Socialism creeps into River Island HQ.

Friday, 29 May 2009

A letter from a loyal reader tumbled into the email inbox with a humble request for articles on fashion that’s more in touch with what normal wallets can afford. Given that the financial markets are still going through a gloomy period bleeding helplessly as the people are clinging tightly on to their jobs and their every penny they’ve got. Although this blog strictly cover high-fashion, nothing is written in stone and there is always room for rational exceptions.

In the month of April I was invited to preview the Fall/Winter collection of a brand that might not ring a bell for anyone reading this article outside the borders of Great Britain, but the brand certainly a familiarity to UK shopper. The River Island. A people’s brand like H&M, Zara, Topshop and GAP, serving as an interim choice for dreamers hoping to one day have a £1,700 Dolce & Gabbana jacket hugging their upper body. Off course, the distance between an extravagant Italian jacket and a £25 River Island shirt is large with only a lucky few managing to close it. That is why brand like River Island play an important role in society. In touch with reality, give the public a life sustaining dosage of fashion at prices that are within arm’s reach for the majority of the population.

Not only does River Island serve affordable fashion, but their pre-view event had attractive brunette ladies kindly serving canapés of world class standard. The last time I encountered outstanding canapés like these, were at Jaguar’s luxurious press hospitality area at the London Motor Show in 2008. Grabbed with my fiddly right thumb and index finger, I indulged in mini hamburgers, seafood and deserts of all various delicious forms. To my lion appetite I enjoyed the sound track of two trendy DJs spinning upbeat tunes from the 80s which, along with the alcoholic beverages served at the bar, kept everyone on their toes across the room. Far in one of the corners were two arcade machines for anyone feeling to temporarily zoning out of the world of fashion for some classic Pac-Man game play. And yes, the machines were indeed popular.

Excitement reverberated through the entire room with a colourful palette of clothes and accessories hung on racks against the walls. Rather than fulfilling the prophecy of low-end retailers which is to provide basic wardrobe necessities with a neutral appearance, River Island orchestrated a collection of much diversity and personality. From thick cardigans and dark jackets to light fabrics for warm evening, no month of the second half of this year was unaccounted for. Different styles were thoughtfully considered too as the accessories ranged from gloomy and grungy boots to handsome loafers. In other words there were unexpectedly well designed fall 2009 offerings with some element of liking for everyone. Quality was admirable too with most pieces giving a premium feel when touched.

It was a day of tropical temperatures with the sun stinging on my shiny forehead like a floodlight. I probably shouldn’t have resorted to the vodka and lime drinks for killing my thirst because after tree glasses delusion kicked it. Staring across the room an illusion emerged of Christopher Bailey, Burberry’s chief designer, waving me in for a bottle of mountain spring water. With an empty glass of melting crushed ice in my left hand I walked towards the illusion of Bailey which was fading as I approached, and evidently vanished as I tried to grab him only to be left with a grey River Island blazer in my right hand. How brainless of me to be drawn into stupid mind games. But I swear, Bailey was in the room. Perhaps not in physical form but in spirit he was. Reflecting over the tomfoolery that had taken place a few seconds ago I clanged on to the blazer which abruptly triggered an express journey down the memory lane taking me back 5 months to the very day I posted an article on Burberry Prorsum FW09. That’s when all pieces magically locked into place. Even under intoxication I was able to experience a Robert Langdon moment while my eyes were rolling across the rail of clothes carrying heavy resemblance from Christopher Bailey’s most recent Burberry collection.

How devastating. Burberry Prorsum’s AW09 had been robbed of its virginity by River Island -- this before the Burberry garments even reach a single customer. Imitations were predominantly depicting AW09 but some familiar cues from SS09 were visible in a few pieces hung on the unofficial Burberry rack. They say imitation is the biggest form of flattery, but what if it’s the worst act of disrespect for creativity, talent and respect for art -- not to mention other people. Sadly the theme of imitation was a reoccurring theme that crippled across the entire collection as other familiar AW09 designs by the likes of Jil Sander’s must distinguished multi-colour scheme that signified his SS09 collection. DSquared also have a fair share of clothes to raise their eye brows over. Several shirts and sweaters that mimicked the Canadian duos playful knitwear prints and designs.

The amount of high fashion replication was unparalleled by anything I’ve seen produced by a respected corporation. The sight of the grand replication before my eyes was near level headed with the acts of certain Chinese car manufacturers which have enjoyed themselves developing cars heavily inspired by Rolls-Royce and BMW designs. German justice system righteously deemed a BMW X5 replica illegal in with the car manufacturer hungry to further display their fury and disgust by pursuing further legal action. That is not to say that River Island raise a red union jack on the roof of their head quarter and commence development of nuclear missiles. Much of what they presented at the preview is adequate for urban men in the market for thrilling designs at prices that don’t break the bank. Originality most crucial ingredient lacking in certain parts of the range unlike the canapés which they have all the reasons to be proud of.


Riviéra Special: Excess living.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Today, Sunday the 24th of March, marks the finale of one and a half weeks of glamorous festivities on the sunny French Riviera. Warm up began with the Cannes Film Festivals where A-list Hollywood stars, directors and producers converged on European soil and put their latest motion pictures up for critique and scrutiny of top film pundits. Drifting east of Cannes along the coast of France, the road eventually leads to the small but dreamy principality of Monaco. If Cancun is the sin city for American university students and Las Vegas the city of gambling and prostitutes for soon to be married bachelors, then Monaco is the playground of obscenely wealthy billionaires. And for racing drivers the Monaco Grand Prix is the most prestigious race, if not the most prestigious sporting event to win, and today British racing driver Jenson Button commemorated for his magnificent triumph at the urban circuit.

20 minutes away from the country 33,000 inhabitants is Nice airport where private Cessna and Gulfstream aircrafts have swarmed the landing grounds like seagulls on an abandoned pier. Equally astonishing is overcrowded beach pier where yachts the size of family homes are docked to let the jet set playboys spectate the race close to the roaring engines of 20 Formula 1 cars while their female chaperones are working on their tans on the upper decks. This year’s Moby Dick is Indian billionaire Vijay Malay’s mega yatch which was the largest one at the Formula 1 spectacle this weekend. With traditions stretching back to the 1920 the Monaco Grand Prix is equally as enchanting every year. Here the wealthy and famous George Lucas get to spend a weekend in a utopia of rosé champagne and Mediterranean extravaganza. It’s the one time and one place during the year when money can be spent guilt-free. In Monaco the word recession is an alien word that is nowhere to be found in the dictionaries, but tax evasion is a highly familiar terms as many racing drivers and business owners relocate their residence to this land of no income tax. A flock of British high income earners are bound to pack their Dunhill brief cases and Richard James shirt, and move to lavish Monaco now when UK income tax for the rich has been increased to distressing 50%.

Consumption in the capital city, Monte Carlo, is beyond the levels of premium and luxury and is the stratosphere of excess where buying a Ferrari F430 Scuderia or a hillside mansion on impulse is not considered to be beyond reason. Even focused racing teams are drawn into the flaunting and self indulgence by hosting lavish parties for VIP guests, Sponsors and team members. Mclaren Mercedes takes it a bit further by giving their drivers a healthy dose of diamond Monaco every year. Reigning world champion and Monaco 2008 winner, Lewis Hamilton, had the number “1” studded on to his bright yellow helmet this weekend. Other endorsed merchandise worn by driver such as Hublot, Tag Heuer and Certina wrist watches were admirably kept clear of precious stones. One of the ten commandments of men’s fashion says that “thou shall not twinkle like a little star”. Men shall therefore keep diamonds and pearls to a minimum and devoid of sparkling wrist watches and bracelets excessively studded with diamonds.

Envy and hatred lurk like snakes in the grass and diamonds have a tendency to attract unwanted looks and be social frowned upon. Notably heated, is the discussion regarding the origin of diamonds and social responsibility should be at the forefront when buying diamonds to ensure that greedy middle men in Antwerp have obtained the very diamonds you want to buy, in the most ethical and morally correct way possible. If diamonds don’t have a dark cloud and a history of blood covered hands, then proceed with buying a watch with diamond dials. Despite their better suitability for women, diamonds are beautiful and the Rolex watches pictured are a respectable of carrying beautiful stones without compromising your image or social status.


New website: Monochrome Finery.

Friday, 22 May 2009

While revising hard for my final exams I’ve leaned on the shoulders of piano and photography for comfort and work balance. Piano play and photography are excellent hobbies for escaping reality because they don’t involve any heavy thought processing or written words. Silence is golden, in fact, most things in life are best enjoyed when no words are spoken like eating, having sex, swimming. Therefore the new supplement this website, Monochrome Finery, will comprise of just black & white photographs and no more words beyond the title of each post. No elaborate planning or high ambitions are pillar supporting the photo blog. It will merely serve as a way for me to exhibit my premature work as an amateur photographer, sort of like a diary to follow my own progress.



Facial care in the fast lane.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

The morning and night grooming rituals are overlooked and are positioned far down, right above removing dust behind the TV, on the priority list for chores. Given that man is the fastest gender on earth it is forgiveable to not give the body a vain and lengthy Patrick Bateman spa treatment every morning. Guys are obliterating quick and can get ready for an emergency invitation to party within minutes while the opposite gender don’t even wouldn’t even consider 2 hours to be ample preparation time.

Scarcity of time isn’t not much of a problem as the Orcs of capitalism standing in cosmetic booths in shopping departments. Their bright red seductive lipstick can be spotted from a far. Young and attractive they seek your attention with a charming and flirtatious smile of an aircraft stewardess, but are best defeated by not engaging eye contact and avoiding getting lured in to try the latest coconut hand lotion they want you to try(and buy thereafter). Consequences can be financial manslaughter as these deceivingly pretty sales assistant always aim to sell you every single cosmetic product stocked on the shelves behind the counter. All the fancy adjectives like exfoliating, nurturing, ph balance used describe the products makes the head spin like the London Eye. The number one unanswered question in every guys head is ‘What products do I really need that won’t require me to wake up 1 hour earlier than necessary?’, because although all most products are essentially good for us, there is only so many product a person can use without them cancelling each other out.

The essentials: Cleanser and moisturiser
Regardless of interest in body and facial care there are two products that should be in the cabinets behind every foggy bathroom mirror, and those are a facial cleanser and a facial moisturiser. Under no circumstance should any product baring the word soap be used on the face because soap is made using chemicals and chemicals corrode the skin. Cutting corners by using hand soap lead to nasty skin irritation, dryness or even a rash. The benefit is using cleaners composed of natural ingredients is minimal damage made to the skin. Look for names like ginseng, avocado, menthol and juniper on labels for both cleansers and moisturisers. Both products can be used before going to sleep at night and right after waking up in the morning. The latter being more important than the former as water to the face makes the body alert and ready for a good day.

The extras: Facial scrub
Deep cleaning is revitalizing whatever object is receiving the treatment. The sensation afterwards is refreshing newness and joyous rebirth. Persian marble floors receive a scrub every now and then and so should the face too, and that is done using a facial scrub. What distinguish a scrub from a facial cleanser is near microscopic fragment of crushed apricot or walnut seeds working down clogged pores and oily skin layers, increasing the breathability of the skin. Given a scrub contain tiny hard particles one monthly deep cleaning is enough to maintain a fresh and well nurtured skin.

The luxury: Natural shaving crème and anti-ageing crème
Self inflicted cuts with a poor shaving blade or simply poor shaving is one of the reasons why shaving is one of the most harmful treatment given to the skin. Therefore no expenses should be spared for a nurturing shaving crème and friendly shaving blades. Bumps, cuts and bruised skin are common penalties awarded to those who compromise their shaving. The more natural the product is, the less likely it is that it will irritate the skin, and to break your reality, natural shaving crèmes do not come in aluminium cans and neither do they foam. But it’s worth mentioning that synthetic and above mid-range products available in supermarkets do suffice in protecting the skin during a close shave.

When the adult land marking age of 20 is reached, ageing is not an inevitability but a current and an accelerating process. No one likes being called old and by default, buying anti-ageing products is a self proclamation of being old. Ironing out wrinkles and lines that show signs of ageing, a crème of this type is quite a dazzling experience. After application to the face there is a few magical seconds of the face heating and tightening up, but is sadly not followed by the reverse ageing affect of Benjamin Button.

Products from



Can we survive without wearing fashion?

Friday, 15 May 2009

Fashion carries a different meaning for everyone. For some fashion is signing up to Hermes mailing list to get notified of the latest Hermés Birkin bag before Victoria Beckham gets hold of it while fashion for a student at Central Saint Martin is awaiting a reply from Matthew Williamson for an internship at his accessory department. Pragmatically fashion is what’s attached to the body and the essence is therefore to wear fashion. But is wearing fashion a prerequisite for being fashionable or is the clothes just the tip of the iceberg with a stronger essence beneath the water surface.

A chef at the Michelin starred restaurant ‘Le Gavroche’ gladly cooks for his guests and smile at their satisfaction, and at home he prepare meals for himself, tasting the fruit of his own labour. That is only the righteous path in life, right? Preach what you speak and embrace what you do and create. Yet, Milano and Paris runway designers couldn’t be any more distant from their own runway collections. Is it that their interest in designing has trailed off into the whelm of business eroding the driving force force or design that made them become a designer in the first place? Or are they distancing their everyday attire away from high fashion in order to laser precision focus on designing as opposed to dressing up for the press? Notorious drug lord, Pablo Escobar couldn’t have dreamt of more success as his career peaked in 1989 when he was listed by Forbes Magazine to be worth $25 billion, making him the 7th richest man during that year. If he had habitually sniffed the toxic powder he was in control of, Escobar's genius but insane mind would have been off balance in the epic cocaine empire he's famous for. The health authorities have yet be classify Italian cashmere as a hazards, giving Dean and Dan Canten no reason to voluntarily stick to wearing white shirts and black ties paired with denim jeans.

Highly animated in interviews Tom Ford is one of the most invigorating personalities in the fashion world. The sheer intensity of the sexuality seen in the ads for his Tom Ford men’s line makes Pope Benedict XVI wish all humans were monogamists. Contrary to Ford’s extrovert, his choice of outfit is the expected and highly pedestrian navy blue suit and white shirt. Rarely is the New York based designer seen wearing anything more upstaging. Maybe there is calmness is a sedated appearance. Wearing the same outfit of neutral colours comes with the reward of people focusing on you rather than what you're wearing. For Karl Lagerfeld, his sterile sense of style has become fashion itself but he’s a one of a kind who doesn’t share clothing style with anyone. Regardless of the pure canvas-like image projected by these designer they breath fashion, they sleep fashion and think fashion. To individuals like Tom Ford the love lay in the art form and he’s a true testament that that one doesn’t have to wear fashion to be fashion. Some things in life are best enjoyed from a distance, through visual admiration.


Renault & I Luw Fashion: Pure Pleasure Feature Film

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Although Gordon Brown and President Nicolas Sarkozy might be in disagreement over how to tackle the global financial apocalypse, Anglo-French collaboration have formed on other fronts – namely between iluwfashion and French car maker Renault. Divided by language and currency France and Great Britain have shared united by the language of art.

Renault consulted me to be one of the scriptwriters for a feature film under the campaign, ‘Pure Pleasure’, supporting the Renault Leguna Coupe that was unveiled last year. ‘Pure Please’ is very fitting for a masculine sports coupe with romantic contours like the Leguna Coupe. Emotions feeds irrational decisions but irrationality can feel fantastic at times, and is the reason one would buy a sports coupe, not because it’s needed but because it’s wanted, craved and desired. How a car makes you feel is equally as important as how quickly it takes you from A to B.

The film is what the pleasures of London look like from my window of my life. Under tight time constraints I scribbled down on a paper the first thought when the name London comes to mind. And what came to mind was....chance. It’s one of the uncontrollable factors of life and should remain under the control of anyone. Unpredictability is what keeps life under energising suspense that makes life worth living. This week I had the chance to meet with Daniel Radcliffe but missed out because I unfortunately decline an invitation to the event he attended, but never did it ever cross my mind that me and Harry Potter would ever be in the same room. On the thought of chance I layered various artistic ideas that I perceived would empower my message. Simply by reading my script the production team did an outstanding and highly accurate adaptation of my vision I had written down on a paper. Art is an extraordinarily beautiful language and in this instance it has been harmonizing been transferred from one person to a group of individuals on the other side of the English Channel.