Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Favourites of the Spring/Summer 2012 collections (part 1)

My personal favourites for Spring/Summer 2012! (Part 1)

#1. Versace Ready-to-Wear

And the most incredible gowns:


The entire collection oozed Versace sex appeal and the glossiest, poutiest glamour imaginable – the white leather dresses, much shorter on the models, were held on by snakes of studded leather and had bold zips up the back. Later, they came in pale lilac and sky blue in a puffy neoprene fabric that featured a sea bed print of star fish and sea horses – which later reappeared on full length evening gowns held on by glittering sea creatures across the body.

The neoprene made for little bloomer-shaped shorts with matching bra tops and bomber jackets and some mini dresses came with a curtain of gently pleated chiffon over one shoulder to soften the look. The girls, who had been preened and perfected for the show like no other, teetered on huge Perspex platforms – so they looked, said one fashion editor, “like Malibu Barbie”.
[pictures and commentary courtesy of Vogue.]

Personally I'm obsessed with anything mermaid-related, so naturally I was all over this resplendent little collection from Versace brimful of seashell and starfish designs and sea greens, lilacs, baby blues and canary yellows. I've only in my life ever watched two Disney movies (Tarzan and Tangled), but ever since I was young, Ariel from the Little Mermaid was the one Disney princess I idolised and wanted to be. As an adult, I'm still most obsessed with the mermaid concept, out of all the other mystical beings and characters I became familiar with as I grew older.
To me, this collection is perfect because it embodies this childhood and ongoing obsession of mine, but adds the necessary touch of  maturity by crossing it (in my opinion) with a luxurious and glamourous resort pool party.

#2. Phillip Lim Ready-to-Wear


Lim's show notes mentioned kites as the impetus for this collection, opening with an effortless, white top with pale pink pants with thick black stripes down the side. Easter egg pastels comprised most of the colour in the collection, with mauve and orange contrasting against a versatile piece in black and white. As usual, layering was a strong part of the designer's story, with elongated, sleeveless blazers and vests over gauzy, loose blouses and generously cut pants.  A faded yellow anorak, bleached-out denim vest, and roomy shorts that stopped at the knee were standout pieces and suitable for a variety of customers. A filmy, opaque top was inlaid with strips of fabric, creating a novel take on stripes. Pattern was kept to a minimum, and garments were streamlined and airy, sleek without coming across as confrontational in their sophisticated mien.

There was an unaffected simplicity and innocence to the collection, an un-ironic view of Nineties minimalism, but with more heart. While trend analysts and street style hopefuls already have a long list of must-have pieces on their spring check list—peplums, mesh, showy florals, eye-catching colour—Lim remained confident that some shoppers won't fall victim to the ephemeral nature of trends, and that a timeless wardrobe is still the objective of many savvy consumers.

#3. Antonio Berardi Ready-to-Wear


It began with a pearl story that pulled in voluminous chiffon waves to stiff patent leather shoulder pieces, the chiffon pieces sometimes encrusted with a million sparkling beads. Shorter shift dresses with panels of embellishment or shiny leather were built up at each shoulder and followed a strict body con silhouette, serving to further emphasise the roomy nature of empire line evening dresses – that billowed out from patent leather bustier tops - and beautiful tailoring that, while as formal as we’re used to from Berardi, allowed slightly more room for manoeuvre than the past couple of seasons. Softly draped kimono tops and fluid trouser underlined the point.

Pale trouser suits were translucent to show off the elegant structure within, they were accented by darker versions in panels of dark green and cream – and then an orange and cream print went by in a flash of fiery colour, before more form fitting dresses and leggings emblazoned with sequins down the front was a taste of the full on sex appeal we always like from Berardi.

Flesh pink with claret, pale spearmint, scarlet and turquoise – the colour palette was as delicious as the tailoring was precise – and then the mermaid hemmed skirts, worn with fabulous multi-strapped heels of pearly cream or green, were pure fairy tale glamour.
[pictures and commentary courtesy of Vogue.]

So these are my top 3 favourite collections for Spring/Summer 2012 so far. Compiling all the images and making this post took a surprisingly long amount of time since it's not easy to extract images from Vogue's website (and then collage everything). Nonetheless it's such a pleasure going through all the different beautiful shows and noting the new trends in the upcoming months, so I'll probably be making more similar posts in the future!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Gmarket Haul + a useful tip for ordering from Gmarket

According to my order history, this is my fourth independent order from Gmarket. I say "independent" because I've ordered with other people via surveys on previous occasions, paying additional service fees but saving on shipping costs. Two or three years ago I may never have dreamed of making an individual order myself from Gmarket, but over the years Gmarket has done a fantastic job making the site a lot more user friendly for non-Koreans- and for my last few orders I've found it too easy to navigate around and eventually check out. 

The total amount payable for the items came to 139 000W or ~132USD, where the shipping was 31 160W for 2.06KG via EMS. As I live all the way down in Australia that's a pretty good deal for me, as Aussies often have to cop hefty shipping fees from popular American-based sites such as Karmaloop or Forever21.

price: 24 700Won ~ 24USD
When you go to the store's link (above, in the name) the base price is listed at the top, which is 19 000W. These shorts have about an extra 5 000W on top.

size: Free size (listed as 44-66)

I fell in love with the colour of these mustard yellow shorts! I really wanted a pair of paper bag style shorts in a unique colour I didn't already have. The colour is fantastic for autumn or winter which I've just exited- but it would still look lovely with stockings in spring for the cooler days.
The size was free size (listed as fitting 44-66) because of the stretchy waistband, and the shorts fit me perfectly. A little ironing work to be done first and they're ready for wear!

price: 24 900W ~ 24USD
size: S

This isn't a skirt, these are culottes- shorts that look like skirts! It was hard to resist the temptation of getting the blue version of these and prance around like a wannabe Sailormoon character, shouting daft things like "moon prism power makeup!" (although blue skirt would be Sailor Mercury, my least favourite character of the gang during my childhood), but I really needed a colour besides blue! I didn't regret my decision however as the ombre brown colour of these culottes is beautiful in real life. The buttons are also gorgeous!
I was a bit surprised that the material was a bit thin, since the stock photos make the culottes seem a bit thick and stiff. That's not a flaw though, just something I wasn't expecting.

price: 9 000W ~ 9USD
size: M

I ordered a size up to M, since these I could gather from the pictures that these shorts had practically no stretch at all. My experience with a similar looking pair of shorts from Zipia in size S, which also had no stretch, told me it was wiser to size up in that case. However, woe is me because these are now a little loose. These are really just the regular trials and tribulations of ordering clothes online- even if you've diligently studied the measurements provided and comparing them to your own clothes, they still might not fit perfectly. I would've preferred a slightly smaller size so that the shorts don't flare out so much, but the looseness isn't a massive issue and might be useful for tucking in heavier materials, such as a knit jumper. The quality of the shorts are perfectly fine, and like with the other shorts, the material is quite thin.

price: 20 800W ~ 20USD
size: S

I'm sorry these pictures aren't very clear, since my house was getting quite dark at the time and the shorts are black. Using flash also changed the appearance of the shorts quite a bit and didn't provide a very accurate picture, so I avoided that. I'm not too sure if these shorts look true to the stock picture, because the bow seems thicker and less droopy there. I also find the material a little too thin and not the best quality. A little ironing however may make it look at least a little more expensive. Truth be told, I probably would not have spent the amount I did on these shorts if I had tried them on in real life.

price: 23 900W ~ 23USD
size: M

Finally, the material of these shorts was actually quite thick and sturdy! These shorts are just lovely, mostly because of the non-flimsy quality of the material and the cute but simple scalloped design. I took off my stockings to model these since these shorts a bit shorter, and you could see that unattractive sheer top part of stockings signalling to you that whatever you're wearing over the top is indecently short (well indecently short a few decades ago perhaps). I will definitely be wearing these out a lot as they are so versatile.

price: 31 800W ~ 30USD
size: S

I usually hate jeans because of how unflattering, expensive and uncomfortable they tend to be in my experience, but I just LOVED this pair of jeans I purchased from Gmarket in a previous haul! They fit perfectly and were actually pretty flattering, and so I remembered the brand "Darimi" so I could purchase more from that brand on Gmarket in the future. It took me a while to find Darimi on the site since it wasn't actually in the title description, so I had no luck typing "Darimi" in English or Korean in the search bar. I eventually found it by clicking on various shops. The link is here, because I highly, highly recommend the jeans from this store. 

Not much else to say except that these jeans were as perfect as my last order from this store in Gmarket! The colour is a fantastic light dusty grey-blue, which I find a lot more versatile (I've always found it easier to pair clothes with grey rather than blue jeans). The material also has a decent amount of stretch and is soft to touch- almost like jeggings.


price: 29 800W ~ 28USD
size: S

To be honest I did expect a lighter colour in real life, because now it's very similar to another pair of jeans I have. However apart from the colour, the quality and fit are once again perfect. I still prefer the previous jeans from the haul though (above) because the material here is a little more stiff and uncomfortable. Nonetheless it still deserves 5/5!

I've provided all the links to the items above, but note that they don't link to the actual item directly but rather to the particular store. The whole ordering process on Gmarket works so that you scroll down various items in the shop on the same page, and to order you select it from a drop-down menu. However personally I find that this is the point where Gmarket might be losing its international customers and anyone who simply doesn't have much time to waste on the internet shopping.

The items listed in the drop-down menu aren't in the exact order as they appear on the page, so you have to read what the item's name is and then search through the menu for it (which could be a very extensive list with purely Korean names and no item codes such as SK01). The item names are often contained in picture format with the product pictures, so there's no text for you to do a simple "Google translate" of the whole page.

For these reasons, my number one tip for any non-Koreans wishing to order from Gmarket, is to sit down for an hour or so and just learn to read the Korean characters. Hangul (Korean alphabet) is not hard to learn (not like Chinese characters where every individual one means a word, but more like Japanese Katakana or Hiragana). You just need to learn the characters for the consonants and vowels, and the sounds and appearance that certain combinations (which make the syllables) of those consonants and vowels make. If you do that, you'll find it a lot a easier to memorise the item name and look for it in the drop-down menu- rather than memorise the way the characters look and look for the item that way- which I personally find to be a very impractical method when there are only a limited amount of characters in the Korean alphabet and phrases will end up looking very similar to each other.

To illustrate, with an example of the culottes I bought in this haul:

It's at least helpful that the item name has a "B" so as to distinguish it from the other items with "A", "C" etc but there are still quite a number of items containing "B" and furthermore they are all scattered throughout the list. However IF you can read Korean, you can see that the item name reads "B_hirring (or "hilling" since "l"s and "r"s are similar) chima baji". That makes absolutely no sense to me but it doesn't matter since I'm not looking for an English translation in the drop-down menu, but rather a phrase that says the same thing.

It's much easier this way because I can easily scan the list for a phrase containing  "hi ring" at the beginning-  힐링. I then found a phrase that said 힐링치마바지, which I read to be something like "hirring chima baji", so I knew I found the right item in the menu.

(After having ordered the items I was then able to actually grab hold of the text version of the item name from the order transaction list. Putting it through Google translate, I found out what it actually read was "healing culottes"- "hirring" for "healing" and "chima baji" must mean culottes in English!)

Being able to read Korean also helps in ordering the right colour. What's really convenient is that the names for colours used on Gmarket often sound like what they are in English, so that "buraek" means "black", and "buru" means "blue" (like in Japanese Katakana!) However that will only be useful if you could read the Korean characters in the first place.

to illustrate again, with the same screenshot of the same culottes:

The Korean text I've highlighted on the upper right hand corner provides the various colours available.

However, the colours listed (블랙, 블루, 카멜) aren't actually in order according to how they are displayed on the page. The colours listed at the top in English are black, blue and camel, whereas at the bottom the order is obviously black, camel and blue. Therefore even if you had found the exact same phrase in the drop-down menu purely by sight and without any knowledge of Korean characters, you would be stuck on choosing the right colour.
(Although if you actually clicked on the picture of the item on the Gmarket website, a more detailed page will pop-up, containing the individual colours with their Korean names underneath- but not every shop on Gmarket will have this information).

In conclusion, it really does help in ordering from Gmarket if you could read Korean. I only started learning it in about my second order and I found that it really does speed up the process. It doesn't take long (only about an hour or two), and for that small sacrifice of your time you could save money on service fees and inconvenience for not being able to order whenever you want.

I hope that tip was useful!

So now am I on my way to making numerous future purchases from Gmarket? I'd like to give my tired, red eyes a break from all that scrolling and image-flashing, but I've already dumped a few items in my shopping cart for a new order and I'm ready to make more financial damage in the next few days :(

Friday, September 16, 2011

Wholesale7 Haul

Wholesale7 Haul #2

This is actually my second order from Wholesale7. My first one was in April, and the pictures and reviews for that one are included at the bottom of the page.
For my second haul- the two items plus shipping cost ~$40 AUD altogether, where shipping made up about $19. Considering this makes a maxi dress (which I usually find to be $50-$200 instore) and a pair of shoes about $20 each, the prices are obviously not too steep!

Obviously there is some serious ironing work to be done before the dress is ready for wear, which I've neglected to do as I've just take it out of the packaging. I'm not sure if I'm happy with this one, as it does look terribly wrinkly and cheap although some ironing could fix that. However the gold lining at the top and the belt also look cheap and feel very plastic-y and light, but I suppose it's not too noticeable. There are also some loose threads, with some unfinished stitching at the top (see the white threads poking out at the neckline).
However I'm reasonably satisfied with the design and trueness to stock photo, although it doesn't actually fall to my feet as it does for the model, which I would've preferred. However it isn't wildly different to my expectations. 


I chose a size 37, and I'm in between a size 6.5 and 7 Australian, where I usually opt for the 7 unless I've tried the shoes on and the 6.5 is the better fit (sometimes I get 6 where the make is rather large). In terms of European sizing, I usually get 37 although I have a few pairs in 36. According to the measurements on the shoes link, 37 is equivalent to a US 6.5.
37 for these heels fit absolutely perfectly! The front seems a bit narrow and tight at first, but once I've wiggled my foot in it's actually a really snug, and not uncomfortably tight fit. 

The quality is also fantastic! Doesn't look cheap or flimsy at all, and there are no signs of glue or unfinished work. They look and feel like something you might find in a high-end department store. The material however seems like it would get dirty easily. As a practical gripe, I would have to make sure these are only worn out when it won't be raining or it hasn't rained the night before- but purely in terms of aesthetics and expectations, this one's a winner!


Wholesale7 haul #1

My review for the first order from Wholesale7. This was an order back in April and before I had set up my blog, so I'm just adding this review in the same post.

 I'm really happy with this one because it was just like in the photos, and there is nothing wrong with the quality. It doesn't actually have those brown clasp things on the end of the strings as in the pictures but that's ok. Also if you look closely you can see that the deer on the left has a grey marking on it, which I can't remove, but it's only a minor flaw! Quite a bargain at ~$10!


Quite honestly at first I did not like this dress at all, because I thought the design looked very odd on me and I couldn't adjust the belt so that it resembled how the model wore on in the stock photo. There are obviously discrepancies in the design (in real life the sleeves are shorter, the colour is more white than cream) but there must also be a difference in material so that I can't get it to sort of "rest" (for lack of better wording) over the belt, but rather have it awkwardly puff out from the top.

However, ignoring the stock photo and simply assessing the design and material of the dress, I'm still pretty happy! The crocheted design on the sleeves also looks surprisingly well-made. Recently I saw a very similar dress at Zara for over $100, whereas this one was only about $12AUD including shipping! Really can't complain with that when you consider a saving of at least $90.


I forgot to add that I did end up wearing this dress in a photoshoot in July! 

More photos from that shoot here

Quite a disappointment! My biggest gripe with this one is how the shoulder part (the right side) keeps slipping off. I don't know if that's a problem with the manufacturer or the limits of the design but it's hard to move properly without it slipping off and falling to my elbow. It's also really flimsily stitched together so you have to be really careful to not tear it. When I hang the dress up I have to carefully peg it onto the hanger because of the way it keeps slipping off and how breakable it is.

I suppose it does resemble the stock photos, but there's no point in having it look like the way you expected it to, if you haven't tried it on and discovered for yourself the impracticalities of the dress. I still haven't figured out how to wear it around so that the dress sits in place without falling off all the time, and I'm not sure if it would be worth it since the right shoulder part is so flimsy that the whole thing would fall apart anyway.


In summary, Wholesale7 is indeed a hit-or-miss, as with most other similar Asian wholesale sites such as AFW or Wholesale-Dress. What could go wrong with a simple, cotton maxi dress (the orange one from my second haul)? Clearly the material could turn out to look very cheap although the design was made rather accurately and true to stock picture. Are chiffon items a safe option? In the first order the white dress was of decent quality but the blue dress was pretty disastrous (but that could probably just be attributed to the poor design rather than the material). From my second order, although the shoes turned out to be fantastic, this was a big surprise as there is still a plethora of bad reviews for shoes from Asian fashion wholesale sites (such as Lovelyshoes.net) with complaints of visible glue, weak, unstable heels, and cheap-looking and uncomfortable material.

The point is- I cannot say that there are any "safe" options to look out for purchasing from such websites, where the manufacturers don't always make exactly what you see in the pictures. You cannot just look at the stock photo and judge for yourself how the quality of the actual item will actually turn out to be like. A lot of things can go wrong with what you get in real life, and you just need to cross your fingers and hope for the best!

I personally haven't experienced the service of the other popular and more well-known sites such as AFW, Wholesale-Dress, Lovelyshoes.net etc, but I have heard some unhappy reviews for their customer service- eg slow replies, and items being out of stock after the money's already been paid, refund refusals etc. As with my last haul from Wholesale7, the customer service has been pretty commendable. Replies are prompt, delivery and shipment are  immediate, and luckily there hasn't been any nasty suprise out-of-stocks. If I had to give a rating for service, it would be 5/5.



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