Wabi-sabi is an Asian aesthetic of Zen origin that values beauty in the transient (as the ephemeral cherry blossom), in impermanence, in the incomplete, the flawed, the weathered and in uncertainty.

The exacting nature of business operations is hardly conducive to the wabi-sabi sensibility given the search for continuous improvement in systems; careful selection, training and retention of personnel; and ensuring that all activity adds value leading to a competitive edge. In this economic rationalist world view, tolerance for uncertainty and the imperfect is low.

Over the last decade and a half of stunning economic growth, Macau has seen a slow unfolding of an uncomfortable coexistence of community-based values and international business imperatives: between family and community ties on the one hand, and, on the other, the demands on workers to improve skills and knowledge, to be exacting, to take initiative and to lead their organisations to profitability now and into the future.

The trappings of wealth – luxury goods, the ‘good-life’ and status – may have helped bridge the values’ gap between a small community-based aesthetic and that of a successful corporate ladder climber. This is a change that distances family and work lives, from the familiar maze of local streets where home, community and work are intertwined, to the large impersonal edifices only accessed by key cards and security passes. The engineered glitz and glamour is a world away from the cacophony of life that continues beneath the spaghetti of electrical and telecoms cables in Barra or the squawks of livestock in markets dotted around town.

Our Macau embraces imperfection, perhaps less mindfully, but as wabi-sabi embraces imperfection. The concept has been popularised by a crack in a teacup mended in gold. This gold enhances the cup’s beauty by bringing attention to the imperfection; the vessel always held value, too much to simply toss, even beyond what the eye could see in its original and complete form. The damage thus told suggests there is another story to tell.

Leonard Cohen introduced the concept to many in the western world with his lyrical provocations in the album, Anthem: “Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in.”

It is a tall order to suggest that this aesthetic or a similar embodiment of the less than perfect might bring benefits to our businesses but this is precisely what a global network of academics and management practitioners aim to explore at a conference in Tokyo later this year.

The aesthetic allows, for example, to see beyond eccentricities of individual teachers or specialists who may not conform to all expectations of ‘normal’ behaviour in their roles but who have expertise far beyond their colleagues. Rather than dismissing these people for their oddities, being able to manage their sub- optimal behaviours in order to harness their extra-ordinary talents and brilliance can lift companies to greater things. To insist on organisational conformity and the reduction of difference relegates an organisation to mediocrity.

Along with Macau’s process towards internationalisation, have we too become overly preoccupied in our professional, business and organisational lives with perfection, excellence, completeness and total control? Does this preoccupation violate human values that have been imbedded in our own community and narrow streets? Rather than ask what we as a community may have lost, the question now being asked is what creativity, harmony, wisdom, connectivity, humility, flexibility or other integral value can the corporate intruders upon our reclaimed lands learn from the messy imperfection and rustic beauty of our locale?Read more at: |


Locks made to be loved

THERE’S a new place in town offering a head-to-toe makeover for both girls and guys. It’s called “Hive Life by L’Oreal Professionnel” and it’s the brainchild of celebrated hair stylist Grit “Gong” Jirakiertvadhan.Launched last week in the Fashion Groove Zone of CentralWorld in downtown Bangkok, the full-service beauty hub is spread over a massive 400 square metres and divided into four zones, all of them targeting young-generation professionals. Guys can chill at the Gentleman Zone, which offers a cool barber service and haircuts in a private and manly ambience.

Complete hairdressing services from wash and blow dry, to cutting, setting and colour services are found in the Lady Zone, along with consultations on hair designs and overall looks. Aromatic coffee and gourmet dishes are available at the Cafe Zone run by Kuppadeli while the Beauty Bar Zone boasts counters by leading brands supervised by makeup experts to help you achieve the perfect look.“You leave with a head-to-toe makeover,” says Grit, who also hosted a show of the 2018 fashion and hair trends at the opening. Designed by him and the salon’s stylist team with the collaboration of four world-class brands, the fashion extravaganza kicked off with 87 MM Seoul, a label offering clean-cut and flexible apparel on the theme “No Concept But Good Sense”. The brand’s showcase of men’s streetwear was enhanced by the models’ locks, which glinted with highlights achieved by using Grit’s Bleach and Tone technique. Thai brand Tohns combined elements of traditional apparel with modern tones and handicraft techniques on new materials in its capsule collection, focusing on dresses in pastel shades decorated with sequin and lace details. The models boasted heavily textured hair designs achieved through a new style of setting that anyone can remake at home.

Japanese brand, Mihara Yasuhiro brought Tokyo Fashion Week chic to the event with edgy, out-of-the-box designs made just for fun. The street wear collection was accentuated by unruly natural looking hair setting and the “Half Wet Half Matt” finish created from a mixture of wax and gel. The finale was presented by Indonesian brand Tex Saverio, who theatrical couture has caught the eye of several Hollywood superstars including Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lawrence and Kim Kardashian as well as Thai actress, Rasri “Margie” Balenciaga, who trusted the brand with the design of her wedding dress.The label designed an outfit especially for the show to match the hairstyle created by balayage, a highlighting technique where bleach or colour is lightly painted on the surface of your hair rather than saturating an entire section for a soft, natural-looking, sun-kissed look.Read more |


This Knitwear Designer’s Cozy Work Wardrobe Was Made for Winter

Catherine Carnevale went for a hike and ended up having an epiphany. “I was three-months pregnant and visiting the sacred valley in Peru with my husband,” she explains. “While being in the powerful mountainscape of the Andes, I was struck by a strong feeling that it was time to make a life change.” Upon Carnevale’s return home to Brooklyn, New York (she’s originally from the U.K.), she decided to leave her corporate fashion design job and start her own knitwear brand called Eleven Six. The name is a combination of her birth date and that of her son Oliver’s. “I was inspired by the skills of the artisan women in both Peru and Bolivia,” Carnevale says of the launch. “I decided to create a knitwear line that could be sustainably produced there using baby alpaca.” She adds, “I wanted to empower and support these artisan women with work.”

The designer travels to Peru once each year, visiting the cooperatives responsible for crafting Eleven Six’s ribbed navy jumpsuits, fringed off-the-shoulder dresses, and beautifully simple turtlenecks, capes, and cardigans. Carnevale’s pieces are the perfect blend of stylish and cozy, a combination she’s personally become quite fond of since relocating from Brooklyn to upstate New York. “After having our second baby earlier in the year, we were ready for some nature and space,” she says. “I currently have a home studio, but I commute into the city once a week for meetings and appointments.” As such, Carnevale’s wardrobe has shifted a bit. When she’s working upstate, she favors head-to-toe knits and sneakers. In the city, she likes to layer her sweaters with leather jackets, belts, statement jewelry, or a block heel.

“Whether dressing up or dressing more casually, I tend to be on the more polished side—this is something I believe was instilled in me by my late mother,” says Carnevale. “I think this sensibility translates to Eleven Six as a brand. It’s refined yet relaxed, and strives to offer an effortless but elevated approach to knit dressing.” Whatever she’s wearing up in the woods or back in the concrete jungle, Carnevale’s main concern is spreading the message about sustainable fashion and designing functional, beautiful clothes for boss ladies just like her. “I design for a modern woman in need of a versatile wardrobe for her many life roles,” she says.Read more at: |


London Fashion Week Men’s Fall 2018

From skiing to winning the lottery, London men’s wear designers looked to a wide range of subjects for inspiration for their fall collections. Here, some of the topics that sparked their creativity ahead of the shows, which begin on Saturday.

“This season we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Trialmaster jacket, which gave me an opportunity to revisit our British roots and present our Made in U.K. collection. Looking through our Trialmaster history led me to explore English youth subcultures and how our jackets have been adopted and customized since the Fifties. The iconic silhouettes from this era including the field, parka and biker jackets have been updated this season with added functionality and modern fabrications. The hero piece of the collection is the anniversary Trialmaster, which is entirely manufactured in the U.K., in a new tumbled coated cotton and reflective tape with badges, celebrating our heritage.” — Delphine Ninous, creative director, Belstaff

“A deep dive into the big blue. The collection stands as a creative call to arms and focuses on responsible design and sourcing to protect both planet and wearer.” — Christopher Raeburn

“It’s about escaping life, going to Noel’s house party and the adventures of kids’ coloring books.” — Liam Hodges

“This season’s collection explores the use of graphics across different textile media to create a contrast of texture and sense of richness. Looking at artisanal craft techniques and how these are still relevant to the future of contemporary fashion grounds, this season’s mood has a tactile context.” — Edward Crutchley

“The collection is inspired by winter sports and ski resorts. The chic but playful vibe of the Alpine skier and the good old-fashioned après-ski party fits Band of Outsiders’ typical style of mixing great fun with high quality. The theme is the red line throughout the collection as well as the reason for our presentation being on ice.” — Angelo Van Mol, head designer, Band of Outsiders

“The collection explores new surfaces and fine, almost delicate garment details across traditional wearable men’s wear shapes. A transition from utilitarian daywear to include clothing with a smarter edge is hinted at.” — Phoebe English

“Raw. Sensual. Calm.” — Lou Dalton

“Fall 2018 is about remembering the Buffalo era in London and the huge importance it’s had on my design aesthetic. It urges me to be braver, creates a need to push things and not accept the conventional as a standard. It’s a direct link to why London, which has always rooted itself in the street and celebrated the real and unpretentious, is the home of my creativity. I want this season to be a mash-up between decadence and rave.” — Astrid Andersen

“The fall 2018 collection is built upon Wood Wood’s aim to reflect our core values, taking inspiration from films like ‘The Breakfast Club’ and ‘St. Elmo’s Fire.’ These are films from our youth about growing up, and the state of mind we were in, going from lazy teens to becoming more ‘responsible’ as adults. We’ve taken bits and pieces from here and there and transformed it into a modern Americana look, with a rich variation of fabrics like corduroy, neppy wool, denim and nylon.” — Karl-Oskar Olsen, cofounder, Wood Wood

“Fall 2018 is a conceptual expression and continuation of the A-Cold-Wall narrative that connects parallels found throughout the many facets of British society.” — Samuel Ross, designer, A-Cold-Wall

“Winning the lottery, a subject topic that has graced every pub countless times yet continues to be one debated when the chips are down, because who doesn’t dream about that winning ticket? This season we have explored the concept of quick wins and instant success looking mostly at the first era of the national lottery and some of its infamous winners.” — Nick Biela, creative director, Blood Brother

“The fall 2018 Qasimi man is a modern nomad. An extreme traveler who tackles life as an adventure to discover new horizons, cultures, lives and customs but also journeys into himself.” — Khalid Qasimi, designer, Qasimi.Read more at: |


Rare fashion show gives hope in violent eastern Congo

Congolese designer Miki Sikabwe has trained in Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya but never had the chance to show her work at home because of insecurity.

That changed over the weekend, when a handful of designers presented the first fashion shows in eastern Congo's city of Beni in years. It was a welcome distraction for residents who have faced attacks by Allied Democratic Forces rebels and other armed groups that have killed thousands over the past three years.

"I am happy to be exhibiting my necklaces and clothes made with local products here in Beni and I believe this will give hope to the people here," Sikabwe said, also showing off men's clothing made from bright African wax prints.

She and thousands of others in eastern Congo have wondered when the violence will end. Earlier this month, ADF rebels attacked the local United Nations mission, killing 15 Tanzanian peacekeepers and five Congolese soldiers in the single deadliest assault on a U.N. peacekeeping mission in nearly 25 years.

Uganda and Congo have launched a joint military offensive against the rebels, bringing optimism to a region that has known violence for decades.

Beni's fashion week was canceled in 2014 after rebel attacks began in earnest, killing some 1,000 people within months.

Mayor Nyonyi Bwanakawa said he believes the city is becoming safer.

"We would like to show the world that in Beni, and in northeast Congo, there is life and tourists can come here," he said. Beni lies at the foot of Mount Ruwenzori, which is surrounded by the well-known Virunga National Park.

Over the weekend, nearly 600 people packed into a nightclub for the fashion show featuring colored loincloths, masks and traditional materials designed into modern styles.

Roselyne Mbiya was the lead designer, using Congolese fabrics mixed with floral designs and lace.

She said some of the show's proceeds will go to women who have been raped by the ADF rebels, saying they need to feel they are still loved by society.Read more |