Showing posts from June, 2018

My Scarfs and Me -1

I believe in the power of scarfs. Any plain dress will get a new look with a scarf whatever the style of the scarf is, dramatic, delicate or elegant.

Bright colours and bold patterns may be too loud for a whole dress, on a scarf they come off quite well. You can play with transparent chiffon, soft silk or cosy wool, knot it tightly around your neck or throw it casually over your back. 
For winter there is mohair. Some of the best wool of the quaint mohair goats comes from Lesotho. It is cold in the mountais of the small land locked enclave of South Africa where the ponies are still the main means of transport. Warm mohair and the colourfull Basotho blankets are sheer necessity. 

The possibilities for playing with scarfs are endless.

Japanese Gracefulness

In modern Tokyo which can be quite loud and shrill Kimonos seem to be a thing of the past. So you think. Then you see a young lady in her kimono in the crowded underground on her way to work or ladies in their graceful traditional attire at the theatre. More so in Kyoto. The kimono is still the dress for festive occasions. I adore kimonos and I took quite a series of kimono photos on the streets of Kyoto and Tokyo.

I never tired of watching kimonos with their endless variations of elegant patterns and exquisitely attuned colours. Apart from the occasional kimono on the streets of the big cities I went to a fashion show at the Nishijin Textile Centre and to an exhibition at the Tokyo National Museum. I ended up at the market in Harajuku where you can find used kimonos for a modest price. So, I purchased one for my daughter. The seller even initiated me to the art of choosing the matching obi and putting on all that in the appropriate way.

Betty's Kebaya

I met Betty at a coffee shop in Singapore’s Thomson neighbourhood where she was living. She hails from a Eurasian family, the smallest ethnicity in this cosmopolitan city-state. Her Portuguese ancestor married a Chinese lady and they stayed in Singapore ever after...
Once Betty invited me for New Year’s Eve to celebrate with her close knit family. With our chopsticks we tossed the traditional salad from its huge bowl into the air as high as we could. The winner would have good luck for the year to come. Later on we exchanged presents in little bright red parcels and played cards. Behind the façade of their sky scrapers and glitzy malls Singaporeans are traditionalists and love to spend time with the family clinging to their customs in a speedily changing environment.  

When I unwrapped my present I was thrilled. I found a beautiful kebaya which had belonged to Betty’s mother. In the olden days Singaporean Eurasians and Peranakans of mixed Malay-Chinese parentage, the so-called Nyonyas, …

Le Pays des Couleurs

Le pays des couleurs /The Land of Colours was a childrens’ book my daughter got for her French lessons when she was a litte girl. There the grey earth was gradually occupied by colours, the green frog, the yellow butterfly, the red rose. In a sari shop in India I feel like entering this magic country. I prefer living in colour said David Hockney and moved from his native Bradford in England to sunny and colourful California.
So do I. I like black and white, grey and maroon every now and then, but I somewhat pity Parisian girls who seem to think they have to wear black and grey exclusively as a sort of fashion code. We forget that we also wore colourful suits and dresses not long ago. Even the men did. Look at 18th and 19th century paintings with their silk in gorgeous pistachio green, dove blue and pastel pink.
Wherever Indians live there is colour. I sample Sari shops from Durban and Singapore to Mumbai and Chennai and I am in awe of Indian women in the rural areas. They are working t…

Xhosa Stories

Beads are the material of dreams and stories. Introduced hundreds of years ago by Venetian tradesmen the Africans converted the coloured glass beads to a true artistic expression of their own. The colour scheme and the patterns of beads tell a story. In South Africa the Zulu have their beaded love letters and the Xhosa their necklaces, earrings and beaded applications on dresses and aprons.

Once I attended a show telling stories by beading at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. There the Wild Coast is not far where the green hills are dotted with Xhosa rondavels and the coast line is dramatic.  

I got my beaded necklace from a dear friend, a Xhosa grandmother. For the annual Christmas holidays she had travelled to her home town in rural Eastern Cape and came back with the lovely present.  Katherine-Mary Pichulik at the Watershed of Cape Town's Waterfront offers a range of modernized beaded necklaces and bangles which are truly bold and beautiful. 

Pre-Inka Cosmology

We are at 4000 Meter height above sea level in the Argentinean Andes on our way to the ancient town Tastil on board of El tren a las nubes/ The train in the clouds. At the start in Salta we were already at an altitude of 1187 Meter. The incredibly daring trajectory of this railway line in the highest mountain rage of South America and the thin air makes for an unforgettable travel. 

In the small museum on site in Santa Rosa de Tastil I see her and fall in love: la bailarina de Tastil. The graciousness and elegance of her movement puts this petroglyphe of a dancer from the 14th century at the side of the great classical ballerinas of or time. 

The Atacamas, an enigmatic people of pre-Inka times created the lovely figurine and engraved the geometrical patterns of their cosmology in stone. I was lucky and found an artist who made impressions of these mysterious patterns and sold me the labyrinth shown next to me. It seemed appropriate to pose with this Andean image in a jacket of La Martin…

Stretch as Stretch Can

The no name dress from a tiny shop in an unassuming mall got me. I fancy the combination of subdued colour and body hugging stretch. However, something was missing. 
My daughter saved me. She lent me the cherry red jacket to spice up the taupe and keep me protected from the fierce wind on the slope of Signal Hill. 

Hidden Secrets

Who says never show your wardrobe? It must have been a man. All my female friends love to show hers and peep into mine. I don’t follow the example of some Singaporean fashionistas who make use of one of their service minded and inventive companies. They hire a wardrobe in a storage house to accommodate their ever growing fashion treasures. My not so hidden secrets are still to be shared at my home.
In 2017 the wealthiest person worldwide was Señor Amancio Ortega Gaona according to the Forbes list. Why the founder of Zara is so rich is no secret to me. I was addicted to Zara from their very first year on. Zara still manages to offer something for everybody interested in fashion and for a reasonable price. This confession may bring me down on the imaginary list of the most well dressed women. Oh, so pedestrian will they say. I shall have to bear with it. My philosophy is to combine the special with the common, the precious with the inexpensive, the mad with the sober, the elegant with t…

From Catamarca with Roses

Argentina evokes the faded charm of Buenos Aires impregnated with languid tango music and dancing, but there is more to it in this vast country nearly as large as a continent. The Andean provinces of the far North West are a world apart. In the crisp air of the mountain villages and small towns the indigenous Indian culture seems to have survived more easily than in the Eastern plains.  

I strolled for hours along the stands and shops in Catamarca’s Mercado artesanal. The town lives up to itssonorous name San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca. Here you won’t find mass products for the tourist market. Every single item is handmade, intricately embroidered, carved, etched or chiselled. 

A lovely silver ring with a rhodochrosite, the locally mined rose coloured gem stone and an embroidered shawl were vying for my attention. On that chilly day in late autumn the shawl won. Finely stitched roses are blooming on tightly woven Bordeaux red wool. The flat pass is done with woollen threads in diff…