Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Weird and the Wonderful

Hello Scotland and hello Edfringe Festival 2012. An eye opening experience, from not having to get permission to stick posters and leave flyers everywhere to bicyclists getting right of way along the busy roads. Production manager and I shared that sheepish moment, realising advertising was not such a pain in the ass way up North of the United Kingdom. The Edfringe energy was spectacular, spectacularly infectious, and anyone, artiste or not, would get sucked into the carnivalesque 'qi'.

It was a gathering of the Weird and the Wonderful, especially along the famous (and touristy) Royal Mile. From buskers half naked in the 16 degree wind to magicians mystifying eager crowds to comedians making a joke of themselves, that was one crazy street. All the wonderfully weird and weirdly wonderful was so overwhelming on the eyes; I distinctly remember one afternoon zipping through the throngs of students, children, parents, old folks, performers, beggars, bicycles, costumes and props when I decided very wisely to just look straight ahead because there was just way too much going on all around me. Even then, there was enough to entertain.

There's One-Man Star Wars dude, there's that squawking soprano who gets A for effort, yeap no festival would be complete nowadays without those Walking Dead Zombies, the super weird choir of geeky Asians (Taiwanese) in checkered uniforms led by a flute-player (don't ask), the towering stiltwalkers with breathing room a couple of metres above everyone else, a Victorian family straight out of an ancient portrait and the list goes on. Dotted among the standouts are the volunteer sai-kang warriors (Edfringe Street Crew) who keep some sort of order on the Mile and the marketers/ supporters furiously selling their respective shows to any one who comes along.

These budding artistes perform for the sake of sharing their passion for art and talent and hope for a good review by the publications in Edinburgh. Without the aim of profiting from ticket sales, performances tended to be more sincere. Known as a comedy festival because of the worthy crop of comedians flocking to Edinburgh every summer to make people laugh, the comedy that I managed to catch was certainly hilarious. When the time came to take our seats (free seating), as the only two Asian girls in the underground pub, we made sure to avoid seats right in the centre or in front. As if we didn't already stand out, we'd be presenting ourselves as prime candidates for some good natured, if not racist, ribbing. Classic case of asking-for-it had we sat in front.

I love Arts festivals and this is one that I am aiming to go back for in 2013 for sure. Proud to say I was more than just a spectator in this huge Arts festival and more than thankful for the great reviews we received and the new friends made in just a short week.

(Edinburgh is honestly not as boring as it seems., then again, non-festival Edinburgh may be a different story all together.)

<3, Fir

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fashionable Ghosts

Here it comes again, the dreaded seventh month. Burn, money, burn. Eat, spirits, eat. Run, humans, run. Superstitions aplenty, believe them or not, it's better just to be safe than sorry. The Ghost Festival or Hungry Ghost Festival apparently has a Ghost Day, the 15th of the month, which by the way, is today. Ghost Day is when those iron gates of hell are yanked open by the bouncers of the netherworld (sounds very much like a club by putting it this way haha) and the hungry spirits are released to mingle with humans and have their fill where the living has left them food and various other offerings. They are entertained by the ge tai, where performers put up very loud, gaudy and flashy shows for these spirits. The first row is reserved for these special guests so don't expect to see anyone in the front row. If you do, bless your third eye.

The inspiration for this post stems from a very amusing text I received yesterday from a very Catholic and very concerned mom (thanks for the advice), instructing me to go home early because the gates of hell open at midnight.
To which I replied: Those ghosts would not disturb me if I don't disturb them.
Mom: By going home early, you are not disturbing them. Touché. Very classy.
As Catholics, or any other religion other than those that celebrate this festival, these superstitions and beliefs should not be followed. However, in the uniquely Singaporean manner, everyone subscribes to these pieces of advice anyway, from not stepping on joss paper, kicking over food offerings to the relatively ridiculous like not turning around if you hear someone calling your name from behind you in the dead of night. Honestly, that would likely be what I would call Imagination; poised and ready to make life ever more interesting to make up for the monotony of daily routines. Like I said, better to be safe than sorry so I might just make my way home earlier today.

Speaking of ghosts, and thanks to my friend Google, fashion and ghosts or spirits surprisingly do not mix as much as I expected them to. For all the mystery, allure and eerie-ness that the underworld brings to the table, fashion does not take to it too kindly. I assume it's because these things have no positive connotations whatsoever, and probably serve to frighten more than inspire, to scare more than to impress. Then again, I chanced upon this hologram of Kate Moss, presented by none other than the late visionary Alexander McQueen, way back in 2006. The ghostly apparition of a holographic Moss gently wrapped in what seems like metres of tulle and mounds of McQueen magic was mesmerising from start to finish. The fragility and beauty in the dreamy apparition that lasted for a few minutes was more than enough to make a lasting impression.


Ghostly apparitions don't appear often but I did find some and they are gorgeous. Fashion chooses to beautify the eerie, as it beautifies all else, hence it loses its ghastly edge but takes on an ethereal quality, much like what Kate Moss the hologram embodied as opposed to say, Helena Bonham Carter in the Corpse Bride. Fashionable ghosts are definitely more Western than Asian. I'm stereotyping for the sake of simplicity because the spirits of the West are somehow less creepy than the pontianaks, demons and vampires of the East. (Add zombies on the West side of the equation and perhaps both sides are more or less on par now, but zombies are on a whole new level).  Something to go figure.

Katrin Thormann by Alexi Lubomirski, Vogue Germany, July 2010
For Vogue Italia 
Invitation a la dance by Solve Sundsbo
It's the stories about the inexplicable mysteries that endlessly intrigue. If fashion is about story telling then this could be an interesting one to explore. A cabbie, Uncle #1, once told me this story whilst driving through one of the creepiest roads in Singapore, Mount Pleasant road. His friend, Uncle #2 was driving along that same road way before they had proper street lighting. He picks up a girl and everything runs as usual, no funny business. However, when he checked the cash that he was paid, it was joss paper money. Creepy, if your mind is all ready to jump into Tales of the Unexpected but could have been a practical joke, paying the poor cabbie with ghost currency because the passenger was too broke to pay with living dollars and cents. As the saying goes, if your conscience is clear, nothing to fear. Now that is something I fully believe in.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

To laziness and beyond

One of the biggest paradoxes in life is us humans working to hard to make ourselves even lazier. Think about it. This greater species, the superior homosapien, that we so proudly call ourselves, cannot spend that ounce of energy to walk to the television to turn it off. Instead, the genius that is our neuro-charged brain cured us of this terrible inconvenience, allowing us to continue couching like limp sacks of potatoes, mouth gaping at the world through a small pixelated window which we gladly flip through with yes, the remote control. Simple yet ingenious. We think so hard to invent such gadgets to make life easier so that we can indulge in such laziness.

Every great invention is a departure from seemingly unnecessary physical exertion. The telephone and the wheel for example tie for first place in my opinion. It is fascinating, even up till today when the handphone or mobile is a necessity, that the human mind managed against all odds to conjure such a then-complicated piece of gadgetry. Granted, Alexander Graham Bell is one of the gifted minds that humanity sees once in a blue moon which explains the brilliance of his invention, the clarity of his thought processes and the eventual physical manifestation of his imagination. Credit the inventor we must but hey, the telephone would be nowhere if others had not improved on it. Same with all the contemporary 'inventions', except today, we call them technological breakthroughs.

The telephone brought the world to the ear, just as television brought the wondrous world to the eye. Facebook has made stalking and network building easier and possible. In such a connected world, sincerity is harder and harder to locate. Birthday reminders are pushed to us, edms substitute for actual greetings and emoticons convey things which we would otherwise not be able to express across space and time. Personally, I felt these ways of keeping in touch were insincere and a lazy way out of things. Recently, as things get mad busy, it seems like it's the only logical way to actually stay sociable whilst going on with the daily motions of life and chasing dreams, achievable or not. 

Before this becomes another technologically deterministic post that never ends, the bottomline is moderation. As is the case with everything from food to exercise to all other indulgences. My super late adoption to Facebook was not (contrary to popular belief) a non-conformist statement, it was more of an attempt to not indulge in technology and its affordances. Just a personal experiment that inevitably ended with subscription to the ubiquitous platform. True enough, it didn't kill me nor my social life. I was just a little slow on the uptake when it came to photo viewing; the exasperated laments, "aiya, you don't have Facebook" were actually quite amusing (sorry friends).   

It's been along time since I had the chance to properly sit (or lie) down and think through something that is overlooked, not through any fault of our own. We're just conditioned to think in a certain way about technology and progress. Technology is just like fashion; ever-changing, having to keep up with the trends, predicting the next big thing, creating sleek and stylish accompaniments for the modern individual, creative allowance within limits and so on. Food for thought. 


Monday, July 16, 2012

Fjällräven Kånken - my one and only

I first saw the Kånken daypack two years ago in Denmark, and immediately fell in love with the bag's simple design, functionality and durability. The Fjällräven Kånken daypack is a quintessential part of Danish style as I spotted Danes, young and old, toting this bag wherever I went. Bright, cute and eternally popular, the iconic pack has been sitting comfortably on Danish backs for the past 30 years. 

The bag was originally for Swedish school children and it still remains the same as when it was released 30 years ago. Made from sturdy vinylon, each Kånken is waterproof, tough and comes in a rainbow of colours suited for all individual styles.

Intrigued by its design and functionality, I became a dedicated follower and eventually got my very own Kånken in Uncle Blue, as a Christmas gift 2 years ago.

Now, it seems like the Kånken fever has caught on in the fashion world - with models being snapped on the streets toting the daypack, looking effortlessly cool yet slightly naff. This bag, in my opinion is the ultimate in utilitarian cool of all daypacks.

The Kånken has also arrived in Singapore, and is stocked at Actually. Sadly, my very own Kånken will no longer be as unique as it once was, since I predict that this bag will be a big hit amongst many here.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Geared up for fall - Age of renaissance

I've always admired the fashion of the ladies of old and have always secretly wished that I could dress in their rich and opulent clothing. Looks like my wish is coming true as medieval dressing is getting a modern touch. Carven transforms 16th and 17th century art into prints on playful swing skirts and dresses, Dolce & Gabbana gives their collection couture-esque elements with intricate beading and opulent embroidery, and Balmain goes baroque (or ba-rock) channelling all-out glamour of the past.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

March on

Knit tank top and shorts - H&M, Military vest - Korea, Sandals - Marni x H&M

Life's been slow, and time's been passing slowly, too slowly for my liking. My outfits too, have been a reflection of life in general, I'm always in the most laid back of outfits, and here's me in one of my laziest of weekends.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Let's go to Phuket

So much to say about Phuket but so little time. While we are all well aware that the beauty of a beach / resort getaway is the sun, sand and sea, the other gem in such a holiday is not having to think too much about the holiday wardrobe. In fact, I barely glanced at what I threw into my duffel for this trip so the result was too many tops, too few bottoms. Over there, walking around half naked is the norm; expect to see burly men strutting around in nothing but swimming trunks or bermudas and the ladies draped in kaftans, wrapped in sarongs, or unashamedly showing off those bodily assets, good or bad.

In any case, this was a trip of several firsts. One of which was hitting the roads. The others were surfing, bungee and shopping at a local warehouse. Getting lost is part and parcel of every holiday but I would say we were the happiest lost people ever. Driving along the hilly, winding and narrow terrain, with no clear road demarcations (stop lines and lane lines) and a crappy GPS that was never accurate with where to turn was a super challenge. I was pleasantly surprised though, that I barely heard any horning, this as opposed to cities like Bangkok and Hanoi where the noise pollution can drive anybody insane. While I appreciate my friends for trusting me with their lives, these lovely people were the same idiots who distracted me to hell and back throughout the entire drive back to the beach, screaming, laughing, yelling. Sometimes in Mandarin just to annoy me further (I hate you guys), as if it was not difficult enough to focus on the super narrow roads and hazards in the form of motorcyclists with absolutely no regard for traffic rules, if any. As we always tell each other, with friends like these, who needs enemies. 

Ironically, these enemies are among the few whom I would call if I had to bury a body. Trust does not come easily to most. There are exceptions of course, friends that are so gullible who would believe 'conditioning' at the end of gymnastics is all gymnasts going into the girls' washroom at the end of the walkway to wash their hair with the same conditioner. Exceptions aside, as one grows older, it gets harder and harder to establish a critical level of trust in another person. Questioning every action and guessing every agenda is extremely exhausting but in such a competitive working environment that all twenty-somethings are sucked into, it's every (wo)man for him or herself and leaving your back wide open for a huge parang to come slashing through is no fault of anyone but yourself. A support system at work is as important as the one that everyone should have at home. Unfortunately, not so prevalent in Singapore. 

No sense in dwelling on this unsolvable problem. Establishing personal indicators of trust is probably the only way to make sure your back stays unscarred and unscathed. Once it gets exhausting, run off for a getaway, like Phuket. 

Bungee off a crane. Mad but we went for it anyway.  
First thought is fire hazard, just look at that roof. But, it's a gorgeous bar.

Morning fuel, with compliments from the Kata resort buffet line. 

A road hazard caught on camera, complete with bags of plastic bowls and metal pots. Fearing for the windscreen of the rented car, we intended to overtake this blurry road hog but to no avail. Switch your gaze to the right and that is the oncoming traffic. Look left, there's grass, the rare white painted line signaling the road shoulder. Now you tell me, HOW NOW?


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Geared up for fall - Hide and chic

The material of choice this upcoming season, whether it's from trimming, to applique details or full on outfits, prepare to experiment with lots of leather. I can't wait to embrace this trend.