Saturday, June 27, 2009

Zouk Wardrobe Series 2009

What was I doing in Zouk on a Friday night? (Hint: I'm far from being a partygoer or clubber).

I attended the Zouk Wardrobe Series 2009, which featured the new collection of my art teacher's label, Yumumu. She was the mentor for my A-Level coursework and I'm eternally grateful to her. I was very much impressed by her new offerings. Especially with the number of local labels being rather limited, she is definitely an inspiration to me.

I wish I had photos to show of her collection, but it was really hard to capture good shots in that place. These are just to give an idea of what the event was like.

I've realized that there are always avenues for support and for showcasing one's work, as long as one is committed to pursuing a vision. I have to pave my own path in order to succeed. I'm truly thankful for the people who believe in my potential, as they make all the difference in the world.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sorry for the bad quality of these photos. This is a design board that I just completed. Medium: watercolours. I think my figure drawing and garment representation skills have improved.
Fashion blogger Jane of Sea of Shoes recently launched a capsule line of three shoes as a colloboration with Urban Outfitters. I ventured into the comments section of that post and came across some cutting, vitriolic comments lambasting her for getting such opportunities only because she's a rich kid. Someone in particular asked her to post her sketches from the design process, if she has any, to demonstrate her degree of design talent. Some background info: Jane's blog frequently features her donning clothes and shoes from designer brands such as Chanel, Ann Demeulemeester, Yves Saint Laurent, Dries Van Noten etc. I've often wondered myself how a 17-year old can afford such togs. Another reader pointed out that it's not hard to look good when one is loaded. This really got me thinking about the importance of money. Can money really buy success? Can wealth beat talent?

I also thought of Kira Plastinina, the daughter of a Russian mogul, who was able to establish her own label and set up a chain of swanky stores as a teen with her father's money, presumably. It's not that these people lack talent. As a regular reader of Jane's blog, I can certainly attest to her talent when it comes to styling. She has great personal style and exquisite taste, as well as a fine appreciation for the arts. Her blog, with its clean and striking visuals, good photography and writing, and amazingly-styled outfits, never fails to inspire me. I think people take offense at the fact that they have gotten to where they are largely because of money, while others who may be equally or even more talented miss out.

The world is not a fair place, though, and one can hardly begrudge them for having fortune on their side. The fortune to be blessed with wealth, that is. For the rest of us, there's always the formula of pure hard work. Besides, whether we realise it or not, fortune can smile on us in other ways, such as by letting us meet certain people in our lives.

On a different but related note, I admit that I find the idea of young teenage girls prancing around in designer clothes or accessories slightly disturbing, regardless of how many times I've seen it. I just don't approve of parents splashing out on big purchases for their children. What does that teach their children about the value of money? I always try to be conscious of the fact that it's my parents' money that I'm using, and hence avoid unneccessary spending. Maybe it's hard for me to imagine being in their position because I've never been rich.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (Duh). I read about it in today's issue of The Straits Times' Mind Your Body.

Me to sis: (looking up from newspaper) I think you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Sis: Huh? (at the randomness of the subject and my use of an overly clinical term)

Me: This case study here involves a guy who goes through personal grooming rituals in the bathroom that last for hours every day. Just like you!

Sis: (indignant) I don't spend hours in the bathroom!

Me: Oh yes you do. Or at least you irritate fellow family members with your bathroom hogging like this guy does.

Sis: I DON'T have OCD!

Me: (wisely) Denial is a common reaction.

So it's official. Both me and my sis suffer from mild OCD. In my case it takes the form of frequent rinsing of my feet throughout the day to remove dirt.

In modern life it seems that every character trait can be analyzed and diagnosed. So many clinical terms for just about anything you could think of. It somehow makes one feel better and more in control of the situation if one knows the names.

Silent Landscapes

Sorry for the constant bombardment of images; my mind's too tired to come up with any decent writing now. I promise to start posting photos of my recent works soon.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Black Beauty

There's something darkly fascinating in the way crows are represented. Makes me think of the oxymoron, 'terrible beauty'.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Living in a Bubble

The second photo is from one of my favourite photoblogs, Arvida.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I'm quite excited to be able to choose my own food and prepare it the way I want when I study in Los Angeles. This means less meat and lots of salads and fruits. I'm not trying to lose weight, it's just that those are the things I genuinely like. I'll finally be able to afford 'exotic' greens and fruits that are native to the region. Apparently there's a Farmers' Market really near to my school where I can pick up fresh produce. Yay.

I also hope to find a good bakery and a gourmet cheese shop. What can I say, I love freshly-baked bread of all kinds and one of the best toppings for bread is cheese. I've always been curious to try new kinds of cheese other than the usual mozarella and cheddar. Nothing too pungent though.

On Friday night my family celebrated Fathers' Day with a dinner at Blue Basil, a small restaurant in a shophouse on Scotts Road. As you may guess from the name, herbs feature prominently in their dishes. The herbs are grown on their own premises, and the sight of them reminded me of the time when my own balcony was filled with basil and mint. I don't know if you've ever put a freshly-plucked mint leaf to your nose and inhaled. The clean, refreshing scent is just lovely. Mint is great for salads and, in my opinion, assam laksa. Or you could put a sprig in your tea to freshen it up.

Processed foods now make up a significant portion of our diet. Nothing can beat the taste of fresh food though. Truly, when the ingredients are fresh, little preparation is required for stellar taste. In future, it'd be great if at least the herbs in my dish come from my own backyard.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I got the rainy night I'd hoped for yesterday. Perfect. On such nights my sis and I would play some of our most-loved songs like Clocks and True and chill out in our tiny spot of a room. I just enjoy lazing in bed and listening to the pattering of the rain outside.

Last night I also got to work on designing a capsule collection. For my upcoming interview with DesignSingapore council, not only do I have to bring my portfolio, I also have the option of presenting on a piece of work. I'd feel stupid just holding up a drawing and trying to talk about it for a reasonable length of time, so I came up with the idea of doing an A2-sized 'mood board' cum design board on a small collection, maybe about 4-6 looks. We'll see how it goes.

The folder format of my portfolio I have now (as opposed to the digital files) is from 2 years ago, hence obviously I have to throw everything out and compile a new one. That, coupled with the new board I'm doing, is taking up all of my time. It astonishes me how much my drawings from last time suck, even those that are somewhat recent. In addition, I'm trying to convert my portfolio from a fine arts one to more fashion-based.

All in all, I'm not sure whether these strategies will work, but I'm willing to take a gamble and try everything I can to get that scholarship. I don't even know what questions they'll ask. Work is the best way to take my mind off worrying and feelig nervous.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

This Quiet Dust was Gentlemen and Ladies

This quiet dust was gentlemen and ladies
And lads and girls;
Was laughter and ability and sighing,
And frocks and curls;

This passive place a summer's nimble mansion,
Where bloom and bees
Fulfilled their oriental circuit,
Then ceased like these.

----------By Emily Bronte

I came to know of this poem from one of my favourite childhood books of all time, The Little Bookroom. It's a collection of whimsical little tales, bought from a sale of old library titles. The pages are yellow-ed and really fragile, but that just adds to its old-world charm. Sadly I no longer possess it. Does anyone get attached to their books like me? Even if I buy a new copy it won't have the same feeling. Besides, obscure titles like these are hard to find. I guess this parting is forever.

I've dreamt of visiting one of those quaint bookstores in a foreign country, slightly musty and tucked away in some obscure corner. Entering it will feel like I've found my own secret hideaway, where I can lose myself in rare novels or specialist books on art and design. Even better if I can build up my own collection of books in future. Every book will be one that I truly love and will reach for on a rainy night as I snuggle in bed.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Identity and personal style

I remember desperately wanting to look more fashionable when I was young, as I was sick of the clothes that adults bought for me. As a result of my mum's practice of putting me and my twin sis in matching outfits, I also wanted to look different. Hence I stole clothes from my mum's wardrobe. Needless to say they were way too mature for my age, but it was either them or ill-fitting Bugs Bunny T-shirts (I hate Bugs Bunny). All my clothes never really fitted well as I was at that awkward phase when grown-ups bought everything one size bigger to allow room for growth. I was lanky, flat-chested, had oily skin and hair, braces, acne, eczema and a terrible slouch because of my growth spurt. While I'm of average height now, then I was shooting upwards at a rate that made me taller than most of my peers. At one time I was almost one head taller than my sis. My height made me the defender in front of the goal for every game of Captain's Ball and perenially put me near the back of the classroom (my sis would be sitting a few rows more front).

Basically my hormones were going haywire and it was hard to look good at that age. Everything looked flat on me. I recall scrutinizing my face in the Miss Selfridges store mirror in Takashimaya (where Fox stands now), then a favourite haunt of my mum's. I never tried anything on as everything looked too mature (yet I couldn't wear children's clothes- the frustration!) so I stared at my pimples and wished them away as my mum was in the fitting room.

Irritated about people mixing us up and confused about my identity, I consciously tried to appear different from my sis. I cut my hair short while she kept hers long, or I'd do my hair in another way. Maybe it was the haircut that destined me to play the masculine role when me and my sis acted as a couple in drama class (ours was a single sex school). I even voiced the role of a boy in a soundbook me and my classmates produced. Actually, even now I still think of her as more feminine.

As a student with minimal budget I also had to wear alot of my mum's clothes. It's only recently that I'm able to buy more clothes for myself. While me and my sis used to share stuff, we can't really do so as much anymore. When I expressed my guilt to her the other day over buying so many clothes, she replied, "You should stop thinking of us as having a single wardrobe. We're two different people." Perhaps our practice of wearing the same things when we were young, and our desire to save money by having a single wardrobe, made me forget that we're actually individuals with different taste. We don't fit into the same size and we don't look good in the same styles. Believe me, sharing a wardrobe can be quite troublesome sometimes. There are some pieces that both of us love, so it gets double wear and wears out really fast. Because we're not the same size, some things are too loose on me, or too tight on her. Now with my imminent departure from Singapore individual wardrobes are necessitated.

I think I'm starting to get a better sense of my style, and my sis helps by telling me what works. The hitch is that she tends to be rosy-eyed and thinks everything looks cute on my figure. When I try something on she'll exclaim, "That's so cute!" Even if it's true that I can wear many styles, whether it fits my taste or not is another matter. I'll reply, "Really? Thanks, but is it my style?" I think people tend to take a better view of others than themselves. With ourselves, we'd be more critical, like, "Are you sure it really looks good on me?" It's so much easier to say, "Love it, girlfriend!" than "These jeans look hot on me!" However, I believe that a garment is not really for you unless you feel good and confident in it. No point buying something that's pretty and not wearing it. This has happened to me before. I'd ask my sis, "It's pretty, but is it TOO pretty?" Does that even make sense? I think what I mean is whether it's too feminine. Vintage long skirts are lovely, but they're too feminine for me.

Sometimes when we happen to be shopping alone we might spy stuff that we think is suited for the other. I've bought a green top that I think suits her (she liked it) and I brought her back to the store. A problem happens if I buy something for myself and she ends up liking it. Sometimes I have to get another one for her. I think it's better for us both now because we look more different and have developed our own personalities. At least the PE teacher won't be giving me the death stare because she thinks I skipped a round of running (you can guess who that was!). To be fair, I've done my share of petty stuff as well. I won't say what it is though. This is my blog after all.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Landscapes by Gauguin

His wonderfully imaginative use of colour distinguishes these works and imbues them with a mystical feel. I saw the last one in the Musee d'Orsay in Paris and the colours are just as sumptuous in person. I'm always in awe of people who have an instinctive feel for colour, whether it is artists or fashion designers who create the palette for their collections. Who would have thought of pairing deep purple with lemon yellow, or fiery orange with forest green in the depiction of a pastoral landscape? It sounds wild and strange but works remarkably well. I feel inspired to be more adventurous with colour, which is a powerful vehicle for emotion.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A skirt I sewed

Just a simple one with an elasticated waist. I like the black embroidery on the bottom.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Waist Down: Skirts by Miuccia Prada


Look at these dyed/ printed Prada circle skirts- gorgeous, aren't they? They're part of the exhibition going on now in the Transformer museum in Seoul showcasing Miuccia's contributions to the pantheon of skirts. I've always associated Prada with skirts, just as I think of pants when I see the modern Balenciaga label. Wearing a skirt shows a desire to embrace one's femininity. The sight of some leg peeking out is always alluring, even if it's just a bit of ankle that you get with a floor-length skirt.

I sewed a skirt with an elasticated waist yesterday. Hope I can wear it out soon. I love the feeling of sun on my legs.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Rene Magritte

Reading the article in my copy of this week's TIME magazine about the opening of a new museum in Brussels dedicated to this Belgian painter made me remember how extraordinary his works are. It's hard to choose a favourite considering the expansiveness of his oeuvre, but Young Girl Eating a Bird (first image) and his Lovers works (second image) stand out in my mind. There is something macabre about a girl chomping on a bird, blood flowing down her fingers. It signifies to me a loss of innocence. The swathing of the heads of the couple with white cloth transforms Lovers from a simple expression of love into a haunting image with possibly a deeper meaning. Could it be warning us that we don't actually know the true nature of our partners, though we may think otherwise? The expression 'Love is blind' comes to mind here, though with a twisted, sinister alternative meaning. But that's the beauty and genius of Magritte's works- they are presented to us in the form of illogical puzzles, contradictions or grotesque distortions of nature, inviting us to guess on their meaning. And there is no right guess, which makes it all the more interesting.

Friday, June 12, 2009

My own resort bag

It's resort season and I think this nautical-themed grocery bag I made fits the mood perfectly.
I'll probably bring it with me, along with my earlier one, to L.A. Only problem is that my sis has fallen for it as well.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Prada Resort 2010

The candy-like colours of Prada's Resort 2010 collection are just too delicious to resist. The simplicity of the first three looks belies the masterful draping and tailoring of the garments. The pairing of beige with yellow/coral is so stylish.
This makes me think of the beige shirt I got as a hand-me-down from my brother's girlfriend (see, there ARE benefits!). The fabric is kind of stiff which I think makes it more suitable as outerwear. I'm planning to wear it like a safari jacket, unbuttoned and with the sleeves pushed up, over brightly-coloured or printed pieces and cinched at the waist with a belt.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Circles dress

I wore this blue dress with circle prints today. It fits me well because it was a bargain item and I had to alter it. I like how floaty the skirt is. May I also present my new handmade shopping bag. The floral print is beautiful, isn't it?


I really like this delightful book which showed me what 'education' means in the truest sense of the word. The role of educators is to identify each child's unique traits and talents and develop them to their full potential through meaningful activities, and not to force a formulaic style of teaching on them. Discipline is always a consideration in education, but sometimes people forget that children are children. Totto-chan's precociousness means that she risks being labelled with a complex, when she is actually just inquisitive and eager to learn. Her supposed behavioural problems also make her teachers overlook her strengths, namely her kindness. The headmaster of Tomoe Gakuen (the school she transfers to) recognizes this fact, hence his common refrain, "You're really a good girl, you know."

The book ends with a feeling of sadness as Tomoe burns down during an American air raid, and a sense of the unknown regarding what is to come. This is the excerpt, which is simple but eloquent:

"Totto-chan was lying down in a crowded evacuation train, squeezed in amongst adults. The train was headed northeast. As she looked out of the window at the darkness outside, she thought of the headmaster's parting words, "We'll meet again!" and the words he used to say to her time and time again, "You're really a good girl, you know." She didn't want to forget those words. Safe in the thought that she would see Mr. Kobayashi again, she fell asleep.

The train rumbled along in the darkness with its load of anxious passengers."

Monday, June 8, 2009

New shoes

My very first pair of Converse high-tops! They seem to go with practically very outfit I own.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Grocery bag

I sewed this grocery bag complete with inner lining out of my dad's old shirt and painted leaf motifs on both sides- a green fern for spring, and a red maple leaf for autumn. To finish, I pinned the fabric owl brooch I bought from my friend Shu Ning for a cute touch. Isn't she (I think of it as female) a wee thing? I should give her a name. Check out Shu's other whimsical creations at or For local buyers, her line is carried at Doinky Doodles in Bali Lane and a Concept Story in Haji Lane. I'm going to carry this bag with me when I go grocery shopping in California. My dad didn't even recognize that it was his shirt!