Monthly Archives: July 2015

Back to school brings out big-time shopping

With the start of a new academic year less than a month away, families have begun checking items off the requisite school supply lists.

Though it’s not a traditional holiday like Valentine’s Day or Halloween, back-to-school shopping is the biggest spending season of the year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Last year it was estimated consumers would spend $74.9 billion between July and September to get K-12 and college students ready for school, according to an annual NRF survey. Of that amount, $48.4 billion was anticipated for college spending.


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By comparison, shopping during the most recent Christmas season was expected to top $614 billion.

The NRF recently polled more than 6,400 adults with children in K-12 and college and found 29 percent plan to spend more than last year to prepare for the upcoming school year, up roughly 5 percent from a year ago.

For Williamson County parent Allena Bell and her four children, back to school not only means buying supplies, but also giving back.

Bell said she planned on taking her children — 6-year-old Grayson, 10-year-old Avery, 11-year-old Chandler and 13-year-old Tres — to Wal-Mart bright and early at 7 a.m. Friday to buy school supplies and avoid the crowds.

“My kids are empowered to go and get everything on their lists themselves with their own carts,” Bell said. “At (ages) 6, 10, 11 and 13, this is true empowerment for them and that’s one of the reasons we don’t do it during the crowded hours.”

Her children, who attend three schools — New Hope Academy, Freedom Intermediate and Freedom Middle School — also learn the importance of giving back while they prepare for the school year, Bell said.

Along with buying extra dry erase markers to give to teachers during Christmas, Bell’s children donate additional supplies to Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief ministry that provides shoebox gifts to children in need in foreign countries.

And before the school year kicks off, they also volunteer for GraceWorks Ministries’ Big Backpack Giveaway community event.

The giveaway provides backpacks filled with school supplies to 2,000 students in need throughout Williamson County.

Bell, who is a school board member for Franklin Special School District, said this year is the fourth year her and her children have helped fill up backpacks for the event.

Even though back-to-school season isn’t a holiday, Bell said it’s a time of year they look forward to.

“It makes for a fun experience for our family,” she said.

Back-to-school spending by grade level

According to the National Retail Federation, households were expected to spend the following amounts in preparation for the 2014-15 school year.

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16 things only fashion girls will understand

From sneaking shopping bags past your loved ones to pretending to be embarrassed when you get stopped for a street style photo, we look at the 16 things all fashion girls will relate to…

Scroll below for the full list

1. Not leaving the house until you’ve tried on 36 outfits before deciding that the first one was definitely the best.

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2. Leaving the house and realising that the first one definitely wasn’t the best and actually number 14 was way better but it’s just too late to turn back.

3. Wearing shoes you 100% can’t walk in but they totally make your outfit and no way are you taking them off.

4. Your significant other is also your official OOTD (outfit of the day, duh!) photographer and is sick of you shouting ‘PHOTO!’ whenever you spot a white background (white = Instagram-friendly, obvs).

5. Wearing sunglasses whenever, wherever and no matter what the weather.

6. Not being above stopping strangers in the street to find out where their bag/dress/top is from – in fact, you’ve been known to chase a poor girl through town just to track down her fluffy bag.

7. Mastering the art of sneaking shopping bags past your loved ones. ‘What Zara bag you saw in the hallway?? How odd, that definitely wasn’t mine!’

8. Not having even an inch of space left in your wardrobe but start every day feeling sorry for yourself because, well, you honestly just have nothing to wear.

9. Owning over ten pairs of trainers but none that are for going to the gym. ‘Exercise?? I think you mean accessorise.’

10. Your wardrobe is almost entirely black. Even in the summer.

11. The ability to justify splurging on an item that costs as much as your rent. It’s an investment piece, right?

12. Putting in orders with friends overseas because a certain brand doesn’t ship to your country.

13. Eating beans on toast for a month because you’ve spent all your money on clothes. *googles how to make meals for under £1*.

14. Always being late (see 1.) unless it’s for a sample sale or the opening of a new H&M collaboration.

15. Trying to remember where all the clothes in your outfit are from in case you get snapped for street style.

16. Pretending to be embarrassed when you’re snapped for street style but secretly loving it.

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The traditional dress worn by a former Miss Vietnam deemed not Vietnamese enough

This is the dress that has got tongues wagging in Vietnam for being not Vietnamese enough. Thuy Dung, former Miss Vietnam 2008, and fashion model, recently wore this dress down the runway at a Spring-Summer fashion show in Rome. She has since come under attack for wearing a dress that is “too Chinese” in style.

“Ao dai” is the name of the traditional long Vietnamese dress worn by women and is perhaps one of the most iconic parts of Vietnamese culture. However, some in Vietnam aren’t happy with the recent evolution of this cultural symbol.

orange ao dai

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After participating in a fashion show that was aimed at celebrating Vietnamese style, Miss Dung has come under attack for modeling a piece that modified the country’s traditional formal dress and was seen as being “too Chinese”. Critics have called the design a “desecration” of the traditional ao dai long dress, even going so far as to say that, “Inappropriate changes may fail to convey the beauty of Vietnamese traditional costumes.” Since the fashion show was meant to showcase traditional Vietnamese clothing, it’s not hard to see their point. In the past, critics have been unhappy with modifications to ao dai made by designers in the name of fashion and have discouraged the use of “foreign motifs” like the dragon design worn by Thuy Dung.

The motif, design, and off-the-shoulder strapless style of the dress were not in keeping with the traditional, conservative ao dai. Typically, the dresses feature a high neck and long sleeves and are worn with trousers underneath (seen below).

The dress in question was designed by Thy Nguyen, and the influence of the Cheongsam (Chinese qipao) – the one-piece Chinese brocade dress – are evident.

The designer has defended her dress, saying, “[Designers have] the right to choose whatever material they believe represents the outfit’s special qualities, even if it is from a foreign source, and especially when mixing tradition and modernity.”

As the neckline of the traditional ao dai has crept down over the last decade, the level of criticism has risen. The red dress recently sported by Thuy Dung is just the latest in a series of controversies surrounding former Miss Vietnam contestants in showcasing the ao dai. Mai Phuong, winner of Miss Vietnam 2006, caused a stir when she modeled a version of the ao dai that was deemed too racy.

This white dress (featured above) was so transparent and revealing that she was almost stripped of her Miss Vietnam title.

And this orange ao dai, worn by Hoang My, the first runner-up in Miss Vietnam World 2010, was also deemed to be “revealing” by critics for its side splits and one-shoulder strap design.

What do you think? Was the dress not Vietnamese enough? Is it okay to modify traditional national dress in the name of fashion? Let us know in the comments below!

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Wedding bell’s and bonkers body shaming!!

First up!!! Congratulations Mr & Mrs Battersby!!! Nope not the Corrie Battersby’s! Our lovely pals Andrew and Rebecca tied the knot at weekend – what a beautiful wedding and what a stunning bride!! As soon as Rebecca walked into the church I burst into tears!! Andrew is Tom’s best friend (although after Tom’s ‘Best Man Speech’ I’m not sure Andy sees it that way anymore!! Ha ha.)

Tom’s best man speech was the best I’ve ever heard! He hadn’t rehearsed in front of me so I was nervous for him…turns out he’s a natural!!

Everyone agreed it was one of the best speeches they’d heard. Andrew spent the whole time with his head in his hands, turning a dark shade of crimson… Well done Tom! Alfie attended the wedding too and looked absolutely adorable in his little tuxedo

Body shaming???? What the??? This appears to be some new craze – in which all participants are clearly very sad, bitter, twisted people with waaaaay too much time on their hands. These pathetic little critters sit at home on their laptops (because they have no friends I’m guessing) slating people’s bodies.

Recent targets include Serena Williams and Selena Gomez… I just don’t get it??? Firstly what right does anyone have to be judgemental or negative about anyone else’s body?? Secondly the irony of it all?? Both girls are SO beautiful!

We are all different, we ALL have body hang ups, in a world filled with stick-thin, air brushed models pushed in our faces every day – when we do see someone with a normal healthy figure we now appear to be repelled??

We are ALL beautiful!! What you may see as ‘imperfect ‘ someone else may wish for. Each time I moan about the size of my thighs or backside I remind myself that some people don’t have legs or can’t walk – so what if I’ve got junk in my trunk?! And let’s be honest – all that really matters is that you can love and BE loved. And that includes loving yourself!

I’m no hypocrite- I’m not quite there yet, but the older I get the more I appreciate all my blessings. Which includes my strong and healthy body- the greatest gift we can ask for right? Do not let ‘haters’ tell you what is beautiful and what isn’t.

Pity these people , in fact – say a little prayer for them! That they may one day learn the value of good health and real beauty. That they will one day be happy enough with themselves and their own mental state to not bring other people down. Bless them- what empty lives they must lead.

On a more positive note! My first week back at Corrie has been wonderful. I’ve missed that place so much! So lovely to see my Corrie family!

Ironically Eva has been hitting the gym too! She’s pretty lame though! She tends to jog for two minutes then necks a can of an energy drink!

Here’s me as Eva with one of my favourite directors – Mr Lee Salisbury!

I’ve been chatting all things ‘Superfoods’ with specialists kaizenliving this week, with so many people classing different foods as ‘Superfoods’, I asked these guys for their true top 5 and why. I’ve covered some of these wonderful foods before – they really are SUPER!! :

‘Superfoods’ is very much a buzzword at the moment & in my opinion it’s one that is perhaps used a little too frequently to describe certain foods. To me a ‘superfood’ is a food that is bursting in goodness – whether that be vitamins, minerals, nutrients, protein, anti-oxidants – I think it should be abnormally high to truly earn that ‘superfood’ title! I’m going to very quickly tell you about 5 of my favourite superfoods and what indeed makes them super!

1) Acai – This is an incredible berry indigenous to the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil. The Acai berry has become incredibly popular in places such as California where many of Hollywood’s finest along with the likes of David Beckham are regularly spotted eating their morning Acai Smoothie Bowls! Well it’s with good reason! The Acai berry contains more antioxidants than any other fruit on the planet, around 20 times more than blueberries in fact. It’s a fantastic energy booster & is incredibly good at helping to promote healthy hair, skin & nails! Not only that but it is high in calcium so great for aiding healthy teeth & bones! Acai is perfect mixed in smoothies and breakfast bowls!


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2) Cacao – We often get told that dark chocolate is good for us & the reason for that is down to one thing only – it is higher in raw cacao than milk chocolate & raw cacao is a true superfood! It has the highest antioxidant content of any food on the planet! Even more than the aforementioned acai berry! So it is truly amazing at taking toxins out of our bodies. It also helps to regulate our blood sugar & is high in fibre, magnesium, iron, potassium and copper! Raw cacao can be used to create healthy chocolate flavoured smoothies, healthy hot chocolate drinks & can be used to replace regular cocoa powder in baking!

3) Chia Seeds – “Chia” is actually the Mayan word for ‘strength’ and it’s easy to see why as these little fellas pack an almighty punch! They are packed full of goodness. In fact they contain approximately 15 x more magnesium than broccoli, approximately 5 x more calcium than cow’s milk and around 3 x more iron than spinach! Not only that but they also increase the feeling of fullness so they’re great for anyone looking to lose a few pounds. They have also been shown to help lower cholesterol levels & are a fantastic source of sustainable energy. Chia Seeds can be used in smoothies, baking, sprinkled on yoghurts or get creative & soak them overnight to create your own chia breakfast pot! You can even just add them to a bottle of water to drink throughout the day!

4) Spirulina – In my opinion spirulina is the true king of superfoods. Containing over 60% pure protein and around 80 vitamins, minerals & nutrients spirulina has been described as the most complete food on the planet… in fact NASA even use it as a food for their astronauts in space! There is no food on the planet that has a higher protein content than spirulina & not only that but it is an extremely absorbable source for the body, around 4 x more absorbable than from beef.

Spirulina contains 18 amino acids, including all the essentials making it great for people leading an active lifestyle and a wonderful source of protein & amino acids for vegans. It is packed full of chlorophyll meaning it is great at ridding the body of toxins & perfect for anyone looking to increase their alkalinity levels. It is also high in iron, vitamins B6 & B12, calcium and magnesium! Being an algae, spirulina is a bit of an acquired taste, however it can easily be mixed in with smoothies & vegetable juices. It is also widely available in tablet format but watch the ingredients on these, many use bulking/caking agents in their tablets, try to purchase ones where the ingredients are simply 100% pure spirulina.

5) Wheatgrass – Another superfood that is absolutely brilliant at ridding the body of toxins. So many people swear by their “wheatgrass shots” the morning after the night before & their is science behind this too. Wheatgrass is great at cleansing the liver of toxins and assisting that recovery process. It is also a great natural energy booster so makes for a perfect way to start the day right! It contains 19 amino acids, and has a calcium content that is around 11 x higher than cow’s milk! It is high in iron, copper & zinc as well as vitamin E! Not only that but it is also a great alkaliser & immunity booster! Start the day right by taking wheatgrass as either a morning shot with just water or a small amount of fresh juice or mix in to your smoothies & juices!

As with many other foods, all superfoods are at their best when they are organic & 100% pure!

Also had the opportunity last week, to wear another stunning dress!


Men, Myths and Makeup

At the risk of being TMI, the idea for this post came to me whilst I was shaving my legs… a task I’d neglected for longer than I care to mention, as it’s such a bloomin’ faff. It struck me that us girls and all our beauty prep must look pretty damn weird to you fellas…

I went travelling with a fellow female friend and her boyfriend for three months, and he always found our beauty habits truly bizarre… from dousing ourselves in a face mask to curling our eyelashes, the poor boy looked genuinely befuddled each time we brought “what looks like a torture device” to hover around our eyes, or emerged from the bathroom with a bright green face…

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So today, I thought I’d debunk the myths men have amassed about beauty over the years…

1. We put on makeup for you.

he majority of girls will agree with me when I say: we put on makeup for ourselves… sometimes other girls, but mainly us.

2. You prefer the natural look.

You say that, then you see us without makeup on…

… and you look terrified.

Trust us, sometimes you don’t want to see what’s under that foundation and concealer… and we are all aware we look better with it on.

So when we do wear it, feel free to make a fuss.

3. By wearing makeup, we are lying to you.

If you’re stupid enough to think we naturally have gold, shimmery eyelids, ridiculously long, thick eyelashes or bright red lips, you are beyond any help we can give you.

4. Applying makeup is easy.

In most ‘My Boyfriend Does My Makeup’ videos on YouTube, the guy will proclaim he will easily be able to apply a full face of makeup to his girlfriend’s face… it rarely ends with the girl loving her finished look and vowing to wear her makeup that way forever more.

The skill that goes into that perfect winged eyeliner, that perfectly sculpted cheekbone or those magnificently defined eyebrows is akin to fine art, we’ll have you know.

5. That luxe-looking lipstick? It cost a fiver.

Errrr… it probably cost the same as a weekly food shop… but you know what?

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This Video Shows 100 Years Of Men’s Fashion

Men’s fashion is having a moment, from the first ever New York Men’s Fashion Week, to the launch of CR Men’s Book. Now, the men get their installment of fashion history in MODE’s newest 100 Years Of Men’s Fashion video, which showcases the famous fashions spanning rom 1915 to 2015. Can I just say hubba hubba to the ’50s greasers?

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The amazing thing about these 100 years of fashion videos is their ability to capture history. As Bill Cunningham famously said, “Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life. I don’t think you could do away with it. It would be like doing away with civilization.” Take the 1920s, when styles became significantly ostentatious—most likely from the discovery of buying on credit. Of course, that did lead to the Great Depression, but they sure as hell looked pretty nice!

The ’30s and ’40s roll by with some pretty proper fashions—ties, sweater vests, high-water hems, and even hats. Ah, and of course, the ’50s. Grease Lightning, and a whole lot of muscle tees and denim. Oh, those rebels without their causes. Also, can we talk about how chic the ’60s were? Monochrome reigned supreme and mod glasses were all the rage. Men’s fashion has definitely been taking cues from this era lately.

Then come the ’70s, which of course, are plagued with big hair, aviator frames, and paisley prints. Don’t forget the exposed chest hair, too. The ’80s are of course filled with an undone shirt and tie and mullet (let’s keep that hairstyle stuck in that era, please). Then comes the ultimate faux pas—the ’90s. I cringe at the black, square-toed shoes, ill-fitting denim, and a poorly fitted bowling shirt. Plus a puka shell necklace? Please, please, I beg of you all—let’s keep these items in the past. This whole outfit screams Chandler Bing, and as much as I love him, it absolutely needs to go.

The same sentiment holds for the early 2000s, with the popped collar and still poorly-fitted jeans. As we get into 2015, though, the model looks pretty standard and stylish in a chambray button up, dark denim, desert boot, messenger bag, and of course, the scruff. Where’s the beard at?

Styles come in and out, but the classics will always remain present. Which is why fashion constantly borrows from the past. It’s always a fun ride to watch these roundups, to be inspired, to be turned off, or to just learn a thing or two.

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How sneakers turned men into fashion addicts

The front rows at menswear shows are, as one might expect, dominated by male editors and retailers, stylists and celebrities. During New York Fashion Week: Men’s, which began July 13, if you look down at their feet, you will see a single line of painstakingly selected, shamelessly expensive, overtly fetishized sneakers.

“Men’s fashion is being transformed from the feet up,” said Elizabeth Semmelhack who, as senior curator at The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, is unquestionably biased about the importance of shoes to the overall understanding of a man’s vision of himself. But that doesn’t mean she is wrong.

Sneakers have allowed men to flourish as peacocks — changing the mood and quickly adding flair to tailored suits, skinny jeans, baggy leggings and even tuxedos.

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In recent years, men have eased into all manner of new, flamboyant plumage by way of an accessory that is firmly embedded in the quintessential cliches of sports, athleticism and masculinity. Sneakers are entrenched in the cult of boys, so much so that they occupy a different status than mere shoes, which are associated with women.

Shoes, Semmelhack said, are what women are derisively described as obsessing about. Women are considered to be unhealthy shoe-a-holics — ruled by an insatiable and hysterical attachment to sling-backs, stilettos and mules.

“We don’t consider sneakers to be feminine. Therein lies the essential difference,” Semmelhack said. “Sneaker collecting, done by many men, is (described) in the tradition of other male collecting, like baseball cards and fine wines. It’s about having every single one in every single model. Female buying is ’emotional’; male buying is posited as rational. But emotion is just as wrapped up in sneakers.”

That sort of unspoken sexism is one of the many themes Semmelhack explores in “The Rise of Sneaker Culture,” an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum.

The exhibition looks back at sneaker history — to some of the first running shoes, as well as the introduction, in the 19th century, of status and privilege into the conversation surrounding sneakers. Early on, sneakers helped define social hierarchies, Semmelhack said. The first sneakers that were intended for the average person, and not a professional athlete, were inspired by such rarefied pursuits as lawn tennis.

By the Second World War, sneakers were connected to the ideal of “physical perfection in service to the state,” with the Nazi regime hosting sweeping outdoor exhibitions boasting of athletic prowess. In the years following the war, sneakers became part of kid culture as physical education settled into the elementary school curriculum.

In the 1970s, with the rise of Nike and later, in the 1980s, with the success of its Air Jordan models, sneakers became inextricably linked to fashion tribes and entertainment — spawning a host of social pressures for teens to have just the right shoe.

The advent of Casual Friday provided an opening for sneakers to enter the workplace. For many men, it was an unsettling transition. Having been told not to wear their work-day uniform of a business suit, they suddenly were asked to find a new way of dressing that involved bringing aspects of their weekend selves — their downtime selves — into the office, Semmelhack said.

Men had to be — could be — more creative. The fashion industry responded with countless luxury-branded sneakers and celebrity collaborations. Sneakers helped men step into the fashion system on their own terms.

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Cindy Crawford Reveals Her Beauty Tips To ‘Into The Gloss,’ And Here Are The Top 5 Lessons To Learn

In an interview with Into The Gloss, Cindy Crawford reveals her beauty tips and everything she’s learned throughout her successful modeling career. And now that her daughter Kaia Gerber has landed an editorial in Vogue Italia, her advice obviously seems to be passing down to young, future supermodel. No doubt about it.

From exercising to pre-wash conditioner, Crawford shares some inside information and opens up about her thoughts on beauty. I’ve got to admit, I was pretty ecstatic when I learned about some of her advice and thought this was surprisingly relatable to everyone. And although I may not be on a plane to Europe to shoot for Vogue, I can definitely consider using Cindy’s advice when it comes to relaxation. Infrared saunas, anyone?

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For me, Cindy Crawford was always the top supermodel I’d look up to. After many years being in the business, she remains to be iconic and an inspiration for all. In fact, what was most inspiring in her interview was her definition of beauty.

She explained:

Beauty, to me, is really about two things: confidence and passion. It’s the way you carry yourself, trusting that what you have to say is interesting, being engaged, and having that spark of excitement in your eye. That’s beautiful. But, with that said, I love a good spa day and a hair mask as much as the next person.

I can definitely attest to that.

Other than being spot on about what beauty means to her, she also shared some critical advice that we can all learn and benefit from:

1. Incorporate Double-Duty Beauty

Never thought of this, but Crawford explained how she’ll incorporate beauty treatments into her workouts. Efficient and effective, amirite? She told Into The Gloss, ”For instance, since I know I’ll be washing my hair right after I exercise, I put a pre-wash conditioner in my hair—especially on my ends.” Crawford explains that she’s currently obsessed with Lush’s Jasmine and Henna Fluff-Ease Hair Treatment. I’ll definitely try this for next time.

2. Do Neck Exercises

OK, I know this may sound a little weird, but Crawford definitely hit the nail on the head when she explained that she does neck exercises. Crawford explains, “They’re simple to do—just lay flat on your back with your chin pointed up, and lift your whole head about an inch off the ground. Without putting your head back down on the floor, bring your chin to your chest.” This way your neck will stay toned and wrinkle-free.

3. Sleep With Your Hair In A Loose Top Knot

I love this piece of advice from Crawford. I can definitely say that second-day hair is probably the best my hair is for styling. After a blow dry she explains that she puts her hair in a top knot with a bobby pin, NOT a hair tie. This way you can use the most out of your blow dry for another day and avoid causing severe heat damage to your hair.

4. Try An Infrared Sauna

Don’t know what that is? I didn’t either. Apparently, Crawford explains, “It’s not like a normal sauna, which can be harsh. Instead, infrared is a super gentle, soothing, and therapeutic heat that helps me relax and improves my sleep.” Sounds excellent to me.

5. Experiment With Dry Brushing

Although I’ve never tried dry brushing, it sounds like nothing but pure joy to me after reading Crawford’s description of it. She says, ”On dry skin, I use the brush all over my body, always brushing toward my heart. Not only do you brush off dead skin, you invigorate your body, stimulate your lymphatic system, reduce cellulite, and decongest your skin (talk about a miracle tool).” She spills that she uses Neutrogena Body Oil

Well, there we have it. Advice straight from a supermodel veteran. What more could we ask for?

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she steps out for another fashion appearance in Paris after revealing she’s missing beau Jamie Campbell Bower

She can be trusted to look good at any given opportunity.

So it’s hardly surprising Lily Collins managed to look absolutely sensational once again when she stepped out in Paris on Thursday.

Turning heads as she passed by, the 26-year-old looked the epitome of Parisian chic in a sophisticated ensemble, consisting of a grey crop and flared white trousers.

High fashion: Lily  wore a stunning black and nude lace gown to the Lancome 80th anniversary party in Paris for Haute Couture Fashion Week on Tuesdayphoto:mermaid formal dresses

The classy two-piece, which was teamed with a black tailored sleeveless blazer, drew attention to her slender frame as well as her flashing a hint of her toned tum.

She added several inches to the proceedings with classy heels, while toting her belongings in a black and white leather designer handbag.

With her short brunette locks swept over her forehead, Lily accentuated her striking facial features with bold red lips and well-defined eyes.

Earlier on in the week, the British-American star attended the party as one of Lancome’s beauty ambassadors, having worked with the brand since 2013.

The daughter of Phil Collins also took part in Chanel’s Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture presentation, walking the casino-themed catwalk arm in arm with Lily Rose Depp.

Meanwhile, it appears as if the star has been missing her boyfriend, actor Jamie Campbell Bower, as she took to her social media sites to share a heartfelt message.

‘Missing this one,’ she captioned an image on Instagram. ‘#Tbt to the hugest smiles and biggest laughs #noideawhatwassofunny #lovelaughingwithyou…’

Later adding another with the words: ‘Whatever it was must’ve just been hilarious. How could I not miss such loving pats on the head? #tbttocountrylife #alwaysandforever…’

The cute couple, who recently rekindled their romance, originally dated for a year before ending their relationship in 2013 while they were in the midst of a promotional tour for The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones.

Lily posted a sweet snap of the pair kissing on her Instagram page in late May, telling her fans she had found her ‘inner glow’ once again after rekindling her romance with her former co-star.

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The casino was deserted, the roulette tables empty. The space vibrated with a spooky subsonic intensity. Kristen Stewart emerged tentatively, crossed to a table, took a seat. She was quickly followed by a platoon of Karl’s muses: Geraldine Chaplin, Rinko Kikuchi, Rita Ora, Lara Stone, Vanessa Paradis, Stella Tennant, and, finally, Julianne Moore, each of them wearing an outfit Lagerfeld had specially designed to reflect the way he saw them, for them and them alone. Then, while the chosen few gambled, the cookie-cutter models circled, production-line androids in seamless clothes that had been printed—some of them at least—by a computer the Chanel-ers call Sweetie. Lagerfeld was tickled pink at the thought of the most iconic jacket of the 20th century recreated for the 21st, using techniques that would have blown Chanel’s mind. At the same time, there was the peculiar Terminator-like subtext, machines replacing man, even in the art of design. “But I sketch everything,” Lagerfeld insisted. “The computer follows my sketches.”

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Even so, it was an extraordinarily ominous scenario. “I didn’t feel that at all,” Stewart demurred backstage. “I just wanted to find a seat where I felt lucky, where I could win big.” But, with a lot of assistance from Michel Gaubert’s portentous soundtrack, the collection had a distinctly adult, primarily dark, edging on decadent mood. In this context, even Barry White’s uplifting “Love’s Theme” that played out the finale took on a distinctly ironic flavor. The clones were uniformly heavy-browed, rouge-cheeked, and bewigged, like women Ex Machina (the fashion industry may have found a film to replace its deep-rooted affection for Gattaca). Combined with the wide-shouldered, box-shaped jackets, the look alluded to Joan Crawford, in keeping with the inspiration from the 1930s illustrations of Chanel’s lover Paul Iribe that had come full-blown to Karl in a dream. He said that was about exploring a new way to emphasize the shoulders without pads, instead accentuating the line with epaulettes. It loaned a militant edge, which scarcely mitigated the sense of discomfort the collection provoked.

And yet, there was also an eerie beauty in the clothes. Knowing that computer-manipulated lasers had shaped the quilted fabric of the first looks added an X (Machina) factor. Later, there were swooping hems out of time, and those strange Chanel couture textures that hinted at handwork not of this world. Nadja Bender wore a funnel coat covered with crushed pink camellias that felt like a vision of Paris immediately before Chanel herself arrived on the scene to change fashion forever. The sense of epochs elided was overpowering.

The gambling metaphor was appropriate for a moment when the world’s money markets are a cynical casino. But Lagerfeld was typically pointed when he broke down the metaphor’s relevance to his own role in fashion. “I gamble with collections more than ever,” he admitted. “I’m always telling myself: ‘You can do better. You’re lazy. You can make an effort.'” Reflection has been his default position lately. “I never get any satisfaction from what I’m doing,” he added. “I do it for the doing, not the having done.” But he couldn’t resist dismissing his latest exercise in intellectual showmanship as a promotional vehicle for Chanel’s fine jewelry. His vedettes wore diamond stars and comets and bows on their customized creations. “It was a dream,” Chaplin rhapsodized. The 70-year-old said she mostly plays “grannies in horror movies” now. Lagerfeld allowed her to be aglamorous granny today.

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