Monthly Archives: December 2017

Celine Dion reborn with an exuberant foray into high fashion

Many celebrities walked the 2017 Met Gala carpet earlier this year in outlandish styles, but only Celine Dion used the moment to propel her transformation into a fashion maven.

While she’s been the queen of Quebecois music for decades, the “My Heart Will Go On” powerhouse strutted onto the New York fashion scene in May with surprising confidence and swagger. Dressed in an Atelier Versace gown, she mugged with hip hop trio Migos and slinked like a lioness across the floor for Vogue’s popular Instagram “photo booth.”

She also yanked off her high heel and pretended to use it as a phone. Everything she did pulsated with vibrancy — and a touch of silliness — at an event where attendees often take themselves too seriously.

Not long afterwards, some voices in the fashion industry started proclaiming 2017 as “the year of Celine Dion,” as the Met photos went viral and sent gossip pages into a tizzy.

The Met Gala also proved the 49-year-old performer wasn’t defeated by the events of 2016, an emotionally draining year that saw her lose both husband and manager Rene Angelil as well as her brother Daniel to cancer — within the course of a week.

The deaths left a void in her life but also convinced Dion to forge ahead, suggests Alison Eastwood, editor-in-chief at Hello Canada.

“She’s really wanted to pour her heart and soul … into something she’s passionate about — and that is fashion,” Eastwood says.

“It’s part of her re-emergence as an independent woman.”

Searching for inspiration in the world of haute couture — the glamorous looks that grace runways — isn’t entirely foreign to Dion. In recent years, she slipped into designer threads as part of her flashy Las Vegas residency at Caesars Palace.

But getting credit as a fashion influencer was mostly new territory for the singer in 2017.

Years ago, Dion was better known for her clothing missteps, like the backwards pantsuit she wore to the Oscars in 1999 which divided critics. Other clothing choices were less inspired and sometimes called safe and undistinguished.

It wasn’t until the performer strolled onto the streets of Paris in the summer of 2016 that heads really started to turn. Her outfit that made a statement: a Vetements hoodie bearing images from the 1997 blockbuster “Titanic,” coupled with distressed jeans and Gucci sandals.

“It was hailed by many as her official debut in the world of fashion or certainly current fashion,” Eastwood says.

The concept was imagined by Law Roach, the “image architect” who has played a key role in helping Dion enter the fashion world. As the story goes, Dion first noticed Roach’s styling on young actress Zendaya Coleman, who was stealing attention on awards show red carpets.

Roach ran into Dion at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards and they hit it off instantly. Within a couple of days, the pair was collaborating on big ideas, like putting her into the now famous hoodie.

“I had it for a while but I didn’t show it to her because I thought she would think it was corny,” Roach says, adding Dion was instantly attracted to the kitsch and insisted on wearing it immediately.

“As the days went on I started to introduce her to new brands … and one day I mustered up the courage and showed it to her.”

By 2017, the partnership between Roach and Dion had really clicked. Many of the choices seemed purposefully tuned to elevating a particular moment.

Her performance of “My Heart Will Go On” at this year’s Billboard Music Awards was paired with a white Stephane Rolland gown that towered over the singer’s shoulders, subtly evoking both angel wings and the towering scale of an iceberg.

Other looks were more playful and motivated fashion magazines to document her every move as she stepped out at Parisian hotels draped in show-stopping designs.

Dion ignited chatter by wearing a white Ralph & Russo cape and matching pantsuit topped with a wide-brimmed hat, and she also won praises for coupling a Dice Kayek blouse detailed with a giant black bow with high-waisted pants and Tom Ford heels.

Many of the looks were coupled with handbags from the “Celine Dion” branded collection she began selling this summer.

Afiya Francisco, a Toronto-based style expert, compliments Roach for enhancing Dion’s fashion sense.

“It showed that she was adventurous,” she says. “If you don’t have the attitude sometimes that can really fall flat.”

The singer has described her foray into haute couture as a source of joy after the death of her husband. She’s also credited Roach with inspiring her creativity.

“To me, that was the ultimate payoff, to have such a small part in the healing,” says Roach.

“She was with Rene for so long and loved him so much that she will never ever not mourn (him). But the fact she credited (our work) in Paris that summer as part of the healing process was so overwhelming to me.”

Roach says Dion’s vast knowledge of the industry often astounds him.

“She’s also a bit of a fashion historian,” he says.

“The things she can reference and pull up. She’s like, ‘Give me a minute, I know I have it.’ And she’ll go through like books of tear sheets (from old magazines)…. She knows what she wants and what she likes, but she’s also very open to learning new things.”

Dion’s move into the fashion industry could also give her pop music career a boost. It’s been rumoured she could release new English-language material in 2018.

Eastwood rebuffs suggestions that Dion has simply been trying to stoke buzz for a new album and her fashion lines. She says after interviewing the singer a number of times, she’s confident Dion is simply tapping into another outlet for her own happiness.

“I can guarantee you that she couldn’t care less personally about making an impact on social media,” she says.

“It doesn’t feel like she’s trying too hard…. It may have a different audience paying attention to what she’s doing now, (but) that’s the power fashion and style has.”

Eastwood also predicts that Dion is only getting started with her grand aspirations and could surprise the world by stepping onto a catwalk during Milan Fashion Week in February.

Whatever is next for Dion, Francisco expects her style choices will continue to work in her favour in the coming months.

“Fashion, nowadays, absolutely has the ability to define a career … it’s really important and part of the package,” she says.

“If a new album were to drop, she has everybody’s attention already.”Read more at:formal dresses | short formal dresses

Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo join fur-free movement

Michael Kors and Jimmy Choo have become the latest major fashion brands to go fur-free.

The brands’ parent group, Michael Kors Holdings Limited, has announced that production of fur in its products will be phased out by the end of December 2018.

“This decision marks a new chapter as our company continues to evolve its use of innovative materials,” said John D. Idol, the company’s Chairman and CEO, in a statement. It is a sentiment supported by designer Michael Kors, who added, “Due to technological advances in fabrications, we now have the ability to create a luxe aesthetic using non-animal fur.”

Kors also revealed that new techniques involving non-animal fur would be on show during his eponymous label’s upcoming ready-to-wear show in February.

The move was welcomed by The Humane Society of the United States, whose senior manager of fashion policy PJ Smith worked with Michael Kors Holdings Limited on its fur-free policy. Smith said: “Today’s consumers want fashionable, luxurious clothing and accessories that also align with their social values and Michael Kors’ fur-free move makes it a leader in that regard.”

The fur-free movement is gathering pace in the high fashion industry, and the news sees Michael Kors Holdings following in the footsteps of heavyweights such as Gucci, which announced back in October that it would avoid animal fur as of 2018. Armani, Hugo Boss, and Stella McCartney are additional examples of luxury labels that all operate with a fur-free model, with the Armani group making the switch last year, and Hugo Boss making a similar commitment in the summer of 2015.

Michael Kors Holdings Limited acquired the Jimmy Choo brand in July of this year.Read more at:long formal dresses | cocktail dresses

Beyonce takes belts to a whole new level

In a world where we are so used to Beyonce being Beyonce, which is to say being totally extra in every facet of life, it takes a lot for us to stop and actually react to her fashion choices.

But her choice of a mega-long belt, which she teamed with glitter boots and hotpants, has set trend forecasters into a bit of a pre-Christmas lather.

Posting a selfie aboard her private plane with husband Jay-Z, the star showed yet again why no-one accessorises like Bey.

After all, the “Single Ladies” singer crooned about putting a ring on it way before maximalism took off.

And then, on Lemonade, she breezed down a city street wielding a baseball bat like some women would carry a Louis Vuitton Neverfull tote.

So what of the mega-belt, and will it become a trend?

Thanks to the likes of Virgin Abloh’s Off White, the cargo-inspired belt was already a major – and often mimicked – trend of 2017.

Priced at US$211, the Off White belt is serious business. But the good news is once it’s no longer in fashion, you can use it to keep your suitcase closed tight on your next trip overseas.

Beyonce’s belt, reportedly the product of her stylist Zerina Akers, is by Parisian brand Y/Project, whose mantra is clearly: why have one belt buckle when you can have 11? And why stop at 80 centimetres when you can skim the floor with that thing?

A similar style is available online for approximately AU$550. In comparison to Beyonce’s $US10,000 ($14,300) Saint Laurent “disco” boots, worn in the same photo, the belt is practically a steal.Read more at:www.marieaustralia.com | cocktail dresses online

An encounter with Grace Mugabe

The year was 1997 and the setting was the foyer of the world famous Ritz Hotel in Paris, France.

Zimbabwean government officials, diplomats and the media were lounging in the vast and opulent lobby of the hotel.

It is a very classy hotel for the well-heeled.

My reason for being in the world capital of fashion and cuisine was an assignment, which had nothing to do with good food or understanding fashion.

I had accompanied President Robert Gabriel Mugabe as part of the Zimbabwean press corps.

The world was still mourning Princess Diana who had died in a horrific accident while fleeing from the Paparazzi from the Ritz Hotel with her lover, Dodi Al Fayed.

Mugabe and his wife, Grace had gone somewhere and we waited for them to return.

There were whispers that they had gone to eat Zimbabwean food, which had been prepared at our embassy in Paris with others adding that they could have passed through some upmarket places for a spot of shopping.

Prior to this trip, I had never seen Grace from close range nor had I heard her speak.

It was on the flight to France from Harare that I had seen the country’s new first lady from very close range and heard her speak.

All along, since her marriage to Mugabe, she had always remained in his shadows and portrayed as a withdrawn person.

She barely spoke to the press, if at all, the perception among some was that she was a trophy wife.

The only time she came out of her shell was along with other prominent people and reportedly looted funds for a civil servants housing scheme.

With the proceeds, she was said to have built a monstrous edifice in Borrowdale.

So it was with a bit of surprise, thousands of kilometers away from home that I learnt from the hushed conversations that some in the delegation were actually terrified of her.

Before she officially wedded Mugabe, legendary stories were told among veteran journalists about how a certain young lady always found herself on the presidential entourage together with one or two kids who would cause absolute racket on the plane.

According to the legend, several high ranking officials on the plane would receive generous amounts of slaps to their faces and thank the kids or apologise to them.

Nobody has come forward to confirm or deny the legend.

Anyway, as a way of whiling up time as we waited for the Mugabes and their delegation to come, I had struck a conversation with the late Foreign Affairs minister, Stanislaus Mudenge, known by some as Cde Stan.

Mudenge was a giant of a man and had a booming voice and was well-schooled in history and literature.

If he had taken sport as a career, he would have been ideal in the boxing ring and probably traded leather in the heavyweight division.

I sat facing the entrance into the hotel.

It was a basic safety and awareness exercise driven into me while covering stable and unstable countries so that one could not miss unfolding news.

Mudenge sat with his back to the entrance of the hotel.

The conversation had eventually turned into an interview as he had begun to narrate developments he was overseeing in his province of Masvingo.

Sure enough, as I sat during the interview with him, I noticed Grace, accompanied by female aides and a few males stroll into the hotel lobby.

In the biting cold of Paris, she had short black and immaculate hair and was wearing a long black skirt with a grey top which, was covered by a black poncho.

She reminded me of a raven.

My attitude then, as I observed her sashay into the hotel lobby was that she was in every sense a trophy wife and would not be interested or influence the politics of the country.

A fatal mistake, particularly for those involved in the internal politics of Zanu-PF.

Everybody appeared to have made the mistake of not taking the former typist in Mugabe’s office seriously.

As she approached, heading for the elevators she appeared to notice and identify some of the officials on the presidential entourage and she nodded to them.

The officials did not disappoint either — they all but rolled over like obedient puppies to have their bellies tickled.

She appeared to be enjoying the adulation and the fawning behaviour of government mandarins.

Mudenge and a few officials who had their backs to the entrance did not take notice so we continued with our conversation, although I was now watching the fascinating display of power being exhibited in the foyer of a hotel in far off France.

She appeared to notice Mudenge and a few officials and for the first time, I heard her speak.

At the top of her voice, she shrilled in the vernacular Shona language: “Murikupira midzimu yekupi?” (What traditional rituals are you conducting?)

I was shocked by the reaction from Mudenge and other government officials.

Zimbabwe’s chief diplomat at the time for all his size, appeared to turn grey before he sprang up with the agility of a gazelle.

“I am going!” he all but screamed at me curtly as he made a beeline towards Grace and appeared to be apologising profusely for dereliction of duty.

He escorted her into the elevator of at the Ritz Hotel and appeared to continue prostrating himself before Grace as she looked at him sternly.

I had just witnessed an awesome display of power and flexing of muscles by the perceived mild tempered wife of the president far away from home in Zimbabwe, Africa — on European shores.

I immediately changed my opinion that this was anything but a laid back woman happy to stay in Mugabe’s shadow.

This woman was powerful and wielded a lot of influence. Grace Ntombizodwa Marufu Mugabe had arrived.

Seventeen years later, in 2014, Zimbabweans would witness her awesome display of power as she hounded vice-president Joice Mujuru out of Zanu-PF, while her husband looked on indulgently.

South African born, Grace Ntombizodwa had arrived.

Many assumed it was because she wanted to replace her with her chosen proxy to protect her family’s vast business empire.

Again they were wrong, as she was putting together an elaborate plan to become vice-president.

Maybe even succeed her husband as president of Zimbabwe.

We will never know following the military intervention which was “targeting criminals around” Mugabe.Read more at:marieaustralia | cocktail dresses