Rick Owens’s Minimalism


February 4, 2016

by Gracia Ventus

Rick Owens

Rick Owens
Wearing: Rick Owens pillbox jacket, shorts and boots; Yves Saint Laurent bag

Rick Owens is always associated with goth and glunge, but he's an unrecognised pioneer of modern Minimalism, as evidenced from his multiple reinterpretation of biker jackets.

The pillbox jacket is available for sale here.


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Céline’s Minimalism


February 1, 2016

by Gracia Ventus

Céline

Phoebe Philo has long abandoned her trademark form of Minimalism, instead opting to test the loyalty of her fans by resorting to dramatic motifs, exaggerated hardware and ultra-feminine silhouettes. As much as I'd like to appreciate the new direction, it does not resonate all that well with me and I find myself going back to her former stark and angular forms.

Céline Céline

Céline
Wearing: Céline dress; Zara trousers; Margiela tabi boots


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Goodbye Paradise


January 28, 2016

by Gracia Ventus

El Nido

El Nido

We got back on our trusty rented dirt bike to ride along the northern curvature of El Nido. I maintain that the motorbike has been the most reliable form of transport for this island. It gets you into the hidden nooks and crannies that no cars can ever reach. You can stop in the middle of the road and take all the selfies you ever want without blocking the road.

Or take pictures of these guys.

El Nido

El Nido

Our next and last destination was Duli Beach. The ride was an adventure onto itself. To get there, one must be well-prepared to ride up and down very steep hills, pot holes and uneven dirt roads. You would have to get through someone's backyards - literally paying them a small sum of money - and across their farm. All this on a footpath that eventually opens up to the beach.

El NidoEl Nido

El Nido

And so we arrived at this beautiful Duli beach, my favourite spot in El Nido. White sand stretches as far as the eyes can see, the gentle waves rolling into the shore. Come evening time they get more aggressive, not too shabby for some surfing. There is only one lodging in the entire beach, called the Duli Beach Resort. It's run by a friendly Dutch couple who knew exactly what travellers would want in an accommodation. No frill room with a big bed, modern toilet and simple shower. And doors that keep out bugs and mosquitoes. For the price they are charging, it's hard to find a cleaner and more pristine place than this, right by the shore line. The best thing about staying here was falling asleep to the roar of the waves, and waking up to a beautiful sunrise.

El NidoEl Nido
Disclaimer: the above two photos are not mine. Also I wouldn't recommend taking a scooter to this beach

El Nido

This is the last instalment of my El Nido trip. No more beach photos for the time being and I will get back to talking about complicated clothes. Should you like to purchase an Alexander Wang sneaker bag - which has proven to be a hardy company during my trip - a few variations of it are available on eBay here, here, here and here.


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Aye Aye


January 26, 2016

by Gracia Ventus

El Nido

It'll be really fun!
Uhh, sure. But I've never sailed before.
You'll do just fine.

And that's how I accidentally became a deckhand.


The last post ended with a photo of the beach where we found a brand new sailing boat that had just been crafted by a local resident. We took it out for its inaugural spin, with the blessings of the builder's son. Most of the mechanism was rather rudimentary and manual. I had to overcome the fear of being pierced by the anchor while running up and down the deck pulling and tying ropes.

El NidoEl Nido

El Nido

We moored the boat on this beautiful sandbank on which someone had built a proportionately tiny Parthenon-like structure. I survived my first sailing adventure unscathed, and was grateful that all those times spent lifting in the gym was well worth it.


Not much clothing to speak of today folks. This is simply another endorsement on the beauty of El Nido.

El Nido

El Nido


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Issey Miyake’s Practicality


January 22, 2016

by Gracia Ventus

El Nido

"Are you sure you want to wear that? We're riding a dirt bike on dirt roads."

"Of course. It's water resistant, AND I can move freely", then proceeded to show him a clumsy arabesque. Have faith in Issey Miyake. He knows his polyester.

And so the hardy Issey Miyake dress took on the journey across El Nido on a wet, windy day. The tarmac road ended fifteen minutes into the bike ride. Midway through we made a reckless decision to ride up a steep hill that promised a waterfall. Every once in a while I had to get off the bike to give it a push. No dice. We gave up when the rain fell harder otherwise we could have been on a slippery slope to Accidentville.

Then we saw this guy on the river.

El Nido

El Nido

El Nido

El Nido

The ride continued for a good hour, passing by lush green rice fields and sporadic settlements before we ended up on a quiet beach called Tapik. Ann Demeulemeester may rip. Rick Owens will not last. Comme des Garçons is too warm. But let this be proof of Issey Miyake's practicality in the midst of Mother Nature.

El Nido

El Nido
Wearing: Issey Miyake dress; Alexander Wang sneaker bag; Adidas sneakers

El Nido


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A Pearly Dilemma


January 20, 2016

by Gracia Ventus

El Nido
Wearing: Issey Miyake trousers; Marni sandals; Swim suit via

Island life calls for island clothes.

I made the mistake of wearing languid Ann Demeulemeester on my first day, as billowy and cooling as it is, and so settled for more appropriate attire I do not mind getting dirty.

El Nido

El Nido

Frivolous clothing considerations aside, there was something that I have been pondering about since my stay in El Nido. It's tough to approach this topic without sounding privileged but it is a dilemma I have faced on several occasions. The island of Palawan is famous for their pearls, and many of them made their way up north to El Nido. Everyday, you would come across about twenty or so sellers peddling various pearl trinkets, walking up and down the beaches in the hot sun. Anyone sitting for more than thirty minutes would have been approached by three different sellers. And then the same ones would come back again the next hour. I don't have a problem with the act of selling pearls, everyone has the right to make a living as long as it does not impinge on the welfare of others. The act of selling becomes problematic when these sellers get pushy, adamant and even borders on begging by showing hand gestures of food and hunger. I am by no means putting the blame of the situation on the sellers, but rather the market and business model of the entire operation.

From one's observation it is quite clear that the supply of pearl overwhelms the demand. I have personally had two sellers sat next to me for some time despite my refusal in hopes of me giving in to their persistence. One of them had a child in her tow - I can only hope it was because she had noone else to look after her child, and not because she was using him as an accessory to alleviate the portrayal of someone in need of money. Neither of us could speak each others' language beyond the vocabulary of buying and selling, unfortunately. On another instance I saw a Caucasian man who raised his voice at a seller, telling him repeatedly that he did not want to buy anything. A part of me could relate to the frustration the man felt, but it was also disheartening to see the other frail-looking man who was doing his best to eke out a living, only to be told off rudely.

For an industry to sustain itself, the supply must meet the demand, which either grows organically or is engineered with the use of marketing strategies. Before the advent of sophisticated marketing strategy in early 20th century, producers of the industrial revolution era churned out undifferentiated goods at the highest capacity a factory could operate in without accounting for the consumers' tastes and needs. For example, an early car model would be produced en masse in one single model and colour. This was the mass production tactic that all producers knew how to do. Some time around the Great Depression, the producers began to worry that the over production of goods would eventually surpass the slowing pace of consumption, as everyone pretty much had what they needed, like a car, or pairs of stockings, or a cupboard. That was when Edward Bernays - known as the father of Public Relations - came up with some of the most brilliant yet terrifying tactics that are used in modern marketing strategy. By utilising various channels such as the news media and 'influencers' and mixing psychoanalytical ideas, he stirred up emotions of the general public to consume goods from the industries he represented. A hundred years ago, goods were advertised based purely on their functional basis. Today, they tap into our emotions and desires, which is why sex sells, that and the concept of keeping up with the Joneses. Know what the consumers wants, otherwise create the desire within them.

Which brings me back to the pearl peddlers. Tourists took the arduous journey to El Nido to experience a beach holiday, and if there are pearls to be had, the desire to have them is secondary to the sun and the sea. I can only surmise from the persistency of the sellers that business was tough despite the peak season, and they might not be selling enough to pay for their living expenses. The overwhelming number of sellers, from young teenagers to frail grandmothers, was a telltale sign that the market was not in balance. There seems to be an assumption that consumers will purchase the pearls simply because they were available, which is no different from the producers of the Industrial Revolution. I couldn't help but to wonder what compels these sellers to take part in this business. Are they independent sellers who buy from a wholesaler, or members of a larger operation who are paid a fixed salary with extra sales commission?

This situation is not unique to El Nido. The popular beaches of Bali have their own peddlers too, though I don't remember them to be as numerous nor pushy. Whenever one of them approached me, an internal conflict would occur. I have no need for pearls, I have never desired for pearls. To buy one would be construed as an act of charity, especially when the prices are higher than ones in the Puerto Princessa, a town five hours away. Within the capability that I have, I voted with my wallet not to support an unsustainable market, with the hope that some of these peddlers would seek out other legitimate sources of income. However, the disparity in which the tourists were able to squander away money for drinks and the struggle these peddlers had to endure to make ends meet left me feeling like a heartless miser. Damned if I do, damned if I don't.

At the end of all this, I still do not know what the best course of action should be. Knowing their reasons for going down the path of selling pearls - instead of working in a restaurant or on the lucrative boat tours - would have been a great start. It is rather unfortunate that the language barrier exists.

El Nido


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