• Fashion Revolution Day begins @fash_rev Will be asking throughout the day - who made your clothes?  Hope everyone joins in! #InsideOut (pic via @gettyfashion)
  • It was announced a while ago but wanted to say how happy I am to have been asked to select Dress of the Year 2013 at Fashion Museum in Bath. My choice was this @christopherkanestudio SS13 beauty.
  • Love this concertina beach scene print on @marios_official tote available at @therefineryhk now! #PMQIS
  • Congrats to my cousin @elizabethlauldn and her new shop @therefineryhk in the new PMQ building @PMQHKDesign #PMQIS much love for @BernstockSpeirs bunny ears!
  • Love that I always see the best pieces by Brit designers abroad @nicoll_studio @liger_hk

>> Last year in May, I revisited and reminisced my teenage memory of Bath, and namely the wonderful Fashion Museum, where I distinctly recall pressing my 14-year old nose up against the glass so that I could better see an 18th century mantua court dress.  Who whudda thunk (yes, it’s a whudda thunk moment…) then that over a decade later, my own mug would be in a display at the Fashion Museum.  You might have already heard that I was asked to select Dress of the Year for 2013.

No surprise that I took the first opportunity to rectify what I thought was an omission from the DOTY line-up with my choice of a dress from Christopher Kane’s S/S 13 Frankenstein collection.  When it was announced that Kering would take a major stake in Kane’s business, that was a crowning point of Kane, and moreover London’s ascent in the industry’s eyes.  It’s no longer a will-skip but a must-see city in the roster of fashion weeks.  I could have chosen any one of the stellar designers that have emerged in London with not just creative output but sound commercially viable businesses as well,  but Kane obviously sticks out as London’s head boy designer.  No need for me to re-gush and re-labour my support for Kane – I’ve written reams already and I wear his wares consistently, which is how I put my money where my mouth is.  This dress with its components of anarchic black gaffer tape, sweet white lace, pretty pink crystals and a foundation of even prettier pink organza is a perfect example of the way Kane avoids design cliches, busts up conventional style genres and goes so outside of the box, that you end up at an entirely new place you never thought would work.  But it does.  It always bloody does.

To go with the dress, I paired it up with other London designers that are marking out their own idiosyncratic territory to showcase the diversity of talent that is coming out of the city – a signature pink pencil cap by Nasir Mazhar and a pair of liquorice neon bead shoes by Sophia Webster.

The decision to place an outfit picture behind the mannequin itself was to illustrate the odd nature of my being a selector at all.  In amongst the very impressive roll call of names who have selected dresses over the years – Vanessa Friedman, Sarah Mower, Alexandra Shulman, Hamish Bowles – I do stick out somewhat.  As an interloping bloody blogger (as some would like to see us) and moreover as someone with an unconventional induction into the industry – together with consultant to the museum Iain R. Webb and curator Rosemary Harden, we thought it might be interesting to contextualise DOTY.  If Christopher Kane’s selection is representative of a changing shift in the order of fashion cities where London has become more pre-eminent as a breeding ground for young talent, then me choosing this dress, is also representative of a changing media landscape in fashion.  The way we read, consume and find out about fashion has become splintered, sprawling and faster than ever with a multitude of platforms and sources coming at us.

P.S Thank you to Christopher Kane for providing a really ace quote to accompany the display.  ”It’s a huge honour to be selected for the Dress of the Year award at the Fashion Museum in Bath, the dress means so much to me.  It’s a really good mixture of both tough and sweet.  It’s a remarkable dress chosen by a remarkable woman.”  *Blush* *Blush* *Blush*

P.P.S. Thanks to Rootstein for creating the mannequin with a razor sharp straight cut fringe and make-up that is doesn’t detract away from the bejewelled dress.  It’s my Kim Catrall in Mannequin dream come true!

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>> Morning Possums!  Oh wait, it’s morning here in Hong Kong, late into the night back in London and sort of late morning time in Aussie land, where possums – both the animal and affectionately called human beings – might be found.  There is a reason why I’m confuzzling you all on Instagram (ooops… how ru-ude of me to assume actually that you lot follow me on Instagram) with my jaunty travels from Sydney to Tokyo and now to Hong Kong.  The reason being is that I’m gathering pics and words galore for my upcoming book.  Yes, I’m writing a book.  Has it been formally announced?  I don’t think so… does it require a formal announcement?  Probably not.  And for good reason too seeing as I haven’t quite formulated the right words (or media blurb) to describe this thing that I’m penning.

In the meantime, I’ll be backtracking a little on the blog.  Real time, from-the-locale real blogging will be on hold for a while.  Back in Sydney just as MBFWA was coming to a close, I paid a visit to Little Hero’s PR showroom and was greeted with a table of colourful magpie-attracting lushness.  Lushness that hails from different corners of Australia by way of Melbourne, as compiled by Pieces of Eight – a jewellery collective that represents, showcases and gives workspace to mainly Australian jewellery designers and artists.  I visited their workshop site in the Fitzroy area of Melbourne a couple of years ago where Lucy Folk is based.  They have a more centrally based gallery, where their large scale installations and exhibitions can really flourish.   If Melbourne is a touch too far and remote for what I’d imagine would be the majority of you guys, then Edition X, Pieces of Eight’s online e-commerce and showroom arm will be worth a  click.

It’s where you can purchase similar if not the exact pieces that I ogled at in the showroom.  Like Melbourne-based Hamish Munro and his obsession with rubber balloons – scrunched up and compressed into bangles and rope necklaces or wrapped up in interlinking rainbow chains.  Or Renee Damiani from Adelaide and her use of plastic friendship bracelet lace and squeegy balls clustered into cartoonish formations.   You might be familiar with artist Kate Rohde‘s psychedelic coloured resin world, as she has previously collaborated with Romance was Born on their Dinosaur Renaissance collection (incidentally the first ever RWB show I saw).  That prompted Rohde to create more accessible jewellery pieces.  Self-described as “the natural history museum on acid”, Rohde’s work definitely adds impressive scale to Pieces of Eight’s roster.  Last but not least are Sophie Stone‘s beaded beings, which go bump in the night.  All of which of course made me wish I had added in a few days in Melbourne to revisit the left field side of Australian fashion that I tend to gravitate towards.  Just couldn’t really wreck the schedule for that thing I can’t quite articulate yet.

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Hamish Munro:

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Renee Damiani:

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Kate Rohde:

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>> During Milan and Paris fashion weeks, Phil Oh from Street Peeper and I were doing a spot of sun-chasing so that we could perform our double act as photographer and photographee for & Other Stories.  Those scant sunny days seem an age away but the pictures have finally gone live.   What’s the premise?  & Other Stories have print print print, colour colour colour going on for their high summer collections, which have just dropped online – a spot of marbling, some fruity florals, a pixelated landscape and folksy applique - and let me play around with it all, whilst goofballing it up with Phil.  The clothes may not have been weather appropriate when they were shot but you can almost smell good weather now.  Spring slash summer is well on its way here in Tokyo (I *gasp* wiped a bead of perspiration today off my forehead).  I gather it’s sort of the same in London.  Here’s hoping bare arms and legs are coming to us soon.

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“DI$COUNT is a brand, an idea, an image, a dialogue, a strategy, a transformation, a design, this blog, a motion picture, a label, a personality, a website, a quote, a garment, an emotion and an evolution.”

That’s the kind of brand spiel that would normally have my eyes rolling.  Then again, having  known Di$count Universe as first and foremost, a blog that I religiously read, which then parlayed itself into fully fledged fashion brand with Nadia Napreychikov and Cami James making up and redefining the rules of how a label should be conceived, this line rings true true true.  I know a fair bit about making it up as I go along.  Aren’t all fashion bloggers chancers in this weird and wonderful grey area that sprung up in the early millennium?

For Nadia and Cami though, their topsy turvy, chancing dreamer path has taken them to some dizzying heights.  They had set a taste level with their blog, which expounded all things gauche, funny, ironic and ultimately circumvented generic trends and mashed things up to create their own genre.  It’s difficult to describe Di$count in a nutshell because they had constructed their own nut.  With their blog (and with Nadia’s previous blog Foxyman) they were slowly engaging a core readership, participating and exchanging ideas and commentary.  They briefly moved to Bangkok and set about working out their ideals and aspirations for Di$count the brand.  At the time they were giving interviews stating they were designers (they had met in their final year of fashion design at RMIT in Melbourne) whilst slowly producing their one-off customised pieces sporadically and selling them to their blog readers.  Then came the proper legit e-shop, which would routinely sell out of their one-off Arti$anal and Dead$stock pieces prompting the duo to produce a more in-quantity Tra$h line.  Then came a surprise collaboration with Hello Kitty, instigated by Sanrio themselves.  Then came the endorsements by the likes of Miley Cyrus, Azealia Banks, Britney Spears and now Katy Perry (pieces weren’t gifted to the celebs but paid for, straight-up).

Now we come to first truly offish fashion show in Sydney, shown off-schedule last Thursday, as the unofficial closer of the week.  They did a show in Melbourne back in 2012, which was really a big holler-out to their diehard home crowd fans whereas the show in Sydney had a whiff of “industry” about it as it was styled by Aussie creative director supremo Mark Vassallo and had editors and international press in attendance.  The beauty of course it that Di$count don’t necessarily need the support of the industry.  In fact, the show was an affirmation of exactly why Di$count are exciting to see emerge in the latest wave of renegade larrikinism.

This eloquent post sums up the ins and outs of why Di$count don’t operate within the confines of the fashion world as we know it.  They realised they were isolated just by physically being in Australia so their blog became their platform to reach out to the world.  They realised that fashion wasn’t merely about putting out clothes seasonally and then tripping up when the fast fashion world churned out copies, so they put out collections whenever, wherever.  They realised that fashion today is about being a jack of all trades, multi-tasking to output not just physical clothes, but image, vision and identity.  They realised the power of instant gratification social media, not necessarily just by garnering empty numbers (their Instagram/FB/Twitter followings whilst sizeable aren’t huge but the proportion of likes/comments is high) but by really penetrating those platforms and engaging with their audience as they routinely sell out of items with a single post.   Their customer is buying into the Di$count Universe not through seasons but through instantenous love of their aesthetic with a glance of their smart phones.  They realised they don’t necessarily need boutiques to make a solid business and currently sell only to a select number of stockists.  In short, they’re doing it for themselves in every way possible and give credence to fashion interloping, not by becoming industry insiders but by truly operating from outside of the industry.

Speaking to Nadia and Cami before the show, they expressed trepidation and anxiety over showing their pieces to some “international” folk, despite having had their clothes broadcasted to millions through Miley and co.  They need not have fretted.  Anyone can recognise strong voice, in or out of the industry.  And so people emerged declaring lil’ ol off-schedule Di$count to be the “show of the week”.  They audibly gasped, squealed and applauded the onslaught of bejewelled and bedazzled embellishment touching on punk, glam rock, cyber rave, mermaids, dominatrixes and showgirls – all the best things in life then.  Monster eyes, lips, big birds with boobs and inappropriate slogans bring on the LOL factor.  It’s love or loathe with nothing in between and that’s exactly how they like it.  No guessing which camp I stand in.  The majority of the pieces will be sold as one-offs as part of their Arti$anal line but bejewelled basketball shorts and glitter star shirts will thankfully be produced in multiples.  Before the naysayer brigade weighs in, I will say that the aesthetic may not be wholly and entirely original but then again, what is these days?   And Nadia and Cami would probably be the first ones to say they are active participants in this cut-and-paste-postmodern culture of ours.  It’s the entire deliverance of what they do – blog, ideas, exchange, comments, Instagram, e-shop – that makes Di$count a unique entity.

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After five or so years of admiring the duo online from well afar, I’ve finally gotten my very own piece of Di$count.  It’s quite the stunner and perhaps most representative of the label’s ethos.  Hardwork (90 hours of studding), vision (highlighter colour palette and biker jacket – of course) and dreaming big (the lining is a dreamscape spray painted swirl of colours).  And guaranteed not to be Di$count-ed.

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In my round-up on Business of Fashion about MBFWA, one of the initial run-up thoughts of trepidation surrounding the schedule was that there weren’t enough “big” names to bolster the fashion week.  One omission was particularly glaring.  Dion Lee – arguably Australia’s biggest designer success story at the moment, already showed his mainline collection in New York, where normally it would be the central headline draw of MBFWA.  It’s worth reminiscing about those heady sun-filled shows at Sydney Opera House five/four years ago when Lee was beginning to debut and really caught our attention as a red-hot one-to-watch.  He’s well on his way to becoming much more than a one-to-watch with his international ascent, an established second line, a newly launched swimline and a first notch store in Sydney (with Melbourne to come).

Therefore it was high time to give his second line, which makes up around 70% of his business, a decent show.  It certainly wasn’t a second-best or second-rate show from Lee and in fact was still a highlight of the week despite the lack of theatrics or stunning venues.  That’s because the clothes spoke directly to the audience.  It made you want to shop and wear pronto.  Simples as that.  I’m not a huge fan of immediate pre-order and tend to want instant gratification in purchases but here Lee’s pieces jumped out at your credit card.  There’s a reason why Lee doesn’t call Dion Lee II a “diffusion” line.  There’s nothing lightweight about them.  Twisted shirts, jackets with twisted elbow cut-outs, sports-striped basics and yes, even the little waistcoats done up as belts all felt solid and looked like cornerstone pieces.  Sure, it’s down to styling but it’s nonetheless persuasive.   There are little nifty design features about every piece that makes you want to wear them over and over again, as demonstrated by a blue sweater with cross-over cut-out straps in the back (currently available in black or white) from his first collection of Dion Lee II.  I’ve turned to it time and time again and I have no idea why.  That’s the sort of wear you’d want out of a twisted basic.

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A peek into his first store in Sydney’s historic Strand Arcade and it was the second line pieces that I immediately made a beeline for.  Then of course, saturated colour, sharp prints and pattern cutting detailing took over my attention span as Lee’s mainline pieces constrast starkly against the concrete, mirrored and raw wood interior, designed by Kelvin Ho of Akin Creative.  Inside the dressing room, you’ll find yourself looking and getting lost in a lit-up infinity mirror installation, created by artist Jason Sims.  If you’re trying on Lee’s architectural lines, trompe l’oeil prints and intricate pleating, then the reflections are bound to be mesmerising.  I did fully intend to sensibly stock up on will-wear-all-the-bloody-time line II pieces given that they’re somewhat harder to find in the UK (Lee is looking into ways of expanding the wholesale business of line II abroad) but neon lines got the better of me and I opted for a criss-cross grid wrapover skirt, that looks a little like a deranged printer cartridge colour test.

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0E5A3175Worn with Topshop sheer tops in blue and green, Ryan Lo pink camisole and Christopher Kane belt and sandals