Category Archives: fashion

French style on view at Benilde


(Photo:formal dresses perth)Because of the pervasive influence of French fashion, what the exhibit could reflect is also how our own needs and tastes change, as well as our view of French fashion, and how relevant it still is. As curated by Frederic Delhove, an interior designer and a former owner of a designer boutique, the exhibit features clothes of various vintages from several museums.

Practically household names Yves Saint Laurent, Jean Paul Gaultier, and John Galliano are all present in this party, while lesser-known names such as Anna and Tumoas Laitinen are here as well. “They represent French fashion by their savoir-faire,” said Mr. Delhove through an interpreter. “It’s also an exhibition on confrontation.” By confrontation, Mr. Delhove alludes to the unease experienced by, say, sailor pants and a Breton shirt by Gaultier, juxtaposed with a more elaborate creation reminiscent of Madonna’s cone-bra look. The dress has blue metallic tattoos on a flesh background, while still displaying the same flesh-toned cones.

In the same line, capes from different time periods are displayed together: a wool cloak, next to a plastic hoodie. The centerpiece of the show is a black tutu by Gaultier, covered with tiny metal discs, presented in a haute couture collection earlier in the decade. Watch out as well for a lovely Christmas coat with a feather boa, made by Lanvin in the 1950s.

While French fashion can seem awe-inspiring to others, to Mr. Delhove, it’s not such a big deal. “It’s not specific to France, it’s also true in Italy and other parts of the world,” he said. He added, “For people outside France, they still consider France as the center of fashion, but when you are in France, you know that fashion is also in London, in other parts of the world.”

That may be true, but French fashions have influenced the European world as early as in the medieval period. Anne Boleyn, for example, in Henry VIII’s Tudor court, stood out for her education in France: which included having a knowledge about French clothing. Countless historical figures have depended on France for fashion and luxury: not even the hardy Founding Fathers of the American Revolution, such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, who would send out fashion plates for people back home to copy.

At the same time, as fashion can be seen as a dialogue between consumer and creator, French fashion also takes heed of what the world needs and makes a product based on that. Coco Chanel made a killing dressing women like men, addressing the need for the modern woman’s search for identity, in a world where the men were decimated after the First World War. Yves Saint Laurent, in creating the Le Smoking (a vintage one is displayed in the CSB exhibit as well), also dressed the 1960s woman, who was racing for a career and a new purpose.

“At the same time that they were creating, they were also inventing,” Mr. Delhove.

When asked about what makes the French eye for trends different than, say, the watchers in London and Milan, Mr. Delhove redirected the question to what French fashion is for someone. With his statement that French designers created and invented at the same time, the Chanel 2.55 bag came into discussion. Now a stately shoulder and handbag combo, it had been revolutionary when it first came out in the 1950s. Mademoiselle Chanel (never married), wanted a bag that allowed her to use her hands freely during cocktail parties. So, using chains influenced by the belts of the nuns who raised her, she suspended the bag and let it hang from her shoulder. At the same time, the bag’s inside flap was supposed to be where she would hide her love letters, while the back pocket was used to hide loose bills. The padding was supposed to be either from jackets she admired, or (in a macabre version of the story), the padded leather seats of the car her great love was killed in.

“It was really an invention, but now it has become an iconic accessory.”

Mr. Delhove might not discuss the impact of French fashion on the world, but on one point he agrees. When asked why it was so important for French people to look good (a quick swipe through French street-style Instagram accounts should help), he said, “It’s a lifestyle: it’s just as important to eat well, as to dress well.”Read more at:cheap formal dresses

Top trends from New York Fashion Week

There’s always plenty of tips and trends to be discovered at New York Fashion Week.

Here are nine to keep an eye on.


While it’s true that many of the models on the catwalks are still painfully thin, young and Caucasian, New York designers have begun to lead the way in disproving the myth that any alternative to the status quo would be too tricky to pull off. J.Crew continued its “real” people concept for a second season, plucking friends and family aged from nine to 67 to showcase the collection. The result was joyous.

“We love it when people smile in their clothes,” said womenswear designer Somsack Sikhounmuong. “The message is, we make great clothes which you can wear no matter who you are.”

Elsewhere, Prabal Gurung enlisted plus-size models Candice Huffine and Marquita Pring, while Tome’s beautiful offering was modelled by women of all shapes and ethnicities. As Alexandra Shulman – an outspoken voice on the need for variety – steps down as editor at British Vogue, here’s hoping New York’s developing diversity is more than just a trend.


I lost count of the number of times that Victoria Beckham used the word “strong” as she talked me through her collection, but she wasn’t the only one alluding to the need for an empowered attitude.

“It feels like it’s time to stand up a little straighter,” said Tibi designer Amy Smilovic. “We’ve got to get the f… out there and be strong.”

At both labels – and many more – that rallying cry came, somewhat ironically, in the form of sharp, unapologetically masculine tailoring. Alexander Wang and The Row were among those to show shoulders so wide that one wondered if we hadn’t been transported back to power dressing’s 80s heyday.

Beckham, however was pro-choice, offering either diaphanous skirts or wide-legged trousers with her blazers.


At Oscar de la Renta, incoming design duo Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia have a tall order on their hands, tasked as they are with serving up a modern spin on the classic American glamour which the house’s founder coined and refined until his death in 2014.

But the challenge was met, with the pair unveiling a dazzling, ultra-polished debut collection, ticking off all manner of social engagements pertinent to the de la Renta customer. Vividly colourful yet slick cocoon coats and knitwear great for lunchtime functions; cigarette trousers with artfully embellished tops will make delightful cocktail attire; while sequinned bandeau dresses with crinoline petticoats recalling Dior’s New Look, and black velvet column gowns dripping in crystals, will require a red carpet or grandiose ball to be shown off to their full advantage.

Park Avenue princesses and actresses in search of awards-season looks should rejoice – not to mention whoever is putting together Ivanka and Melania Trump’s America First wardrobes.


“You never see anyone wearing colour on the street,” observed Carolina Herrera, and yet many designers seemed to be on a mission to add zing to our wardrobes with their delectable yet unexpected palettes.

At Sies Marjan, Sander Lak justified his much-hyped rising stardom with a collection featuring champagne with inky teal, chocolate brown with cerulean blue, and Cadbury purple with peach. Rosetta Getty collaborated with Polish artist Alicja Kwade on a print that blended rich burgundy with mint; Proenza Schouler proposed bronze and scarlet; while Lacoste offered up terracotta with lilac.

Go forth and boldly embrace all colour combinations. And, no, navy and grey don’t count, sorry.


We all hold simplicity and minimalism in high regard, but there’s nothing to make us question that resolve quite like Jonathan Saunders’s eclectically high-octane new vision for Diane von Furstenberg. The Glaswegian designer’s second presentation for the label was joyfully playful while retaining the easy sophistication exhibited by DVF’s groundbreaking wrap dress in the 70s.

The mood of that decade had sparked Saunders’s ideas. “It was about taking the energy of how women expressed themselves then, but combining everything in a more modern way.” Cue bold, clashing prints with African and Japanese influences layered underneath opulent faux furs; louche, colourful blanket coats with capacious, braided-detail leather bags and sculptural, oversized jewellery piled on for good measure.

Saunders likened the effect to “a collage”.


One New York trend that you can probably opt into today, via a quick sift through your wardrobe, is checks in their many guises: tartan, houndstooth, Rupert the Bear, the list could go on, and on. Often, said checks were subtle and came in neutral shades, appearing on tailored pieces to achieve a corporate look, as at Calvin Klein.

There was a heritage feel at Self Portrait, Altuzarra, Jason Wu and J.Crew, where a photograph of Prince Phillip at Balmoral had inspired riffs on the kilt. At newcomer Maryam Nassir Zadeh’s show, held in a basement theatre at the Guggenheim, the most distinctive check of the week emerged in mustard, blue and candyfloss pink (never fear, it also came in black-and-white). The blazer and pleated skirt would both make worthy entries on your to-buy list for next autumn.


Bella Hadid has been somewhat overshadowed by elder sister Gigi in the past, but it felt as though she was the girl creating the buzz and being cast as the de facto star attraction this week. It’s not simple stuff, this supermodel-making business, but the younger, more unconventional-looking Hadid is starting to edge ahead in appearances (10.6 million Instagram followers certainly help – although her sister has nearly 30 million, so she still has some way to go).

But her rising influence means that designers are just as keen to have her wearing their clothes in real life (as she’s snapped by street-style photographers between shows) as modelling on their catwalks; in fact, it’s often part of the deal.

How do those working with her nail her appeal? “Bella is everything I admire today,” said Zadig & Voltaire creative director Cecilia Bonstom, who chose Hadid for the label’s most recent campaign and to open its first ever New York show, which celebrated 20 years of the brand. “She has reached a point where you realise how focused and professional she is. She’s beautiful inside and outside.”


Brace yourselves, for as well as hailing the return of the power shoulder, NYFW has thrown up the possibility that another 80s essential – Alice bands – might be back on the agenda, too.

It was Joseph Altuzarra, fresh from binge-watching The Crown and studying Renaissance art at the Met, who gave the old styling tool a new dash of desirability. Each of the 53 models in his show wore some variation, whether studded with pearls or covered in a print to create a matchy-matchy effect with the rest of the outfit.

If you’re considering joining the revival, then tail the look with a pair of stompy boots as Altuzarra did, for a jolt of attitude to counterbalance the primness.


The talk on the New York front rows has largely oscillated between who will fill all the big jobs currently vacant in the industry (Givenchy and Chloe are both without creative directors); the latest weather conditions (is it safe to ditch the snow boots tomorrow, the merits of Uniqlo Heattech, etc); and Raf Simons’s debut at Calvin Klein.

Since the latter occurred on Friday, there has been plenty of time for dissection, and while the consensus is that the cowboy boots he introduced will be the stars at retail, the coats must not be overlooked.Read more at:princess formal dresses | red formal dresses

When ‘Nude’ is Only Nude for Some People

Nude collection | Source: Christian Louboutin 

(Photo:long evening dresses)Nudity is en vogue these days. Shoppers are clamouring for nude swimsuits, nude lingerie, and nude designer clothes. It is a simple yet edgy look for those bold enough to suggest they are baring it all, and tolerant enough to endure the occasional double-take.

Yet for some, nude simply means beige. Or perhaps some lighter shade of tan. The problem with this particular colour label is that, more often than not, “nude” is only nude if you happen to be white.

As the style has become increasingly popular, this retail conundrum is gaining attention. Some are now challenging the industry norm, jettisoning the interchangeability of “nude” and “beige” and producing clothing that matches the flesh of everyone.

“Finally, the fashion and beauty industries are catching up,” said Katie May Atkinson, an analyst at trend forecasting firm WGSN, “but it’s been a long time coming.”

Why did it take so long? Pairing skin tone to clothes was a hot trend in the late 2000s, with couture designers walking light brown looks down runways, albeit on white models. Nude pumps gained a bigger following; so did nude nail polish. Then one night in 2010, Michelle Obama wore a strapless beige evening gown to a state dinner—a gown whose colour was described as “nude.” Not so much.

Fashion’s issues with colour are born of a longstanding, racially insensitive beauty standard, said Elizabeth Wissinger, a professor of fashion studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Wissinger, who has done extensive research on diversity within the industry, says fashion has begun to acknowledge alternative body types and complexions, but its attachment to narrow traditions suggests it will take a long time.

“Fashion claims to be nimble and responsive and on the cutting edge,” said Wissinger. But “there’s also such long cultural echoes of what’s deemed fashionable, so there’s this subconscious background of calling that colour ‘nude.’”

Crayons and Civil Rights

The concept of nude-as-a-colour was challenged a long time ago, just not in fashion. Crayola, the crayon maker (now owned by Hallmark Cards Inc.) once made a pinkish beige colour called “flesh.” The tone was renamed “peach” in the 1960s, when exclusionary references began to unwind in the face of the civil rights movement.

One definition of nude in the Oxford Dictionary remains “of a pinkish-beige colour,” though another states that nude is “denoting or relating to clothing or makeup that is of a colour resembling that of the wearer’s skin.” Until 2015, when a college student successfully petitioned Merriam-Webster, that dictionary defined nude as “having the colour of a white person’s skin.” This is the definition now in its place: Having a colour (as pale beige or tan) that matches the wearer’s skin tones: giving the appearance of nudity

The beauty industry, meanwhile, has been miles ahead of fashion in catering to women with darker skin. Women of colour have more choices than ever thanks to labels such as Bobbi Brown and MAC, providing an inclusive set of swatches for their customers. Bobbi Brown’s nude finishing illuminating powder, for instance, comes in six different sets, spanning “porcelain” to “rich.”

Yet on the catwalk, there has been little evidence of the nude rainbow. One notable exception is the label of performer Kanye West, whose inclusion of many tones on multi-ethnic models has created some buzz around the word’s budding redefinition. And yes, the Kardashian pack has played a role too, with the never-shy Kim in the lead role of nude hue pitch-woman. She’s worn looks from nude bikinis to nude blouses and skirts.

To be sure, there are some fashion brands that have joined in. Nubian Skin was the first, with a line of lingerie that is available in plenty of dark brown shades. BeingU, Nudest, and BrownBottims also sell underwear in lots of hues. A new UK shoe brand called Kahmune offers 10 separate shades of high heels to match skin tones. Nunude is a label that sells tracksuits and lounge wear with the hopes of redefining nude. And Christian Louboutin, maker of the iconic red-soled shoes, has expanded the colour range of his nude ballet flats and pumps.

“I’ve always done a nude shoe but only using the colour beige,” Louboutin, the designer, said at the time. But he decided to change things when one of his staffers told him flatly: “Beige is not the colour of my skin.”

Diversity and Logistics

Naja, a lingerie label that has since expanded into activewear and swimsuits, released a line of “nude for all” underwear in shades that span the spectrum of brown. Founded in 2014 by former lawyer Catalina Girald and Jane The Virgin actress Gina Rodriguez, Naja looked to upend lingerie stereotypes last year with its campaign for nude bras and panties, seeking to celebrate diversity with models of all skin tones–and, of course, matching nude lingerie.

“The fashion industry was primarily targeted at white people and nude was the colour of a white person’s skin when they were nude,” said Girald. “We needed to be inclusive and had to change that.”

Girald said one obstacle for the industry has been simple logistics. They order their clothes, underwear, or shoes from factories abroad that have high minimums, so if they want an item in many shades, they would have to make a big bet on inventory. Smaller brands just can not afford this, and larger brands often do not think it is worth the risk. For Naja, which runs its own factory in Colombia, this is not a problem however, she said.

Most labels name their nude tones (think “cafe au lait” or “cinnamon”) but Naja just names its nudes by number (“Nude #1,” “Nude 2”). Naja initially tested 23 colours on women, which it narrowed down to seven. It found that often it is the perception of colour that confuses shoppers. They expect to be a certain shade because of their ethnicity. During the testing process for example, an Ecuadorean woman could not find her colour match. Meanwhile, a Danish woman with a tan was also being tested, and found her shade: Nude #3. Turns out, they were not all that different.

“We tried the Danish girl’s colour on the Ecuadorian girl and they were the same colour,” said Girald. “They couldn’t even believe it themselves.”Read more at:marieaustralia

Ewan McGregor’s frank advice for his model daughter Clara

Ewan McGregor 

(Photo:formal dress shops sydney)Ewan McGregor was realistic with his oldest daughter Clara’s ambitions to become a model.

The Scottish actor has daughters Clara, Esther, Jamyan and Anouk, with wife Eve Mavrakis. Clara has already shown a flare for acting, and appeared to be following in her famous dad’s footsteps when she enrolled at New York University’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts. But it seems modelling has become her new focus, after she was signed by Wilhelmina models in December (16).

“Yeah, (my parents) are always very realistic with me about the struggles that come with being in the public eye. They’re super supportive, but they’ve also warned me,” she opened up to W magazine

After starring in a campaign for fashion brand Fay alongside Bob Dylan’s grandson Levi Dylan, Clara can next be seen strutting her stuff at New York Fashion Week, which kicks off on Thursday (09Feb17). She’ll be walking for Baja East, the combined Oscar de la Renta and Monse show and Moncler.

“No!” she exclaimed when asked if she’d ever been to a Fashion Week before. “New York is going to be my first one. I’m really excited.”

She adds that it’s “early days” when it comes to her fashion career.

As for why she got into the industry, 20-year-old Clara explains it all stemmed from her love of photography.

“It started with my interest in photography, but then my interests shifted and I got more into acting. I’ve always wanted to expand what I was doing and I really love fashion; modelling just seemed like it went hand-in-hand with acting and photography,” she smiled.Read more at:formal dresses canberra

Nishka Lulla glams up her boho-vibe at Lakme Fashion Week


(Photo:sexy formal dresses)Nishka Lulla, daughter of National Award winning designer Neeta Lulla, has helped her mother in designing clothes for movie stars, and has also showcased her own work on the ramp.

Asked which is easier, designing for films or for the ramp, Lulla said, “I think none are easy. Both are challenging. when you design for the runway, every year you have to come out with a collection which is better than the previous one.”

Lulla, who has celebrity clients such as Sonam Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Sonakshi Sinha, Genelia D’souza and Kiran Rao, says a designer constantly competes with herself while designing for the runway.

“You are constantly competing with yourself and what you have done before, to come up with something new, different and something that would create a fashion statement,” she said.

“When you design for movies, it is a challenge because you are designing for a particular character, which you have to relate to and there are many other things you have to look at — such as location, weather, budget and character. So, both are challenging in their own way,” she added.

Lulla showcased her latest line at the Lakme Fashion Week summer-resort 2017 on Saturday.

“This [collection] gives a glamorous touch to the boho-vibe. Earlier, I have done very easy-to-wear, casual styles. But this line has a more glamorous style to it,” she said.

The designer says her collection of 22 looks is inspired by nature and is meant for women who love their independence.

“It’s mostly inspired by nature, like butterfly wings and Indian mogra flowers… It’s mostly for women who are very free and who love their freedom,” she said.

“The cuts are very relaxed and easy for movement. They are fun, casual separates, which turn dressy with embellishments. Fabric used is mostly cotton, because I think it is great for summer.

“The colours are white, old greys, fern green… So it’s more of vintage colour pallette,” she added.

Lulla says the reach of current social media is helping people learn more about fashion and style, especially helping women to look beyond Bollywood for trends.

“With the rise of social media, I think a lot of the younger girls look at what actors wear off duty for fashion and style statements… Such as what an actress wears for a premiere, or airport looks. I think that is what inspires the girls more than movies,” she said.Read more at:backless formal dresses

A chat with Christian Louboutin, the designer who brings dreams and fantasy to life

Parisian shoe designer Christian Louboutin has some advice for us: slow down.

“I always design flat shoes and I love them, but high heels make a woman so much more conscious of her body,” he says.

In a fast-paced world with people always rushing, Louboutin says he likes things that make people slow down.

“If you walk in the street slowly, maybe someone will pick you up,” he laughs, with a twinkle in his eye. “That doesn’t happen if you are running around.”

The designer’s cheeky, relaxed attitude shines through. He often delights Hong Kong fans with chatty shoe signings and parties. Notably unpretentious, while most of the fashion elite are being chauffeured around in shiny black cars for fashion week, Louboutin can be seen zipping between Paris shows on his little moped.

At 54, he has turned his passion for sexy footwear into a global empire, encompassing not only men’s and women’s shoes, but bags, accessories and beauty, nail varnish and, most recently, perfume.

His concept of women’s beauty comes from rebelling against the naturalism so popular in 1970s France when he was growing up. And with those early stiletto heels that were just coming into vogue in the early ’90s, was able to tap into a new sense of fragility and power in feminine glamour. It’s with the same attitude that he’s created his beauty and perfume range.

“One of the most beautiful women for me is Nefertiti,” he says. He’s clad in deep red, the signature hue of his famous soles, and wearing two-colour lace-up brogues from his men’s line, which has found popularity in Asia.“If you look at busts of Nefertiti, she is gorgeous, she has this skin that’s not white, nor black. The eyes are huge, the eyebrows are well drawn. She’s so striking. It’s not a natural look. But I like that kind of beauty – that timelessness of this dramatic beauty over thousands of years.”

As a child growing up in the ’70s in France, when all the actresses and actors “were all grumpy”, that trend of being “super natural, with no make-up, flat shoes, dirty clothes and being quite grungy; when everything was associated with femininity was badly considered”, didn’t sit well with Louboutin.

“I never understood why femininity was associated with stupidity in France then. I never accepted that. It didn’t mean anything to me, this preconceived idea.”

It was female performers and musicians that really started to change the mould, he recalls: “First Blondie, then the likes of Tina Turner and Madonna, who showed that glamour could be empowering for women.”

“From what I remember, I’ve been designing shoes from the age of 12 or 13. It didn’t really occur to me as a job at the time, I was just always obsessed and sketching shoes, the reason is very simple,” he says.

The shoe obsession started after he visited a museum next to his parent’s Parisian apartment, with beautiful parquet flooring. On the wall there was a poster of a high-heeled shoe from the ’50s and it was crossed out in red, meaning that high heels were forbidden to protect the floor.“I was thinking what a stupid and strange high thin heel,” he adds, “this was in the ‘70s, so we didn’t really have shoes like that. All this went into my head and I started to sketch nervously.”

As his first passion was showgirls and cabaret – after being expelled from several schools (“typical teenager stuff, nothing too serious”), Louboutin ended up working in a cabaret when at just 17.

“I wanted to do something for showgirls and as I was sketching shoes all the time, I put the two together and this was my first job. I would come and have a different drawing for every single dancer … it was a very good way starting to understand shoes because of the movement.

“I always did everything by accident. I call it a happy accident. It’s difficult to decide for yourself what your life is going to be. If you are obsessed with what your life should be, I think it will be tough,” he says.

It was a humble start, with little pay, and the young designer soon sought out more formal training. He cold called the house of Christian Dior and audaciously asked to speak to “the general director”. In a story that is now part of fashion history, Dior’s director of haute couture picked up the phone and agreed to a meeting to view this unknown young man’s designs. She was impressed and arranged a training job for him at the Charles Jourdan factory outside Paris.In early 1992, Louboutin had started his own label in a shop next to a great gallery. Business was swift and easy, since passing foot traffic from the gallery included “fine arts and antique dealers and customers”.

That business flourished and turned into a global empire over more than two decades. His designs have been much coveted and referenced in films and songs; and today, he remains one of the most copied show designers in China. Cue multiple collaborations, celebrity fans, soaring sales and a bag range. Louboutin has made the most of his bold and sometimes outrageous aesthetic. Fetish, princess, tropical, tribal, studded all over, there are few references he hasn’t mined for both men and women.

Now, with stores all over the world, Louboutin doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.For all his commercial success, the organic path of Louboutin’s career is quite astounding. And almost impossible had he started off in today’s world of fashion.

Even the iconic red lacquered sole (a brand signature for which he fought against the Yves Saint Laurent house in US courts) came as another (almost) happy accident.

“In 1992 a part of my collection was inspired by pop art, Andy Warhol and all that. It was bright colours for the lining, the heel, etc. I wanted a shock of colours.”

“When the first prototype came, it looked good but not quite right. I was looking at the shoe, and I looked underneath at the sole and thought, that’s a lot of black on a shoe full of colour. My assistant Sara was painting her nails in the room at the time, and I grabbed the nail polish and I said I want to try something [and] began painting the sole. It looked perfect – like the essence of my sketch”. It was a simple move to colour the soles so brightly, but in footwear at the time, a revolutionary one. Today, the flash of a red sole on a pair of heels as a woman walks away is part of the fashion vocabulary.

That starting sketch, he explains, is so exciting: “It’s the key concept, a point of view.” He’s known for free-form drawings that play more to the imagination than the technical qualities of the shoe – for that he has meticulous technicians. Louboutin prefers to focus his creative energy on the fantasy.

If he sounds more dreamy and spontaneous than most designers, that’s not just French romanticism. He really is. Career decisions have been made largely though passion and intuition than scrupulous market research and business strategy.His men’s shoe range launched after he designed a line for the singer Mika to perform in. His 2016 Rio Olympics outfits for the Cuban team (co-designed with his friend, athlete Henri Tai) came from friendly visits to Cuba.

“Maybe it’s out of being very lazy,” Louboutin says, “but I think it’s much better to be carried by your life instead of trying to drive your life in a certain direction all the time. That’s very boring. If you let yourself go, you end up with a richer experience in the things you can’t predict.”Read more at:short formal dresses | long formal dresses

The secret feminist history of shopping

There was a time when women browsing at the shops was a minor scandal. 

(Photo:black formal dresses)For the world’s malls, December was once the happiest time of the year. Now, each holiday season brings a painful reminder that shoppers have increasingly abandoned real-life storefronts for virtual ones.

To get people off the couch, mall owners are trying to bring back the idea of shopping as a social activity. They’re investing in free cocoa and “elfie selfie” stations, and they’ve doubled down on the mall Santa, building him expensive high-tech palaces decked out with “Naughty O’ Nice Meters” and “Elf-Ray Vision.”

Even stores that have historically shunned these traditions, like Toys ‘R Us, are now getting in the game.

It might be too late. The notion of strolling through a physical mall is starting to feel old-fashioned, like barbershop quartets, or writing in cursive. This is how people used to buy things, Virginia, before drone deliveries and the sundry triumphs of on-demand capitalism.

But once upon a time, shopping galleries were deeply radical spaces.

In fact, it’s impossible to tell the full story of women’s rights without talking about the rise of the mall and its predecessor, the shopping district. These places were crucial to the invention of shopping as an experience: as an act of leisure, as a way to spend an afternoon. And in doing so, they opened up modern cities to women and gave them areas where they, like men, could wander at will.

For many middle-class housewives in Victorian England, shopping was their first taste of real freedom, and the starting point for their push into public life, explains historian Erika Diane Rappaport.

“During a period in which a family’s respectability and social position depended upon the idea that the middle-class wife and daughter remain apart from the market, politics, and public space, the female shopper was an especially disruptive figure,” she writes in her history Shopping For Pleasure.


Bazaars and markets are as old as civilisation, of course. But the idea of ambling through stores, sipping on cocoa, and admiring (but not necessarily buying) the merchandise – that is a thoroughly modern activity that first gained popularity in 1800s. And for the time, it was also a minor scandal.

As urban centres coalesced in the 19th century, they were primarily the domain of men. Cities were sites of politics and business. Women weren’t entirely excluded, says historian Mica Nava, but their public presence was scarce. They could attend galleries and exhibitions with a male chaperon, for instance; and some shopping did exist, but primarily among wealthy ladies.

What changed in the 19th century was industrialisation and the manufacturing revolution, which churned out furniture, flatware, and clothing in dazzling volumes. The explosion in the variety and availability of affordable consumer goods meant that the growing middle class could suddenly buy things just for the joy of it. And the task of tastefully selecting among these luxury goods fell to the women.

Shopping gave middle-class women a foothold in the modern city, and for many, a new pastime. Soon, housewives started roaming the city under the pretense of buying things.

By this new definition, “shopping” didn’t always involve an actual purchase. It was about the pleasures of perusing – taking in the sights, the displays, the people.


Not everyone was happy about the intrusion of women into urban life. Even in the late 1800s, many still looked down on ladies who walked the streets without a male chaperon. Newspaper columnists condemned their shopping habits as salacious acts of public consumerism.

“Perhaps nothing was more revolting than the spectacle of a middle-class woman immersed in the filthy, fraudulent, and dangerous world of the urban marketplace,” Rappaport writes.

But urban retailers eagerly welcomed the women. They invented places like the department store, where women could shop comfortably, surrounded by amenities, and in semi-private.

“By providing a reason – shopping – for women to appear unescorted in public, as well as arranging safe spaces like restrooms and tea rooms where women could gather or sit alone without fear of being molested by men… department stores also made it possible for women to leave the domestic space of the home and lay claim to the centre of the city,” write sociologists Sharon Zukin and Jennifer Smith Maguire.

Slowly, the city reconfigured itself in response to the demands of shopping women. In the London of the early 1800s, suburban women day-trippers often had no place to eat lunch or even use the restroom. But soon, Rappaport writes, feminists were pressuring the city government to install public lavatories. Women’s clubs and tea shops sprang up for women to grab a bite in between their shopping excursions.

With these social changes came new social ills. On both sides of the Atlantic, there was an outbreak of shoplifting. But since the perpetrators were typically well-to-do women, they weren’t thrown in jail, explains historian Elaine Abelson. Doctors decided that this was a medical condition related to their uteruses, and invented the disease “kleptomania”.

This epidemic of petty, middle-class crime made huge waves in the popular culture, where there were songs and movies about female shoplifters. The act of acquiring things was increasingly seen as its own pleasure, and many women blamed department stores for being temples of temptation.


By the early 1900s, London’s shopping scene also became a battleground for the women’s suffrage movement, who went on window-smashing raids against the same stores that relied on their business. The suffragettes took advantage of women’s newfound place in urban life, which allowed them for the first time to move freely in parts of the city.

“Suddenly women who had a moment before appeared to be on peaceful shopping expeditions produced from bags or muffs, hammers, stones and sticks, and began an attack upon the nearest windows,” one Daily Telegrapharticle described, according to Rappaport. These violent efforts eventually helped women in England win the vote in 1918.

Now a century later, this world of militant suffragettes and male chaperons sounds like an alien planet. We take for granted a lot of the changes that were set into motion when department stores gave women an excuse to take more and more excursions outside the home.

It’s of course sexist that shopping today is still perceived as a “girlie” activity. But at the time, shopping helped women assert themselves and assert their economic importance in a society that denied them a larger role in the public sphere.

As Rappaport writes, “For women with few public activities and limited employment and educational options, shopping allowed them to occupy and construct urban space.” (And, daresay, suburban malls served something of the same purpose for the boys and girls of the 80s and 90s.)

So let’s sidestep all of those French philosophers who have written so scathingly about consumption culture, except to concede that yes, we often buy things because it is fashionable, and yes, we often buy things that we don’t need. So what? Our consumerist habits are not going away. They’re just moving online.

What is disappearing is the shopping mall – and with it, the notion of shopping as a social activity. It’s OK to be nostalgic for all that once symbolised.Read more at:pink formal dresses

Diamonds, not marriage, are forever for China’s millennials

Jily Ji was 24 when she got her first diamond ring, a 2.5-carat solitaire given to her by her parents. In the three years since, the executive assistant from Shanghai has amassed a 15-piece diamond collection, including a ring, pendant earrings and necklaces that she bought for herself.

“We don’t have to passively wait to be gifted a diamond by a man,” the unmarried college graduate said. “Diamond jewelry is a natural way to express ourselves. It’s a far better investment than most fashion items as it won’t only gain value, but can also be passed down through the generations.”

Financially independent, college-educated and born in China after 1980, Ms Ji personifies a key consumer group the world’s diamond industry is counting on for growth. So-called millennials now account for 68 per cent of diamond jewelry sales by value in the world’s most-populous country – worth US$6.76 billion last year, according to research by De Beers SA, the world’s biggest diamond producer.

Millennial women – defined by De Beers as those aged from 18 to 34 – spent about US$26 billion on diamond jewelry in 2015 in the world’s four main markets, acquiring more than any other generation, chief executive officer Bruce Cleaver said in a report in September. These 220 million potential diamond consumers are still a decade away from their most affluent life stage, representing a “significant opportunity” for the industry, Mr Cleaver said.

Tapping them could buoy prices from the gems, which dropped 18 per cent last year, the most since 2008.

Diamonds have caught the eye of Chinese consumers only recently because of their exposure to western lifestyles and marketing, said Ms Ji, a business-English graduate, who counts Harry Winston Inc and Tiffany & Co among her favourite diamond jewelers. Her mother, for example, is more likely to purchase jade or gold jewelry, she said.

For Chinese millennials, diamonds are more of a fashionable mark of achievement instead of a symbol of everlasting love, said Joan Xu, Shanghai-based associate planning director at J Walter Thompson, an advertising agency. The trend is changing how companies such as Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd and Shanghai-traded Lao Feng Xiang Co are designing and marketing jewelry in China.

Chow Tai Fook, the market leader in Chinese jewelry with a 5.7 per cent share, bought Boston-based Hearts on Fire Co for US$150 million in 2014, giving it a greater selection of unique, millennial-preferred pieces, including earrings and pendants with multiple small diamonds embedded in precious metals.

“We need to tap into this audience very quickly with designs for millennials that are more practical and fashionable, such as mixing gold with diamond,” Chow Tai Fook executive director Adrian Cheng said in an interview in Hong Kong.

Chow Tai Fook, for whom millennials make up half its clientele, will introduce new lines and products by the end of 2017 and has signed spokespersons including 29-year-old South Korean actor-singer Li Min-ho and rapper G-Dragon, 28, to reach millennial buyers, Mr Cheng said.

That may help the Hong Kong-based retailer, which operates more than 2,000 jewelry and luxury watch outlets, boost sales and profit, which have slumped since mid-2014 as an economic slowdown and crackdown on graft dampened Chinese demand for luxury goods.

Shanghai-based Lao Feng Xiang, which is majority-owned by the Shanghai government with 3,000 stores throughout China and 5.4 per cent of the market, is also working to offer more choice for millennial women, said marketing manager Wang Ensheng.

“This consumer isn’t looking for super expensive jewelry,” Mr Wang said in a telephone interview. “She’s chasing fashion, she changes outfits every day, and wants jewelry to match. What we need to provide for her are pieces that are personalised, unique – but not too expensive, as she’ll possess many, not just one diamond piece.”

The young middle-class are the target for Luk Fook Holdings International Ltd, said its executive director Nancy Wong. Hong-Kong based Luk Fook, which has 1,400 stores in mainland China and a 0.7 per cent market share, will provide manicurists in some of its stores and “handsome” chauffeurs to win over females customers, she said.

Independence is the top trait Chinese millennial women identify with, according to a Female Tribes survey conducted by J Walter Thompson that interviewed 4,300 women across nine countries about a year ago. More than two in five Chinese respondents said financial independence was more important than marriage, and 32 per cent identified success as financial independence.

Pandora A/S, the Denmark-based maker of silver charm bracelets, said it’s intentionally staying away from love-centric marketing. This year, Pandora doubled its number of stores throughout China from 43 to 81.

“You won’t see a couple in our images,” said Isabella Mann, Pandora’s Hong Kong-based vice president of marketing for Asia on the phone. “That has been a premeditated decision. We want our brands to appeal to as many people as possible, and we think it’s dated to show a lovey-dovey couple in a jewelry ad.”

That may be wise. An unfavourable demographic shift leading to fewer weddings has resulted in a “tepid” outlook for Hong Kong-listed jewelry companies, HSBC Global Research analysts Lina Yan, Karen Choi, Erwan Rambourg and Vishal Goel said in an October report. They forecast that wedding rates would fall 1 per cent in each of the next two years because of a decline in the population of millennial women.

Divorce in China has also risen, with more than 3.84 million couples splitting up in 2015, a 5.6 per cent increase from the year before, said China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs in July. The national divorce rate is now 2.8 per 1,000 individuals, up from 0.9 in 2002.

“Companies that are built on the institution of marriage, like diamond companies, will struggle a little bit unless they evolve,” said J Walter Thompson’s Ms Xu. “The idea was that marriage is eternal – like diamonds – but what happens when marriage is not seen as eternal anymore?”

Millennials getting divorced could ultimately be positive for the diamond industry. De Beers’ research from the US found that Americans spend 20 per cent more on the diamond ring bought for their second marriage than their first, said Stephen Lussier, De Beers’ executive vice president for marketing on the phone.

“There’s no reason why second marriages in China should not take the same trend as in the US,” he said. “This gives us an opportunity at a larger market.”Read more at:blue formal dresses | yellow formal dresses

‘My beauty brand is growing into shades for people of colour’

Drew Barrymore 

(Photo:formal dresses 2016)Actress Drew Barrymore would like to make her Flower Beauty cosmetics line more culturally inclusive by selling it online.

The Blended star announced this week (beg05Dec16) she will begin selling her makeup and fragrance products online, via the brand’s website, and although her wares are still exclusively sold through U.S. retailer Wal-Mart, she is hoping an internet presence will prove expansive.

“As we go into e-commerce next year, with that venue and platform we’ll be able to have even more shades,” Drew told Women’s Wear Daily reporters. “We’re not like Maybelline, Revlon, Cover Girl, L’Oréal (Paris)…they get to have 28 shades and we’re working with eight to 10.”

The actress-turned-entrepreneur’s brand only has shades favouring light skin with pink or yellow undertones and it is really important for her to create product hues for brown and dark skin tones.

“We try to be analytical in the skin tones and foundations, as well as passionate and creative,” she explains. “I’m very aware of the pink (undertones), the yellow…I wish we could do even more.”

However, when it came to the design of her new Shimmer and Shade eye shadow palettes, Barrymore concluded it would be best to run with more neutral shades.

“As I’ve built palettes in the past, I would always try to throw that one colour in… and it’s like people don’t really use the pumpkin,” she mused. “I learned my lesson on pumpkin.”

The same lesson applied with her Life and Sculpt contouring palettes and the Shimmer and Strobe highlighting palettes, with Drew detailing: “I’ve learned the hard way that the (highlighting and contouring) pigments are tough on your skin… you are blending and blending. With shades that are elegant and light, you can always put on more.”Read more at:formal dresses sydney

Nataleah and the Nation: Politics and fashion

Women in politics are constantly being observed. We care about what they say, what they wear, who they’re supporting, where they’re vacationing and why they chose to dedicate their lives to public service. For the wives of politicians, life is especially difficult. Not only must they maintain a flawless personal appearance, but they must also be their partner’s biggest cheerleader. They must be humble, yet confident; demure, not sexy; delicate, yet strong; and intelligent, not cunning.

They must balance upon the fine line of public opinion without faltering.

The First Lady of the United States is in a particularly difficult position. Not only must she abide by the standards of the women who came before her, but she must also set precedent for those to come. Specifically, in regards to fashion, the FLOTUS is automatically an icon. What she wears to a casual tea with the German Prime Minister will be broadcast on the front pages of every tabloid on the planet. If she is flawless, she will be praised. If her stylist had an artistic breakdown, she will be ridiculed.

A color choice can signal benevolence or animosity. Given the right shoes, as Marilyn Monroe once recommended, she rules the world.

However, although it may seem romantic to sway public opinion with a hat selection, it is important to understand what it means to have this kind of power. As the FLOTUS, you are never given a day off. You must be flawless in every capacity—and even if you do achieve perfection, many people will still critique you. Regardless of your entrepreneurial, collegiate, philanthropic or intellectual pursuits, people will remember what you wore, not what you achieved.

Your accomplishments will follow you like a faithful entourage at the Oscars. Your gown will always steal the show, not your multiple degrees from Ivy League institutions.

Take Michelle Obama: a successful wife, mother, lawyer and advocate for social change. She is a highly skilled and accomplished woman. She is well-respected in many circles and was a successful woman long before she tied the knot with the future President of the United States. But what do we care about? What does the fashion industry care about? What she wore. The things that she did as First Lady received praise, but not our full attention. Do we look into the specifics of her health initiatives, or do we care about the purple dress she wore to meet Melania Trump? Do we care about the number of cases she won as a successful attorney? Or do we pay attention to how she decided to wear her hair on a particular Thursday?

And how are we judging the future First Lady, Melania Trump? Do we care about her potential? Do we care about her diplomatic potential as a woman who can speak five languages? No, we care that she once posed nude for a magazine. We care that she was a former model. We care that she wore a “pussy bow” after her husband’s comments about sexual assault. We care that she is tall, thin and attractive. We care more about her fashion sense than her business acumen.

The incredibly successful women who stand with their husbands are critiqued like posh accessories at a Christie’s auction.

So what should change? We need to rethink what it means to be a woman in politics. It should not mean that the FLOTUS’s primary duty is to dress well or be physically fit. She should be able to wear what she thinks best suits her without the world providing a plethora of inputs. She should be able to come in any shape or size. We should not judge male politicians on the attractiveness of their wives. She should be acknowledged for her intellectual accomplishments as a man would. She should not be called a bitch if she doesn’t smile, a whore if her hemline is a quarter-inch too short or a prude if she chooses to be simple and conservative.

The glass ceiling remains. Look how they treated Hillary Clinton, look how they treat Michelle Obama, look how they are beginning to treat Melania Trump. Yes, there are many differences between men and women. But a woman’s place is in the House, Senate and White House. She should not have to make her way to the top by flashing a smile, effortlessly accessorizing or sweating away 3000 calories at the gym. She should get there because she is capable and persistent. If a poor suit decision can’t ruin a man’s career, then a fashion statement shouldn’t ruin a woman’s.Read more at:bridesmaid dresses | short formal dresses