Tawn’s Fashions – Voyage to Mercury Collection

As I think I have mentioned, my husband Tawn reverted to part-time work several months ago in order to return to school.  He is studying fashion design, something that has long been an interest of his and he is now exploring whether it could be more than an interest.  Family members and friends have been asking what he has been up to in his studies, so now that his semester midterms are over, he has graciously given me permission to share his progress with all of you.

The assignment in his “Collections 1” class was to create a fall collection of six looks that were strongly influenced by 1960s silhouettes and futurism and based on an astrological theme – the planet corresponding to your sign.  For the midterms, Tawn needed to share a mood board, technical drawings, illustrations, and a sketch book.  What follows are a look at the mood board, illustrations, and the six outfits.

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The sketch book, not shown here, is a tool the designer uses to capture ideas and inspirations as he or she goes about daily activities.  That gets translated into a mood board, the purpose of which is to communicate colors, pictures, fabrics, textures that will inform the collection. 

Tawn’s sign is associated with the planet Mercury, and as he viewed the planet he was inspired to look at “futuristic” as it was seen during the 1960s.  His influences included the famous model Twiggy, fabrics in neutrals such as black and white, with soft touches from tassels, silk, and feathers.

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This is the illustration that shows the overall theme of the collection.  You can see there are a variety of jackets, blouses, and an evening dress.  The purpose of the illustration is to communicate the larger vision of the project in a more concrete way.

As part of the project, he had to identify who he was designing for.  Who is the woman who would buy his clothes?  This was easy for him to understand because as a public relations professional, he is used to defining target audiences for his clients’ campaigns.  In this case, the target woman was an urban professional in her 30s living in London.

Since a collection should tell a story, Tawn created an imaginary story of two women taking a voyage to Mercury with side trips to Uranus and Pluto.  These were analogies to the experiences his target customer would have – working a long day in an office and then having to go out for dinner or a night on the town, wearing outfits that could effortlessly be adapted to the different environments.

Six outfits emerged from this story:

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Outfit Number One – This is the outfit that Twiggy would wear while traveling to Mercury.  The pencil pants provide comfort while the jacket provides structure.  The key piece is the bell-sleeved jacked with a texture that is similar to coarse salt to add visual interest.  The one-shoulder blouse provides a modern look and glamor that is revealed when the jacket is removed.  The scarf has a signature print that appears throughout the collection, suggestive of the hidden life that may lie underneath Mercury’s cold and dry exterior.

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Outfit Number Two – For women who have to go out to work and meetings, they need something that looks elegant and formal – clean cut lines with a black jacket and pencil skirt.  The blouse, done in the signature print, is very 60s secretarial with a feminine bow.  The jacket sleeves, while smaller than the ones on the first outfit, still have a distinctive bell shape.  The look is accessorised with a dark green stingray belt and dark green jade bracelets.

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Outfit Number Three – The bell shape theme continues but expands to the entire shoulder of a wool jacket gathering in pleats around the waist.  It is a gradient from white to light gray around the waist and then back to white at the hem.  The one-piece dress underneath is a comfortable but well structured Cashmere wool with a three-quarter length sleeve.  The accessory is a dark green jade breastplate necklace.

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Outfit Number Four – The look becomes more relaxed, something she would wear for Sunday brunch before heading out to an afternoon excursion.  The knit sweater has a shawl-like collar, bulky and comfortable.  The top is similar to the one-piece dress in the previous outfit but with a wide collar that shows the tops of the shoulders.

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Outfit Number Five – This is the transition to evening wear, a cocktail dress that sees the one-shoulder dress return with an integrated single-sleeve mesh blouse.  The wool jacket is inspired by Jackie O, lined with silk and decorated with the salt texture but done in medium to dark gray. 

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Outfit Number Six – The final look is a formal evening dress, called “Fly Me to Mercury”.  Decorated with ostrich feather epaulets as well as ostrich feathers on the lower portion of the skirt, this dress is elegant with small pleats on the torso that spread out to follow the silhouette of the body.  Long gloves and the signature print scarf complete the look.

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The final two illustrations were additional graphics Tawn created to present to his class.  He wanted to convey the collection in a lighthearted way, playing off the idea of paper dolls from the 1960s. 

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The story is of his muses, Twiggy and Emily, taking a voyage to Mercury.  He could see this concept being used in a magazine photo shoot, a whimsical way to present the collection.

So that is what Tawn has been up to.  Now, if we can scrape up $2,000 or so, he could actually make prototypes of these outfits.   Well, we’ll wait until his pattern-making class is complete! 

Chris’ Fashion Blog

Since Tawn blogs about fashion I thought that maybe I should try it, too.  I’ll take a “man on the street” perspective.  After all, if we’re to believe the stereotypes, should I be really keen on fashion? 

Here is Exhibit A in my new project: a man waiting on the Skytrain platform with a gold shoulder bag that has a built in boom box.  Well, more like a boomette box.

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Is that not just the height of fashion?  I tell you, if I thought I could pull off that look, you just know I would.  Sadly, I look dorky even with just an iPod.

 

December Odds and Ends

As the month nears its end, I feel like there are a lot of things to catch up on.  All these little bloggable odds and ends that, thanks to a busy schedule and pneumonia, I fell behind on sharing with you.

First off, I baked a really nice loaf of sandwich bread.  This one was made with some dried milk, an ingredient I was surprised to find in my local market.  It makes a really nice texture for sandwiches, even though I usually prefer a more rustic loaf.

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A few months ago, in an attempt to make the Annex more comfortable as a living space, we purchased a TV and then a DVD player.  Since our DVD collection spans the globe, we needed a DVD player that can play discs from all regional zones.  The initial one we purchased, despite the salesman’s promises, couldn’t.  When we brought it back to the store for him to unlock it, we discovered that something else was wrong and it wasn’t playing any discs at all!

He gave us the display model as a loaner while he ordered a replacement.  A few weeks later he said the new DVD player had arrived so I brought the display model in for a swap.

 

In what has to be the perfect example of Thai problem solving, the salesman used a hair dryer (from a display in the store, nonetheless) to carefully remove the manufacturer’s label on the display model and on the newly ordered DVD player.  He then swapped the labels so I went home with the new DVD player that had the display model’s label and serial number on it.  He then shipped back the display model with the new player’s label on it back to the manufacturer.

You following this?  Kind of crazy, huh?  I least I now have a DVD player that works and can play discs from all regional zones.

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It’s time for another edition of “Overloaded Vehicles of Thailand.”

 

This week’s entry in the motorbike category is shown above, with no less than six milk crates and two additional boxes strapped onto the back of his bike.  I can only imagine how poorly this bike handles with such a high center of gravity.

 

In the truck category we have this pickup truck which is overloaded in such a silly manner, it ceases to be funny.  What is in the boxes?  Lay’s potato chips.  So the truck isn’t overloaded by weight, necessarily, just size.

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December 5th was His Majesty the King’s 82nd birthday.  Yellow is the color normally associated with His Majesty, as he was born on a Monday, the day associated with the color yellow.  However, in the recent political tumult in Thailand, the royalists appropriated yellow and are now known as the “yellow shirts.”  Because of this, yellow is too partisan a color to wear to celebrate the King’s birthday.  It seems that this year, pink was decided upon.

 

A concert at Tokyo department store at MBK shopping center.  Note the prevalence of pink.  The two-letter script that looks like “WO” in English is the Thai word for “father” – HMTK is affectionately referred to as the father of the nation.  Father’s day coincides with his birthday.

 

Here’s a closeup of the crowd watching the concern.  I’ve never seen these LED signs before but I guess they are kind of a grown-up version of Lite Brite.  I take it from these signs that the artist who is performing is known as Dan.

 

On the walkway from MBK shopping center to Siam Discovery, I saw something I have never seen before in Thailand and hope to never see again: mimes.

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Speaking of things you’ve never seen before. take a look at this picture and see if you can tell me what about it you’ve never seen before.

 

Scroll down for the answer…

Me wearing brown shoes.  After some prodding from Tawn (and an amazing find of wide shoe sizes from Clarks, something else I’ve never seen in Thailand) I caved in and bought a brown pair of shoes.  I have not owned brown shoes since maybe high school.  In university I did have a pair of blue Doc Martens but other than that, my leather shoes (with the exception of sneakers) have been black.  No confusion, no fuss, no trouble matching the belt.

You may not fully appreciate how earth-shattering this news is, but you should know that snowballs are starting to feel like they have a fighting chance in hell.

Lost? Just Don’t Blow Your Nose

P1210031.JPGI’m a closet shopper.  Everyone thinks Tawn is the shopper in this family but sometimes I find something that I think is really cool and I’ll buy it.  So it was while we were in Taipei and stopped by a branch of Muji, the Japanese “no brand, high quality” store that is kind of like the Gap meets IKEA but better.

What caught my eye?  These exciting Muji cotton handkerchiefs here that are printed with maps of London, New York, Tokyo and Kyoto.  Each city has both a present-day map as well as a map of the old city, usually from the mid-1800s.

Almost all my handkerchiefs come from Muji, ever since I first discovered the store in Hong Kong years ago.  Their handkerchiefs are of good quality, durable, reasonable priced, and come in a variety of colors and patterns that, while conservative, give me a little room to express myself.

Of course, the fact that I carry a handkerchief at all probably puts me into a category all my own.  There seem to be few men anymore who carry handkerchiefs.  Truly, though, how can a gentleman not carry one with him?  You never know when there will be a spill to clean up, a person in tears, a wound that needs staunching.  Plus, these map handkerchiefs would make for cool tray liners during a party.  I’m not sure they’ll go into my handkerchief drawer but may instead end up in the linen closet.

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More on Muji.  Muji describes itself as follows:

“Muji is not a brand.  Muji does not make products of individuality or fashion nor does Muji reflect the popularity of its name in its prices.  Muji creates products with a view toward global consumption in the future.  That means that we do not create products that lure customers into believing that ‘this is the best’ or ‘I must have this.’  We would like our customers to feel the rational sense of satisfaction that comes not with ‘this is the best,’ but with ‘this is enough.’  ‘Best’ becomes ‘enough.'”

In the Wikipedia entry about Muji, the consumer goods retail chain is distinguished by its design minimalism, emphasis on recycling, avoidance of waste in production and packaging, and no-logo or “no-brand” policy.  Really, it captures a lot of what I think of as the hallmarks of the Japanese design aesthetic.

 

Trish Offers Us a Discount on Teal Lotus Outfits

Many of you may recall my good friend Trish, a stylish woman from Kansas City, who has visited us here in Thailand twice, most recently in November 2008.  The purpose of that visit was to put the pieces together for her new company, Teal Lotus.  Teal Lotus creates custom made 100% Thai silk woman’s wear in designs that are classic, timeless and flattering to women of all ages and body types.

The inspiration for her company came with Trish’s first visit to Thailand in 2006.  While here, Trish had some outfits custom made based on her own designs.  They turned out wonderfully and when she wore them, she received frequent compliments and inquiries about where she bought them.  Trish quickly spotted a business opportunity and set about creating Teal Lotus.

Part of that process included working with dressmakers here in Krungthep, refining designs and creating patterns that could be easily modified for each customer’s unique measurements.  One thing Trish insisted on: Teal Lotus garments would carry only one size – yours.

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Above: Trish, flanked by her assistant Bulan, discuss measurements with a local dressmaker.

In addition to negotiating with dressmakers and addressing production and logistics questions, Trish had to source the silk.  She was very particular about both the quality and the variety of colors she wanted.  We eventually located a factory that met her specifications in Nakhon Ratchasima province.  The owner walked us through the entire production process and was happy to let me take photos.

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Since returning home ten months ago, Trish set up her website, TealLotus.com, and started filling orders for customers.  While back in Kansas City this summer, I did a photo shoot for her to get pictures of several different outfits modeled by friends and family members, including my sister and grandmother.



The purpose of the shoot was so Trish could pull together an advertisement (pictured below) in a local Kansas City magazine.

 

While taking the pictures, I mentioned to Trish that when I originally wrote about her visit to Thailand last November, I received several inquiries from readers about the availability of Teal Lotus outfits.  Because of this interest, I asked Trish whether she would be willing to offer a promotional discount to readers of my blog.  Of course she said yes.

So, dear readers, here is my own form of economic stimulus, well-timed since the holidays (and all the parties that the holidays bring about) are coming soon.  Please feel free to visit Trish’s site at TealLotus.com.  If you see anything that you would like to order, please send me a message before you complete the order and I’ll be happy to share the code for a 20% discount with you.

Remember, each Teal Lotus garment is custom made to your exact measurements (or the exact measurements of the special lady for whom you are buying it), ensuring a flattering fit.  And each garment is made from 100% Thai silk, the most beautiful silk in the world.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Tawn Prepares for Italy

Since I can’t seem to cajole Tawn into updating his blog, I’ll just continue to provide entries that give you some insight into what he’s doing.  While I’m in the United States, Tawn will be in Paris for a few days, followed by two weeks in Italy.

In preparation for the trip, Tawn has been testing different outfits, mixing and matching to create a range of looks for the trip.  He had me take some pictures of potential outfits:

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Thoughts?  I’ll pass them along.