to the mid-20th century.  If you can find your way there, you won’t be disappointed.  Long may it last that Six doesn’t let itself be known with websites, Twitter updates and all of that new-fandangled promotion stuff.

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