28 September 2015


Drawing of Min Thitipat by me. 
Min is a young Thai actor who embodies the Love Sick character Mick. He's all of 15, and a great beauty.

27 September 2015



If the on-going Spring collections are anything to go by, the future of fashion is looking decidedly bleak, vapid and yes, heading nowhere fast. By Daniel Goh

As fashion becomes increasingly democratic (with every click of the mouse, a new fashion star is born), with the unstoppable tsunami of digital media, the traditional top-down fashion pyramid is being turned on its couture head. Now, fashion trends are filtering up from the new media to the labels, rather than the other way around. This is detrimental to fashion and style, isn’t it? Designers don’t dictate trends, or create fashion anymore, the masses do, with mouse in one hand, and camera phone in the other.

The visionary Fashion God is dead, long live the Influencer. The fashion industry has always been deeply rooted in the cult of the personality, for isn’t fashion about individuality and taste? Now it is all about digital technology, and the information it generates about what people want – crowd-sourced trends, anyone? Every aspect of the industry used to be reliant on people rather than machines — everything from hand-sketched designs to a stylist’s touch, where an individual fashion god’s subjective tastes can dictate an entire era’s aesthetics. Now, we’re seeing all aspects of the industry affected by new technology and providing data analysis and ‘tracking’. The effect is predictable, lowest common denominator fashion – merchandise cynically produced to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, which is ultimately more about money than it is about style.

And isn’t live-streaming killing fashion too? With an ever-wider reach, live-streams of runway shows, and other digital coverage and updates enable just about anybody to ‘attend’ the shows. The exclusive and elite nature of fashion is gone for good. The flattening of the fashion pyramid is now the landscape where those with an informed point of view, an educated vision are slugging it out online with the speediest clickers and illiterate, ignorant Instagram queens. And Instagram queens with legions of ghost followers are winning.

Although change is what makes fashion tick, the escalating speed of change in fashion is actually putting people off buying fashion. The constant demand for change and novelty leaves real consumers bewildered, and many have simply retreated into a world of casual Normcore basics - for good. Escalating change has also put an enormous strain on the creators of fashion who now put out eight or more collections a year, and quantity is surely detrimental to quality. Fashion cycles have become so short that a 1970s revival can repeat a towic in a mere couple of years! Add to that changes in trends wrought by celebrities and other influencers who reach millions and that’s a lot of fashion change in a nanosecond. Trends changing at a moment’s notice is making fashion an impossible, depleting race against time.

WEEKKEND READING LIST: Serious Pleasures: The Life of Stephen Tennant

My new obsession is Stephen Tennant: An artist and writer, he was also a great beauty in early youth (he was the Kate Moss of the Jazz Age!). Mostly he's that very English thing - an eccentric. The Philip Hoare biography of Tennant, Serious Pleasures is one of the best books I've read in ages - a serious, addictive pleasure. 

26 September 2015


From Win's Point Of View

I can’t remember all the reasons why I agreed to go to Phun's party on Christmas Eve. Mark hadn't wanted to go, and said that I always let Mick arm-twist me into doing things that made me uncomfortable. 
I didn't want to tell Mark that it hurt me even more to see Mick so sad that he wasn't talking to Ohm anymore. I had hoped that seeing Ohm at the party would break that wall of silence maybe they could sort things out after that. It's been a year at least!  

It wasn’t even a fun party, just the usual Friday faces but all grown up now – most of them have become people I used to know, not people I actually know. The first person I saw as we entered the hall was Noh, grinning and dancing, making a fool of himself, as usual. 

Then Per was suddenly and silently before me. (Mark had left my side to get us drinks from the bar.) Had I not initiated “hello”, Per would just have slid by without even acknowledging me. I froze up at once with upset; Per's further tepid attempt to make lame banter made it impossible for me to detain him any longer, so obvious and strong was his impulse to just bolt from me. 

“Where’s Ohm?” he asked, not looking at me, but scanning over the heads of the crowd. “Did you see Ohm?” he asked, almost rhetorically. 

I felt his indifference keenly; It was like I wasn’t even his friend, someone I had known since childhood, a neighbour as close as family. It was like he wasn't someone I spoke to every other day for years and years, and studied with, and confided in.

It’s really hard to bear, as if a huge chunk of myself was being ripped out and obliterated.

I whispered to Mark to just get me out of there; I will never go to another of these Friday parties again. 


Social Media may have given us more Fashion than we can swallow but does it bode well for style? By Daniel Goh

Social Media, in its exciting democracy, has thrown up all manner of “style influencers”, most self-proclaimed, many deluded. It certainly has expanded the vocabulary of style and what it means, because on social media, anything goes. Anything tacky, gimmicky, and vulgar, I might add. I’d like to think this fashion democracy good, but have to admit that oftentimes the ceaseless parade of people presenting themselves to be admired (with not a stitch of irony in their conceited expressions) is in fact bewildering, and makes one want to click off, block and delete.
This non-stop, revolutionary channel for expressing fashion, which upsets the traditional top-down model of rarefied tastemakers dictating trends, make it impossible to separate the man from the boys: the really stylish, who practice subtlety, nuance and refinement must lose out in a storm of likes for the flashy, brazen and bold. To click ‘like’ takes a fraction of a second, but style takes a lifetime to perfect, and may not be immediately recognizable in a quick scroll, as you’re watching that latest K-drama.  
Social media has made style into a game of competitive shopping with the influencers around the globe: It has become about who was seen wearing whatever first, regardless of the merit of the item or design. It’s about speed, grab, snap, post – fly there, eat that, eat up the scenery, edit the photo and post. And then the next gaudy item, postcard location, etc. This sort of race really isn’t what personal style is all about. It isn’t even about fashion anymore – forget about relevance, craftsmanship, technique. Fashion has become a circus for vulgar wealth: For isn’t this what it is all about? You can only afford to fly there, wear this, buy 1,000 handbags, multiple carats, lay your hands on the very latest shoe every other hour if you have Money. It isn’t about style or intrinsic value or integrity or beauty. It’s all about money, and only money.
I’m constantly surprised that people would enthusiastically shut themselves up in this prison of the material. There they are, in that gilded cell, reading labels on each other’s backs and bags and boots (and IG captions). Doesn’t this immediately remind you of some people you know? Can you think of anything more depressing? Style should be about not needing the constant approval of others, not needing the constant reassurance of the ‘in’ labels, startling hair colour and nail art, the ‘cool’, the ‘It’, the most expensive, the purportedly exclusive, the supposed one-of-a-kind, the chorus of likes. These are the manacles and padlocks and delusions that weigh these influencers down. Because being stylish is all about freedom. It’s about not having to conform; it’s about having that sense to make discerning and appropriate choices; it’s all about the freedom to fearlessly be who you are.
What has this generation of influencers really given us but a vapid and perverse fashion environment in which taste is nothing compared to the blind worship of the filthy rich? This worship makes the world a much smaller place, being a narrow and unimaginative creed; There’s nothing intrinsically creative about shopping – influencers famously do nothing, have no skills, ideas or craft. Some of them take a good picture, but that’s just dieting and apps. This focus on the material and the surface of things is the antithesis of style. In the end, the focus on money is just unimaginative, and terribly, terribly dull.


Must Watch Movie: Hand Made with Love in France

This 2014 documentary explores the world of four French craftsmen/dinosaurs who inhabit another altogether different, finer world than the one in which we find ourselves. After decades working for the most prestigious couturiers like Chanel, Dior and Yves Saint Laurent, their workshops are closing down. What will happen to the art of fashion once they are all gone? This quintessentially French movie questions our harried exisitence with our dwindling interest in intricate craftsmanship. Featuring masters Gérard Lognon (pleats), Bruno Legeron (artificial flowers and feathers), and Lorenzo Ré (one of three remaining sculptors of hat blocks), this film will leave those who love fashion spellbound.

25 September 2015

Spring 2016 Review: TOUGH AND TENDER LOVE

And three’s a trend: the rough with the smooth at Burberry Prorsum, Calvin Klein Collection and J W Anderson. By Daniel Goh

For 2016, the traditionally pretty Spring season is shaping up to be full of challenging concepts. One of the most important trends is for the uncompromisingly unpretty, even in the slightest and most delicate items.

Tough and Tender 1

Calvin Klein Collection:
An example of this is the Calvin Klein slipdress – a hallmark item at this label, the 1990s slipdress has undergone a rethink by designer Francisco Costa to become something a lot more intellectual, with its waft and tenderness undercut by gashes hanging and straps flying, uneven hems and unseductive slits. The severe and violent vibe goes on in the intellectual (though fluid) suits (look 22), the destroyed black dresses (look 28) and knits (look 29). Softness is always served with a side of aggression, sweaters have holes and are clawed to shreds, cuts and slits mark gowns.

In this collection, the ambiguous hard/soft contrasts of leather with silk in the same colour is an ambiguity that throws you off and makes you uneasy. The palette is severe and even the floral prints look unsweet, abstract and almost cosmic.

Mick’s First/Last Kiss

Mick’s First/Last Kiss

I knew Ohm would be there at Phun and Noh’s Christmas eve party. Phun and Noh threw their party every year since Phun turned 21, and Phun’s dad had given Phun the old teak house which was set well back from Sathorn Road, hidden in a knot of mango trees. Noh had moved in with him a Christmas after – that was a major event – and then the parties started. It had become a tradition for all the old boys of Friday College to catch up at this party.
This Christmas eve, when I arrived with Win and Mark at around 11 pm, Ohm was already there. I hadn’t seen him in two years, but I spotted him right away, from across doorway, the center of an adulating circle, as he always was. Standing propped up next to the makeshift bar, Ohm was laughing raucously at some convoluted joke he had told, drink in hand and surrounded by the other members in is band, and some other guys I couldn’t recognize. He looked well – being in a hit band suited him  – or maybe he was very well be high on something; One really couldn’t tell with Ohm, even I couldn’t tell. Anyway, he didn’t think see us come in.
Just after midnight, we decided to leave. Mark was dying to go to a club to get away from what he thought was a pretentious party, to go and really celebrate with his other friends in Soi 4. So we said our long, drunken goodbyes to Phun and Noh and the others making a huge detour of the lovely old house. And just before we stepped into the velvety darkness of the trees in the garden, Ohm pushed up to us, ignoring Mark and Win, he took my face in his hands and kissed me on the mouth: “Merry Christmas, stranger,” he said softly, against my cheek.
Ohm tasted of wine and gum.

I half thought he might be wanting to pass on an E to me, as he used to do, but there was no pill in my mouth. I saw Win register this (his eyebrows went up the slight fraction his politeness allowed) but pretended he didn’t notice. Mark already had quite a few drinks and really didn’t notice.
On Christmas Day, quite hungover still at 3 pm, Win, Mark and I went to watch a movie at Quartier Cine-Art. I’d been thinking all night and all day about Ohm’s kiss: What could it have meant? Was he even conscious? Why didn’t he say anything else to me? Did he think I wouldn’t mind? I was thinking so hard about Ohm that I couldn’t follow the plot of the interminably long sci-fi blockbuster. Was it just the drinks, or drugs, or the sense that the year had ended, that things have ended, that our youth had ended that made him do that? Because Ohm was one of those that could drive perfectly straight even when stoned (he just gripped the wheel a little bit too tight, and leaned stiffly forward). And I’ve witnessed him order a three course- French dinner when he was completely off his face (that was when that year when we came back from our holiday in Paris and fell in love with everything French for a year). He didn’t eat any of it, but he ordered it, a little insistently, perhaps, and sat through the meal, drinking the wine automatically, chattering brightly as usual.

Imagine my surprise when we actually bumped into Ohm in the supermarket right after the movie, when Mark was having a coffee and Win was eating a burger, and I was sucking and chewing on a bubble tea. It was like I had conjured Ohm up by thinking about him non-stop.
Ohm was with Keng, an old friend of ours from Friday, and they were buying beer for yet another party; it was all a bit awkward. I know I wasn’t looking my best. I was aware that Win was studying me, and only Mark seemed blissfully unaware. Keng asked me to join them for that night’s party. “But Win and Mark are making me dinner, and I’ve got to work on my recording tomorrow,” I said. I didn’t want to go because Keng didn’t ask Win or Mark, just me; but mostly because Ohm didn’t ask me. He was talking to Mark intently, in his usual bluster.
The next day afternoon, when I went back to working on my recording at Studio 28, Keng texted.
He said that Ohm gave him my number, and that Ohm told him that we hadn’t been talking for a while.
Me: “It’s been years. Why rake this up now?”
Keng: “You should ask him out for coffee.”
Me: Ohm can call me if he wants to talk, or have coffee or whatever. He knows how to text.”
When what I really wanted to say to Keng was that the Christmas Eve kiss reminded me of Ohm’s first kiss so many years ago. It brought back the smell of his leather sofa where we sat for hours, learning the finer points of the French horn; It brought back the sound of the fountain in his garden when the birds had all gone to sleep; It brought back the sound of his dad's creaking Mercedes Benz (and the day he got his driving license and drove us straight to Rayong); It brought back the always too-sweet chocolate he made me, and which I had drunk anyway, for years; Our first fight at Block F, near the third floor toilet. The very first Christmas, the one which I didn’t manage to give him the Supreme hoodie I had saved up to buy for him.

Ohm had made me who I am today, dry eyed, looking back, unable now to read any of my feelings at all clearly, even when I tried.

Spring 2016 Review: Burberry Prorsum

Tough and Tender 2

In almost a textbook illustration of this trend, the talented Christopher Bailey sent out yet another commercially-viable yet always interesting collection which seems to ask “how do you make lace, crochet and old lady florals not matronly and twee?” The answer is to contrast with everything opposite, of course. Lace babydolls are matched to quite utilitarian trenchcoats, clompy sandals decorated with chain, a backpack to go with almost every look, night or day. Gold military braid and embroidery – which is masculine, not pretty, is always paired with the delicate and sheer – fragile cut-work, beading, and lace. The florals look geometric rather than romantic or painterly. While the dresses are seriously delicate, outer wear is usually bold, adorned with buttons. All looks are styled with unlikely stompy sandals, rendering the bare legs unseductive. Always with the presence of metallic elements, a chain or buckles from a bag, a bold belt, studs on sandals, the looks have an aggressive gladiatorial vibe, and recall the bold work of Gianni Versace in the 1990s.

24 September 2015


Tough And Tender 3

Henri Matisse, Woman in Blue, 1937
A romantic version of the tough/tender trend can be seen in the courageous and confident collection by J W Anderson – how new and fresh to bring Edwardian dress to the present! Prim leg-o-mutton sleeves were exaggerated to such extremes that they ceased to look feminine, becoming instead aggressive. The constrain of structured little black bras and corset type belts, worn on the outside, with a bold squiggle of a Vivien Westwood print is again unseductive and aggressive. Ruffled Edwardian tea dresses, a couple clearly recalling Woman In Blue in the paper doll outlines, are truncated, worn with bloomers showing, look rakish if anything. Lace, little ruffled collars, bowed sleeves and legs, the pretty style touches that make up a Matisse woman, is always undercut with something quite angry, like an insistent zipper, or unfriendly proportions, with a cross hatch of two messenger bags. Anderson's vision is thought-provoking and idiosyncratic - and for me, always memorable.
Vivien Westwood dress with Matisee print, 1982

23 September 2015

Fundoshi Magic

There's something Guy Bourdin about this picture...