Sunday, June 3, 2012

Jen Kao AW 2011

When studying becomes too much to bear, I crawl into the fantasy world and fairy tales that runway shows often try to spin and weave. Some designers succeed and it is well deserved; and others exceed all expectations and create something beyond magical. I had not yet heard the name Jen Kao before this collection, but I can't wait to unearth more from such a spectacularly bewildering designer. The entire look of the collection borders between a psychedelic experience and eating a poison apple; we often have images in our head of the Evil Queen in Snow White. She who is slender but fixated on competitions of beauty and titles as well as cruelty and abuse of her powers. Within this collection I see the parallels between the classic Disney villain and the interplay between shades of green and purple, extraordinary ear cuffs and beautiful up do's. 

Texture doesn't seem to be an issue or barrier within this collection, as the exploration of different techniques in order to create unity within this collection and style is simply effortless. For a change of pace, I've started with the backstage photographs and finished with the runway images. I just feel that this was a more gentle introduction into the shapes and details of the dresses and then wanted to see them submerged in the dark element and presence of the catwalk. There was a greater impact with the catwalk photographs and it really did plunge you into a world of fantasy as well as ancient rites and spells. That said- the detail on the ear cuffs and gems included into the scrolling gold design are stunning when combined with those tassels. The back panel of her dress also seems to remind me so much so of cliche bat wings blackened as well as leathery and marked with bulbous veins.

I know I really shouldn't pick favourites, but for some reason I love the forlorn look of this model above. Although her bags are apparent and for someone with such a small frame she may look sickly, but if you put a mystical black rose in her hands she could easily by a young heroine waiting for her lover to return from some epic battle in Middle Earth... Whenever I clasp my hands in front of me in such a manner, I'm told not to let myself become victimised and I don't have the sleek nail polish or gold rings either.

There's no border between race amongst the models chosen for this runway collection and I thought this too was really powerful. In the modelling world and a place fixated on the power of image, creating equal opportunities amongst female models isn't always possible but, Jen Kao managed to do that and I applaud her for it. Her African model shown above looks startling at first with her white hair; but the highlights of gold leaf in her eyebrows really intensify her unique features and I love the use of gold rings and jewellery amongst the textured fur jacket. It's easily my favourite piece from the collection since there really are a number of different ways to wear it; but sadly I won't get to try out any of them. I only really go for fur jacket's when they look intentionally fake; and the multicolour scrap book of fur swatches looks natural as well as really interesting. There's too much sameness out there; I personally would love to have a unique wardrobe that can really broaden the horizons of all that peak into it.

As well as a heavy use of black and purple within the collection, there are those pieces that have embroidery detail beyond all expectations in a shade of pale pea green. I never thought I could be persuaded into liking a colour like this, as I'm not an avid fan of green but the way the crochet effect molds around the body of the model is really something to behold and the material underneath with metallic/ sparkly hints does make me think of forest sprites and nymphs. The make up and presentation of the models is clean; and the styling of the hair away from the neckline really opened up the clothes and their divine necklines to be seen clearly. As well as having vision for their clothing and bringing that to reality, designers also have a hard time in really choosing models to present their brands. Jen Kao has done a fantastic job here and she should really be proud of such a wonderful collection.

I never had a great love affair with translucent effects or iridescent nail polish; but part of me wishes I had and did enjoy the reflective nature of some materials. There's a bit of a grunge phase I'm going through now with torn jeans and perspex platform sandals from the 1990s; but that purple tasseling with a green sheen is really something. The shape of the dress is already very feminine with accentuation of the hourglass figure, but to think that this has been combined with such eccentric effects and with a wonderful appeal about it... That really does take true creative vision. I could never seem to find such wonderful haberdashery and crafts bits at my local school sewing room or when shopping about. It must be wonderful to design clothes and pick all the bits and pieces by hand.

For those Shakespearean thespians out there; I wonder if anyone else thinks that this collection would be a wonderful resource for stage costumes for 'A Mid Summer Night's Dream'. Titania could easily fit her nimble body into any one dress and become a powerful and independent commander; Oberon should fittingly wear the fur coats and proudly wear the trophies of his hunts. Servants Mustardseed, Peaseblossom, Cobweb andmust have gone into preparing the entire collection.

I love the way the models creep out of the shadowy depths of the start of the catwalk and the magnificent nature of their dresses and costume; head to toe their outfits are stunning and even their finger nails are fittingly matched. The mixture of colours within the dress is psychedelic but also steamy and dark; it's like I'm on some wonderful drug or am under the spell of a sultry witch. As well as the obviously elegant dress covered in embellished tassels of bright orange and yellow, I think the small details such as the low denier tights of pearl grey and midnight purple boots make for a bold impact overall. Pouring my hands over the finely stitched garbs of the collection would be an honour, but I think I could spend hours alone inspecting the shoes and their architectural structure. My favourite nail polish was of a similar colour to the boots; but with shimmering silver glitter mixed in as well. It's comforting to know that designers and myself share a keen eye for colours and how their effective use can change or enhance ones' mood.

At about the same time of Jen Kao's Autumn Winter collection was the release Stolen Girlfriend's Club X Jeffrey Campbell shoe compilation; both of which feature the same curved pattern. I am the proud owner of such boots in black and gold which imitate vintage cowboy boots in the style of the infamous Jeffrey Campbell Lita boot; but I should like to wear them with such a distinctly patterned dress. The boots are simple black against gold and two-dimensional in design but this dress with layered green design over two shades of purple seems multi-faceted and wondrously complex. I haven't worn green with purple or thought they were suitable companions colours since about the third grade, so it's great to have my eyes opened up to different possibilities by sch an exciting designer with clearly unique ideas. What impresses me most about the collection is how eloquently it is expressed visually. There's no use in having good ideas unless you know how to make others understand them or make them available to the masses.

For anyone who knows me well, they know that purple is my favourite colour. I was captured by the near-black shades of the colour a few years ago, but as of late I favour pastel lilac and its innocence. If the above jacket was a dish served at a banquet, I would describe it as steamy, mouth-watering and delectable. As a garment it is perfect within the realms of my own opinion. I've been chasing a good, faux fur jacket for a few months now and this shade when combined with matching high heeled boots and the same textured tights as above makes for a feast for the eyes. The crochet dress it's been paired with is also interesting and reminds me a bit of intricately weaved dream-catchers. The spiral design that sits between the waist and bust of the model seems inspired by marine sand dollars and it also tapers to a sweet V-shape towards the hemline of the dress. It's all very feminine, but isn't open or subject to being victimised. It's a great balance between the two binary elements.

Like many other girls my age, I was carried away with the fairy tale space prints of Black Milk leggings, but the conforming Lycra also made me squirm a bit in my skin unless I was in a totally carefree mood. This dress delivers the same magical print as the label mentioned above, but Jen Kao has created a stunning full length evening dress that is modest but completely visually attractive. The neckline and centre of the dress features beaded Navajo elements in lime green that contrasts well against the streaks of burgundy and purple that features so heavily in this dress. Once again, I think that splicing the spatial pattern with sheer dusty lilac was a wise choice of the designer. It doesn't limit the dress to becoming monotonous and also wasn't overused in the collection.

I sincerely hope that some celebrity somewhere was clever enough to wear one of these stunning dresses for a red carpet event; and if not, I am more than happy to act as a pioneer of fashion and try and woe the paparazzi with one-of-a-kind style. This dress in all its adornments and various materials comes together magnificently. While the colour is dark and racy, I think for those blessed with pale skin and sharp cheek bones the look can be a massive asset, made all the better if you have short hair in a quaff. When stars try and achieve this effect, it can be risky business and leave themselves open to criticism but years after her debut, Bjork and her swan dress are still talked about and imitated by avid, DIY-obsessed crafts people. I'd love to see someone take on this beast of a dress though...

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