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Objects of Desire: Some Compelling Things In Black

By Guan Tan

Felicia Yap/ Totokaelo/ MatchesFashion/ Loewe/ Pomellato

1. A Clock by Cartier


Is this a sculpture or a clock? This Exceptional Ménagerie de Cartier Clock is a curious object. It tells a compelling story of the 171-year-old French jeweller and watchmaker. The clock was sculpted from five different types of wood, namely the storied Sycamore Eucalyptus, Birch, Maple, Bolivar and Jata woods. The woods come in varying shades of brown, and they were pieced together to make a three-dimensional panther. The idea of using a panther motif came about some time in 1900 when Jeanne Toussaint and Louis Cartier travelled to the Kenyan safaris. In 1914, a black panther appeared in a Cartier advertisement. Later in 1917, the panther made its debut on a cigarette case. What the panther embodies is a sense of mystery and danger.

There are 20 limited edition and numbered pieces to this design, available on cartier.sg at S$86,500. 

2. A Ring by Pomellato


The Italian jewellery brand Pomellato has an interesting collection of rings titled "Capri". It was inspired by the Bougainvillea flower, a class of pink and purple trumpet-shaped flower with papery petals. The flower is, in fact, littered all over Singapore's public estates and spaces. (Google "Bougainvillea flowers Singapore".) 

The ring was designed to resemble that of a single Bougainvillea flower bloom, or a cluster of them. There are two parts to the flower — the circle of petals and the stigma. In a ring, the petals are symbolised by a ceramic bulb, and the stigma by gems. The Capri ring comes in a multitude of colours, including a pink version that resembles the colours of the Bougainvillea flower. Here, the ring is abstracted into black ceramic and white diamonds. 

Pomellato's Ring Capri is available here, or in stores at Hilton Hotel Singapore, 581 Orchard Road.

3. Shoes by Loewe


There is nothing cursory about one's choice of footwear. It makes or break an outfit, and is perhaps one of the most revealing item of dress. Here, a pair of egg-heeled mules from the Loewe Spring/ Summer 2018 collection. The egg in question resembles that of a quail egg — small but beautifully freckled. Yet, the fun of this pair of mules is not only found in its sculpturality. It makes the wearers tread gingerly, lest the quail egg crack under the weight of the body. And imagine, the shoe's prototype must have been made with some real quail eggs. 

Loewe's slip-on egg heel is available here for S$1,350.

4. A Clutch by Issey Miyake BAO BAO


The Japanese designer Issey Miyake was someone who unceasingly challenged the parameters of fashion. For all his forays into technology, CNN dubbed him a "technician". In the interview, he revealed, "Technology allows us to do many things, but it is always important to combine it with traditional handcrafts, and in fact, use technology to replicate dying arts so that they are not lost." The brand's most pioneering works include the BAO BAO and Pleats Please (below), both technical feats that are carefully designed, constructed, ambitious, yet simultaneously wearable and priced accessibly. The BAO BAO for instance, is essentially a multitude of triangular plastic pieces — spaced apart — held together by a thin, black mesh fabric. It challenges the malleability and wearability of a rigid material, therefore, blurring the boundaries between hard and soft. 

The Issey Miyake BAO BAO Prism Pouch is available at totokaelo.com at US$195 (approximately S$255).

5. A Dress by Pleats Please Issey Miyake


The Pleats Please collection by Issey Miyake goes way back to 1989, when the fabric debuted on the Spring/ Summer runway. Miyake's method was unconventional at that juncture — he first cut and sew the fabric before pleating them. Traditionally, (and till date) a plain piece of fabric is first pleated by professional pleaters before they are cut and assembled into garments. This is technically, the easier process, since the pleated fabrics are more prone to move and slip out of shape. Miyake's method reversed the traditional process, which meant that the initial pattern — the paper sketch and measurements — had to mathematically incorporate the excess fabric required, and the irregular scrunches induced from the pleating process.

From a garment maker and design point of view, this is a massive feat which requires thorough understanding of the pleating process — how the polyester fabric responds to the heat pleating process. And it is exactly this reason that the Pleats Please collection has always been revered in the fashion industry. One may find similar copies of pleated garments in the market, but most of them are constructed the traditional way — first pleat the fabric, then cut and sew the fabrics. Few comes close to the architecture of Pleats Please. Decades may have passed, yet this technique remains a technical feat. 

The Pleats Please Issey Miyake Edge Bounce pleated kaftan is available at matchesfashion.com at US$502 (approximately S$658).