My First Frolick into Vintage

by Rong Xin Choy


I peeked into my old laptop today and pulled out a bunch of 18-year-old-me pictures. These were all the first vintage outfits I had thrown together after collecting a few pieces from a vendor in Singapore. They appear to be from Japan. 

I love how I layered the orange backless bandage dress with the mesh. I don't even wear orange now! Maybe I should try more colour in my wardrobe again..

The second dress was incredible with its intense graphic print and stiff crepe texture. It  also has two panels on the back, creating a tent/wing like shape. I gave the dress to my mum (too long for me back then...)!

Tiered ruffles were not in fashion at the time, but I wore this dress proudly anyway. It would completely work right now, except I can't remember where I've placed it..

Please forgive the embarrassing shades. We were all young once!

xx


Murano Island

by Rong Xin Choy


Murano is a little Island off Venice, birthplace of Murano Glass (little surprise there!). The work is quite distinct, with tendrils of swirling, reaching colorful arms of glass usually forming chandeliers or lamps. This piece in the picture below is on street exhibition and massive! The colours and magnitude of the installation was just intense and amazing.

The most amusing thing in Murano were shops which had signs like "REAL MURANO GLASS- 1 EURO!" Hilarious. Dollar-store Genuine Murano Glass.

Standard Winter Uniform: Black Military Style Zara Peacoat, Nude Lace Dress with Collar, Freelance Leather Boots, Prada Bag.

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Fountain of Trevi

by Rong Xin Choy


J broke out into a massive 41 degree fever on Day 3 so we didn't get out too much. The following day however, since he was feeling better, we visited the Fountain of Trevi at about 7am before heading to the Vatican City. We were there so early the Fountain hadn't started yet!

I was feeling a little fancy so I wore the studded Zara leather jacket that I had dreamed about for months (which I finally picked up in the Zara year-end sale). I thought if there was a day this jacket would fit right in, it would be next to all the gold-gilded statues at the Vatican City (I assumed everything was going to be gaudy and if not gold then bejeweled!). 

Zara Studded Leather Jacket, Vintage Maxi Dress, Zara Embroidered Velvet Smoking Slippers.

Ahhh.. I never thought it was possible to love something so much. Just look at the metal detail on this jacket, especially the studs on collar and down the arms. They look like tiny fireworks against a dark leather sky. HAHAHAHAHA. The studs even follow the outline of the zips on the end of the sleeves. 

Okay enough about the jacket. Trevi Fountain was massive, impressive and beautiful. I loved that it squeezed an involuntary gasp out of me when I looked up into the gigantic structure. After the initial impression, I entertained the thought of swimming in it in the summer. Wouldn't that be grand? Lounging around on a blow-up donut float with a blueberry mojito in hand and getting a whole lot of awesome pictures before getting chased out (and probably banned for life). I wonder if it's considered bad luck to take a dip.

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Rome-ing Day 2

by Rong Xin Choy


Day 2! One thing which really struck me (which shows in Day 1 too!) were how intricate and embellished the doors in Rome were. And these were just everyday-doors, mainly residential. Some were styled with swirls of metal filigree, others with stained glass, and but most were carved wood with metal knobs and frames.

As we walked from the hotel on Day 2, we spotted this heavy wooden door, and I laughed. Studs are so on trend right now, and this door was completely rocking the look. You know, for a door. Topped off with lion-head rings, this door was fierce.

It's completely not weird to say that a door is fashionable.

Zara Short Military Peacoat, ASOS Wool Knit Dress with Funnel Neck, Zara Smoking Slippers, Massimo Dutti Leather Shopper.


Rome-ing Day 1

by Rong Xin Choy


It was a toasty 7 degrees in Rome. What a change! A week before I was battling 42 degrees in Sydney in my summer dresses. My winter uniform is as follows: Black Military-style Peacoat with boots and stockings. Not the most exciting outfit, but it looks presentable. To be honest I quite dislike puffer jackets and parkas- the Peacoat is the only way to go!

This outfit is made special by two things: First, the Tiffany and Co. necklace that J gave me for Christmas. I was so excited when I caught sight of the robin-blue box in his hand. I loved how dainty the silver looked when cast into balls with the cult-classic Return to Tiffany heart tag. Heehee. Second, the hand-stamped leather luggage tag which I got made on Etsy by OfTheFountain. The words are an extract from a poem by E.E. Cummings, which can be found here, and the numbers are the longitude and latitude coordinates of the hospital in Galway that is affiliated with J's medical studies. He has an identical one with the coordinates of the Sydney Law School.

Zara Short Military Peacoat, Vintage Mohair Sweater, Zara Leather Skirt , Massimo Dutti Leather Shopper and Leather Ankle Boots from Freelance Shoes. 


Vintage Midi Dress

by Rong Xin Choy


The Silk-Handkerchief-Motif-Print has been quite popular lately and I can't say I'm not a fan. I love intricate patterns and even more so when they are thoughtfully or strategically placed. It shows the designer had some foresight when working with the material, its print pattern, and the design. I can't stress the importance of unifying print with pattern! I tried on a Zara jumpsuit (pictured below) the other day which had a stunning print pattern, but the lines didn't follow the design and it looked messy. Their stock photo looks way better than the actual outfit, but even so the pattern is haphazard. Not one of their better pieces!

Zara Paisley Jumpsuit

Zara Paisley Jumpsuit

An example of combining fabric pattern and design is this vintage dress I found. It has a contrasting border at the edge of the fabric, and been placed to create detail around the neck and back of the dress. Its perfect midi length balances out the open back, making it causal enough for a hot summer afternoon. Hope everybody is enjoying the heat!

Vintage Dress and Topshop Honolulu Tan Flats


Black&White

by Rong Xin Choy


All this studying indoors is making me wish I was back at Hunter Valley tasting wines, frolicking in the sun and posing awkwardly in vineyards. This one was taken at Audrey Wilkinsons, which has the prettiest view in the place and this adorable cage-gazebo. 

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Scalloped Collar

by Rong Xin Choy


When I was young my favorite color was blue, but due to peer pressure I jumped on the pink bandwagon with the rest of my kindergarden class females. (Please don't judge my younger-self, what do we ever know when we're 5?) Anyway, I've never been throughly committed to colour since, but navy has always been a winner with me. Talking about colour-loyalty,when I met my bestfriend Angel when we were 9, her favorite color was green. And even after all these years it's still green! Adorable. 

It's been warming up in Sydney with some crazy weather- sunshine and hailstones- but it's been lovely enough to break out the tea dress and bare legs! Whoohoo! Goodbye to the tyranny of winter and leggings. 

On Me: Max C, London Dress, Topshop Mammal Shoes, Zara blazer.

On Me: Max C, London Dress, Topshop Mammal Shoes, Zara blazer.


Overdue Outfit Post

by Rong Xin Choy


A couple of weeks back I headed to the Eveleigh Markets with J and his film camera, and he snapped a few photos of me making friends with the neighborhood cat (what a charmer), as well as the awesome structures at Carriageworks. Quite the perfect way to spend a Saturday with blue sky, sunshine and camera-shy company.

On me: Cropped Blazer from Zara, Checkered Maxi from Fairground, vintage leather bag and Slim fit Havianas. On him: Denim Bomber from Lee's, Jeans from Acne, Boots from Clarks.

The missing wooden plank reminds me of one of the two the music videos accompanying the song I Will Follow You into The Dark by Death Cab for Cutie, which is possibly the sweetest modern love song written. This one has bunnies, this one has the hole in the ground. 

If heaven and hell decide that they both are satisfied, and illuminate the "NO"s on their vacancy signs- If there's no one beside you when you soul embarks, I will follow you into the dark.


Cockatoo Island

by Rong Xin Choy


Sydney's 18th Biennale, a massive art festival held on Cockatoo Island, was incredible. The pieces there were quite different this year- there were less open-air pieces, mostly hidden in the buildings around the island, and a lot of interactive pieces. I'll post pictures about the pieces when I get the chance. We spent a large amount of time enjoying the island itself in its aging grandeur- the paint-peeled buildings and rusty cranes, the decaying wooden benches and beams, not forgetting the concrete floor in all its polka-dotted bird-pooped glory. 

If you wondered, for a moment, what the white squiggly lines behind me were in the last picture.. it's the outline of insect genitalia. This exhibit was a full collection of large scale sculpted reproductions of insects, plants and other small creature's genitals. Ha.


Lace Mask

by Rong Xin Choy


Another masquerade! Been so busy with school that I didn't have time to do a proper mask for the party, but in five minutes I had cut out holes from a piece of lace, stuck the lace together with UHU glue and slapped it onto my face with eyelash gum. Didn't matter that I knew 98% of the people going to the party would have conveniently neglected the theme- at least we were there in style and ready to party. 

Besides, I never pass up opportunities to legitimately stick things on my face. Ha!

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Face off!

by Rong Xin Choy


In the spirit of documentation, I've also decided to compile all the times I've painted faces for an event. Nothing quite finishes an outfit like face paint. 

My first mask was for the masquerade-themed birthday party of one of my best college girls. Another friend and I decided that real masks were boring, so we took a night off to try and see what we could come up with. Ahh, first year and photobooth. I drew the first one with white eyeliner and eyeshadow. The next three were a combination of cut-up stickers that Audrey found and more make up. 

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We were a huge hit, and I started helping other friends with their masks as well. The lovely Kathy at the Paul's Formal in 2009..

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Lou's sea-green mask

Lou's sea-green mask

I've always loved masks and I love masquerade-themes. But I'm not a huge fan of bringing masks to a masquerade party. I mean they are just so troublesome. First you have to wear them everywhere because it's the theme. Then they block your vision or rub off your make up in specific areas and it starts to look silly.. so you take them off and have to carry them around with your tote for the rest of the night without smashing it. At the end of the night however, chances are you will lose them at some point at the party.. Thus I decided to bejewel my face for the formal as well. 

Rhinestoned Cheeks

Rhinestoned Cheeks

The impracticality of carry a mask- point proven!

The impracticality of carry a mask- point proven!

The stunning Lou with liquid eyeliner all over her face. I was amazed at her patience and the variety of materials she allowed me to use to get the desired effect- I even added puff-paint for creating dimension and texture. I went all out on this one and it was CRAZY fun (short of actually gluing feathers to her face..)

The stunning Lou with liquid eyeliner all over her face. I was amazed at her patience and the variety of materials she allowed me to use to get the desired effect- I even added puff-paint for creating dimension and texture. I went all out on this one and it was CRAZY fun (short of actually gluing feathers to her face..)

Cowboys and Indians Party

Cowboys and Indians Party

Why stop at masks, I asked myself. I'd thought I'd slip in the last time I painted my face for a party. Yup, Cowboy and Indians. I am Little Paw.

Paw prints everywhere! And a fake painted cardboard feather in my hair.

Paw prints everywhere! And a fake painted cardboard feather in my hair.


Origin Story

by Rong Xin Choy


Today I decided, in preference to my law readings, that my designing aspirations should be documented. 

I started my designing dream when I was about 15. (Let's discount the doodles and the wrapping of long shawls into dresses which I did ever since my fingers could grip a pen or make a knot). Details are a little hazy but I started figure drawing when my mom took me to Nanjing, China, and I was under the impression everybody there was a tailor and I could make a million dresses. We were there for a week and of the five dresses I had my heart set on making, I could find materials for only two. 

My first successful dress! A toga with oriental collar and buttons.

My first successful dress! A toga with oriental collar and buttons.

Only one made it to the completed dress stage. Most of the tailors I met didn't quite understand my very limited and broken chinese, and also didn't get why I wanted to deviate from the traditional dresses that they were used to making. I was directed to a costume-maker rather than tailor, who made me the dress below- my first successful dress design. I don't have really good pictures of it, but it's twist on a traditional chinese dress by making it one-shouldered with a flare skirt rather than a straight cut and side slit. 

Black and gold cheongsam with an open corset back

Black and gold cheongsam with an open corset back

I didn't do much designing after that, but another opportunity to get dress tailor-made when I was 16 for my school's Founder's Day Dinner. It's my school's version of prom, although its in the middle of the year, there are no boys and nobody really dances. 

At that time Daniel Yen dresses were the standard stop for most girls at our age, but being a true princess, I refused to to wear something that somebody possibly might wear too, and decided to get my own dress made. I'm still searching for a proper picture of it but for now it's the gold and black cheongsam in the picture on the left. The front is a traditional front with cap-sleeves and buttons, but the back is a ribboned cut-out corset. I'll find more pictures when I can.

Cream and black in an attempt to be Chanel-esque

Cream and black in an attempt to be Chanel-esque

The next dress I designed was for my junior college graduation dinner, which was a real prom, I suppose. I was 18 and tried to create a dress that would 1) hide my significant lack of assets 2) would play to my strengths 3) was classy and vaguely chanel-esque with beige and black. I came up with the dress below- a fold-over cross top to hide the (lack of) boobs while still creating the illusion of volume hehe. Open low back, clean black lines in a crossover at the front to create a slimming effect. In hindsight maybe I should have made the cross a little lower. Hmm. 

Well it was a decent dress but I actually preferred my black/gold butterfly cheongsam. But you can't wear a dress twice for this sorta thing and I wanted to try something new.

After junior college I really wanted to do fashion. I applied to several design schools but ultimately was persuaded into doing law in Sydney. 

I started designing again when I went to the University of Sydney and had my taste of Australian college culture when living in the Womens College. I was introduced to Toga parties where everybody wore their college bedsheets to party. I really didn't want to just tie it around my shoudler so I tried styling it and created my first bedsheet dress. 

The birth of bedsheet dresses

The birth of bedsheet dresses

I created the dress on the furtherest left as well 

I created the dress on the furtherest left as well 

After that I couldn't wait to create more dresses and started experimenting :) as well as helping out whenever toga parties rolled around!

Taking Toga Parties to a new level

Taking Toga Parties to a new level

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Handkerchief halter back

Handkerchief halter back

Accessorized with a vintage belt as a collar piece 

Accessorized with a vintage belt as a collar piece 

What I found really fun about these dresses were two things: No sewing. No pattern cutting. The whole process was profoundly organic- I worked with whatever size sheets were available, often the sheets I could get were stained or torn- so I would tear around the area or cut off whole chunks. Then I would drape the cloth onto the model and see which form was most flattering, before tearing the fabric further, and working to fasten the cloth around the person. You could wear the dress only once, but hey, once is enough isn't it? 

An example of how a dress starts out

An example of how a dress starts out

This is an example of how a dress would start out. I tore this one down the middle and decided that the way the fabric fell would make a good collar, then start draping it onto my model. I then tied the shoulder together and start fitting the back after figuring out what goes where.

I made some dresses on my own time and started experimenting with cut-outs and actual pre-cut holes in the fabric for arms/heads. Still no sewing at this point. Most seams were left raw, or occasionally I would fold them over and glue it to create clean lines, like at the back of this dress. I also tried creating circle skirts, I was fascinated that you actually cut out a circle to get the perfect draping.

Playing with circle cuts and lattice backs

Playing with circle cuts and lattice backs

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My favorite ones were always long and flowy though. Had to wear safety shorts under this one!

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After this point I'm afraid I haven't done anything as substantial as I'd like to, and this blog is me taking the first step to doing something about it. I always lament my fate of not pursuing design and yet I've never actively done anything else to better myself in the area other than subscribing to Vogue. 

Here's to the beginning of something.