Friday, August 31, 2012

another delightful dose of watch design

by frédérik

I always enjoy seeing an eMail from Jack Markuse in my inbox, because it always means I'll be treated to a dose of outstanding design from a company I've enjoyed keeping up with over the years. And if I'm treated to great design then, dear readers, you get treated too. So,with merely a note in passing to suggest that if you want to get a bit of background on Projects Watches you should consider (re)visiting past posts, let's get to good stuff.


Designed by award-winning watch designer Fredi Brodmann, this art-deco inspired watch features a light-up dial (at the push of the red button.) It's called "Folly," after the architectural affectations typical of yesteryear.

Inspired by a design from Timor Kalman, founder of the classic M&Co, this watch emerges from the delightful childhood scribblings of daughter Lulu.

And here's a preview of watches to be released shortly:

Deja Vu, desiged by Denis Guidone. Available October.

Moon Crater

Sometimes, designed by Dennis Guidone, in Brass.

Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

Naturally, there's a lot more to discover at the Projects Watches website.

Note: Images used courtesy of Jack Markuse/Projects Watches for illustrative purposes only. Thye will be removed at the copyright owner's request.

Friday, August 24, 2012

hell hath no fury like a bunny shorned

by frédérik

I’d like to draw you attention to a brand I discovered courtesy of a lovely dinner conservation prior to a Dead Can Dance concert. The brand is called Hell Bunny, and along with brands Spin Doctor and Chet Rock, it is a distinctive collection by London-based alternative fashion designers Popsoda. With two seasons a year and prints designed in-house, Hell Bunny offers edgy variations on retro styles – think the swinging 50s with a dose of goth and punk.

While I can't speak to the brand's eco-consciousness or manufacturing standards, I will at least highlight the striking designs as an example of how to successfully blend styles. Hell Bunny's designs are imaginative, flirty, sexy, playful, eye-catching, iconoclastic, gorgeous, and just a little bit out of this world...

Here's a sampling from the Angel Clothing Co.'s online stock:

Fifties style dress with halter neck and a full circle skirt. The pattern consists of white polka dots,strawberries and cherries.

Choppin Sue Dress

Infected Dress

Black stretch mini dress with lace trim and fishnet underlayer.

Mindkilla Dress 

Black chiffon dress with white star pattern.

Psycho Cameo Corset

Black Zip-front bodice style corset with a white/grey skeleton cameo print pattern.

Rose Vera Dress

Fifties style dress with halter neck and a full circle skirt.

A peek at upcoming Hell Bunny design's, courtesy of Hell Bunny's facebook page:

And for fun, here's video of the Hell Bunny Spring/Summer 2012 photoshoot

If you're in Europe, there are plenty of online retailers, like Angel Clothing Co., selling Hell Bunny clothes - just run a search. Here in the US, you'll find Hell Bunny at Hot Topic. Of course, if you already have Hell Bunny in your closet I'd love to read about it...just leave a comment or send me an eMail. Many thanks to Melissa K. for introducing me to this brand!

Note: Images borrowed from Angel Clothing Co.'s website and Hell Bunny's facebook page under fair use for illustrative purposes only. They will be removed at the copyright owner's request.

Friday, August 17, 2012

a monthly dose of style: pink and wedges

by frédérik

In an effort to add even more variety to the kind of posts we offer here at The Fashionoclast, I'm introducing a new feature consisting of a monthly dose of YOUR style to serve as inspiration for the rest of us. I want to know what you're wearing, what you'd like to wear, what works for you, what doesn't. Tell us about your style. 

Starting things off is a familiar face who contributed to this blog before surrendering to the demands of a busy schedule. (Apparently, actors won't clothe themselves. That's where Aqua, costume designer extraordinaire, comes in. Costumes? Done!) As it happens, we work together in the same office (gotta have day jobs, eh). While she always rocks her style,on one particularly day she took a daring and sassy walk on the pink side...

Aqua is wearing...

Dress: H&M
Belt: Mel B. Boutique
Shoes: NYLA
Sunnies: Marc Jacobs
Earrings: Barney's Outlet

Says Aqua: "I woke up feeling rested and peppy so I thought it would be a great time to wear my cheerful new dress –plus its really light weight and its been so hot out! The dress is from H&M, which I typically avoid because my torso is too long for their clothes but the dress has some added panels at the waist which seemed to fit my shape well.  Its hot pink and with brights so in at the moment, it can be suitable for a summer day with a colored belt or for night time with the addition of the right accessories. Though it’s a summer day, rather than choose my little turquoise snakeskin belt which looks great contrasted on the dress, I chose brown because I didn’t feel like wearing my suede platform heels that match the turquoise!  And alas, I only had one pair on heels neutral enough to go with a brown belt and hot-pink dress, the wedges!  I love them for their graceful angles and shiney gold rings.  To me, they reference the lux equestrian world, not the gladiator sandal like you might think at first.  Also because they’re so unusual, I’ve barely worn them and they have lasted years! Both the earrings and the sunglasses were purchased for my by my husband when he was still my fiancé.  The earrings are gold and white pearls – classic with a twist! They’re keepers!" 

And what about you? Send me pictures and a brief paragraph with your thoughts on fashion to:

fsisa [at] thefrontpageonline [dot] com

Monday, August 13, 2012

customize this!

by frédérik

If I were to sum up The Fashionoclast’s raison d’etre, it would be in four words that end in “al.” Ecological. Local. Ethical. Individual. That, dear readers, is why you won’t typically read posts featuring yours truly sporting a new sartorial acquisition. Despite the occasional indulgence, I just don’t tend to buy very many clothes or shoes unless there’s a need for it. (Of course, I also rarely like how I look in pictures and thus prefer not to inflict my mug on you.)

Of these four words, I’ve recently focused on the ecological and moral aspects of fashion. This week, I wanted to briefly turn to the “individual” element of fashion, namely, the capacity for fashion manufacturers to offer products that are customized for buyers instead of mass-produced yet nevertheless scaled for large production. Mass customization, in other words.

Interestingly, there is a way for companies to give the illusion of mass customization – by having a so large a catalog that customers have, in essence, a practical equivalent to having a product custom-made for themselves. Nail polish companies OPI and China Glaze offer a good example of this. Yet there’s something inherently satisfying about the way in which they present their catalog of colours: both offer virtual nail salons in which users can choose their skin tone, nail length, and then “try on” nail polish colours to visualize how they would look. It’s a neat idea, and it lets customers drive their purchasing decisions based on their own personalities rather than whatever the company feels is trending.

Click here to try China Glaze's virtual nail salon.

Click here to visit OPI's website, then choose "Try On Ttis Color" from the menu above.

An alternative approach is to have a kit of parts from which products can be assembled according to the customer’s preference, a trade-off between building each product from scratch and maintaining a huge inventory. Although Havaianas are to flip-flops what Crocs are to clogs, their make-your-own option is wonderful in the way in which it lets customers choose colors and ornamentation such as pins.

Click here to make your own Havaianas (or just have fun with the website.)
Similarly great is Chicago-based jeweler Erin Gallagher’s capacity to let users design their own pieces. It personalizes the buying experience, allows customers to be more than just passive buyers, creates a stronger relationship with the brand, and I think highlights the role fashion designers should ultimately have: as enablers of personal style rather than dictators.

Click ye here for EG's design-your-own-jewelry tool.

You may have noticed the section in the sidebar, which I introduced in an earlier post, but just in case you haven’t seen it I wanted to draw your attention to the “Design your own…” link category. As I find them, I’ll add websites that, like the ones above, take advantage of mass customization to deliver fashion that is fun and personal.

If you have any suggestions, let me know!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Things I Wish Men Would Wear: Baseball Edition

I'm a diverse person and that means that sometimes, I enjoy a sporting event.

Sweating my nuts off fabulously in 2010.

That is how I found myself at a Cincinnati Reds baseball game a few days ago.

I want to say that, yes, okay, I may be a horrific snob at times but usually, I suspend sartorial judgement when it comes to skilled contests. But this? This is unacceptable.

This photo was taken by a very lovely individual named Clint Spaeth. Many thanks to him!

Okay, granted, his silly expression doesn't help this gentleman. But look at those pants! Look at them! You could build four pairs of beautifully-snug trousers out of these parachutes. And then I would be happy because sometimes, sporting events are only really interesting if you can examine the backsides of athletes.

Pete Rose
Thanks, Pete.


I would like to say that I am not, and should never be confused with, a practical person. But shouldn't the person in charge of covering the extremities of competitors give them clothes that won't get in their way?

Shudder. But thanks to Clint Spaeth again for taking one for the team when he took this one.

There is one bright island in this sea of unending polyester pantaloons, and that is this guy:


He's so old school. He's a perfect specimen from a storied ball club that began as the Red Stockings.

1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings lithograph

These guys would be proud.

Do you harbor any hatred for ill-fitting uniforms? Or do I just sound like Cher from Clueless ("So, OK. I don't want to be a traitor to my generation and all, but I don't get how guys dress today")?

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Beautiful Fabrics of Siamese Dream Design

by frédérik

I think best by writing, and throughout the time I’ve been blogging about fashion here at The Fashionoclast, I’ve naturally come to refine my own thoughts about fashion. As I’ve learned more about the process of manufacturing apparel along with the marketing aspects of the fashion industry, as well as the ever-popular design aspects, I’ve become dedicated towards supporting artisans over corporations, especially those artisans whose work reflects high standards of environmental stewardship and fair labour practices. In practical terms, this has involved looking for local (that is, North American) designers, manufacturers, and artisans. However, I haven’t been averse to looking international for worthy fashion products, provided they offer something unique made responsibly.

Thailand-based Siamese Dream Design popped out at me while perusing Etsy for fun and interesting products. On mousing through to their website, I was particularly struck by the beautiful colours and patterns of their batik fabrics. On reading more about owner’s Barbara and Amy efforts to work with indigenous women in Asia, providing both financial security as well as the means of preserving cherished and unique traditions, I had no doubt that I had come across just the sort of artisanal fashion I admire. Stylish, accessibly priced, sustainable, vegan, and conscientious about their business offering products imbued with cultural, let us say human, meaning. Their interest in spicing up men's fashion is a most welcome bonus, indeed.

To introduce you to Siamese Dream Design’s beautiful wares and the lovely ladies who run it, I contacted Barbara and Amy for an interview, which I now present to you for your reading enjoyment.

Can you tell me a bit about yourselves and what prompted you to travel around Asia?
We are a mother-daughter team, originally from the northern Illinois area. We first traveled to Asia in the year 2000. Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia – all beautiful colorful chaos. Coming from the homogenous cornfields of the Midwest, it was easy to fall in love with the richness and diversity of the people and their cultures.
Abbie sandals in brights, $34
What inspired you to settle in Thailand and start Siamese Dream Design?
The Chiang Mai area of Thailand offered a great balance of an abundant expat community while still being in close proximity to indigenous mountain villages, the golden triangle and an international airport to take us away on our next adventure. 
How has your company evolved over the years?
Ah, the evolution of it! In the beginning we bought things, many times from the wrong people, many times the wrong products. We now have relationships with the women who actually weave and embroider the textiles. We know the grandmothers and the grandchildren, we know the stories behind the fabrics. We now produce our own products out of the textiles which we purchase directly from the families. 
Novak's men sandals, $26
What challenges have you had to overcome in order to use your company as a means of empowering indigenous women and promoting eco-friendly products?
Some of the younger people think modern is great. They want to incorporate machine embroidery, cheap chemical dyes and fast production as they see this as the way of the modern world. Showing them that the traditional techniques and ways are invaluable is sometimes a hurdle. We have gained such a deep appreciation of the cultural skills that have been passed down for generations that we find the recent craze in western fashion of mimicking and producing cheap copies of indigenous designs outright insulting! The amazing skill it takes to create these textile masterpieces, whether they be Native American, Aztec or Hmong, should be respected and preserved.
Vintage Hmong Embroidery & Batik Handbag, $44
How do you go about choosing and designing the products you offer?
The fabrics, they speak to us. Two women with extremely eclectic tastes, very opinionated, sometimes we fight over a piece of fabric. One sees boots, one sees espadrilles.
Speaking of boots...Mischa in Tribal Applique, $68
The batik prints from the Hmong people are especially beautiful...who are the Hmong, and what makes their textiles so distinctive? What other fabrics do you use in your products?
There are many distinctive tribes among the Hmong people. The White Hmong, the Black Hmong, the Flower Hmong, Green Hmong, Striped Hmong, Red Hmong and Variegated Hmong to name just a few. The Hmong people originally migrated south from China to escape political unrest. They settled in areas of Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. The symbols, techniques and colors used in their traditional clothing indicate their geographical region and cultural subdivisions within the global Hmong community.
To watch one of the old grandmothers sit and patiently hand draw an intricate batik pattern with wax is amazing.
A grandmother.
There is not a single indigenous textile we’ve come across that we haven’t loved.  We try to incorporate the talents of all ethnicities that we stumble upon, inclusive of Akha, Lisu, Lahu, Karen, Taliang, Naga, Balinese….the list goes on and on and expands with every travel opportunity.
Who else do you work with to make your products, and what changes have you seen in their lives as a result?
We have a lovely young Lisu woman named Amee, who does our sewing for us. The work she does for us has enabled her to stay at home in the community with her 2 young children. Many of the women are economically forced to leave their children with the grandparents and seek factory work in the big cities. There are several others that have been able to make the choice to stay in their communities because they now have an income source to provide for their families.
Plus Size Colorful Tribal Jacket, $110
What do you like best about running Siamese Dream Design...any particular moments stand out for you?
Being lifelong repurposers (read garage sales and vintage shops), we love the fact that we get to spend our days in mountain villages rummaging through vintage ethnic clothing and cultural textiles. Then we get to come home and fondle the beautiful fabrics and dream up new designs.
What’s not to love?
Memorable moments…hmmm…fall photo shoots in tropical Thailand, boots and tights with bikini tops and palm fans.
You mentioned in your eMail to me an interest in expanding your men's line...what do you have in mind?
Most men’s fashion is boring. Men need fun too. We are working on designing new men’s shoes and boots incorporating the right balance of funky and masculine, while still maintaining the comfort we are known for. 
Bold Akha Embroidery Men's Vegan Shoes, $52

What does the future hold for you and your company?

Peru, Japan, Turkey, Mozambique, Uzbekistan…the world is our oyster.

There you have it. Visit Siamese Dream Design's website to see their full range of lovely apparel, shoes, accessories, and textiles.

And yes, I'm back. For now.

Many thanks to Barbara and Amy for taking the time to correspond with me. I'm looking forward to seeing  what lies in store for Siamese Dream Design.

Note: Images borrowed from the SDD website for illustrative purposes only.