Forgotten love… MBMJ

Many years ago, or maybe it wasn’t so long ago… I used to really like stuff by Marc by Marc Jacobs because of its quirkiness. Back then, there was often a regular update of their designs by a new mascot that they would use, whether it’s a Miss Marc or Mr. Actually, I’m not sure if it’s Miss or Mr, but I thought sometimes it looked like it could be a male. That was what drew me to the brand anyway but after some time, I dropped off. It probably isn’t sustainable for my wallet anyway haha, and to be very, very honest, I don’t need so many bags / earrings / pouches / accessories / what-have-you.

Some time back, I got to know that they are going to discontinue the line, as in this sub-line would be consolidated into the main Marc Jacobs brand. I am not a big Marc Jacobs fan simply because I don’t follow it and am generally not a fan of any single brand. It’s about affordability, one thing, and of course, I prefer diversity and variety. It’s more practical anyway. It was only recently that it became clear to me that this quirky brand is going to be no-more, and of course with most of such occurrences it means existing products become sought after since they will no longer be produced. It’s not about it becoming a collectible (these are not Chanels or Hermes) but rather this quirky brand would just disappear. And the most important thing, the remaining products are typically sold at discounted prices! Call me a cheapo but if you can get the same authentic thing at a fraction of the original price, why not? Savings are always good. Not thinking about the ‘savings’ from if I don’t buy them at all. That’s another perspective.

So after what seemed like a long time, I decided to splurge on bags again! I can’t remember but the last time I bought a bag was probably last April when I went to Tokyo? And it was an Agnes B. tote that wasn’t all that pricey. Compared with what I used to buy, that was really a fraction. With MBMJ this time, I bought two at a go, from different sources though – one online because there was a further promotion from the website I got from, and another from Isetan as they were also offering it at a discount.

Check out both my buys, pictures taken courtesy of Nordstrom.com.

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The one on left is fruit-print canvas tote with lemon/lime prints all over. I really liked this when I saw it online, although what caught my attention in the beginning was the white/cream version that carried cherry prints instead of lime. I decided to get the black version because we all know how white or cream based canvas bags are a disaster waiting to happen over the longer term.

On the right is similar to something that I already have, a cushion-y tote that’s so soft and comfortable to carry, not to mention light. I was told that this is a bit more fragile as compared to the one I currently have so I was advised to not overload it for example, with a laptop. I had wanted to get the medium-sized tote for this but as I was carrying it, the sales assistant told me the smaller version compares better with my current piece and the medium would be a little too big because of my size. Well, I won’t call myself petite or anything but tend towards a thinner frame now so probably the medium-sized tote would overwhelm me.

The combined prices of both of these bags probably add up to just 10 percent, or definitely below 20 percent, of what one of those past bags cost. Of course neither of these are leather so that explains the lower price tags, but leather bags are much harder to maintain and heavier to carry. Also, with these it just means I won’t feel as much heartache when they become worn with use and they are more utilitarian and versatile for my daily usage!

Festive shopping!

The year-end is always a time when the shopping malls are thronged with crowds, whether they are people out shopping for Christmas presents for friends and family, or simply people out to snare a good bargain or two due to the slew of year-end/season-end/whatever-else sales. For me, I shop throughout the year, but generally towards the year-end and of course carrying forward into January (an excuse for CNY shopping then), shopping seems like an inevitable, must-do activity. Even though the malls are packed with annoying crowds and the cashier and gift-wrap queues are horrendous, if I exercise a little patience, they can actually be bearable and in some cases I even enjoy all that buzz that adds up to the festive mood.

But this year, I have not really done much Christmas shopping. Well, before I went to Shanghai, while I was milling around the shops at the airport, I’d actually bought myself a Christmas gift of sorts, but other than that, I have yet to really go to the shops to get anything. Maybe this year, there isn’t really a pressing need to get gifts but we’ll see. Due to some unexpected twist of events in the last couple of days, a trip that I’d planned got postponed so it means that I have a few days to head to town and perhaps get myself into the yuletide mood, see whatever there is of the Christmas light-up and buy some gifts.

It is also different this year because I didn’t get anything yet from Crabtree & Evelyn. In past years, I’d join my friend for the Members Preview/Sale and get some toiletries and also their delicious cookies. This year I didn’t because apparently, a toiletries set I bought last year has not been opened yet. I got a travel set consisting of some items from the Pomegranate range last Christmas and I’d only just taken out the Hand Therapy for use when I went to Shanghai recently.

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I am really glad that this item, which I first discovered a couple of years back, made a return last year, or is it now part of the permanent range, but anyway I really love the scent, even more than my original favourite that was La Source. It contains argan and grapeseed, but in general what I like about this scent is that it has a tinge of sweetness in its smell, yet it is not too strong, and still provides a fairly refreshing feel. The hand therapy isn’t the best of hand creams that I’ve used, but it suffices to a certain extent although it does leave a little greasy trail for a short while. Nevertheless, this is my new favourite from C&E!20131204-153902.jpg

shopping for make-up stuff

Which was exactly what I did at the Tangs Citibank 12% rebate event. Quite frankly, I am not a make-up person and I don’t shop for cosmetics frequently; only when I need something do I ever check out make-up counters so places like Sephora, despite it being a haven for make-up junkies (and of course including other associated toiletries products and accessories) have yet to be an alluring place for me even if on some occasions I have walked into their huge bright sparkly stores.

I think the last 12% rebate event wasn’t too long ago, because I also went there to replenish a blusher that had run out completely. Yes that is how I use some of my make-up items like blusher and loose powder, until their very last particle. Other things like eyeshadows are usually binned before they pan, because of infrequent usage and also I don’t want to take my chance on the shelf lives of some of these products.

The visit to Tangs, which was a quick one, as I had planned to just get the Chanel loose powder that had also run out and leave. When I got there it was past 8:30pm, and there were still shoppers who like me, had just arrived, but the crowd wasn’t overwhelming like those at the Isetan private sales, or maybe Tangs is now much bigger in terms of shop floor and movable space after their major renovation, or it was just the timing. Nevertheless, the make-up counters were quite well-prepared for the event as there were plenty of sales/beauty associates around to tend to customers. I was served within a minute of arriving at the Chanel counter, and the SA who served me was really friendly and helpful. I didn’t get her name though but I was quite happy with the prompt and polite service.   

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And in addition to the loose powder I purchased, I was given two samples of a eye cream to try. If I like it enough, it could be the next eye-care product to try when the Origins eye cream/balm runs out. Haha.

So that part of the shopping was purposeful and to-the-point, pretty much how I shop these days when it comes to cosmetics. But then I decided to pop over to Bobbi Brown too, because when I received the Tangs mailer, I saw that they were selling the Pink Coffret set, which contained a pink blush and brush, a limited edition item sold in support of the Breast Cancer Foundation Beam15 project, where Estee Lauder had indicated that 100% of the profits (not sure how much that works out to be though) will go to this project. Being able to do my part to support a cause, and as well get a new blusher, I had wanted to buy this the last time it was launched but it sold out really quickly, and this time I was lucky to lay my hands on the last piece last night! I didn’t try the blush colour to see if it would suit me, but I guess it should be fine, even if I have not tried Bobbi Brown blushes before, and the last blush I got from the other recent 12% rebate event was MAC’s Well-Dressed, also a pink tinge; let’s see in future how they compare with each other.  20131004-093703.jpg

So these were my spoils from the short trip to Tangs, and yay to the 12% rebates earned that can go towards offsetting future shopping at Tangs! I quite enjoy shopping in Tangs and if I weren’t so tired after Bikram Yoga last night, I might have considered venturing to the upper levels to check out the shoes and clothes. Oh well, maybe I’ll set aside more time for shopping when it gets closer to Christmas. I think I need a wardrobe revamp, and I need to seriously declutter and throw out more of those clothes that I know I won’t be wearing anymore!

heartbreak

I was searching under one of my pages that was “dedicated” to posting pictures of the bags that I own, a used-to-be hobby of sorts, but I was unable to find any pictures of the only Miu Miu bag I own, taken in its past glory before the effects of wear-and-tear and climate set in. Maybe I will be able to find a past picture somewhere in my pictures archive I don’t know, let’s see.

But it has been some years since I bought it, and during a certain period I used it pretty frequently. The laziness bug that is deeply ingrained in me causes me to use a bag repeatedly, even though we all know that bags, like shoes, and perhaps even clothes, need rotation. We can’t keep wearing the same pair of shoes or carrying the same bag, expecting that they will last us for a long time.

I put away the bag for a while, maybe forgot about it, and when I took it out again one fine day, I realised that it had suffered from some mould attack. After another long time interval, I finally got over my procrastination and sent the bag for cleaning. They told me that they won’t be able to get rid of the black spots totally because they had already stained the leather, so if I wanted to I should consider dyeing the leather to a dark shade like black or brown. The reason I got this, which is a light baby-blue/grey shade (can’t really describe it properly) was because I liked this colour back then, even though I guess black and brown were also available then. Of course, going forward now, I will err on the side of caution and be unimaginative when it comes to colours for bags and just choose dark colours.

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From afar, it still looks decent to a certain extent, even though you can tell that the bag has definitely seen better days. 😦

But up close, the spots are still rather visible, and of all places, they will definitely be in the most visible place, since this is also the area that comes into contact with me/my skin or rain/shine, etc. most.

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Someone just asked me if I did a lot of shopping since I was in Paris. Well, no, I told her. This is one of the reasons. I can’t take care of them well, so I think I should minimise more of such future heartache and heartbreak.

Wow, I certainly do sound like a reformed or rehabilitated shopaholic/bagaholic don’t I? WIthout even going through any therapy sessions or the likes!

small spot of Parisien shopping

There were hordes of summer holiday-makers in Paris at this time, and needless to say many of them were Asians. From the speech, they were of various nationalities, Singaporeans included, forming queues outside the luxury boutiques like Louis Vuitton and Chanel. I wonder if we Asians are only aware of these brands that when we travel overseas these are the only shops we go to, or we want what everyone else has. I went to the Chanel flagship at Rue Cambon, took a walk around and decided to come out. Granted, I used to and still am pretty enamoured with pretty leather pieces that I see because the smell of leather can be so intoxicating at times I wish I could own more leather bags! But it is quite senseless to put my hard-earned money on a leather product that because I am unable to devote absolute TLC to in our climate that can be really unkind to leather, money spent just goes down the drain. I don’t even call it an investment like some would say, because if I am unable to take care of it, what investment value does it have, say 10 years down the road? I have witnessed the wear and tear and gradual deterioration in condition of my bags and sorry but money really comes by tough. Unless you don’t have to work for your money then maybe it’s a different story altogether. Unfortunately I am no heiress privy to a multi-million inheritance.

Still, I did do some shopping while out at Paris during the weekend there. Weather was fantastic because the rain held up and it was bright and sunny, yet not too hot. It was pretty scorching on Sunday when I was out for hours under the sun without the benefit of much cloud cover in the sky, but Saturday was good. These were my spoils.

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I know, Zara and Longchamp is so predictable but Zara is cheaper in Europe! I was in Zara a couple of days ago and a price tag that read 39.95 Euros was somehow costing S$79.90, which totally baffled me. I bought that item by the way, which I didn’t see when I was in Paris, otherwise I’d just have killed myself. I am pretty unadventurous when it coems to shopping for clothes, so my usual places to buy clothes from are Zara, sometimes Mango, and what else? Someone please bring me shopping!

And Longchamp… ok I wouldn’t say that prices are great but for the price I paid for the Le Pliage canvas foldable bags and my heavy use of them, I think they are indeed great value for money items! I have a few of the Le Pliage items bought from some previous trips but a medium long-handle that I carry in Singapore to yoga and abroad for my business trips showed that 65 Euros I paid for it was totally worth it. There was this Longchamp bag that was introduced sometime ago that I was lusting after for a while but never really made the plunge to buy, a full-leather bag in the same shape as the Le Pliage canvas tote, but with short handles and a long strap that can be used for cross-body slinging for the medium sizes and above. I thought of getting the small but then the strap is too short so I thought the medium made more sense. Colour-wise, I really loved the mustard yellow and red that they had for summer, but red seemed a bit too much for me for daily wear, and yellow would show up dirt more easily. Considering that I am one of the worst persons when it comes to taking care of bags, I decided to stay on the conventional route and chose a dark classic colour instead, dark blue. Was deliberating between camel and blue, but eventually settled on the blue. 20130626-090134.jpg

The lighting was amber, which explained why the bag looks like it’s black instead of blue. But I’m glad I got it, so now I can finally stop thinking about it. I was actually thinking of getting another medium long-handled Le Pliage in mustard and thought I could get it at Charles de Gaulle airport, but unfortunately they didn’t have that colour in the outlet that was in Terminal 1 of the airport. Oh well, perhaps the next time then.

bowing down to consumerism

Hello from Paris, the city of lights or as some called it, the city of love. For many, I think it’s the city of shopping, based on the hordes of tourists I see everywhere spending towards the benefit of the French economy. I am not exactly a statistic of that. On Saturday, when the shops are all open in full force, well at least the areas that I was at, walking along Rue St. Honore can be an extremely dangerous affair if you have weak willpower. The cobblerstoned street, flanked by all the various brands that you can think of, luring you in with the glitzy window displays. I don’t know, maybe I have greater priorities in life now but shopping doesn’t seem to factor as high anymore. Despite that everyone’s gushing about shopping in Paris and coming out triumphant from the Chanel flagship at Rue Cambon, I went in, took a short turn and glanced at the accessories, before emerging empty-handed. Walking past the Pradas, Louis Vuittons and so-on, I did a double take on the pieces of leather lining the shelves, and what would have got me really excited and tempted to walk in and swipe my plastic a couple of years back, no longer hold as strong a pull. What’s wrong with me?

Sunday in Paris is a totally different story altogether. Although Champs Elysees still brims with the busloads of tourists with queues forming outside Louis Vuitton, Laduree, Paul and Brioche Doree (yes, even bakeries!), the rest of the shopping activity takes a backseat on this day. The places of interest are abuzz with people still though, with (again) queues and crowds forming at the Louvre, Notre Dame, and the Palais museums. I was just walking around and getting baked in the scorching sun. Even though the day started slightly chilly, it got gradually warmer and the merciless sun without the benefit of any shade made my skin burn. And all this was below 30 degrees. Just a few days before the temperature was sliding pretty low close to 10. It’s beautiful weather that we had in the weekend, but today the rain came back and throughout most parts of the day, it was just gloomy and wet.

Maybe I am just sensitive but I do find some Parisiens snooty, even the ones working in the cafes. I would really have liked to sit at a sidewalk cafe and enjoy a coffee and maybe sink my teeth into a tart but these cafes don’t make me feel welcomed at all. The wait-staff seem to look down on you if you are not having a fancy big dinner at their cafes, and so after trying it once, I ended up just ducking into a Starbucks. I don’t suddenly feel all the warm hospitality that I would have received in some Starbucks outlets elsewhere in the world but at least there seem to be less animosity. It’s weird how even in the supermarkets, the cashiers appear judgmental.

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Years ago, someone told me something that I made a joke out of. As I reflect back on those words today, I think maybe there is some truth in it after all. In many areas of my life, I need to change my perspective, but it can be so tough. I’m trying and each day I struggle to remind myself about it. Maybe if I think that this is not going to last much longer it will get easier to steer myself in that direction.

I can’t seem to stop eating. OMG!

Color Wash

I first got to know this place many years ago, and remembered sending some items for professional cleaning. In my case, I always waited till I was desperate for some help that I stopped procrastinating and sent some of the bags for cleaning at Color Wash. Of course, by that time, what they could do for me is also limited, e.g. stains from oxidisation remains and the unsavoury odour of mouldy leather still lingers, but definitely, there was a marked improvement in how the bags look.

Unfortunately, I have not taken before and after pictures to compare how the bags that I have sent for cleaning look, but somehow maybe it’s just psychological that they look better and acquired a slightly more pristine look than when I first brought them in to the cleaners.

Price used to be S$50 for a bag I think, many years back when I sent a Celine Bittersweet for cleaning. Imagine all that amount of leather, I would think more than 95% of the bag is covered in leather at that price, it’s definitely worth it. I paid an additional amount for water-proofing too, but that I couldn’t recall. Since then I haven’t really used the bag so it actually still remained in the plastic cover that they used to contain the bag when I collected it. I just knew recently, based on what the lady at the shop told me, that I’m supposed to take it of the plastic cover immediately and put it back into the dust bag, so… hmm, I hope I haven’t done further damage to it.

Prices have since gone up of course, that is only to be expected. Just this year, I have sent in another 2 bags for cleaning, one because of mould and another because of oxidation. My takeaway from this is that I should really refrain from buying bags that are of a light colour, because the sky-blue (or a little greyish) Miu Miu that I had acquired a slight yellowish tinge from oxidation I guess, and perhaps due to the occasional rain plus definitely the using (and probably perspiration from me), coupled with lack of care for it before returning it to its dust bag, mould started to grow on it. 😦

It looks a little better now, but again I have not used it. The quality of Miu Miu bags aren’t that great, or it could be a user problem, because this bag I had come with tassles that have started to fray! Omg. I have the same problem with the BBag in RH but I thought for the latter it was due to intensive use and abuse. So maybe it really is the user’s fault…

Years back, I bought a white canvas Prada while I was in Venice, used it a couple of times and then one day when I wanted to use it again (must have been really long), I realised it is no longer white. Instead it looked yellowish! Urgh! In the past, the Color Wash I went to at China Square Central declined to clean it for me because it’s a hand-painted bag and they were afraid that they will remove the paint in the process. But this time, they (at Mandarin Gallery) agreed to. I collected the bag last week, and although they have tried their best, the white is lost forever, but not the paint, it just turned yellow.

Anyway, now cleaning costs S$80 (for the last 2 I cleaned), and although it’s a bit steep I think it’s quite a good thing to do for your leather bags, especially if you are like me who do not shower TLC on your leather babies. Take it as a regular maintenance for the bags, particularly in our humid climate that is so unfriendly to leather, and sorry but I don’t have the luxury of staying in a place big enough to dedicate some spaces (maybe with climate-controlled humidity and temperature?) for them.

The moral of the story for me is that I should really not buy any more bags. Well, it is a hard uphill journey, even if I think I am making good progress. I bet you will never think that I’d say this, but I have too many bags that which I do not use (and no I don’t think I will sell them, and I most definitely won’t be giving away any), do not care for properly, and it’s a major disservice to them. On a day-to-day basis, I just need a versatile carry-all, and after some time, a bag is just a bag, so long as it serves its purpose, it doesn’t need to be the IT bag. How long can an IT bag last anyway, and these days, it seems like everyone on the street is carrying some IT bag so there is no longer any exclusivity in owning a piece of leather.

Let’s see how my plan pans out. One a year isn’t too many but yet it will just add to the numbers, but right now, believe it or not, I do not have any idea what I should get, even if I were to want to splurge on a nice leather bag for myself when my birthday comes around!