ENCHANTMENT

TSUMORI CHISATO prêt-à-porter automne-hiver 2016-2017

My second gracing of Paris Fashion Week last March was a completely different affair from the first. More shows, more presentations and more parties meant more scheduling conflicts, more yoyo-ing between the left and right banks of the Seine and more moments of panic. Never before had I given any thought to the importance of a comfortable pair of shoes till that moment when it started pouring, Uber stopped working and I was late for a re-see. Believe me, I ran. And I have the blisters to prove it. But at the end of the day, how could you not love the whole experience? It meant more pay-offs. I'm in the fashion capital of the world, chasing my dreams, rubbing shoulders with the best of the best. It could be a whole lot worse, right?

Apparently I was wrong.

It's totally understandable if you've been doing this for years and find this whole shebang exhausting, but multiple encounters with a certain fashion editor left me flabbergasted. She was actually disgusted by the fact that I was completely excited to be attending shows. Each time I ran into her, her nonchalance started to look more like apathy. And with each roll of her eyes, she made it seem like she did not want to be there. Until she confirmed my suspicions and actually said she'd rather be at home in bed. Every time I opened my mouth to lighten the situation, she cut me off with a snide remark. "Don't be so excited. It's just work." Cue eye-roll.

Was I the naïve one? Was there something wrong with me for publicly displaying my enthusiasm?

The following day I made my way down to the salons at Maxim’s, the words of the Eye-roll-Editor still echoing in my head. I was standing inside what was, once upon a time, the most exclusive of restaurants in Paris. Around me were the most breathtaking Belle Époque interiors I had seen in the city, but I just couldn't bring myself to show the awe I felt. Strangely enough, I was feeling shy. I didn't want to look like a noob among the fashion elite.

It was here that Tsumori Chisato housed her intimate presentation. Compared to runways like those at Dior or Chanel, I felt like I was BFFs with every one of the attendees, except for the Eye-roll-Editor, of course. Before the show even began, she couldn't stop complaining and left, because she didn't want to be late for Balmain. I didn't mind at all - it felt a little easier to breathe in her absence. The remainder of us cosied up in the historically rich venue and got to experience a little magic.

Ombre-legged psychedelic nymphs transcended through time and space, wafting from salon to salon. She could be a cowgirl from the 60s, or she could be part of Rihanna’s squad in 2017. Chisato proved that it’s not necessary to have a time or place for everything. What's important is to just be in the moment. The models embraced a no-fucks-given attitude, which felt like a splash of cold water across my face. It was pure enchantment. I was reminded of the many reasons why I was drawn to fashion in the first place - it allowed anyone access into an environment where we could experience a freedom of expression. We saw an abundance of colour, we saw symmetrical prints that popped, we saw movement with the most delicate of fabrics, but most of all we saw the passion and creativity that Chisato puts into her craft. Humbled, she took a bow at the end of the show and you could see in her eyes the joy and pride she felt - as if it was the first time she was in a room full of people appreciating her and her vision.

If a great woman like herself, who's been in the industry for close to four decades, still wasn't overcome with cynicism, who was I to question my own starry-eyed behaviour? As I joined the scores of others in applauding Ms. Chisato, I realised that it is possible to remain madly in love with what you do. And why the hell should I be ashamed for it? I decided that perhaps the Eye-roll-Editor wasn't following her passions and ended up disenchanted over the years. Clearly she's the anomaly, not me. Sometimes haters are going to hate - you just have to take Taylor Swift's advice and dance to that sick beat. Which I did. With supermodels, no less.

Photography & illustration by me, for CLARA Indonesia.

TRANSEASONAL EQUATIONS

Ain't no mountain high enough, ain't no valley low enough, ain't no river wide enough to keep me from wearing what I want.

I jest; I ain't jumping into any body of water with this suede on, buddy. In fact, it's probably terrible time to add suede to this transeasonal equation of contrasting textures, considering how many times it has rained, hailed and snowed unannounced this week. But what can I do? The weather between seasons will always be hectic, but my heart wants what it wants.

The point I want to get across is that I always wear what I want, no matter the circumstances or what people have to say about it - and I don't mean this in a Madonna-esque rebellious way. I simply wear what I like and don't try not to depend on the opinions of others. As often as I may serve out copious helpings of style advice online and offline, I always emphasise on one thing - if you like it, wear it.

What does it matter what someone else may think about your clothes? Before you can look good, you have to feel good. What you put on should boost your spirits and confidence, not make you uncomfortable and awkward. It's not an easy feat, but everyone should embrace their own instincts at the end of the day and start to make their own judgement calls.

Looking at magazines and blogs should equip you with techniques to build a wardrobe or outfit of your liking, not dictate exactly what to wear. Fashion is what they give you, but style is what you make of it. Contrary to what Miranda Priestly has drilled into our heads, if you believe you have a sense of style, then you are stylish.

Faiyaz out. Mic drop.

Styling, creative direction - Faiyaz Kolia
Photo assistance - Claudia Naomi

Wearing: Gap - Cashmere turtleneck // Zara - Distressed denim shirt, jeans // Loewe - Suede bomber jacket // Bershka - Sneakers // Hermès - Silver Collier de Chien bracelet

SALMON OVER GARDEN GREENS

Howdy, y'all. I hope everyone's snuggled up under the covers and enjoying this rainy holiday. I know I am; I'm all ready for my siesta. But first, let's get down to business. If you know me, you'll be well aware that I enjoy cooking. Cleaning the aftermath, not so much. Actually, scratch that first part. I enjoy eating. And we all know the easiest way to get that yummy in your tummy is to cook it yourself. Until McDelivery* makes its way to the UK, that is.

In the over-sharing frenzy known as my snapchat story, every now and then you'll find me turning my kitchen upside down, but thankfully the results merit the mess. "That looks so delicioussssss!" - I won't lie, most of my food does. I wouldn't be eating it otherwise. "You're such a talented cook!" - Ok, hold up. As much as I would love the credit, let's be real. I'm no chef. Far from it. I have the utmost respect for anyone with the technical skill and ability to whip up a mouthwatering croquembouche, but people forget that it is really not difficult to whip up a meal that satisfies your taste buds. It's as easy as learning all the words to Beyoncé's new album**.

In fact, it should be easy to cook. It's a basic skill for survival.

Just to prove my point (because I love it when I'm right), here's a no-fuss recipe that took all of 5 minutes to prepare. You can lay back on the couch for the 10-15 minutes while it cooks in the oven.

Salmon over Garden Greens

  • 1 salmon fillet
  • ½ packet kale
  • 4 to 6 asparagus spears
  • olive oil
  • teriyaki sauce
  • salt
  • lemon pepper
  • white and black sesame seeds

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Or 360°F.

2. Wash all your veggies. You're not limited kale and asparagus, you can switch them out for broccoli, peas, spinach, whatever your heart desires. Or does not desire, if you don't like your greens. Put your kale into an oven-friendly dish, pour generous amounts of olive oil over and sprinkle some lemon pepper. Add a little regular lemon juice if you fancy. Mix thoroughly. Now pop it into the oven. The kale will shrink when it gets baked, so don't worry if your dish is overflowing slightly.

3. Lay out your asparagus on another tray and drizzle more olive oil over them. Don't pop it into the oven just yet. Make sure there's some space for your salmon on the other side of the tray.

3. Take your salmon and rub it lovingly with a pinch of salt. Lay it down next to your asparagus. Pour a capful of teriyaki sauce over it for a little kick in flavour. If you don't have any, soy sauce, oyster sauce, BBQ sauce, mustard - basically, anything sauce that you like will do. It all depends on your own taste. Most of the time I just have the salted salmon on its own without any sauce. Now pop this tray into the oven as well.

4. Head over to your couch and take a well deserved break. Check up on the salmon after 10 minutes. It should be ready between 10 and 15 minutes. You want a pale pink colour along the side of the fillet.

5. Once you see (and smell) that the salmon is cooked to perfection, take everything out of the oven and plate it. Add more olive oil and lemon pepper over your kale. Sprinkle your sesame seeds over the salmon. Et voila!

6. Give yourself a pat on the back, mate. You just made a tasty meal for yourself, by yourself.

The whole point of this is to show you that you shouldn't be struggling with measurements and ingredients. All you need is a tad bit of common sense to know what flavours go with each other and then just YOLO your way through. The more you cook, the better you'll get with experience. So head into the kitchen guys and show me what you come up with!

* Already drooling at the thought of ordering a McSpicy at 3am when I'm back in Singapore.
**Which is absolutely glorious, and we can't be friends if you haven't had it on repeat for at least three days.

THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS

As a very cold April rolls to an end, I'm sitting here amidst textbooks and notepads, accompanied by my friends Doritos and Häagen-Dazs, wondering how did I get here. I've been juggling my academics and professional life for a while now, however the last few months have proved to be especially taxing. Nothing much, y'know... just a new load of freelance writing, a constantly growing list of editorial deadlines, exams looming on the horizon, a vacation planned without foresight and having to deal with the inconvenience of my bank's usual unreliability.

When you spread yourself too thin, time seems to speed up and you're constantly living in a blur. It's a strange, confusing feeling when nothing makes sense yet everything moves forward anyway. By the end of each day I somehow manage to get everything in order, smoothly and systematically, satisfying both clients and lecturers. And my parents. As a good Asian boy, I must not bring dishonour to my cow.

What about my satisfaction? What makes all this toil and trouble so appealing to me? The answer lies in that moment a stranger shares an article I wrote and says it was a good read. When an image I conceptualised, styled and shot gets published in Elle. When a client excitedly texts me at 3am to say the campaign I worked on was roping in results. When my quirky advertising professor hands me a bottle of Prosecco and a box of chocolates for having the best project of the year. It's these brief moments that bring the most gratification to my preoccupied soul. It's these brief moments after which I can say to myself that it was all worth it. It's just enough to light a little fire beneath my feet to keep me running like a headless chicken. Sometimes I wonder if I'm living in an upside-down universe, in a looking glass house.

Speaking of wonderland, the wonky literature of Lewis Carroll served as inspiration behind these photos, mirroring the franticness of my life (see what I did there?). And as much as I'd like you to believe that I fell through a rabbit hole in these photos, they were shot at the Glass Labyrinth in the Olympic Village - an installation of mirror-polished steel planks by Jeppe Hein.

Styling, creative direction - Faiyaz Kolia
Photo assistance - Claudia Naomi

Wearing: COS - Shirt // Topshop - Trousers // Céline - Knot bracelet // Comptoir Des Cotonniers - Slash sneakers

FRONT ROW ONLY

CHANEL prêt-à-porter automne-hiver 2016-2017

You know you had a good time travelling when more than a month later you're still suffering from withdrawal symptoms, even though it was a work trip rather than a vacation. There were many little things that made my time at Paris Fashion Week so magical - the snowfall, the food, the company, the showrooms. But most of all, the shows. Ah, the beautiful shows. And Monsieur Lagerfeld, as always, lived up to expectations of a great show. One might think that it was a simple set, unlike the usual fanfare at Chanel... but let me tell you, to give all the guests a front row experience is by no means a small feat. To put it into perspective, the models took about 8 minutes to make it through the maze-like runway.

And speaking of models, I'm going to be blatant and tell you I was drooling over these gorgeous girls most of the time, instead of the equally stunning clothes. I'm sorry, but that's what you get when you put all of my favourite models in one show. You end up with a very star-strucked Faiyaz. Between them, Snapchat, Instagram, Boomerang and my camera, I was pretty dazed by the end of the show. Here's a little visual recollection of those fabulous moments front row at Chanel. You can read the rest of my thoughts on the actual collection here. Carry on, kids. I'm just going to be right here, transfixed on the perfection that is known as Gigi Hadid.

Photography & illustration by yours truly.

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