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T Suggests: A Restaurant Serving “Ugly” Food, a Historian’s Fashion Collection and an Hermès Fish on a Watch

By T: The New York Times Style Magazine Singapore

Dining at Kausmo is akin to dining at “someone’s house,” as co-founder Kuah Chew Sian puts it.
Dining at Kausmo is akin to dining at “someone’s house,” as co-founder Kuah Chew Sian puts it.

In Singapore, a Restaurant Serving Cosmetically Challenged Produce

“These are the biggest Brussels sprouts I’ve ever seen in my whole life,” says Kuah Chew Shian. In each of her hands, the vegetable was occupying a large portion of her palm — its pear-shaped outline making for a rather unusual sight. “This is the reason why we don’t see them in supermarkets. When we walk into supermarkets, we see all these beautiful produce. It’s filtered by the importers,” continues Kuah. “But then nature doesn’t work that way.”

A short while later, Lisa Tang, who was stationed by the island counter that stretched the length of the space — or rather, a 16-seater dining room that seemed to have been extracted from a modern contemporary house — served oddly sized Brussels sprouts and slightly scarred radishes, roasted and laid on a bed of yellow bean puree.

Across cultures, food waste goes against the moral grain. Yet, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, we squander a third of the planet’s production every year. A majority of this does not merely come from our plates: Most are hidden within conditions farther up the supply chain, where supermarket’s aesthetical standards lead to massive dumps of edible food. 

In a bid to reduce this flow of waste, Tang, 24, and Kuah, 26, began by selling “ugly” produce before co-founding their own restaurant, Kausmo — which was recently opened this year under the Les Amis Group umbrella. Tang, who cut her teeth at Primo, a full-circle farm-to-table restaurant in Maine, is the sole chef of the restaurant. While Kuah, currently undergoing her final year in business management, runs the operations of the business and assumes the role of a host-cum-educator. The dinner-only establishment is run by the two women. No servers, no kitchen staff and no fixed menu.

Kausmo’s six-course carte blanche menu offers dishes that challenge traditional food norms. For one, they have a “4O” guideline for their produce: oddly shaped, overripened, oddly sized and overstocked. Slightly overgrown cresses or cucumbers that don’t fit their packaging; these are perfectly edible food that would otherwise be thrown away. It doesn’t stop at earth-grown produce. For their meat-based mains, the D-rump (the not-so-favoured tough part of beef) is marinated for two days and made into tender chipotle-berry glazed wagyu steak. Fishes are sourced from Bear Bear Fresh, local “responsible fishermen” who sustainably procure their catch with booboo traps. These fishes are then appreciated in its entirety, where even the bones are made into stock.

“We’ve learnt to embrace the volatility of our ingredients,” says Tang. “In a city known to be able to source almost anything at any time, perhaps it’s time to slow down; better appreciate and understand our food sources and produce.” — Bianca Husodo

Kausmo, 1 Scotts Road, Shaw Centre, #03-07.

A Historian’s Private Fashion Collection Goes to The Met

Metropolitan Museum of ArtBoth promised gifts by Sandy Schreier to the Met: a Madaleine Vionnet evening dress, Spring 1931 (left) and a Gilbert Adrian evening dress, Fall 1945 (right).
Both promised gifts by Sandy Schreier to the Met: a Madaleine Vionnet evening dress, Spring 1931 (left) and a Gilbert Adrian evening dress, Fall 1945 (right).

At just 3 or 4 years old, fashion historian Sandy Schreier’s private collection already started to materialise. Raised by her father while he worked as a furrier at the Russeks department store in Manhattan, Schreier’s fervent love for fashion became clear to her father’s clientele, many of whom had sent her coveted couture pieces that were only worn once, or sometimes not at all. 

Even at a young age, Schreier refused to wear any of them, viewing them as art-pieces in their own right. Famously said in an interview back in 1999 and extensively quoted since then — “I’m interested in fashion as an art form, I wouldn’t strap a Picasso to my back.”

This year, starting November 27, Schreier’s collection will get to break out from their temperature-, humidity- and light-controlled warehouse, and be displayed as how she had always seen them — in a gallery as exhibited art pieces, and in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

The upcoming exhibition In Pursuit of Fashion: The Sandy Schreier Collection at the Anna Wintour Costume Center will have 80 of Schreier’s cherished 15,000-piece vintage collection on display. Notable items include the metal-mesh Roberto Rojas minidress Twiggy had worn in the famous Richard Avedon photo from 1967, Valentino ensembles worn by Jacqueline Kennedy, and rare archival pieces by Schiaparelli, Chanel, Lanvin, Fortuny, and Adrian. 

The pieces chronicle 96 years of fashion history — the oldest will be a 1908 illustration of a Paul Poiret design, and the newest is a 2004 Philip Treacy hat — effectively encapsulating the many fashion statements that the 20th century had to offer. 

The first time that the public will ever get to have such an in-depth viewing of Sandy Schreier’s private collection, every piece is also inextricably linked to her personal relationship with fashion. Through the immersive tracing of fashion history, Schreier bares her story of becoming one of the world’s most revered and prolific collectors today. — Chen Yi An

In Pursuit of Fashion: The Sandy Schreier Collection will be on display at The Costume Institute, from 27 November 2019 to 17 May 2020.

The Hermès Fish as the Centrepiece of a Watch

HermèsA watchmaker assembling the Hermès Arceau Grands Fonds timepiece.
A watchmaker assembling the Hermès Arceau Grands Fonds timepiece.

In fashion, Hermès and scarf are considered a typical linguistic collocation. As represented in the iconic Anne Hathaway scene in "The Devil Wears Prada", and on the broken arm of Grace Kelly, the American actress who became the Queen of Monaco, Hermès scarves have been wrapped up in pop culture for the longest time. Its iconic orange boxes are known to contain abstract, decorative designs stitched with a strong sense of history and luxury. The “Grands Fonds” scarf designed in 1992 by French artist Annie Faivre is one such design representing technical art prowess and imagination. 

Its brightly coloured exotic fish is now reflected on the dial of the Hermès Arceau watch, rendering an understated yet distinctive visage that of an objet d’art. The result is a watch completed in a music of underwater colours in turquoise, blue and yellow. Despite its appearance, the watch is not simply a beautiful watch but one that radiates the art of crafts ethos of Hermès.

Designed in a miniature composition (approximately 0.04 of a Grands Fonds scarf reproduced to scale), a single dial, composed of a myriad hand-crafted tesserae, requires over a month of work by the house artisans. The micromosaic effect is created by assembling tiny coloured glass strands which have to be individually filed to the same height to form a flat surface — a veritable technical challenge for the glassmaker. In true spirit of the house of Hermès, the Arceau Grands Fonds watch is a product of uncompromising expertise that triggers emotion. — Lynette Kee

The Hermès Arceau Grands Fonds watch is available in a limited quantity of six.