Category Archives: fashion

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.

A MINOR SCANDAL

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.

SAFE SPACES

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.

THE NEW BATTLEGROUND

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 Flowerbeauty.com, 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

Julia Franco on her social enterprise, The Wearable Library

 

(Photo:one shoulder formal dresses)Originally from Brazil, Julia Franco moved to Durban four years ago. With a qualification in fashion and marketing, she decided to use her knowledge and expertise to empower the community in the city.

Upon her arrival, Franco (32) started looking into how she could pursue her love of fashion – while uplifting the community.

She says she fell in love with shweshwe, and decided to intertwine her love for the people and the city with this popular fabric.

Franco then set out to find businesses that could make shweshwe clothing, but she struggled to find places that provided high-quality fabric as well as the service.

She then decided to teach elderly and migrant women in Durban to sew so they could earn an income. What makes the initiative special is that each garment conveys the story of the woman who made it, connecting the buyer to the maker.

“The Wearable Library aims to create employment for women, train them and also get a professionally finished product,” Franco says. “On the tag of each fashion item, is the story of the woman who made it.

“We want the person who buys the garment to know the woman behind it, their background, age, why they made it and so on.”

She’s always been passionate about community upliftment and the role that fashion can play in society. “I wanted to change people’s perception of fashion to something positive; fashion can be beautiful and inspiring – we should use that inspiration to change the whole system,” she says.

Franco says that it’s of paramount importance that the story of the women who make the clothing is shared. She says there are many entrepreneurs and workshops that exploit and abuse people’s skills. Franco wants the seamstress to be known because it encourages fair trade.

The women are not only equipped with skills but are also paid more than the average wage, although it does depend on the garment.

Once the women have been trained and are equipped with the necessary skills, they aren’t expected to stay with The Wearable Library – rather, the initiative encourages and supports entrepreneurship.

The entrepreneur says she used her savings to start the business and that it’s now maintaining itself.

Items are sold on the business’ online store, and have even been bought from customers in countries such as Brazil, Spain and America.

She says it warms her heart to better the lives of less fortunate people and enable them to provide for their families. Another highlight has been how well received the initiative has been in Brazil – so much so, it received an award at Brazil Design Week.

Getting people to understand and buy into the concept has proved to be a challenge for Franco. She adds that the cultural significance of shweshwe was also something she had to come to understand. “When we started buying shweshwe, people didn’t like that we were using it for daily and not ceremonial purposes. We then decided to use the fabric in a modern way and not interfere with the cultural designs.”

Franco says that starting this social enterprise has taught her that when people come together and work as a community, things are more likely to succeed.Read more at:mermaid formal dresses

From Victoria Beckham to Rihanna

It’s almost not enough any more for a celebrity to be content with winning a Grammy or a Golden Globe, or even an Oscar. These days, it appears that the most well-rounded

and successful celebrities must also be fashion designers, leveraging their style and public profiles into brisk sales on the department store floor.

From Victoria Beckham, Hilary Swank and Jessica Simpson, to Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Richie, they have all parlayed their significant followings at the box office or concert stadium into impressive retail businesses.

Simpson, who was previously best known for wearing a pair of Daisy Dukes in the Dukes of Hazzard remake in 2005, and who was a reality TV show star before that, has gone

on to build a fashion and accessories empire – her brand reportedly brings in US$1 billion in sales a year. Victoria Beckham’s brand, which operates at a much higher end of the market – her dresses are well over HK$10,000 – has been around since 2008, and annual sales are around the US$40 million mark. Paris Hilton, who has gone from socialite to reality TV show star to tabloid fodder to model and DJ, now has some 60 boutiques around the world selling jeans, T-shirts, bags and accessories under her name, and plans to open another 200. Sales of her 20 fragrances alone, according to reports, have brought in US$2 billion since the first was launched a decade ago. Swank is the new kid on the block – the American actress recently launched Mission Statement, an athleisure brand that offers clothes that are as fashionable as they

are functional. Asian celebrities are also jumping on the bandwagon – Chinese supermodel Lu Yan, for example, established her own fashion brand Comme Moi last year and the brand is now stocked by prestigious retailers such as Lane Crawford.

The question most often asked about “celeb-designed” lines is, Just how much do those celebrities have to do with what shows up on the shelves of the stores bearing their names? Do they simply license out their names and then sit on the sidelines, or are they in the design studio, comparing swatches and picking out colour palettes?

“I’m such a part of the everyday process,” says Nicole Richie, a reality TV show star – and celebutante daughter of Lionel Richie – who has evolved into a successful and credible designer. With her readyto-wear and accessories line, House of Harlow 1960, she recently entered into a collaboration with the popular Los Angeles-based e-tail site Revolve. In creating the new monthly offerings for Revolve, Richie

doesn’t sit at her home and remotely monitor what’s going on from a distance. She says she works face-to-face with her design team regularly.

“I’m down at the factory all the time,” she says. “Being able to relate directly to the consumer gives me an opportunity to tell my story. I live and breathe it. I wouldn’t spend my time doing it if I couldn’t be 100 per cent there.”

Often, even the celebrities themselves can hardly believe how popular their collections are. British supermodel and actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who is engaged to fellow-Briton and action star Jason Statham, has been designing a lingerie line for British retail stalwart Marks & Spencer for four years, and says, “it’s growing so rapidly every day I can’t even believe it … It blows my mind”.

Huntington-Whiteley, who was recently appointed the global ambassador for casual footwear line UGG, says her collaboration with Marks & Spencer “is going from strength to strength” following the launch of a makeup collection this year, and with more “exciting things” happening in 2017.

The question most often asked about “celeb-designed” lines is, Just how much do those celebrities have to do with what shows up on the shelves of the stores bearing their names? Do they simply license out their names and then sit on the sidelines, or are they in the design studio, comparing swatches and picking out colour palettes?

“I’m such a part of the everyday process,” says Nicole Richie, a reality TV show star – and celebutante daughter of Lionel Richie – who has evolved into a successful and credible designer. With her readyto-wear and accessories line, House of Harlow 1960, she recently entered into a collaboration with the popular Los Angeles-based e-tail site Revolve. In creating the new monthly offerings for Revolve, Richie

doesn’t sit at her home and remotely monitor what’s going on from a distance. She says she works face-to-face with her design team regularly.

“I’m down at the factory all the time,” she says. “Being able to relate directly to the consumer gives me an opportunity to tell my story. I live and breathe it. I wouldn’t spend my time doing it if I couldn’t be 100 per cent there.”

Often, even the celebrities themselves can hardly believe how popular their collections are. British supermodel and actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who is engaged to fellow-Briton and action star Jason Statham, has been designing a lingerie line for British retail stalwart Marks & Spencer for four years, and says, “it’s growing so rapidly every day I can’t even believe it … It blows my mind”.

Huntington-Whiteley, who was recently appointed the global ambassador for casual footwear line UGG, says her collaboration with Marks & Spencer “is going from strength to strength” following the launch of a makeup collection this year, and with more “exciting things” happening in 2017.

And while Paris Hilton may indeed be a force to be reckoned with in the retail world, it’s unlikely you’ll see a Hollywood hipster wearing a “Paris” sparkly T-shirt anytime soon. The dozens of stores that bear her name and sell her fashion and accessories are in the Middle East, with more soon to open in China and India. Hilton has 17 product lines, with combined global sales netting her many millions of dollars. She says that any presumption that she does nothing but sit back and watch her bank balance grow is completely false. Indeed, she had to work hard to be taken seriously. Now, she says, people see her “in a board room and how I am and what I’ve accomplished”.

“I think I’ve proven myself,” Hilton says. “I work really hard. I optimise my time.”Read more at:bridesmaid dresses | marieaustralia.com

Editor’s letter: December 2016

Editor's letter: December 2016 

(Photo:formal dresses perth)Vogue sits at the pointy end of the junction where fashion meets art. While we hope to show you clothes you want to wear, we also want to inspire you to appreciate the creative genius of the greatest designers as you pore over these pages. I believe fashion exhibitions that celebrate designers’ genius are essential, not just because they inspire budding fashion students to dream large, but also because they encourage deeper thought about what we wear, and an appreciation of the cultural significance of fashion.

Clothes tell us so much about our identity and the history of the times in which they were created. But the best designers go further, challenging our perceptions of the world around us and commenting on the society we live in through their creations.

This month we celebrate the superb exhibition of the work of Dutch designersViktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, on page 198. Viktor & Rolf: Fashion Artists is presently showing at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). The designers opened the show, which features more than 35 exquisite haute couture garments, 21 hand-made porcelain dolls in miniaturised couture, plus never-before-seen tapestries, archival video and photographs.

I’ve seen many Viktor & Rolf shows, some ready-to-wear and a few spellbinding haute couture shows too. Since forming their artistic partnership in 1992, Horsting and Snoeren have gained critical acclaim for the rebellious manner with which they mine their impressive knowledge of art history and fascination with technology and the world around them to inform their creativity. Theirs is fashion for art’s sake, made more possible since they closed their more commercial ready-to-wear line to focus solely on their fragrances and haute couture.

The NGV exhibition was curated by Thierry-Maxime Loriot, who was also the brains behind the blockbuster exhibition The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier, which you may recall Vogue also collaborated on by publishing a special issue dedicated to the designer’s work. The NGV and other galleries around the country are doing a fantastic job in bringing these inspiring fashion feasts to Australian audiences, and at Vogue we thank them for it.

While we are on the subject of incredible exhibitions, David Hockney: Current opens November 11 at the NGV and is not to be missed either. Read our interview with the artist on page 248.

It’s been a great year for Vogue during which we have launched VogueCodes, and celebrated and shopped with you at Vogue American Express Fashion’s Night Out in Sydney and Melbourne and Vogue Fair on the Gold Coast. As 2016 comes to a close we wish you and your families a happy holiday season and look forward to delighting and exciting you in 2017. Please enjoy this little gift from us, our final edition for the year, in which we salute some of fashion’s most creative minds.Read more at:formal dresses canberra

How Yemi Alade Hustled Her Way To Become The Queen Of Afrobeats

Yemi Alade gives everything up on stage. There’s a video of the Nigerian artist performing at London’s Wembley Arena as part of Dance Afrique in summer 2015 that finds her lost in the emotion of her yearning ballad, “Duro Timi.” Dressed in a sequined bodycon playsuit with peaked fluoro shoulders, she gestured emphatically into the crowd, seized the microphone stand as if removing an obstacle in front of her, and broke into angular dance moves. Alade’s facial expressions flipped from tender to outraged as she commanded the focus of the crowd with ease.

On a cloudy summer’s day a year later, Alade sat in her U.K. press manager’s cozy living room thoughtfully watching back the same performance on a television. By most measures it was a triumph, but it turns out that she’d been battling more than the usual stage nerves that day: there was a fire at her hotel, and she’d run out with only time to grab her phone, Bible, and stage outfit. “Whether the building burned to the ground or not, I was going to perform!” she said with a wide, knowing smile. “I was ready to die on that stage.”

Alade has achieved a kind of cult status worldwide, but in Africa she’s a bonafide superstar. Last year, she won Best Female at the MTV African Music Awards, her most recent album hit No.1 on the continent’s iTunes chart, and she was named an ambassador for Africa Fashion Week this past April. In a continent rich with numerous national and regional music scenes, the key to Alade’s success has been her ability to find connections between cultures through music. On her fantastic 2016 album Mama Africa she draws from Ghanaian highlife, Ivorian dance music style coupé-décalé, as well as American hip-hop and pop, in a sharpening of sounds she calls “afropolitan.”As an artist from humble beginnings who releases on the small, independent label Effyzzie Music Group, Alade’s success is hard won. She had a brief brush with stardom after winning Nigeria’s Peak Talent Show in 2009, but her alternative point of view really started to shine through in her 2014 breakout single “Johnny,” which borrowed from afrobeats stars L.A.X and Wizkid’s playboy anthem“Caro,” but reworked the boys’ search for the perfect woman into a worldwide hunt for her straying lover. The track’s success — 52 million views and counting — allowed Alade to pinball off their fame and forge her own lane. With no plans to slow down, she’s following up the summer dance hit “Koffi Anan” with the fantastically fun video for “Tumbum,” premiering on The FADER today.

Perched on a sofa, she spoke honestly about her years of graft, breaking boundaries as a businesswoman, and how to navigate global success while keeping your identity intact.

Your new single “Tumbum” discusses how food is central to Nigerian culture. Why was this important for you to explore?

In Nigeria, food isn’t just for consumption but is a cultural representation. Different states in the country are known for their indigenous delicacies. Permit me to say, ‘by their food you shall know them.’ It’s true that the “Tumbum” video only briefly sheds light on rural areas in Nigeria; I wanted it to be relatable for Africa as a whole.

How would you compare the creation of your latest album, Mama Africa, to that of your previous one King of Queens?

The process was more of a struggle. After the release of King of Queens I was basically never at home. I was in another country almost every day, and I can’t record on a flight. The announcement system would be all over the record! I didn’t have time to settle down, or to put my personal studio together. But through that struggle, my thought process turned into a goal: to capture all of Africa on one CD.

It’s quite an ambitious concept. These genres and styles are from all around Africa, and they’re not all not ones that you grew up with.

We picked [collaborators] from west Africa, east Africa, from south Africa. We left out north Africa, but I still infused one or two of their cultures in my videos. [But] the African way is always constant. To a large extent the sounds are the same; the only difference really is the language and how it’s delivered.Throughout your career you’ve recorded songs in different languages, like French or Swahili. Is that reflective of a desire to reach your fans in those markets?

Definitely. I’m a lover of languages, and sometimes I’m even a lover of accents. The French version of “Johnny” was for fun, but for“Kissing” there was more of a goal — I wanted it to mean more to my listeners. If I sing one of my songs in your language, you can totally own it. My dad is Yoruba and my mom is Igbo, so those two languages are kind of in my pocket. I speak English — something we call vernacular pidgin English — but when it comes to international languages I’m stuck on French right now. I’m working on Swahili and hopefully at some point I might learn Portuguese.

Has being half Yoruba and half Igbo helped you access different cultures?

I couldn’t have put it better. Tribe is a very strong factor in Nigeria, and coming from two major tribes is a big plus for me. Personally, it’s helped me embrace both cultures, and you can see through the fact that it’s all just one culture. Just some different names attached to it and different languages.

Afrobeats is sometimes thought of by Western audiences as one genre, even though it contains so many styles of music. What do you think about all these different genres being sold under this umbrella term?

What can we do? I was born into a world where afrobeats is the major genre, and [musicians] have all created our own type of genre [within it]. I personally think anyone who is fighting about the fact that we’re all in the afrobeats genre is just hitting their head against the wall because you can’t fight the truth. If you think you’re not of the afrobeats lineage, why don’t you just create your [own lineage]?

Your father was a police commissioner. Was your household political when you were growing up?

My dad wasn’t a very political person, and he never held any political office or anything like that. I’m not very interested in politics myself, [but] I feel very strongly for the need for human rights and giving back to my society. Female rights, definitely. My job is to provide new music and I wouldn’t want to over-stretch myself, but I have a voice. So when I can speak, I will speak.

It was about four years between winning the Peak Talent Show and “Johnny” becoming a hit. Was that time a struggle?

Four years is a very long time, I tell you! I was faced with so many obstacles that I reached the point where I wanted to stop music and use my degree to get a job so I could finally sustain myself and have a life. I had 10 singles already out there; I’m lucky I had [my producer] encouraging me.

At the time, I had no idea that [“Johnny”] was my numero uno hit that I was writing. The lyrics just came to myself and [producer] Selebobo when we were trying to get into the mood of the song: one line came out, then another, like, Continue, continue! I kept laughing. When you read the lyrics they’re very funny, it’s about a cheating lover in an almost friendly way. In fact, the song wasn’t officially released — it leaked. If it hadn’t, I could have just kept the song, like,Oh, no one’s going to like this. It was very different from anything I’d recorded so far.Read more at:marieaustralia.com | long formal dresses

A plus-size apology

Leading US designer Prabal Gurung has written an emotional apology to plus-size women for the way they are treated by the fashion industry.

“As someone who was always seen as ‘different,’ I am well acquainted with the feeling that my needs were not mainstream enough to be met by society,” Gurung wrote on the website Lenny. “I know what it feels like to be slighted, and I’m embarrassed that we as an industry have overlooked hundreds of millions of women.”

The diminutive Gurung moved to the US from Nepal 16 years ago and worked with Cynthia Rowley and Bill Blass before launching his own label that has been embraced by First Lady Michelle Obama.

“Our industry was being lauded for supposedly coming such a long way – our runways are more racially diverse than ever and have begun to habitually feature models who are transgender or gender-fluid,”Gurung wrote. “A woman from the audience raised the question of size, or rather the apparent lack of size diversity, pointing to a major hole in our industry. Our panel gave a dismissive ‘We’ll eventually get to you …’ response, then moved on, as though the strides we had already made by being diverse in other ways made it OK to ignore the majority of American women.”

In a step forward Gurung will work with US plus-size retailer Lane Bryant on an exclusive collection to be launched in March.

“Prabal is a master at mixing materials, fabrics and textures — he pulls it off in such a way that each piece becomes its own artistic statement,” said Lane Bryant chief executive Linda Heasley. “His ingenuity at mixing sporty ease with unabashed glamour has made his label a huge success. We are delighted to welcome him to Lane Bryant and offer his innovative fashions, spirit, and unique styles to the Lane Bryant customer.”

Gurung follows in the footsteps of Project Runway contestant Christian Siriano, Sophie Theallet and Isabel Toledo.

“We have spent countless years understanding, admiring, and appreciating some of the women in our world,” Gurung wrote. “It is now time to get to know and respect the rest.”Read more at:www.marieaustralia.com/long-formal-dresses | elegant evening dresses

Costume Drama

Like your wedding, you want your dress to be unique. You also want to know the hottest trends in bridal wear. According to fashion experts less is no longer more. Opulence, elegance and glamour are the buzz, so beads, crystals, diamantes and intricate embroideries add drama and sparkle to this season’s wedding attires. The most popular bridal wear for young brides are usually lehengas, heavily embellished kurta sets and saris. For cocktail wear, one can opt for corsets teamed with fitted lehengas jazzed up with Swarovski crystals and sequins.

Bridal trends:

When it comes to wedding trends, they are centred around bold and bright hues and few pastel colour schemes. Vibrant red, bold turquoise, bright greens as well as bright yellow and peach tones are also some of the top colour trends for the 2016 wedding season. Elegant and classy is back in style. Modern brides these days favour costumes with more drama. From heavily embellished wedding dresses to sleek, minimal embroideries in subtle hues, to blush-coloured confections, to classic silhouettes splashed with intricate zardozi work.

Keeping the latest bridal trends in mind, Diva’ni – fashion house – showcased its coveted Couture 2016 Bridal Collection, ‘Bagh-e-Bahar’, against the backdrop of the historic city of Lahore at Haveli Barood Khana, recently. Sultry and bold, it was a bridal extravaganza with the collection painstakingly crafted across 300 days by 1000 artists with more than 10 million stitches, ‘Bagh-e-Bahar’ managed to bring back the classic Mughal era. Head turner, Mahira Khan walked for the label as the most sought after fashionista and, gave us major fashion goals with the way she carried a heavy bridal jora and made it look like her own.

Bridal looks:

Modern day bride is now ready to evolve and go beyond shades of red, deep pink and antique gold. Colours like aqua blue and green are now popping up to be really hot trends this season. Once again smokey eyes and false eyelashes will be continuing to make an appearance at weddings this year; however, expect to see some softer colours used on the eyes.

At the show, makeup was kept minimal to let the clothes do all the talking offsetting with jewellery for an added panache. The trends marked the seasonal change while setting the perfect mood for hair and makeup inspiration for your wedding day. From soft dewy skin to natural makeup and centre parting, we witnessed styles in bridal beauty and the way models at Mehreen Syed, Cybil, Neha and others carried this all-natural eye-catching look.

Hair and makeup by team N-Pro/Nabilas, as always did a great job by providing their expertise. In keeping with the theme an ethnic, traditional look was created to match the glory of the ensembles. Gelled back buns with centre parting was the mainstay hair trend; it was made visually attractive by adding a bunch of red roses put together as hair accessory signifying the theme of ‘Bagh-e-Bahar’.

The magnificent show:

It was Diva’ni’s debut show in Lahore attended by the likes of designer Kamiar Rokni, Ali Xeeshan, Saira of Saira Shakira, Nickie Nina, Munib Nawaz along with Mahgul and Shiza Hassan along with others from fashion’s A-list.

Down the dusty, narrow streets of inner Lahore is the significant Haveli where the magnificent set up was experienced on the night with the most breathtaking decor that one imagines in a land far, far away – it was enough to attract the who’s who of Lahore and they came with all their might. Taking ones breath away on the first glance were the wilted crushed red roses, live music played by the musicians near the entrance. Yet it was the lingering ‘Rose Affect’ that left many in awe.

The evening was opened with a live performance by the maestro Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan which was followed by an interactive 360 bridal showcase spread over the Haveli featuring ensembles from ‘Bagh-e-Bahar’. If on the one hand Diva’ni presented a mosaic inspired by world architecture, it was then juxtaposed against ancient Persian garden motifs, all brought together by the signature vintage rose motif across fabrics hand-woven with sheer intricacy.

Creative director Diva’ni Saniya Dhir from India and local partner Shakil Zandani were present there and looked visibly proud. While calling the collection ‘dramatic’ and ‘opulent’ which Raj productions are all about Dhir reiterated that the collection matched the setting and questioned how could the clothes not be?

“Bagh-e-Bahar’ celebrates the sheer majesty and richness of the Sub Continent’s shared heritage and historic legacy. Every ensemble has been crafted as a masterpiece where each silhouette recites poetry of a bygone era and each hue has been plucked from the canvases of historic art. We are delighted to introduce ‘Bagh-e-Bahar’ in Lahore,” said Saniya Dhir.Read more at:www.marieaustralia.com/cocktail-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/bridesmaid-dresses