Sunday, November 30, 2014

2014 Mega Malls Christmas Display - The Losing Looks List (Part 2)

To even receive a mention on my yearly list is a coveted position.

Imagine the publicity received from my blog and the good it'll do for your business. When you win, you're happy. But when you lose, it should only propel you forward - to better your design and creativity. This is a fair and honest review. I received no sponsorship or fees of any kind when writing this review. It is only meant to uplift the sophistication level, creative quality and encourage originality in your mall's presentation.

The Christmas season is the most competitive shopping season ever. With the burgeoning numbers of malls sprouting everywhere in KL, your centre display just have to stand out. If not, you will lose shoppers traffic. A great display will do wonders for your shopping mall branding because it shows you care about your shoppers' experience. You may have a good display this year, but next year who knows? One day you're in, the next day you're OUT!

1) Berjaya Times Square
The first casualty of the holiday season is Berjaya Times Square. What happen to you? I was expecting great things from you! But all you did was put a giant wooden barrel with the huge christmas tree inside. You already have the best location in the city. Why not put in more effort in grandeurizing your Christmas display at the centre court? The giant wooden barrel just screams cheap and cowboy country to me. Or is the Christmas tree taking a bath in the barrel?

KLCC is not consistent with its displays and bordering almost to boredom. They do have some interesting idea like the candy structure that juts upward. But the execution is done incompletely and could potentially be an eye sore. The rest of the elements like the giant Christmas tree and presents are done to the death - so nothing new or original here. I know I share the same initials as you but that doesn't mean I'm biased. Sorry.

3) The Curve
I've been to The Curve many times but never bothered to take any pictures. Their centre court display never pique my interest mainly due to its conventional looks. The Christmas display at the centre is mainly a wooden house that's built up on a stage. They don't set out to create a visual statement, which they should considering how much space is wasted on unnecessary ornaments.

The only visually striking piece is the reindeer structure made up entirely of silvery wires and reflective lights. Unfortunately, it's the only piece that's worth capturing my admiration. The whole presentation have so much potential to be visually more original but they tend to stay within the box. I must give credit to their Christmas program which is heavy and full of activities.

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That's all for this year's Christmas display review, folks! Forgive me if I didn't mention your mall - wherever it may be. May we all forgive and forget each other's wrongdoings and betrayals. Life is too short to live in anger, suspicion of others and hate. Don't ever feel alone or unloved or unwanted - there's always someone in the same or worser situation than you do. If you are from an uncaring family background or lost a father - I know how you feel. If you are discriminated in any way be it your race, height, sexuality or how you act - I know how you feel. Just persevere and pray that things will change soon - they always do! Remember what God says in the Bible "Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you"  Knowing this then let us rejoice and gives joy to each other!

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Friday, November 28, 2014

2014 Mega Malls Christmas Display - The Winning Looks List (Part 1)

I'm so happy this year is ending.

I've survived my first hospital operation, betrayal (and discriminations) of all kinds and a no lucrative acting offer whatsoever for this year. Truly, I deserved to treat myself just to be able to go through that. I just want this year to be over with so I can forget everything about it and start anew. Forgive and forget. To reward myself for being a survivor, I bought another super expensive "stuff" from Isetan. Last year I didn't buy anything so this year I'm allowed to double splurge. I truly loved the Isetan Christmas shopping bag. It has an paintbrush art of a deer. The top handle is made of green strings which reminds me of a branch from a christmas tree. Isetan has been around for a long time, way way before H&M. Want to know what I bought inside my shopping bag? You'll just have to finish reading until the big reveal (or not) at the end of Part 2!

1) Pavillion
I have to give Pavillion the credit for being the first shopping mall to have a grand Christmas display, way ahead of its other competitors. I walked through using the skybridge to another shopping mall, Suria KLCC and they only just preparing the tree where else Pavillion already have a full blown Christmas look already. The stoop leading down to the centre court of Pavillion is covered with a wave of lights. The animatronics Santa Claus moves like a robot to greet shoppers at the entrance.

A giant red ribbon stood above the stoop, with stairs leading down to the centre court is simply wonder-like. If I'm a child being carried by my father, I would be in such amazement upon seeing that ribbon since 3 when he passed away. I would definitely want to reach out and grab it! The whole Christmas environment simply brings back childhood memories. The whole look is very immersive and spectacular. Job well done, Pavillion!

Special Mention: Sembonia
Strolling inside Pavillion, I have to give credit to Sembonia for having a very clean and crisp window display. The whole window display is made up of geometric shapes - one giant circle with 5 triangles inside. The red foreground gives breathing room to the eyes and this shows restraints on the branding design. The giant circular shape is meant to show the christmas ball with the ribbon at the top. Inside they showcade the products - albeit very quietly. Overall, the effect is very pleasant and eye-catching. Good job, Sembonia!

2) Nu Sentral
This is their first ever Christmas display and their first time ever to make it into my list. From the KL sentral monorail station, you are greeted with the lighted gateway, feels like a wedding entryway which may put the feeling in a slightly wrong context. There's the traditional Christmas tree. Nothing special, but it does puts you in the holiday mood. On the other extreme, this could be the hidden doorway into Moria where you must speak friend and enter like in the first Lord of the Rings movie. Their effort is there, but needs a more identifiable design that's more focused or risk it being all over the place.

Nu Sentral has a huge centre court. The playful objects on display like the decorated snowmen - one in jester and the other in red soldier uniform immediately evokes a playful fantasia to the visiting shoppers. The spherical glass-like object with the christmas tree inside is meant to portray the snow glass effect.
This one is quite unique, but I wish they have some floating snow inside the sphere so it becomes more believable.

The whimsical christmas feeling is captured quite interestingly through these colorful snowmen. The rabbit creature is seen coming out from the blue-suited snowman, referencing the magician or the mad hatter. It is seen carrying a string attached with the red Christmas ball. The entry to the courtyard is greeted by the trumpeting snowman in red. There's a second sphere-like object (not meant to be a snow glass) in red linings which is a little ambiguous to me. Ambiguities aside, the whole presentation is saved by these character-centric snowmen.

For more articles on MALL/WINDOW DISPLAYS
Christmas 2013 Display Review
Pre-Hari Raya KLCC Window Display
Fire-y Dragon Displays
Christmas 2011 Display
MaSIF Fashion Review
Spring/Summer Display Review
Fashion Show Review
Fashion Sales Preview Party

3) Fahrenheit
I love Fahrenheit, mainly because they have been fairly consistent good in their displays. Although at the time of writing this, they still haven't complete the whole look. This is also why they're in the third place of my list. Their completed look is going to be Hello Kitty and Teddy Bear-centric, trust me. Nothing new, but the execution of their "Christmas tree"-shaped as shown in the pic resembles some form of new concept. Notice the piling up of boxes with a teddy bear inserted in the middle. The giant balloons pulling up the teddy bears is something that would appeal to the kids, but not so much the adults.

4) Avenue K
Avenue K is also fairly consistent, but this time the scale of their display has shrunk considerably. They focused mainly on the cool attitude of Santa Claus wearing his cool shades, but funnily he's on top of an automobile, not his sleigh. Modern day Santa Claus? The reindeers are wearing a jet-propelled jacket to make them fly. I have to give them kudos for trying to be funny, but funny alone doesn't get you to the top of my list.

5) Quill Mall
We have another new entry this year. Please welcome Quill mall into the list. This is their first festive display so I promised to be gentle. The concept is clear here - candy wonderland. But being clear in your concept could take in the risk of being appealing to only one particular group - children. The concept is not sophisticated enough to appeal to the adults, and hence the last placing in my list this year for the winning looks. The concept borders almost gimmicky and seem like something I've seen before. The concept is not executed enough to be immersive, because the experience centers only around the "candy factory". The effort is still good and deserves a mention in the winning category.

The outward vicinity of the entrance is a good place to lure outsiders into the mall. The mall is still new and the location is not as centred around nearby to the other competitors like Pavillion - so they actually need to work harder to bring in the traffic. Maybe next year, we'll see something even grander.

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

H&M - Glamorous Fashion Meets Affordable Pricing

H&M shopping bags - it could be
made from better material.

Christmas comes early for me.

A lot of people are incapable of experiencing real joy. Best to avoid such people for they are not good for you and would bring you down. As for me, it seems that all I want to experience is joy all the time! I cannot seem to get enough of it. I would spend all my money in H&M if I'm not living in a hot tropical climate like Malaysia. They've been in Malaysia slightly over a year now and expanded really fast with so many outlets in the city already. Their extremely bright red neon lights feels like the headlights of a Broadway show in New York and it beckons you to enter for some kind of show! And what a show it is - glamorous clothings at such affordable prices. The location of their stores are right in your face - easing busy city folks to identify their recognisable brand on the spot in this crowded city.

Certain fashion designers let the fabric speak to them. Interestingly, when I saw the trench coat at H&M, it seems to be speaking to me instead! It's like some psychic connection one gets when meeting your true love. Or some kind of mysterious spirit that comes out and get you!
Clothes, shoes and accessories are extremely personal purchase. I don't usually splurge a lot of money on fashion - but when I do, it definitely means something to me. The last jacket I bought was from Romp and it was made from jeans fabric. Since then, I've been scouring around the malls looking at clothes, and mostly dismissing them as unnecessary, outdated or too expensive. But when I see the trench coat being advertised and price appears together on the billboard, it all seems to fit! This is the secret of effective advertising - product that meets a need at affordable price points. H&M seems to be able to hit that sweet spot - balancing between quality and price. And you can take action right away after seeing their advertisement for their stores are everywhere!

I know in hot weather Malaysia, rarely people wears any fancy coat of any kind. Except for the ones in the office, a good corporate office coat would make a man or women look more "professional". I think that is supposed to be called a jacket, and not a coat. But in Malaysia, these two terms seem to be one and the same! One cannot really think too much about the conditions when the love for fashion takes total control. Who cares if I'm not wearing this trench coat right away? I could just keep it for the next time I'm out of the country.

Socks - snug fit into my feet
without being seen on my sneakers.
Throwing all caution to the wind, off I entered into the H&M main store at Lot 10 and was pleasantly surprised by the good range of clothing available there. Since I have an objective in mind, this makes my visit easier, less complex and more focused. This way, I won't be swayed by the excitement of any new designs that might come across my way. I can easily dismissed all these other fancy clothings and set my mind on the trench coat.

Once I set my mind on anything, there's no turning back! I'm that determined. That first visit at H&M, I try to gauge the right coat size for me. Usually, I'll go for the smallest size because most clothings may expand and become loose after being worn after a long time. But this is a trench coat we're talking about here where I'll be wearing another layer of clothing. Still, I tried to find out what is the smallest size available there. It's interesting to note that they carry European sizes ranging from 42, 44 until 50. There is no size 43. I'm really curious to know why they don't carry that size, as I am curious to know why certain sports apparel outlets do not carry shoe size 8.5 (UK). The smallest size usually sells fast mainly because a majority of Asians have smaller frames.

Before purchase, I like to
snap a pic to see if it actually
looks good on me.
Shopping for clothes is always an adventure for me. When I found out the coat size I wanted wasn't available, I went to enquire the salesperson. The salesperson over at H&M, Lot 10 are not as diverse as you may think. Curious and curiouser. But I'm fine with communicating my needs to anyone, regardless who they are. Thankfully, they're nice salespeople, and not the dowdy and lackaidaisical sort. The cashier at the main counter would call up the other outlets around KL for me to enquire for my size.

So for the mean time, I'm free to explore other options. The first place I decided to go was back to the small boutique I purchased my faux-fur coat for my BMW Film Awards Best Actor awards ceremony. I like the salesperson there because this Chinese guy was extremely energetic and listens intently to every word I said. But when I visited there the second time, he was not around. Sadly, they don't sell trench coat either. I wasn't in a hurry to get that one since I already got a Burberry in storage, so I took my sweet time to actually walk around to find out other stores that might carry the item I wanted. This is not an impulse or must-have purchase. I took my sweet time, no hurry.

How interesting it was to discover that only top luxurious brands like Burberry, Zara and others carry trench coats in their collections. The fabrics are heavier and more luxurious. The best thing is the price that ranges from RM500 up to RM5000! Other cheaper, non-luxurious labels don't carry any of it at all! There's one or two small boutique shops in Sungei Wang Plaza that does, but their options are extremely limited. They either carry one design or one size only that's always the one on display! Oh no, I cannot buy like this. I've tried online stores and browsed through some of the collection, but somehow I have an uneasy feeling of buying a personal item there. To be fully invested in purchasing a trench coat, I would need to wear it a few times and twirl around a few hundred times more just to see if it feels right. I simply cannot order one online and wait for the parcel to arrive ONLY to discover that something was wrong with it and ask for a refund. And there's always something wrong.

Soon, this staircase will be
in my New York penthouse.
Finally, I've made my decision to stick with H&M brand. It seems like the right thing to do since they have stores like everywhere and their clothes are simply glamorous! I did took a tour around each of their outlets and you'll be surprised that these other outlets don't even carry the same one design when the main outlet does. I gave up for a while in looking for it, for I really have no urgent need in getting one anyway. I just let it stall and stall and stall. Slowly, I began to have doubts about even getting a coat. The weather in KL is so hot and who in their right mind would get a coat anyway, right?

Then comes the rainy weather. I do a lot of commuting and when it rains outside, the inside of the train can feel extremely freezing cold. From one end of the city all the way to Kelana Jaya, the last stop - be prepared to witness the changing weathers from cloudy to fierce storms and sudden sunshine. It's a schizophrenic weather spectacle outside the train. All of these in just a single trip! The weather is crazy and unpredictable here! The one skill I have is I'm able to detect a rain coming way in advance. I don't know why I'm always up from my bed, changed and got out of the house right before the downpour starts. It's a strange power but I can smell a rain coming way in advance.

For more articles on FASHION/ART:
Messenger Bags Special
Tips for Buying Shoes (Sneakers)
Stuff Magazine 9th Anniversary Party
Myanmar Art Review
Student Art Fair

Their entrance is shouting at
you to come in.
Afer stalling a few weeks from any purchase, I saw a host of new arrivals through the H&M electronic billboard. The designs on it looks amazingly good which prompted me to visit the main store again. Great clothes sells fast here. By the time I went there, my size were all snapped up. The supervisor informed me that they usually carry 2 pieces for each size. (I'm quite doubtful about this for I've seen sasquatch sizes totalling more than 5 for a single design piece) Feeling frustrated, I tried on their other designs. Some coats were extremely heavy to wear but looks fabulous. I'm more practical in that sense that I would give it a pass for I don't want to feel tired just wearing that piece. Another one was extremly plain in comparison with the previous designs I put on - but was lighter. Unfortunately after trying it all, not even one piece which compels me to buy. On the way back to the cashier, I accidentally spotted one design on the mannequin that resembles more on what I saw on the billboard. That design is the one that captures what I really want. Why hadn't the salesperson brings me that design to try on earlier in the dressing room? I simply pull it down and took it with me to the dressing room. I tried it on in the dressing room and everything just looks beautiful, practical and just perfect!

H&M Men's shorts are
too "long" for my taste.
Can't they make
it shorter?
The length of the coat reaches right around my knee area. The fabric is definitely lighter than the other coats I've tried on earlier. There's a belt to tighten my waist aplus a hood that can be detached with a zipper! The hoody feature really surprises me because then it can acts like a raincoat too. There's another zipper pocket at the top of the breast area where it's just an ideal location where I can slip in my passport or card without reaching for my bag and scouring for it. My mind then shifted to began to create what sort of fantasies I could carry off wearing this trench coat when I was standing in front of the huge mirror. I could wear my skimpy shorts and tight shirts on the inside without being ogled by dirty thinking pedestrians on the street. I could even wear nothing inside and reveals a leg or two to whet the appetite of coming attractions. This trench coat is also mainly for protection too from perverts searching for a prey. Great, I'm getting it.

But not yet. It doesn't carry my size! So the cashier enquired everywhere for me for my size. No one should wear anything bigger than their actual size - it just makes that person look lumpy schlumpy. Its simply not right. In my heart, I've readily submit myself to fate after all the adventures I've been through in finding this trench coat - if there's one right size meant for me then it shall be so. Fate seems to agree with me and there's actually the one and only left! All the way at One Utama outlet. I commanded them to immediately reserve that one for me. Its only reserved for 24 hours. The most magical thing about that day I made my purchase at that outlet - it was their 1st anniversary. But that outlet didn't have any promotion or celebration of any kind, but I bought it anyway. Fate indeed does exist in meeting the coat you deserves.

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Ultimate 7-Point Guide to Winning "Project Runway" for Aspiring Designers Everywhere (Updated Exclusive!)

Are you an aspiring fashion designer from New York, Sydney or as faraway as from Vancouver? You have my deepest respect because you go after your dream! Firstly, I have no interest in being a fashion designer even though I share the same birthday as Giorgio Armani. But that doesn't mean I don't watch Project Runway. I'm a huge fan of Project Runway and have accumulated a keen eye in judging the best runway fashion, thanks largely to the show. I've also accumulated a range of tips that hopefully will help ALL future designers out there who plans to make it at Project Runway. I hope you'll find these tips useful in your journey to winning the grand prize and finally have your own brand. I wish you all the best!

The other reason I wrote this article to help other designers out there is because I see the similarities between them and myself, an artiste. Besides acting, I also writes and the tension a writer feels when his work is being judged is exactly the same as a fashion designer's at Project Runway. So I do put myself in the designers' shoes. It is not easy being a designer! You can go poor for years and years and still not make it. Getting into Project Runway is truly a wonderful opportunity for you. I have starred in reality TV shows before, and I know having a camera on you during the competition is not easy. The most difficult part, I feel is during the judging on the runway - and truly I salute your courage and perseverance to withstand the criticisms and listen to what the judges' have to say. OK, let's get started!

66% polyester, 44% cotton
1. Fabric Choice is Everything
Upon qualified to be in the show, it is already understood that you have the potential to be a great designer. But that is simply not enough in helping you to create the best fashion for the runway. Your fabric choice is everything! That's why knowing which fabric works best for what kind of design is most valuable. You have basically 30 minutes to select your fabric choice, so make good use of that extremely short time for shopping the best fabric you can! It's highly unlikely you'll be given a second chance to go back to Mood (unless it's a Heidi Klum challenge, in which she is really understanding and gives the designers extra cash to re-design her dress in the Klum Challenge episode) So have A LOT of fabric knowledge! When it comes to fabric, you must also know what colours work best and your fabric manipulation skills.

2. Design Fast
The designers will often have either half an hour to an hour to come up with their designs on the initial stage. Really think about your design and whether you can accomplish them with your fabrics. Some designers make a huge mistake of being overly ambitious and comes out in the end with a tardy design that may references to a kitchen apron, flamenco's dress or a pregnant housewife. It's not entirely their fault, but it shows how faulty and gullible their thinking can be. You must also take into consideration the challenge requirements. For the latest season of Project Runway, I have to give kudos to Kini Zamora for really working very fast. In the first half of the season, his designs were really good. But I suspect he lost steam and failed to keep his creative momentum towards the finale. A lesson to be learned from this is you need a balance. No doubt it is important to design fast, but you also have to build your momentum (not kill it with exhaustion) with each design until the finale where you finally blooms with the best runway show collection possible.

3. Never Underestimate the Competition
One of the biggest obstacle all designers faced upon being confirmed for the Project Runway show is EGO. When you put a bunch of designers together, most will talk about their past accomplishments and which celebrities they have designed for. The reason for the ego is very much to differentiate themselves from the competition - which is perfectly understandable and a great entertainment for viewers at home (like myself) to watch how they bragged and then brought down to eat some humble pie when their over-the-moon bragging does not traslate to a great fashion on the runway. One example is Korina Emmerich, whom I thought have the best articulation when on camera - the way she talked was so good and clear, but NOT the way she looked down upon her competition - for example Sandhya Garg. She underestimated her capabilities, but Sandhya won the first challenge. So be humble. If you cannot keep your bragging mouth shut, be like Mondo Guerra. He was so focus and couldn't care less about the competition around him. He just keeps on working quietly and showcases his best works.

My Point of View
"I'm a size 2, baby"
4. Have a Point of View
Stand for something, or you'll fall for anything! This saying is even more relevant in the real-world fashion industry because you simply have to stand out. Take me for example. When I first entered a local Idol-like singing contest, I know I'm not the best singer out there, or even the most good-looking. So what do I do?  I have a point of view! And this doesn't have to be complex - it's actually very, very simple! I put on my now, world-famous Golden Shorts. Same thing with fashion designers. Your point of view have to translate into your designs and believe me - that's what Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia, Zac Posen and Michael Kors are looking for! Your point of view is precious - that is if you even have one. If you don't, then please develop one. The world is full of copycats and mediocrity, and it's easy to drown in the same thing. The wonderful premise Project Runway can offer you is to give you a chance to actually develop a point of view in the course of the competition. Take Sean Kelly for example. I couldn't tell what his point of view was at the beginning of the show. He didn't acknowledge Kini's bulk of the work during their winning team challenge in the Alternative Wedding Dress episode when Sean only did one piece - the pants, when Kini did the rest of the 4-piece in total! Sean was named the winner quite unfairly in my opinion, and not Kini. But when in competition, an open-minded designer would see the cross-pollination of ideas across each others' designs on the floor.

Cross-Pollinate Ideas
I was truly appalled again when the judges select Amanda Valentine's fringe-like dress as the winner in the "Going to the Movies" episode. It's an Unconventional Materials and Group challenge. I suspect Sean got inspired by her hippie fringe dress that instant and decided it's a safe bet to put the fringe design ALL OUT for his winning runway collection at the finale. Smart guy with a definite winning point of view. I have to give credit to him because he picks up ideas from other designers too and store them for future challenges. Like during the Samsung Rainway Challenge, Sean really shows his mettle with a white dress with color dye inside. So when the model walks in the Rainway (meaning runway with showers of water on it), the water would cause the dye to open its color on the dress, creating a pretty transformation from white to a colorful dress. He won again for that challenge, even though the dress is not avant garde. I suspect he mirrors his Caesar's idea from Amanda's Cleopatra idea from that same challenge into the finale. But don't cheat, because audience at home with a keen eye like me can spot. And it might not be good for your image in the future when the person you failed to acknowledge his contribution like what Sean did to Kini in the team challenge- failed in the end. I cried when Kini's aunt hugged and sang a traditional Hawaiian chant to him as a form of comforting closure for him after he lost in the finale. Simply heart-wrenching. I wished I have someone to sing and comfort me too when I failed - which was a lot!

Accessories and Styling matters too
5. Every Challenge Counts 
In Project Runway, I know it's not easy to have one challenge after another coming your way. You might think - should I just get through in the first half of all the challenges, then truly go all out on the second half to ultimately get into Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week? From my experience, I believe you should not be extreme in that sense, but balance yourself out by making each challenge counts. You may excel in the Unconventional Materials challenge, and so you wait to show your best until then. But why? You may not even be here when that particular challenge comes! Don't be foolish and be selective of which challenge you want to excel in. Each challenge is an opportunity for you to showcase your BEST and put your name out there. Take into account too the non-designers field of expertise like styling of your model's hair and make-up, accessories and the way the clothes would move on the runway. All that would accentuate the look of your designs and make it even better. Like Heidi Klum said "One day you're in, the next day you're out". So take every challenge like it's your last and stop bitching.

6. Have a Theme with Scope of a Story
This tip is when you finally got into the Final Three of Project Runway, and going to create your 10-look collection. In all the winning designers' collection, I discover almost all of them have one thing in common - a theme. A theme for your collection is not merely a one-word description or some frivolous untangible concept. The theme needs to have a scope that covers depth and with meat you can actually chew! Your theme is what inspires you to create the 10-look collection. Take this year's winner Sean Kelly. He has the best theme out of the others - "The Betrayal of Caesar" His whole collection's design is pretty simple. His signature fringe look is apparent in all his 10-look. But the showmanship of his collection was exceptionally outstanding! There's a STORY you can follow through his collection - firstly the all white fringe dress to show Caeser's ascension into power, then in the middle a touch of red fringe to signify his assasination and finally a grand ending of an all-orange fringe dress. Another great example was Seth Aaron's finale show titled "German-Russian Military" where each piece was a show-stopper with influences of the military in the form of leather, strong construction and never-before-seen silhouettes. (I would wear his designs) When you're standing in front of the judges to explain your designs, some great articulation skills can go a long way - but at the same time your clothes must be able to stand on its own and speaks for itself. Try to stay away from any ethnic-based themes like Native American or Southeast Asian. Remember Patricia Michaels, finalist Season 11 and Andy South, finalist Season 8?

Listen and Learn
7. Listen to Judges and Mentor
Listen to your clients especially in a client-specific challenge. Listen to the judges and mentor too. Always remember the judges and mentor in Project Runway are there to help you. Somehow I still love the American-produced Project Runway series because of such warmth and care exuded by the mentor Tim Gunn and the host Heidi Klum. Compared to the Australian and Canadian-version of Project Runway, there still lacks some connection to me because of how distant it feels (at least to me) between the mentors and the designers. But I do love the first season's opening montage of Project Runway Canada when Iman shows her acting skills by monologuing "Tempers will flare. Hemlines will fly. Because fashion isn't always pretty".  If you have the chance to enter between Canada and US, go for the US one because the judges there really appreciates risk-taking and new ideas. New York is still the fashion capital of the world - and having Nina Garcia, Michael Kors or Zac Posen giving you critiques would truly help in advancing your design process. Still, I find Zac Posen a little too pale and twinkish-looks on screen, and that sometimes make me want to giggle more than actually sit up and be serious in listening to what he has to say. Compares to the other judges like Michael Kors and Nina Garcia with their tanned, seasoned and beautiful skins, I tend to listen to them more seriously. I never see the judges saying mean things to the designers except only on their design creations. I noticed how sharp Nina Garcia's critiques can be, but it was done only in the Close Looks section (where the judges touch and feel up-close the design creations) when all the other designers are sitting in the lounge. Though I may be wrong because I'm only a viewer at home, but basically the judges and especially the mentor have mutual respect for the designers. Tim Gunn is the oldest cast member of the show and truly one of the most valuable asset because his feedback to help better the designers' creations is a great source of inspiration. I hope he'll be around for many more seasons of Project Runway. I enjoyed his motivational quotes to the designers like "Persevere" and "You have a Make-it-Work moment". And Heidi Klum too, with her great body and high-pitch cheery voice each time she appeared on the runway to present an intro of new challenge to the designers always perks me up (and some other places too).

There you go, future aspiring fashion designers - 7 ultimate tips in helping you make it to the top of the fashion industry! I wish you all the best and maybe one day I get to fly to New York and buy one of your creations.

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5) Taking Students on Roadshows
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7) Student on Magazine Cover
8) Student Casting Session for Real Jobs
9) Students Photo Shoot
10) Students Performing for Event

For how to become a better ARTISTE tips:
8 Pitfalls to Validate You're a Famous Artiste

For more tips on how to be a smarter SHOPPER, click below:

Swimming Pool Review: Chin Woo
Fruit Review: Bananas
The Buyer's Psychology
Money-Saving Tips
How to be a Smart Shopper (Grocery Goods)
Instant Noodles (Mee Goreng) Review
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The Perfectionist Shopper
Taking Care of Your Umbrella
Tips for Buying the Best Diary

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Shopping for Electronics as a Way to Shorten Learning Curve
Shopping Tips for Electronic Gadgets
Music Player Review
Tips to Better Touchscreen Care
The Best Tablet
PC Fair Review KLCC
Smartphones Unveiling Event
Launch Event - Pikom ICT Capsquare

Messenger Bags Special
Tips for Buying Shoes (Sneakers)
Stuff Magazine 9th Anniversary Party
Myanmar Art Review
Student Art Fair

For GAME apps and FILM/BOOK review:
Reality Show: Survivor
Flappy Bird Review
* Tank Hero
Temple Run vs Subway Surfers vs Minion Rush
Angry Birds Space (close to 10,000 hits)
Angry Birds: Red's Mighty Feathers
Survivor Reality Show
Skyfall movie review
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In the Mood for Love vs Belle Du Jour
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Christmas 2013 Display Review
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For my commentaries on CURRENT ISSUES:
The Violent Nature of Malaysian Society
Zaman Gemilang Ma-Lu-Gua
Why a Chinese person should eat at Chinese restaurant
The Great Malaysian Tragedy
5 Foibles Committed by Political Leaders
Street Protests
The Age of Haters
The Over Emphasis of Hardware over Software
How My "Friend" Make Plus-sized Looks Bad
City Folks' Sitting Culture (BM)
How to Identify Monsters Anywhere
Habits of Local Talent (BM)
Lessons learned from "Friends"
Malaysian "Mega-Structures" Hits and Misses

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Fantasy Kingdom Inside My Coat. It wasn‘t 2001: Space Odyssey that first portrays touch devices. It was the fairytale Evil Queen.

Little Riding Hood

THANK YOU! If you enjoy my blog, kindly click "Join this site" button on the left side of this page AND 
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* Jury Duty
Worldwide Photo Exhibit
Endorsement Value
World Cup KFC commercial
Controversial but Most-Watched Episode
The Golden Shorts Fame

The Fame King
A foreign reporter once asked me to describe my country.

Who am I to answer this question since I'm only a jobless artiste trying to eke out a living, if there's even any. I was surprised by her question and simply replied humbly:

"I'm only a peasant in a little fairyland"

Upon hearing my reply, she gave out a hearty laughter implying as though I was joking. But I wasn't. She must have assumed I'm rich and successful by my clothing. But in this modern age, my detractors may argue - what fairyland?

Yet, how much of it has become the age where the lines separating fantasy and reality become ever increasingly and blurringly indistinguishable. As a poor but credible artiste in this fairyland called Malaysia, it becomes clearer to me of how much of my life resembles a fairytale. Firstly, I come from nothing and able to build myself into an artiste. But the journey of an artiste is full of unexpected twists and turns, more often left by the side of the road to rot and die. More often, we're purposely being stopped dead in our tracks by an evil sorcerer. The evil sorcerer would conjure up a spell that my image is wrong, distasteful and unfit to deceive the public. Truly, there's an evil force at work currently dividing our small village into a fantasy hierarchy of peasants, maidens, knights, princes and kings. Now, only princes and kings get to become artistes that's able to earn a living.

Forests of Lost Dreams
In this fairy unfair kingdom, many of its citizens are lost. Some are lost in the magic forests of unfulfilled dreams. Others are lost in their pursuit of fame and grandeur. But all are under the spell that they're either being shortchanged or extremely deserving of privileges. Fairy kingdom exists on the fuel created by this extreme polarization. The friction it made further enhances the magic fumes inhaled by its citizens on a daily basis that falls under that evil spell. All this fairytale chaos has caused its citizens to forget about the importance of appreciating the universal beauty of humanity regardless of who you are, thus depriving true artistes its livelihood. Its citizens no longer speak to each other in humanly terms of equality, but abandons each other in fear or only engages when to fulfill their selfish needs. Each house is kept in locks and keys for fear of the goblins, trolls and orcs. I used to cruised through this magical forests by wearing anything I want. But now I'm cloaked in my magical black coat for protection against evil. There used to be singing elves, dancing hobbits and merry fairies whom I greeted without fear of offense. But now there are no singing and dancing of spontaneous joy. Only the loud thumping drums of propaganda, lies and fear resounding daily throughout this magic kingdom.

Fantasy Mirrors Life
Escapism is the magic pill everyone in fairyland takes constantly. Reality in fairyland is not made of dreams. It is steeped with lies, betrayal, political ties and deception. If you are Sleeping Beauty, you never want to wake up. Snow White is being held captive, raped, tortured and enslaved by the Seven Dwarves. The Evil Queen is multi-touching her magic mirror with wifi connection. Strangely, nearly all village peasants now owns a magic mirror themselves to create and conjure a fantasy of their own while emailing their desperate requests to the Evil Queen. (in which she immediately marks as spam.) For a long while, the villagers felt abandoned and decided to channel their anger towards anyone who seemed differrent. They began to delve deeper into the fairytale of their own-making through their magic mirrors of various sizes ranging from tiny 4-inch smartphones to 18-inch mega tablets. Reality is harder to swallow than fantasy. Magic mirrors seem like the only way out and are becoming less and less expensive, thus enabling almost everyone the opportunity to realise, create and conjure a fantasy of their own making - opening a ray of light into this fairytale kingdom of darkness.

The Evil Queen
Life is a Journey
A true artiste is never recognised and given a career in his own fairy village. Instead, the villagers would worship the false artistes as mandated by the Evil Queen as deserving and true. So real and talented artistes have no voice and expression of their own. Either conform or die. Many are forced to flee from their village before the vulnerable villagers are put under a spell and transformed into an angry and murderous mob. The life and journey of an artiste being abandoned and demonised by his own village is a tumultous one. Like a hobbit on a journey to Mount Doom to destroy the ring of fire where it was forged - the artiste, therefore must become a forger himself in the face of tremendous adversity in order to survive. Forging îmages to persuade the moves of knights and pawns in this chess of magical life. But what characteristics of a fairytale that convinces the artiste that he must delves into the mystics of forgery?

The Little Mermaid
Good versus Evil
If you're a credible artiste surviving in a Third World village, never will you witness how much evil is at work.  Or to experience the transformation of your fellow friends and family into goblins, orcs, trolls and witches of evil. The fairytales you read in your childhood are all real. Witness how your friends' worldview becomes smaller and narrower once they commit and willingly enslave themselves into the institution of marriage, work, corporate world and systemized religious institutions. All are deceived to believe that where they are living now are the real worlds. They are all under the spell that their worlds are true and yours are not. It's all turned upside down. Evil is regarded as good and vice versa.

Dangers Everywhere
Your friends, family and loved ones would warn you against stepping outside of your village and they retold their own version of the fairytale to themselves for fear of falling into dangers. Witness the vast and diverse array of negatively perceived societal labels we put on ourselves in the tiny village we live in. Straights. Gays. Tranny. Bisex. The gays and trannys are evil, so stay away from them! Being a tiny village, small-mindedness reigns supreme. To further compound an insignificant issue, our self-appointed knights, princes and dukes gather to issue a mandate throughout this fantasy kingdom to systematically divide its people into racial categories. Thinking they are doing their kingdom a service but not knowing that evil is born this way.

Orcs, trolls and goblins are constantly unleashed and released to the wild. They are always on the hunt for the innocent villagers - how they dress, what they do, what they say to their magic mirrors, whether or not they follow the rules and traditions. If anything is not told in the right and proper way, capture the culprit and lock them in the dungeon! The reason why these orcs, trolls and goblins become as powerful as they are now is because the villagers paid too much attention to them. Devoid of independent thought, these villagers conform to groupthink and some, thinking they're cleverer than the rest, enforce even more ludicrous dresscode and fear-based traditions of their own - thus deepening the swirl of their own bull. Unfortunately, most of the other villagers either do nothing, sit on their mushroom stools or conform whole-heartedly for fear of repeat invasions of these vicious goblins and orcs.

Villagers in this fairyland desperately wants to feel safe and secure. Sensing their building insecurities, the head of the village with the secret help of witches and demons concocted a powerful delusion of superiority in the minds of these villagers. This powerful spell of know-all and I-deserve-everything-by-my-status was achieved at the expense of depriving other smaller villagers that does not meet the head villager's fantasy colour code map. This way the head villager doesn't have to do anything at all yet gaining the favour of the majority of the villagers.

To separate a troll from a fairy is no longer based solely on outward appearances in this modern age. A goblin lookalike may surprise you with his heart of gold. So can a prince in shining armor that makes you feel despicable with his evil scheming. The wise will take to heart to see things beyond just mere appearances.

Sleeping Beauty
Fantasy in Reality
We all started in life believing a fairytale - one form or another. Children are born being made to believe that their parents are the kings and queens. When lovers meet, they project their own fairytale vision upon their partners. When in marriage, husbands and wives would build their own "little kingdom" by having children. Children and babies by themselves seem so magical on their own that many couples would do anything to have one. But unknowing to many, the magic stops once the babies start to cry. On a macro level, advertising are concocted spells to make you feel that you're the one when you buy the product. Young people are like little elves, vulnerable to the spells of advertising. I was an elf once and believed in the PM's vision of 1Malaysia.

I have good Malay friends from high school whom are extremely friendly, kind and sporting - at least to me. But as one matures from an elf into a beautiful prince, one realizes not everyone is the same in this fantasyland. I persevered onto this belief we can all be 1Malaysia, so I bought an apartment in a Malay-majority neighborhoood. I even rented out the rooms to anyone regardless of their race, creature status or magical affiliations. But this fairytale in my head was soon crushed when I approached this neighbor whom I never knew before, to inform them to restrain their grandchild from vandalising the walls of my castle door. The kopiah-headed Malay man, whom I presumed to be a responsible man came storming out after me like a man gone amok. I noticed his wardrobe: kopiah, long white robe and thought him to be a religious and patient man. But his actions communicated otherwise. His animal screamings woke up nearly the entire village where most came out from their hobbit holes to see what the fireworks was about. If you put another Chinese guy in this fairyland context, he would immediately assume all Malays behave like that. Many do.

To me, it's not about race and religion. But in fairyland, everyone falls captive to the superficial and artificial. The truth no one dares to admit is it's all about human greed. I have Chinese Christian godparents from young, and thought of them highly. The magical powers surrounding me as a child has served me well in gaining their favours in living in their giant castle and always travelling in golden carriages. Whenever I went back to my evil mother, she would violently pull me down from the dream of a magic child out from her rage and jealousy.  The constant pulling in and out from fantasy soon began to take a toll - blurring the lines of what's real and false. The magical powers surrounding me as the magic child slowly vanished when my rich godparents have children of their own. I willingly become the Cinderella - taking care of their golden children while forfeiting my own growth's sake, thinking my sacrifice would be reciprocated. Soon, when my skills are no longer needed, this Cinderella was cruelly banished into the magical forest without her glass slippers and a pitiful few hundred ringgit as compensation.

Prince Charming
Downside in Fairyland
Such are the devious, narrow and limiting natures of fairytales. It tears you sideways and inwardly by altering your view of the world. It may fill you with hope, but it does not drive you to take actions to vanquish the screaming creature or take notice of the abandonment. You are stuck where you are without knowing. It slowly turns you to become secretive, vindictive and malicious. You began to treat everyone in a class-like system. The peasants you ignored, based on their looks and short stature. The dukes and datuks you worship. You'll become suddenly energized when approaching a muscular guy or model-like gal but easily irritated by even the smallest issue. You think you own the Ring, but in truth it owns you!

After all that magical experience, I realised something about this type of fairytale monsters. Firstly, they crave attention even when they claim they don't. Secondly, you cannot communicate to them like normal human beings do. And finally, they'll come to you only when you have something they want. Such a goblin is incapable of experiencing joy because they're too used to thinking of what they deserve, too suspicious of other non-goblins and proud with delusions of the grandest show of superiority through charity. So how does one protect themselves from such evil-fantasy creatures of violent tempers and insidious nature? Not by shield or sword. Simply, by the discipline of the mind - don't pay them any attention. And all illusions of their fierceness and all-powerfulness vanished just like that - at the whiff of the wind, finally revealing them the goblins they truly are.

In fairyland, its citizens are classified according to its outward appearances, status and affiliation to the brotherhood of deserving privileges. There is no equality and social progress in fairyland society. This is because everyone are too vain and busy trying to look "perfect" in front of their magic mirrors while snapping a selfie too. Perfection is prized above equal rights for all humanity. Especially perfection in religion, race and outward appearances. Couples get married to show off that they are now mature, hence distancing themselves from their single friends. Their own problems become magically bigger than everyone else's. Wives manipulated husbands to get children. Husbands manipulated wives so they can get the castle and keep the harem.

This manic chase of a fairytale perfection has rendered its citizens incapable of thinking, reasoning and communicating beyond the concept of morality - everything from sexuality to the exposure of your skin are either good or bad. All fairyland citizens are under this chasing-after-perfection spell and thus, delusional and ultimately lost in the dark forests of their own small-mindedness. They think everything lasts forever - from their pride of how stylish their clothing may be to the status of being the privileged one at the expense of belittling other citizens' equal rights to be too. They are showy, temperamental and believes that all material wealth they've hoarded, inherited and stole will lasts forever. With their pride as great as their ego, these fairyland denizens waste their time and energy demonizing other minorities, while taking everything for granted.

Last Words in Spell
Therefore, we must all be aware of the fairytales we're told in the movies, TV dramas, serials and news. Some are real. Some are not. You will find trolls underneath any religiously dressed man. Or be enlightened to uncover a true king even in the worst beggar's clothing. Never judge a man or woman merely by outward appearances. Detach yourself from everything. Most importantly, treat everyone the same and with dignity. These 3 principles are all you need to follow in this journey of life. Not a mountain of traditions, complex spells of beliefs, potions and regulations created by your elders, parents or leaders. Complexity is an evil harness meant to blind and enslave you to do their biddings.

As I begged for excuse from the foreign reporter who queried me earlier, she kindly corrected me, "No, you're not a peasant. You're a genius!".

To me, that probably means I'm crazy.