Up & Coming Designer: Juan Carlos Obando

in collaboration with Vault Couture as seen at: 

It’s hard to imagine that a guy who a few years back had no idea who Versace was, is a: designing clothes himself now and b: has the likes of Amy Adams or Julia Roberts to name a few, wearing his magnetizing evening gowns to W’s Golden Globes party for example.

Yet this is no product of someone’s imagination but rather a true story of the life of Juan Carlos Obando.

Prior to discovering his designer gene, while at the advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi and working on car commercials that required ladies to wear the dress to impress kind of clothing, Juan Carlos apparently decided he should learn how to make them.

You would think that’s foolish but fast forward a few years and you are looking at a fantastic winter 2014 collection. Evening wear is all about leg baring halter gowns which are graceful, glitzy and very glamorous. They also seem to evoke the spirit of 2008 Best Costume Design for Atonement, nominee Jacqueline Durran and her emerald green, bias cut silk gown worn by Keira Knightley.

We got to see pajamas , loose and long sleeves satin blouses too for those summer nights when you just don’t feel like going for the bomb-shell look although the touch of glamour stays present in deep plunging necklines and floor sweeping skirts in caramel hue.

We´ll keep a close eye on his future collections!


Getting a bamboo tattoo in Bangkok

in collaboration with Where Sidewalks End as seen at 

photo: Aroon Thaewchatturat

Bangkok is a giant city. As Ian Ord had once mentioned to me, it nearly houses the whole of Australia’s population.
How different is it from the rest of the world? Very! Food wise for starters, it’s one of the most diverse selections of nearly anything you could imagine (and some that you couldn’t) – although I did, surprisingly, eat my way through just about anything that doesn’t crawl.
As a rule, when I leave home, changing one cosy bed for another is not on my to do list and as appealing as that may seem, every minute spent lazing about the poolside is a minute not spent taking in the new land. And what a land Thailand is to take in!
We touched down around 6pm and it wasn’t before half past ten that we got to our hotel. As it turns out our taxi driver had poor orientation skills, though in a city that big you can’t really blame the guy. It kicked in; we were in Bangkok, seemingly hundreds of thousands of miles away from home; time to roll with the flow.
Sak Yant Bamboo Tattoo - A team to deliver
It’s a team effort getting your Sak Yant Bamboo Tattoo – photo: Aroon Thaewchatturat
The mission of locating an Irish pub Dubliner, where we were to meet Ian and his friends, was no easy ride either. A few wrong directions and a couple of dead end streets and we were finally grabbing the right doorknob. One taste of good old, refreshing lager and right in the middle of all that humid hustle, my peace was finally restored.
In my head, that was a night just like any other night out with friends, riddled with laughter and casual conversation, right up to the point where Ian got up and said, “Do you want to see it?” and showed me the Yant Paed Tidt inked on his back. My dark eyes sprang open in wonder as if this ancient magic had left his body for moment and danced around the room, tantalizing my desire to possess it even more. They say it takes a little pain to fully get a grip on joy. In my new unexplored world of bustling Bangkok and the sacred ancient bamboo tattoo, that began to make more sense than ever. I was a stranger to inking culture, but I was no stranger to what this represented and the only thing missing now was a lasting reminder.
Fast forward to three weeks later and I am kneeling in front of an impressive ensemble of deities, trying my best not to turn my back to any of them. In a thick stifling air of the tiny sacred room my hands were glued to each other as I kneeled, feet aside, in prayer. A prayer was being chanted, of which I was to mimic. Each syllable echoed endlessly in my ear like a song stuck on repeat. I became entranced.
Balmy, sweet incense fumes danced around the room and made their way into my nostrils numbing my senses further still. When the prayer finished I stuck a few burning joss incense sticks beside many past fulfilled dreams. I was then handed a tiny basket filled with flowers that I was to offer to Ajarn Neng, my bamboo tattoo master of ceremonies.
Sak Yant Bamboo Tattoo - Sanja' s Ink
Sanja’ s Ink – photo: Aroon Thaewchatturat

Getting my Bamboo Tattoo

Finally, my back was bare and facing a long narrow bamboo tattoo needle, tip drenched in dark, shining black ink. There was no going back. Dripping, dark, decisive stings penetrated my back over and over again. Each time they got closer to the bone, they turned more and more into bittersweet pain. As time slowly tapped away, the voices in that tiny room grew pale and distant. The room filled with silence and I was alone with my master, who was tirelessly working his spell into the fabric of my skin. I felt each ‘u-na-lom’ as it was was cast on the top of each of the five lines of my fresh bamboo tattoo.
It was as if I could feel all worldly desire leaving my body and turning all that matters into right here and right now. Sensations were put to rest. All that was left was love… and my Haw Taew sak yant, to forever protect and guide me.
I will always remember my sacred Ink Experience, when I was introduced to the ancient sub-culture of the bamboo tattoo of Thailand.


Last Saturday I was heading to a down town night club for a gin and tonic with my girls. When we got to Fortuny the place was full and I suddenly found myself swinging and swaying, chatting casually with some new acquaintances. Then it happened.

‘So, what do you do exactly?’ a voice from behind me said. I turned and replied ‘I write, I’m a writer’ to that the man behind a slightly astounded face said ‘Ah, and what about?’ ‘About fashion, about new trends in the industry, catwalk reviews, that kind of stuff.’

I might’ve as well said ‘about pretty expensive things to wear and people who like to play dress up’ as all was suddenly clearer, less impressive and I got a ‘well if it’s what you like doing’ comment and that was that.

A notion lingered in the air; somehow writing about fashion makes writing less profoundly relevant and certainly less intellectually engaging just because it’s writing about fashion. That and how I dress had me safely tucked away in what could be called the ‘superficial category’

But how exactly does an interest in fashion label one superficial? I chatted with Cristina Codeso, fashion designers for Corte Ingles, a colleague and a friend, hoping to get to the bottom of the matter.

Wherever there is a debate about fashion an echo of the archetypal question is heard:  Is fashion art or do you have to be superficial to qualify for the industry?

Cris: Fashion is a way of life. The way I dress is a reflection of my feelings and my creativity and it’s not just about clothes, it’s about finding beauty in everything that surrounds you. We all have different ways of expressing ourselves, you wouldn’t call singers superficial for singing and his song is nothing but a way for him to express his creativity and what he is feeling.

Are we defined by what we wear?

Cris: What we choose to wear says a lot about a person but it does not define him or her. Even when we don’t put any thought into what we wear there is a messages in there for the outside world. How we dress shows what our likes and dislikes are whether we want it or not. One expresses his religious beliefs or lack of it through clothes as well.

3. Why do you think caring about appearances and style trends comes across as superficial?

Cris: It’s simple really. We buy clothes and the fact that this expression involves money exchanging hands it looks as if it’s only about consumerism and not about expressing ones personality. People who don’t like fashion choose only to see the consumerism side of it and neglect the creativity and feeling behind it. To the world outside the industry it may seem it’s always about chasing the latest trend but it is a lot more then that. 

Cristina Codeso, designer at El Corte Ingles

 Do you think people outside of the industry see the work as unnecessary?

Cris: Certainly some people do. However, it’s one of the oldest industries out there and body adornment is a basis human need. Like in any line of work, being a professional in this industry evolves a lot of hard work. One relays heavily on inspiration and that doesn’t always come easily. You need to be very resourceful.

What made you choose a career in fashion?

Cris: I always knew I wanted to get into fashion business. The desire to express creativity in some way was always present and designing clothes is the only way I know how to express it. It gives meaning to everything I do and I can’t imagine working in a different industry that doesn’t involve creativity.

 As professionals of the fashion industry have you ever felt people didn’t take you seriously?

Cris: Some people seem to be under the impression it is all about partying and looking pretty which makes them look down on the industry but there is a lot of work that goes into assembling a collection. You need to know your stuff and you need to be capable of continuously reinventing yourself.
 Tell me about a negative experience you had that was related to being judged by what you are wearing.

Cris: I’ve had people make negative comments about what I am wearing. High heels for example, seem to often send a message across that who ever is wearing them is not to be taken seriously but that doesn’t affect me. I see these comments as a reflection of their or personality and superficiality for that matter. It’s a problem of the society we live in.
 What do you have to say to the people who look down on fashion industry?

Cris: For starters, they shouldn’t judge a book by its covers, which is ironic as this is what they feel the fashion industry is all about; judging people based on their exterior.

The more we think about it the more it makes sense. Society has an issue with creativity it cannot hang on its wall, watch on TV or listen to on the radio. It cannot simply turn it off or take it down when it doesn’t like what it’s seeing. It has to settle with coexisting and that can be frustrating. Can we honestly claim that people in fashion are any different than anyone else?


We are all witness to a cult that this singer and songwriter created and maintained for over four decades, challenging the core belief of rock music, fashion and public opinion of its day; but what makes him deserving of the best dressed title? 
David Bowie’s daring style choices had our undivided attention ever since we laid our eyes on Ziggy Stardust, Aladdine Sane and many more but so did the appearance of Queen Elizabeth I, Duchess of Devonshire and Georgina Cavendish. It is Davie Bowie however who won the title with 48.5 percent of the votes.
We have seen Bowie through the 60’s and the embroidered short-sleeved jacket, the one legged knitted stage suit, the well dressed Thin White Duke and other outings of perplexing personalities all of which had many not believing what they were seeing.
If you are a hard fan of David Bowie then you know there was nothing predictable about his style. In fact, he just might as well serve as the encyclopaedia example for artful reinvention, fashion being his tool for channelling individuality, morality and much more. Can we then put it all down to an impressive ensemble of stage attire or is it that David Bowie was brilliant at seizing our attention creatively and repeatedly shaking us down to our core; staggeringly at ease when hopping out of one outfit and into another (completely different then the previous) and still managing to swim on top? You might argue he surpassed other candidates on the list by taking his public stunts extremely seriously but when you consider the likes of Beau Brummell, who is said to have spent 6 hours a day getting ready, it’s hard not to look for the rub elsewhere.
Bowie’s advantage point seems to be the alchemy up his sleeve, all the different ways he would swim against the current and make us all want to tag along. We could ask whether he is the voice that speaks to a rebel we carry inside; an urge we foster that’s repeatedly refusing to follow suit. This notion could justify a lot more including why so many are lining up to see what stage shocking stunt (though hardly as artistically well contemplated) is Miley Cyrus going to pull off next. There is little doubt left we should be looking not at playing dress up but at the intellectual depth of the wearer.
Bowie’s ways of painting mental pictures in our minds by looks only seems to be what got all the green buttons to light up this time round.