The French Withdrawal.

Yup. My French term has officially ended and I’m feeling so lost, so grumpy, and so terribly unhappy.

For eight weeks, I looked forward to waking up at 7am every Tuesday and Thursday morning for French Class. Even if that meant an hour-long journey. Even if that meant train rides with too many grumpy (sometimes sweaty) commuters. I fight for room to stand most of the time, and sometimes I fight for air to breathe. But always… I’ll be revising my French.

I met an old friend a month back, who was shocked that I had left work.

“To do what?” he asked. (Demanded, almost.)

“Study French.”

“What the heck for? Who are you going to speak French to? Go back to work!”

I smiled and changed the subject. How can I explain the joy that language… that learning brings? I would fail miserably. Besides, if he couldn’t see the reason behind exploring something new, how would he be able to accept my explanation… or any explanation for that matter.

Three months into my self-imposed sabbatical, I realised nothing gave me more pleasure than when I am learning, experimenting and doing something new and challenging. My days were filled with driving and French. (And I had initially intended to take either Swedish or German at the same time. Multi-tasker alert.)

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve had people shudder in disgust on the train when I attempted the French ‘R’ sound. Know that awful sound some people make when they are hacking up phlegm? Yea. That’s the one.

I almost cried in frustration at home – twice – because homework was difficult. (Yes. When I told B I wanted to be the top student, I was only half-joking. What to do? NYG Syndrome.)

I am convinced that the lesson Guillaume had with us on Numbers: Seventy to One million etched permanent frown lines on my forehead.  I went home and ‘screamed’ on my Facebook status “I THOUGHT I WAS LEARNING FRENCH, NOT MATH!”

But to have the freedom to do whatever I want and learn whatever I like is such a treat… and luxury. So how can I not be thankful?

Now that the term is over, I still find myself waking up early on Thursday, all ready to go. Only now, there is technically nowhere to go to.

I’m not sure when I’ll be able to register for the next term – an important journey in June will interfere with French plans. I’m going to miss Guillaume – who is everything I want my teacher to be: attentive, meticulous, and so generous with his time and knowledge… I’m going to miss my supportive classmates…

In the meantime, I’m learning phrases and sentences on my own, twice a week. I scroll through my friends’ numbers on my phone so I can practise reciting their numéros de téléphone in French. It’s an uphill battle, not knowing if I got the nuances correct; missing out on the much needed interaction.

But when I started on this journey, I had a goal: to be fluent enough to watch French movies without the aid of subtitles. By hook or by crook, I’m going to get there.

 

Dapper Dudes

Back in September last year, Abercrombie and Fitch caused a scandal before its flagship store had even opened in Singapore.

Photo courtesy of The Straits Times

This ginormous billboard of a male beefcake with his jeans hung dangerously low had offended some locals, who sought to have the authorities remove the billboard.

I found the incident, which has been labelled a ‘controversy’ extremely amusing. That said, I’m glad the people who thought it inappropriate stood their ground and made their feelings about this questionable advert known.

Am I a prude? Oh hell no. But I believe that a) some things, like your privates, should be kept just that way: P-R-I-V-A-T-E, b) if your jeans go that low, honey, they are the WRONG SIZE and c) if you sell good clothes, you shouldn’t have to depend on the sexuality of your models to make a sale.

The only shock I got from the billboard was when I was driving from a distance towards Knightsbridge (where A&F would land), I thought I was staring at the body of a naked woman. =/ CAN YOU BLAME ME?! HIS PECS ARE SO HUGE! And I apologise, but I find beefcakes rather off-putting. How… How can I date a man who’s chest is more ample than mine?

Anyway. All  that’s fine. Well and good. A&F docked here and tons of people went to tickle/touch/grope/pinch/smack the seemingly never-ending line of yummy, yummy models that surrounded the store. Some people asked for kisses, some for hugs, and some to be carried. But wait a minute… Does A&F sell … clothes? I forget.

Hey. I love looking at boys with features so chiseled I can open tin cans with. But allowing people to touch them just because you paid them to look good… Isn’t that kinda wrong? Will you allow your children to be groped by strangers and photographed? Will you allow your significant other to carry random strangers for sport? Will you stand topless and allow people to gawk at you in one of Singapore’s busiest streets? (Again… A&F sells what?)

Yes, yes. I know it’s a professional hazard and the models probably signed up for all these. Some people do get a kick out of this kinda attention. I cannot assume. But a company that propagates that? Can’t say I’m all hip-hip-hurray for Abercromie and Flesh.

Which is why when I heard A&F is looking to stomp its way into Savile Row, I had to do my little bit of protesting from the other side of the world. When you think Savile Row, you think history, lineage, and bespoke tailoring. For over 200 years, it held the fort for exquisite English tailoring. Even if you have never heard of it, and you’re more of a Topshop kinda kid… think of it as A&F taking over Ann Siang Hill, or your older brother who has just returned home from army camp and lying on your bed. There is a time and place and space for certain things and brands, companies and people.

A&F has no business being in Savile Row. That’s it.

The good people at The Chap believe so strongly about that, that on St. George’s Day, they staged the most sartorial protest I’d ever seen.

Man with a ‘stache. You have my heart.

From The Chap:

Allowing Abercrombie & Fitch to open a store there will irreversibly alter the character of the Row and destroy its old-world charm. We believe that there are already enough streets in London and the whole country full of global chain stores selling casual wear at inflated prices, so why should Savile Row go the same way as Oxford Street, Regent Street et al?

Many foreign visitors come to London to see where Beau Brummell had his waistcoats made, which we are pretty certain was not Abercrombie & Fitch. There is also the issue of the store’s habit of pumping cheap cologne out of its doors to entice gullible tourists in: this will affect not only the character of the Row but also its smell.

Go on. Give Three-Piece a Chance. Tweed, not Greed.

Even if you like your high street brands – do you bit to keep those brands on those trendy streets, and leave the rest of our charming, quaint streets of character alone.

Sign their petition here.

Read The Chap’s Manifesto here.

All protest pictures courtesy of Styleite.

More protest pictures by Stephanie Wolff here.

Spiderman, Spiderman. I can see your Underpants!

I love good underwear. There is just no substitute for well-made undergarments.

I don’t suppose I need to elaborate on the massive melancholy that comes with being in a pretty and expensive frock while struggling with a wedgie? Or falling down a flight of stairs in a dramatic fashion and being caught with craggy panties?

No good.

Beautiful underwear is your first line of defense, boys and girls.

The moment you put them on, they change your mood; they determine the rest of your outfit; and if your friends/the people around you are mildly-obsessive like me, they affect other’s perception of you.

Great underwear doesn’t always have to be sexy. They don’t always have to be expensive. They don’t always have to be microscopic to the point you mistake them for dental floss.

They should, however, function well for the occasion; be well-maintained and cared for; be comfortable and most importantly… CLEAN!

Check out these beautiful babies from Underwear!

Wheeeeeee!

How cute are they?!

If you’re feeling the pinch, R29 Reserve is offering a discount voucher that could mean a discount of up to 50% off. Offer expires 7th May!

Panty Paradise, here we come!

Final note: Underwear, no matter how beautiful or expensive… are meant to stay UNDER. Merci beaucoup.

Image 1 & 2 courtesy of Refinery29.

Denim Dream

Much as most of the government housing here look angular and box-y (local poet extraordinaire Alfian Sa’at akins these flats to columbariums), I love how the inhabitants make it a point to let their own personalities and stories shine through with the articles they choose to leave along the common areas, exposing snippets of themselves to the world at large.

An older estate I travelled through yesterday has just that charm.

 Sun was searing yesterday and interfering with my light.

Yes. That’s a plane flying pass.

My favourite apartment? The unit with 6 pairs of pants outside its windows featuring three pairs of jeans that complemented the colour of the block.

Denim addiction.

As I’ve mentioned before… I’m not much of a denim person. But I do appreciate how they represent so many things – loyalty, hard work, functionality, comfort, freedom. Which made me wonder about their owners – did he care more about their aesthetic or function? What was his occupation? One thing’s for sure – he loved his jeans enough to hang them with so much care – lining them up in equal-distance from one another.

Little pleasures.

Read some of Alfian’s poetry here, and here.