I want to start off by saying that I'm utterly baffled as to why turtlenecks are named as such. One would think they would give you the right kind of withdrawal symptoms - like superhuman abilities to withdraw one's head into a cosy den, in avoidance of an awkward situation. Like when you get caught checking yourself out in a cafe's window, only to realise that everyone on the inside can see you. Or when you unfollow someone on instagram and the next moment they're walking towards you on the street. It's tragic, really.
This huge disappointment aside, turtlenecks are flawless. I'll take whatever that can pull a Houdini and make the lack of length in my neck vanish from sight. POOF. And I'll take it in every colour. I mean, who cares if its actual function is to keep your neck warm, right? I'll wear it in the heart of summer if it makes me look good. Also, they go with everything. Everything. Take a look at turtlenecks on the runway - they're transformed into various manifestations, like bodycon dresses, croptops with kimono-sleeves, oversized without sleeves... Layered with trousers and skirts and coats and slips and gowns, the possibilities are infinite. However, let's not forget the fact that I'm a dude, so this does limit my options to some basic-bitch layering, which I thought I'd share with you.
1. ON THE ROCKS
Ain't no shame in wearing a sweater neat. Sometimes we over-think what we're wearing and tend to go overboard. Before I leave my house I always try and remove a piece, mostly an accessory, but quite possibly an entire coat. It's A-okay to strip it back a teeny bit and embrace that minimal aesthetic. This particular chunky knit is a piece I absolutely adore and I've worn it way too many times since I got it a year ago. It could count as my university uniform - who wouldn't want to feel like they're in a warm embrace while mugging in the library, no?
Wearing: Zara - Knit jumper // Pull & Bear - Ripped jeans
The matchy-matchy formula is fool-proof way to work the hell out of any outfit. The only thing you need to remember is to play around with different shades of that colour, textures and lengths. Maybe leather over knit with denim trousers? Or in my case I had 50 shades of camel going on with a double-breasted overcoat. What I love about keeping outfits this simple is that, when done right, makes you look so expensive. Who wouldn't want to look and feel like a million bucks? Be sure to check out Beige Renegade's latest post to make sure your minimal styling is always on fleek.
Wearing: Gap - Cashmere turtleneck sweater // River Island - Coat
3. ANGRY YOUNG MAN
Behold the power of layering. An aggressive biker jacket elevates you from a Steve Jobs wannabe to a broody dude that doesn't talk about his feelings. A little off the shoulder action to remind everyone that [you're a pretentious fash-uhn person/you don't take yourself so seriously], and you're not an angst-filled teenager who loves being an irksome fool for no apparent reason. Pulling off an entirely black outfit has a sense of austerity to it. Some people would prefer to avoid this, but for myself, I find it empowering and it gives me a little boost in confidence. Black also is a colour of mourning, which is why you'll more often than not find me in black on a Monday morning as I weep for the weekend.
Wearing: Gap - Cashmere turtleneck sweater // H&M - Leather jacket, trousers
4. THAT '70s STYLE
I'll be the first to admit that wearing a printed suit with a turtleneck is borderline cringe, but this styling throwback to the seventies does put a smile on my face. A more sleek way down this path would be to take the matchy-matchy approach, but where's the fun in that? Like I've said before, I don't take myself so seriously with my sartorial choices, so why should anyone else get stressed up over it? If you like it, wear it. That's what it all comes down to.
Wearing: Zara - Knit jumper // Pull & Bear - Ripped jeans
Any guesses what I'll be wearing today? Hint, it's Monday morning and I'm suffering from some serious weekend-withdrawal symptoms. It's times like these that I really wish I could retract my head into my turtleneck and wait for the day to pass. Alas, 9am lectures are calling and I must run.
Self-portraits, styled by a very sleep-deprived Faiyaz.
Meandering pathways slither in abundance through the gardens that surround Chiswick House, a marvel of 18th century architecture. With over 65 acres of sheer splendour to explore, it's not hard to believe that the entirety of your visit there will fly right by, without a second of boredom. I don't think I even managed to cover half the grounds (that means a second visit is very much needed). After a relatively lengthy tube and bus ride through the very packed heart of the city, stepping through the gates of Chiswick felt like entering an oasis, in every metaphorical sense. It was a completely different atmosphere to that of Central London - quiet, calm, classical.
I was listening to Adele on repeat that day, while treading over gravel driveways and admiring the sculptures (as you would have seen on snapchat), but the song that was playing in my head was Sarabande. It was a creepy coincidence because later I found out that Handel himself had put up at the house as a guest of the architect, Lord Burlington.
Who knows, maybe I'm psychic?
The highlight of the day, however, definitely had to be me freaking out over gigantic canines. If you're afraid of dogs (like myself), I guarantee you will be providing free entertainment to your friends. It's great to see families out and about, going for walks with their pets, enjoying the freedom of nature and the warm-hued sights... but every single time a dog came running towards my general direction, terror flashed across my face and I had a mini panic attack. This overreaction looked especially comedic to everyone around me, considering these dogs actually couldn't give two hoots about my presence and totally ignored me. Hell, can they even be classified as dogs when they're the size of a pony? I think not. Note to self: visit in the afternoon when dog numbers are low.
While on the topic of when to visit, a sensible person would probably plan their outting to Chiswick Gardens at it's prime during spring. But alas, I just have to go against the grain, don't I? I blame it on the foliage. The traffic-light gradient of green to amber to vermillion in the trees, the crunch of leaf-litter beneath your feet, the game of musical chairs with your layers of clothes, dictated by the sun and clouds - there's something oh so romantic about it all.
Autumn is a mysterious time, full of pleasant surprises. Well, mostly (looking at you, dark clouds). I hold my breath in anticipation each morning before peeking out the window - the same kind of anxiousness a kid would feel, before munching his way to the toy-core of a Kinder Surprise egg (and by kid, we all know I mean myself). When I draw back my curtains, I never know what's waiting on the other side.
Could it be a crisp, sunny sky and a driveway carpeted with amber leaves? Or could it be a damp and drizzly scene, painted in wish-washy shades of grey, like a Turner painting? Or, if it's anything like the last couple of days, it could even be a Halloween-appropriate situation with eerie blankets of fog casually rolling through the neighbourhood. Regardless of what mask the weather may decide to wear, the beauty of autumn still prevails.
Time and time again I've claimed that winter is my favourite season - I love the cold! But this autumn, I've been doing some semi-serious re-evaluation. Growing up in a concrete island on the equator, I loved any place where the mercury fell below the 25 centigrade mark. The colder, the better. In addition, school holidays were fixed at such times that I only ever got to experience summer or winter if traveling abroad - so it's obvious out of the two seasons which I'd favour more.
Since moving to England, I've been able to experience more of the two transitional seasons - spring and autumn - the blooming and the withering between the heat and the cold. Although let's be real, the entire year just feels cold, am I right? I'm not sure if I dare say it yet that this is my favourite of the four seasons, but these October days and November nights sure know how to charm the pants right off of me. We'll have to wait and see if winter can deliver some snow this year before drawing any conclusions.
Caught between shadows and an overcast sky, Putri lounges in a mishmash of blacks and lets her hair down. Moving like a leopard on the prowl, she gets intimate for the camera and gives us a whiff of her essence.
Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, Putri rushes to give me a hug, as if we hadn't seen each other in years, when in fact we had just been out and about in East London several nights before. She somehow manages to always remain in a state of infectious euphoria - spending just five minutes by her side is guaranteed to lift your spirits. On the surface she may look like your typical twenty-something-year-old, fresh with a master's degree, exploring new job opportunities and satisfying her wanderlust - but she's definitely not your average twenty-first century kid. And I'm not talking about the fact that she just covered L'Officiel Indonesia's September issue. Juggling modeling and school/work is no biggie for her. Putri is old-fashioned in the ways that matter the most.
We millennials have a bad reputation for feeling entitled and living in a self-centric universe. We expect everything to be handed to us on a silver platter. God forbid should a little bump come along the way... we take to social media faster than you can say selfie and whine about how hard life is #firstworldproblems. But here's the thing about stereotypes - they may be true to certain extents, but there is a high chance they don't apply at all to some. Putri is far removed from the stereotypical vicenarian. She's one of the most focused and goal-driven people I've ever met (second only to Margaret Zhang, perhaps). I've seen first-hand how hard working she is, yet never has a complaint ever escaped her lips. She only has gratitude for the world. And not in a conceited #blessed way. That's what I love about spending time with Putri - she keeps me grounded.
Back in my apartment, we catch up over coffee and smoothies as we prepare to shoot. It's definitely a daunting task to photograph a seasoned model who's experienced the crème de la crème of the industry. Me and my one-man-crew couldn't possibly hold a candle to the glam squad she's probably accustomed to, but why not take advantage of the situation? There's always a silver lining, right? I'm somewhat sure there's a limit to how comfortable and candid you can be when you're surrounded by dozens of strangers, watching your every move. There couldn't be a better opportunity for Putri to get in tuned with herself and be digitally captured at the same time.
We begin shooting and the laughter and chatter that filled the room before comes to a hush, leaving the ethereal vocals of Björk to echo unhindered. Eye-contact and body-language are the only means of communication. It's go-time for the both of us. Caught between shadows and an overcast sky, Putri lounges in a mishmash of blacks and lets her hair down, literally and figuratively. Each click of my shutter elicits a fluid movement in her disposition - moving like a leopard on the prowl, she gets intimate for the camera and gives us a whiff of her essence. Confident. Centered. Content.
Before we know it, we're done and back to our gabbing selves. Putri takes a peek through what we just shot and amusement flashes across her face. "Wow, I didn't know I had this in me".
Gridlines conjure up images of math class in my head, where I spent more time on my graphic display calculator making art than solving linear equations. So naturally, when I wore this grid-like pattern, I couldn't stop myself from feeling a little nostalgic and in the mood to pretend I was ready for school.
If only I had a fraction of my current dress-sense back then.
There are few that can twist preppy into preppy-chic. Myself excluded, unfortunately. Most of the time if I do dare go down the back-to-school path, I actually end up looking like a kid ponning class. That's a little too real and on the verge of costume for me. This is one of those rare occasions where, by some stroke of sartorial luck, I kind of feel like I'm fancy enough to be in Cher Horowitz's squad. Can I sit with you, Cher? (No, not the teacher).
Getting nostalgic about school got me thinking a lot about my time in ACS and how being there shaped my life. Who would have known that my random decision to get a camera 10 years ago, along with some very inspiring friends, would have made my dreams of becoming a vet do a complete 180?
I remember spending many late nights not just doing essays, but satisfying my passions as well - editing photos, making banners, signatures and other graphics, creating posters for school events, etc. Back then, the haters (aka adults) told me that I was wasting my time on such nonsense...
Looking back now, I can say with 100% certainty that it was definitely not a waste of time - they were self-taught lessons in post-processing and photo-manipulation.
Also, how does everyone feel about this overly graphic post? Thinking about how inspired and creatively-driven I used to be when I was younger actually inspired me to stray away from my more traditional style of posting. Go figure. Could I just think about exercising to complete my daily workout? No? It was worth a try. Let me know what you think! Until next time, kids. Stay in school!
Creative direction - Faiyaz Kolia
Photo assistance - Claudia Naomi
Wearing: COS - Shirt // Zara - Trousers // Topshop - Coat // Alexander McQueen - Patent leather skull slippers // Proenza Schouler - Courier backpack // Céline - Audrey sunglasses // & Other Stories - Bracelet // Maria Francesca Pepe - Rings
Upon stepping foot onto Parisian soil, most may flock to see the tour Eiffel, Musée du Louvre or Jardin des Tuileries, but my first pit stop had to be something more grand, more decadent, more in-tune with my aesthetic - the magnificent Pont Alexandre III. Even though I've seen it countless times before, captured in videos and photos, I was on a mission to see it with my own two eyes. And let me tell you something, it was worth the 40 minute walk along the Seine that chilled me to the bone. Note to self: bring a jacket no matter how warm the day might have seemed.
As I came to the end of my frantic power-walk, I parked myself at the foot of the bridge to take in the scene that cold evening. Right on cue, the Eiffel Tower burst into life, with a dazzling display of sequin-like lights, against the faded pastels of sunset. If that isn't what you call magic, I don't know what is. It's in moments like these, when the universe slips into a recess of perfection and time stands still, that I truly feel appreciative of my life, and all I can do is smile. There's nothing left but you and the beauty of your surroundings.
In that moment I fell in love with Paris.
Over the remainder of my trip I made several more visits here - crossing between Champs-Élysées and Invalides like a pingpong ball in a game of table tennis, fighting sea-legs while dining (snacking) on the river, still amazed by how the bridge looked like it had a different personality at different times of day. Luckily for me, Pont Alexandre III is located just next to the Grand Palais, where many of my fashion week duties needed me to be. I probably didn't even need them to be, I would have still ended up beneath the art-nouveau lamps, gazing at the snaking Seine.
Between checking into Chanel Airlines and a Saint Laurent re-see (and a million other things in-between), I managed to catch up with Toni, who was ever so kind to shoot me and my OOTD. These are definitely for the photo albums. I didn't realise how well my mustard suit was going to match the gold finishings on the bridge until I saw these visuals on my screen.
Speaking of my outfit of choice, let's talk about the white elephant on the screen. It's not the first time I've worn something that was made to be worn by women, but I usually stick to a more normcore and less gendered garment. But ever since I saw this tunic, I was completely floored with the cut-out triangle shape and rolled-neck detail. I had to get it in every colour... which was just this and navy. I myself was a little on the fence about wearing it. Very mixed receptions greeted me throughout the day, but then, I bumped into Franca Sozzani. And she approved. That automatically makes everyone else's opinion irrelevant. Haters gonna hate, y'know?
Anyways, this is about all the time I have left to lay around and reminisce the magical moments of Paris. I need to dive back into reality and bury myself neck-deep in readings and assignments. Bonne nuit à tous!