This was my attempt at doing the quintessential hippie-boho Gucci girl look, for the sole purpose of throwing together an outfit to go with my bag, which isn't something I would ordinarily buy for myself. Monograms are not quite up my alley. However, it was a gift, so I figured I should get some use out of it. For inspiration, I looked at the outfits in the Gucci Cruise 2007 and Gucci Spring/Summer 2007 ad campaigns, then did my own spin on the look to make it fit my usual style a little more.
BAG - Gucci
DRESS - Bysi
LACE HAIR FLOWER - Accessorize
GLADIATOR HEELS - Steve Madden
LEATHER BELT - Vintage (this was a really cute
find from a thrift store in New Zealand some years ago.)
Recently, I was invited to Quintessential boutique's 5th anniversary party by the very awesome Fashion Director, Marie (check out her website at http://www.marieng.com), who worked on the recent Quintessential ad campaign which you might have noticed blanketing the giant Pacific Plaza columns.
The boutique, which ranks very highly on my list of accessories stores, is like a buffet of arm, neck, finger, wrist, ankle, and hair candy. It stocks jewellery, bags, shoes and hair accessories by cult designers like Rachel Leigh and CC Skye, as well as many independent and up-and-coming labels that you'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere else on the island - Keira, Alkemie, Lara Bohinc, Arosha Twists, Adia Kibur, Revamp Productions, Sibilia, Firehorse Cosa Bella, What's Pink, Rebound Designs, etc. Prices, based on the majority of items I checked out, tend to hover within the $50 - $400 range, give or take.
What I have always loved about visiting Quintessential over the years is that in Singapore, where you cannot walk ten steps without coming face to face with yet another Charles & Keith, Quintessential feels like it has its own unique personality. It is home to so many conversation pieces that tickle the quirky bone, and since all their items come in such limited quantities, the chances of running into twenty other people on the street with the same bag or necklace is slim to none. This is particularly noteworthy, as we live in a country where the chain store is king, and everyone seems to gravitate towards the exact same designer products. (Ugly Louis Vuitton "Neverfull" tote, I'm looking at you.) But I digress.
It was really lovely to finally meet the boutique's three delightful owners - Theresa Yong, Sharon Foo and Bina Maniar-Goh, who are a real hands-on presence in the running of their shop. You'll probably find one of them behind the counter whenever you step in. According to Theresa, Quintessential never stocks the same designer for more than two seasons, keeping things fresh, unpredictable and interesting.
I decided to make a list of my favourite things in the store...
MY PERSONAL PICK
This leather bow wrist cuff by Keira is what I wound up buying.
It's dramatic without being overly flamboyant, and adds instant
drama to any outfit. Although the leather is buttery soft, it's
wrapped around a stiffer skeleton within to give it structure and
keep its jaunty bow shape. I think it's definitely something I can
see becoming a signature wardrobe staple from now on, especially
since the colour makes it incredibly versatile. In particular, I love
how the black leather adds a slightly tougher edge to the femininity
of the bow.
My leather bow wrist cuff's designer, Keira Thorley, hails from Scotland. Born in Glasgow, based in Edinburgh, and educated at Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design, she specialises in bow designs - be it wrist cuffs, anklets or clutch bags (see the next picture, taken from the Quintessential blog, for a couple of her other designs). The bow wrist cuff was literally the last piece in Quintessential - which I snapped up at once - and I was told that the bow anklet had just sold out. That was a bit disappointing as I'd have very much liked to check it out. I never wear anklets but when they look like the one below, I am more than ready to make an exception.
OTHER TOP PICKS
The next few pieces were my favourites after the bow cuff.
This bag is literally made from a genuine old book - lovingly worn and used, then gutted of its pages and transformed into a purse with a vintage button clasp. I think it's the perfect way to recycle a novel that might have been trashed otherwise. This piece was the last in the store, and I missed out on getting the one I actually wanted - a bag made from an old Nancy Drew hardcover edition that I'd owned when I was a little girl. It would have made a lovely present to myself - one with sentimental value. Alas. I eyed this one quite hungrily but decided not to get it as it doesn't have the same meaning to me as the other one did. I'm not sure if it's still for sale, but if so, hopeful owners may purchase it for about $280, I believe.
I would actually love to have one made from one of the fairy tales I adored as a child - Little Red Riding Hood, The Little Mermaid or Alice In Wonderland, perhaps. Or even an Enid Blyton book I grew up on, like The Enchanted Wood, The Magic Faraway Tree or The Wishing Chair. The designer, Caitlin Phillips (of Rebound Designs) has her own website that I'm considering custom ordering something from. Check it out here: http://www.rebound-designs.com. The catalog is full of books with beautiful cover art work that she's turned into bags - most of them already sold. However, there is a link you can click to inform her that you'd like one just like it.
Usually, I am not a fan of snake or alligator prints and the like (basically, if it's printed like an animal, I am disinterested). However, these signature bow chokers by Rachel Leigh were too cute not to include in my list. The line is designed by Rachel Blumenthal - the former Yves Saint Laurent publicist. I like the way the bow clasp of her chokers fastens, in particular. She also makes those 'Audrey' bow bangles (pictured below) that the celebrity circuit seems to love.
When I saw these Rachel Leigh bow enamel bangles in magazines, I was ambivalent, but in person, they are really very lovely, simple and well-designed. There's just something about them that makes your wrist feel special once you click the bangle shut around it. Many people have noted in the past that they never see me wearing bangles or bracelets. I'm not one for wrist jewellery aside from the occasional leather wrist cuff - of which I own a few, mostly because I don't like having clunky things clattering around my hands and arms. More importantly, I have tiny wrists and most bangles in stores don't fit. I'll put my arm down and the bangle will fall right off, on to the floor. I was therefore pleasantly surprised that the Rachel Leigh bangles fit so snugly. They're also shaped in a way that keeps the bow in position at the top, so that it doesn't fall prey to gravity and twist underneath your wrist.
There were a couple of belly dancers at the launch party. One of them taught me how to belly dance for a couple of minutes and this act of embarrassing myself won me a nice hair hamper with a new ceramic hair straightener, curling iron and blowdryer. Clearly, it pays to be shameless. It made a nice addition to the lovely gift bag at the door, stuffed full of luxurious goodies, including Guerlain make-up, spa vouchers, organic hair conditioner and such.
Aren't these luggage bags adorable?
I would like to be a child again and own the pig.
The statuesque lady in the column dress next to me is Sharon Foo, one of Quintessential's owners. In the course of our conversation, she mentioned that Tiger Woods had eight mistresses, and I misheard, thinking she said she had eight children, and choked on my Perrier. Fortunately, I was promptly corrected of my bad hearing. In actual fact, she has a young son, but you'd never know it, looking at her. The lady looks like a supermodel! What a gorgeous mother.