Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Luxury is Ludicrous, but so is everything else

bryan boy, suzy menkes, fashion blogger, fashion journalism

Recently, I was given the opportunity to cover the International Luxury Conference organized by the International New York times, and mediated by non other than my fashion fairy god mother. What sold me on this task was the fact that I would once again be able to hear the angelic(and slightly worn out) voice of Dear Suzy Menkes! She and I have had our encounters, the first was during Fide Fashion week. I walked up to her, and introduced myself as Anna Wintour's successor, to which she responded by wheezing out a breathless giggle, and continued to sip her sparkling champagne. Suzy and I then proceeded with an intense bitching session about how ANTM is becoming more and more equivocal. But jokes aside, I did write an article FOR poachedmag, that I thought "HEY WHY NOT I SHARE IT WITH MY DoD READERS!"  I've got to be extra careful when I go about doing this, only because this article belongs to them and not me, despite the entire piece of writing being the product of my exceptionally gifted psyche. (I've become slightly narcissistic, do forgive me)
Without further ado, here is my article for poachedmag on the International Luxury Conference

suzy menkes, SEA of luxury, international luxury conference

“A S.E.A of luxury” was the tagline for this year’s Luxury conference, an acronym intelligently crafted to match the cultural peripheries of the continent it was held in. A rather amusing way to phrase South East Asia, this year marks its 13th cycle since its inception in 2001 in Paris, subsequently having been convened in major cities like Paris, Dubai, Hong Kong, New Delhi, London and Moscow. Now, it is globally recognized as one of the world’s most prestigious annual forums for the global luxury business, bringing together an eclectic mix of speakers―from creative directors to CEOs.
In the past, they had DvF share her eclectic insight on luxury. Also, she's fucking royalty!

An endeavour by the International New York Times (formerly the International Herald Tribune) to promote and uphold transparency within luxury, the focus of this year’s dialogue were 2 things; Where Asia stands as a producer of Luxury, as well as its undeniable propensity to consume and buy up luxury goods. With so much on the line, The INYT chose none other than their resident Fashion Editor and undisputed authority on style, Suzy Menkes, to be this year’s mediator. Who better to facilitate a dialogue on Luxury fashion that the style maven herself, famous for triggering heated debates with her polemic articles (Remember “A fashion Circus”?). Click Here to read a wonderfully succinct response to her description of deplorative fashion.

Fashion Level: Amish Chic

When we speak of Luxury, an unspoken axiom dictates our thoughts, telling us that items of Luxury only originate from prodigal places like Milan or Paris. It’s not unorthodox for us Asians to associate production in Asia as (dare I say) cheap or of low quality, especially when it comes to our Louis Vuitton Damier bags or our interlocking G pattern Gucci sneakers.  These ideals would have stood 5 years ago, but could never be more erroneous now.  Let me speak in vernacular; Asia’s ability as a consumer of luxury goods is the holy grail of Retail. To quote Domenico De Sole, Chairman of Tom Ford International, "You cannot be a great luxury brand unless you're successful in Asia." .

 Suzy Menkes reiterated this many times over, that “Asia can be a creative powerhouse- and not just the place to manufacture low cost fashion”.Watching Suzy churn out erudite discussions with the acclaimed speakers was a real sight to behold. Her estimable demeanour shines through her saccharine-sweet smile, that slips in between her statements every now and again. As for the speakers, we were graced with the likes of Ermenegildo Zegna and Philip Lim to HRH (Her Royal highness, for those of us who aren’t acquainted with monarchy) Marie-Chantal and Anna Sui, just to name a few.   Suzy touched on the different series of “waves” that made up the conference (which would seem appropriate seeing as though this is a “SEA” of luxury) ― and of these “waves”, was the topic of Menswear. Suzy went as far as to call Asia’s exponential Menswear growth as a “Pan-Asian Phenomenon”.  This is especially true; since the need to look dapper in debonair clothing has been on the up and up for more Asian men, thanks to style mavericks like John Tan of leading the fashion pack!

images courtesy of John's photography prowess deserve the highest of approbations!
Synonymous designers; like Philip Lim and Anna Sui, that have their roots in Asia but are based in America, were also invited to share their insight on the matter of merging western culture with their oriental backgrounds. Suzy questioned whether they saw themselves as a kind of bridge between the United States with Asia, to which they replied that Asia is just brimming with talented individuals who are just waiting to make their mark on the industry. These notable individuals are the ones to really bridge the gap between the western and eastern luxury markets.
PS: James Ferragamo is one HOT piece of luxury ass!
The dialogue reached its apex when the discussion of whether or not Asia could be a producer of luxury went into full swing.  The Asian Demographic was heavily scrutinized, especially since Asia contains a wide variety of cultural influences. Of these influences, Religion was singled out by Suzy. In countries like Malaysia where the majority are Muslim, the demand for luxury clothing that needs to be religiously appropriate are undeniably high, as are the religiously appropriate luxury clothes of any other community within Asia. My Jaw dropped when she began to speak about this wonderful event called the Islamic fashion festival, of which even I had no knowledge over (I’m Muslim and I like fashion, which makes this an oxymoron!).  What captured the discussion succinctly was a statement from Angelica Cheun, Editor in Chief of Vogue China, on the idea of Asian creativity: "We don't have to put an "Asian" tag on it. We are Asian, but we are everywhere."

As our continent continues to grow in relevance to the global operations of multinational brands and businesses, we can only dream of what is to come for those who choose to bravely venture into Asia, with hopes of establishing an ideology of luxury strong enough to challenge the likes of Western/European fashion Behemoths like Hermes or Cartier.  With Tom Ford establishing its first south East Asian presence in Singapore next year, who’s to say the entire world isn't going to be at our doorstep!
Ain't she a beauty?

PS: Here's to Suzy Menkes, for her 25 years of dedicated service and excellent journalism. The fashion world may never again see someone as vivacious nor as candor as you! May you continue to shine your light of wisdom as a beacon, about billowing skirts and luscious lace for many more years to come! 

To all my readers, thank you for continued patronage . I've been quite dry recently, what with all the periodic writer's block that happens ever so often nowadays.  What's been occupying a lot of my time lately is this book I've been meaning to write. The idea struck me like a thief in the night (literally, I woke up in the middle of the night and started penning down my thoughts with a pen near the end of it's useful life!) I've never really felt like a fully fledged writer but if I actually do go through with this, I might regain what little shred of confidence I had about writing again.

As the end of the year draws near, we as human beings will naturally consider the accomplishments and failures we've experienced during this fleeting period in our lives. But what we shouldn't be preoccupied with,is dwelling on the past and regretting the decisions we've made. Every single step you've ever taken, has been no less than instrumental in shaping the person you are today.  A new year symbolizes a new beginning, with the slate wiped clean.  As we appreciate the blessed moments in our lives thus far, so should we with the times of despair and sorrow, for these are the real moments that test our grit and spirit. I was lucky to have had so many wonderful learning journeys this year, with the privilege of meeting people I never thought I'd ever see with my own two eyes( Here's looking at you, Suzy!).   

Here's to not holding back. I say, Let it all Go.  It's time we start afresh. Begin anew

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