>> eBay crawling is a dangerous slippery slope. eBay crawling at 3am in the morning when you’re awake with jet lag having just landed into New York leads you from looking at things that you actually wanted (search terms “Balenciaga runway”, “Junya Watanabe” and “John Galliano”) to looking at things you never knew you wanted… like these Disney Parks shoe ornaments. No, Disney haven’t collaborated with a ton of shoe designers to create these bijoux tributes to both well known and obscure characters. For a few years, their in-house team have been creating little 3 x 3.5 inch ornaments, applying glitter, jewels and princess/villain appropriate embellishments, so much so that you could well be tricked into thinking that were these a real adult shoe, you’d be tempted into spanking more than the $22 that these little trinkets cost (you can buy them exclusively at Disney Parks and resorts).
From an initial eBay search, I then found rabid Disney merch aficionado sites like Disney Fashionista or this crazily detailed Flickr profile, where sentences like “I started singing “Colors of the Wind” as soon as I saw this Pocahontas runway shoe” and “(This) shoe is one that has nuances the non-Disney lover may not notice” are par for course. Those nuances may well be lost on the majority of non-Disney loving people but the actual aesthetic make-up of these mini shoe-jects are fascinating. Over the top, garish and almost grotesque, they remind me of over decorated crazily coloured cupcakes that I wouldn’t ever actually want to put in my mouth. Excepting perhaps the Cruella DeVille pointy pump and the Mulan flower sandal, were these to be enlarged and made into a wearable reality, the overwhelming kitschness would probably deter me from wearing them for real. Then again, the same could be said for many of the OTT shoes that I’ve collected over the years (Giles AW 08 bolted heels? Meadham Kirchhoff S/S 12 glitter layer cake platforms?) bought for far more than $22, that now languish on my shelves as nothing more than pretty objects. Perhaps diverting my decorative shoe fixation to these little plastic charms wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all.*
Back in February some of you mightrecall that I experienced India for the first time in my life on a brief but compelling trip courtesy of the Victoria & Albert Museum. The sole reason was to discover the roots, the craft and the tradition of the textiles that will feature in V&A’s upcoming exhibition The Fabric of India as part of their India Festival in October. On a three day trip to Delhi and Jaipur, we saw a LOT – so much so that despite losing one SD card containing photographs from one half of the trip – I still have enough images and content to split up into a series of posts, which I’ll be publishing in a sort of loose countdown to October 3rd when The Fabric of India opens. First up is the thing that everyone said would completely slay me if I ever came to India – yup, it’s those colours. The abundance of all shades. Everywhere you looked and made all the brighter and vivid in the pink-hued sunlight that washes over Jaipur in particular. There is no fear or polite convention when it comes to the use of colour. It bursts over everywhere you go and there’s no sheepish or apologetic stance to go with it, as it might do in the West. It’s not considered “outlandish” or “wild” to have yellows, pinks, greens, blues and reds mixed into one entity be it an outfit, a house or a moving vehicle.
It was in Jaipur, where I took the most photographs. It was hard not to snap everything and anything. The buildings that from afar look like a jumbled up abstract painting. The rickshaws and tuk tuks adorned with trinkets and kitsch. The faded typography. All manner of paper and textile paraphernalia sold in the markets that incited squeals of “Ooohs” and “Aaahhs” from us bumbling tourists. It was just as well that Fabric of India was the primary agenda of our trip. It became all too easy to see how Indian culture expresses itself through colour and how it is intrinsically interwoven into daily life. Seeing smidges of colour outside of our formalised agenda was one way of seeing how those exhibiting textiles pieces relate to reality. I’ll be going into more thorough detail about the exhibition with upcoming Fabric of India posts. For now, allow the colours to do the talking…
I’ve never been quite sure how to do “lady”. By “lady”, I mean the image prescribed to me by Doris Day films, where head to toe colour schemes, a strict posture and matching hats and gloves all utilised simultaneously to instil fear in the slouchy, mismatched and messy likes of me. You wonder whether Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough from Proenza Schouler looked at similar “lady” images – maybe these ones depicting impossibly chic women in the 1940s from Life Magazine – and thought to themselves that these ladies could go feral. Their interpretation of “lady” is precisely what made their A/W 15-6 collection so impressive and persuasive to us lady-allergic folk.
Hernandez and McCollough were in fact inspired by the contrast between well heeled and fur-swathed female art connoisseurs in the mid 20th century and the progressive abstract expressionist art that they’re looking at. But more than just a simple segue between canvas and cloth, what are strict and haughty silhouettes become untamed and vaguely animalistic. In other words, the sort of “lady” that I could get onboard with. They’re the sort of clothes have stuck with me long after the show back in February.
Nubbly tweed suits are upon closer inspection stitched up strips of woven chiffon. The astrakhan that might have graced hats and collars of those ladies who lunch, are turned into grey hued wraps that act like graphic enclosures around the body. Austere wool coats are cut-into so that they flail with similarly sharp-edged cut-outs gracing body conscious mid-length dresses. Cow print on calfskin makes adds a touch of the Wild West to a prim shift dress. Once evening starts kicking in, feathers that would sit perched in singular form on a hat are clustered into mohawked shoulders and V-shaped fringing on the hips. What might have been a smattering of sequins on a conventional dress are used in their hundreds of thousands to make provocatively cut-out robes that slither about on the body. Then any semblance of “lady” goes out of the window with the grommeted chiffon finale pieces splayed with more feathers. Even practical and sturdy tights are slashed into with geometry. This is “lady” gone feral. And in the process, once again the duo provoke with new textures. If Proenza Schouler’s recent collections prior to this one were a tad on the polite side, with A/W 14-5, they confront ladylike politeness head on and triumph by roughing up those connotations.
>> The first time I worked with Swedish brand Monki, I got to wave around a cartoonishly large remote control and magic myself in and out of a TV screen for a series of videos. That was back in 2011 when I was still awkwardly unsure of that full time blogger thing. Four years later and I’m perhaps a touch wiser but still up for a fun bout of Monki-ing around. This time round, I was asked to roam around a secret idyllic garden in Stockholm’s Sodermalm wearing key pieces from the Monki Original collection. According to Monki’s press notes.. “Susie Bubble perfectly embodies the the spirit of a Monki original who is brave, paves her own way, pursues her own dreams and definitely, picks fun over boring.”
I’ll agree with one thing. I’ve had a lot of fun on this bizarre journey of mine. And this Monki campaign shoot back in June was certainly one of the most fun I’ve had in front of a professional camera. I’ve never been fully adept at the whole faux-modelling thing. Because…well, I’m not a model. Monki and photographer Hedvig Jenning were well aware of that and so instead, we went for unadulterated silliness and cheeky grins.
I’ve seen some stories coming out about the collection saying I designed it. I’m correcting that here to say I had zero hand in the creation of the pieces. However the Scandi/Japanese mix of the collection does make this Monki collection stand out from their usual offerings with its wabi sabi inspired textures and unexpected and oversized proportions. My favourite pieces are the kimono coats and the giant cuffed jeans all the better for doing comedy slapstick walks in (see the video below). The Monki Originals collection is beginning to filter through online and and will be in-store from Monday onwards. Funky Monki-s unite.
Some of the Monki kooky bits that were on hand to jazz up the Monki Collection