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judy smith Apr 2017
Presumably the next big thing will be soles — socks with holes. Or maybe zits — pants with zips.

It’s made me wonder what else is ahead for us this season, so I headed to the mall to find out.

Topshop proclaims the return of triple denim (noooo!), the corset and coats worn as dresses. The latter should be worn undone to the waist and half falling off in order to “create a cold-shoulder silhouette”. Doesn’t make such sense during a Melbourne winter, I must say.

Topshop also has a very worrying item called a “monochrome gingham flute tie sleeve top”, which looks to me very much like a chequered table napkin worn backwards with ribbons at the elbows keeping the sleeves on. I’ll pass on that one.

Over at H&M;, winter’s “new mood” is all about “sustainable style” containing recycled materials. That means a simple flannel top is reborn as “conscious fashion” and a blue worker-style singlet becomes a “lyocell vest top”.

What would they call hi-vis? Apparently, the fash pack call it “haute reflecture”. Yes, really.

Most concerning is a shirt with “trumpet sleeves” so wide they’d need a separate seat at a restaurant. Even then they would end up dipping into the dinner of the person sitting at the next table. It may help you work out what to order, but it’s not likely to win you any friends.

At Zara it’s all about a “limited edition ballet dress” that will look perfect under a “moto jacket” Did they forget the r? Or are they too cool for correct spelling?

There is also something very strange called “over-the-knee high-heel sock boots”, which are $100. Give them to someone you loathe this Easter.

Zara also wants us to wear “Mum-fit jeans with side stripes”, which will no doubt just draw more unwelcome attention to the dreaded maternal hips. Who needs that?

They also have a velvet sack-style dress with a drawstring at the mid-thigh. It’s the style that doesn’t discriminate — it’s guaranteed to look unflattering on everyone.

So what other trends should we be running away from this season? Fashion insiders tell me “street-chic utilitarianism” is all the rage. That seems to involve wearing a flak jacket 10 sizes too big in a rotting-flesh colour paired with floral leggings with built-in shoes.

There’s also “new shirting”, which looks to me like the same thing as “old shirting” but has the added disadvantage of being just about to fall off your shoulders at the most inopportune time.

Trust me, you don’t need that and you don’t need an ironic-slogan T-shirt that tells the world “This was not a gift” or “This is a white T-shirt”.

I am also quite interested to know that “bra out” is apparently a trend and I wonder if that means I should stop tucking my daggy mum-bra straps into my tops.

Now, as someone who spent most of Wednesday this week at work with a large shop store label hanging out of the back of my skirt, I’m obviously not a huge fashionista.

But even I can see that never before has there been such a gap between clothes the fashion-conscious labels are promoting and everyday pieces we actually want to wear. You know, clothes that are well priced, well made, last more than a few seasons and aren’t made by five-year-old Bangladeshi orphans.

THERE’S no doubt something very weird is going on when there’s a waiting list for Yves Saint Laurent’s $10,000 jewelled boots and jewellery made of real succulents is being tipped as the next big thing. But really, who wants to have to remember to water their earrings?

Wandering around Zara this week (from where I bought the $89 skirt I forgot to take the label off), I was interested to see sale racks packed with off-the-shoulder tops, summer denim and lots of body suits. When are they going to learn women don’t want press studs up their privates?

I know that in fashion everything new is old anyway and that’s what really concerns me.

I’ve been around long enough to remember all the best worst fashion disasters such as pooh-catcher pants, velour tracksuits, trucker hats and platform sneakers.

Frankly, there are some items that don’t deserve to be wheeled out again. They include leg warmers — because your ankles don’t get cold when you work out, do they? And let’s not revisit male crop tops, because a hairy muffin top is something we don’t need to see.

Back to jindows. Just because Topshop tells us they’re “globally trending in the denim space”, it doesn’t mean you need a pair.

Remember. You didn’t need jeggings, coatigans, skorts or flatforms. And you sure as hell don’t need jindows.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/cocktail-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/bridesmaid-dresses
judy smith Apr 2017
So you know you’re looking at two very different styles of dress, here. But precisely what decades? When did that waistline move back down? What details are the defining touches of their era? How long were women actually walking around with bustles on their backsides?

Lydia Edwards’s How to Read a Dress is a detailed, practical, and totally beautiful guide to the history of this particular form of clothing from the 16th to the 20th centuries. It tracks the small changes that pile up over time, gradually ******* until your great-grandmother’s closet looks wildly different than your own. As always, fashion makes for a compelling angle on history—paging through you can see the shifting fortunes of women in the Western world as reflected in the way they got dressed every morning.

Of course, it’ll also ensure that the next lackadaisically costumed period piece you watch gives you agita, but all knowledge has a price.

I spoke to Edwards about how exactly we go about resurrecting the history of an item that’s was typically worn until it fell apart and then recycled for scraps; our conversation has been lightly trimmed and edited for clarity.

The title of the book is How to Read a Dress. What do you mean by “reading” a dress?

Basically what I mean is, when you are looking at a dress in an exhibition or a TV show, reading it in terms of working out where the inspirations or where certain design choices come from. Being able to look at it and recognize key elements. Being able to look at the bodice and say, Oh, the shape of that is 1850s, and the design relates to this part of history, and the patterning comes from here. It’s looking at the dress as an object from the top down and being able to recognize different elements—different historical elements, different design elements, different artistic elements. “Read” is probably the best word to use for that kind of approach, if that makes sense.

It must send you around the bend a little bit, watching costume adaptations where they’re a bit slapdash. The one I think of is the Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice, which I actually really enjoy, but I know that one’s supposed to have all over the place costuming-wise.

Yeah, it does. I mean, I love the BBC Pride and Prejudice one, because they kept very specifically to a particular era. But I can see what they did with the Keira Knightley one—they were trying to keep it 1790s, when the book was written, as opposed to when it was published. But they’ve got a lot of kind of modern influences in there and they’ve got a lot of influences from 30, 40 years previously, which is interesting to an audience and gives an audience I suppose more frames of reference, more areas to think about and look at. So I can see why they did that. But it does make it more difficult if you’re trying to accurately decode a garment. It’s harder when you’ve got lots of different eras going on there, but it makes it beautiful and interesting for an audience.

The guide spans the 16th to the 20th century. Why start with the 16th century?

Well, partly because it’s where my own interest starts, in terms of my research and the areas I’ve looked at. But more importantly in terms of audience interest, we get a lot of TV shows, a lot of films in recent years—things like The Tudors—that type of era seems to be something that people are interested in. That time is very colorful and very interesting to people.

And also because in terms of thinking about the dress as garment, obviously people wore dresses in medieval times, but in terms of it being something that specifically women wore, distinct from men’s clothes, I really think we start to see that more in the 15th, 16th century onwards.

Where do you go to get the historical information to put together a book like this? What do you use as your source material? Because obviously the thing about clothing is that it has to stand up to a lot of wear and tear and a lot of it doesn’t survive.

This is the other thing about the 16th century stuff—there’s so little surviving. That’s why that chapter was a lot shorter and also that’s why I used a lot of artworks rather than surviving garments, just because they don’t exist in their entirety.

But wherever possible, you go to the garments themselves in museum collections. And then if that’s proving to be difficult, you go to artworks or images, but always bearing in mind the artist will have had their own agenda, so they won’t necessarily be accurate of what people were actually wearing. So then you have to go and look up written source material from the time—say, diaries. I like using letters that people have written to each other over the centuries, describing dress and what they were wearing on a daily basis. Novels can be good, as well.

Also the scholarship that has come before, the secondary sources, works by people like Janet Arnold, Aileen Ribeiro. Really well researched scholarly books where people have used primary sources themselves and put their own interpretation on it can be really, really helpful. Although you take some of it with a pinch of salt, and you put your own interpretation on there, as well.

But always to the dress itself wherever possible.

What are some of the challenges you face, or the constraints on our ability to learn about the history of fashion?

Well, the very practical issue of trying to see garments—some of them I did see here in Australia, but a lot of them were in the States, in Canada, in New Zealand, so it’s hard to physically get there to see them. And often, even when you can get to the museum, garments are out on loan to other exhibitions or other museums. That’s a practical consideration.

But also, especially when I’m talking about using artworks and things, which can be really helpful when you’re researching, but as I’ve said they do come from a place where there’s more interpretations and more agendas. So if someone’s done a portrait and there’s a beautiful 1880s dress in it, that could have been down to the whims of the person who was wearing it, or the artist could have changed significantly the color or style to suit his own taste. Then you have to do extra research on top of that, to make sure that what you are seeing is representative.

It’s a fascinating area. There’s a lot of challenges, but for me, that’s what makes it really exciting as well. But it’s really that question of being able to trust sources and knowing what to use and what not to use in order to make things clear for the audience.

Obviously many of these dresses were very expensive and took a lot of labor and it wasn’t fast fashion—people didn’t just give it away or toss it when it fell out of season. A lot of times, you did was you remade it. When you’re looking at a dress that’s been remade, how do you extract the information that you need as a historian out of it?

I love it when something like that comes up. I’ve got a couple of examples in the book.

Well, it can be quite challenging, because often when you’re first looking at a piece it’s not obvious that it’s been remade. But if you’re lucky enough to look inside it and actually hold it and turn it round different angles, there’ll be things like the placement of a seam, or you’ll see that the waist has been moved up or down according to the fashion. And that’s often obvious when you’re looking inside. You can see the way the skirt’s been attached. Often you can tell if a skirt’s been taken off and then reattached using different pleats, different gatherings; that can give you a hint that it’s then been remade to fit in with a different fashionable ideal.

One of the key ways is fabric. You can often see, especially in early 19th century dresses when they’ve been made of these beautiful 18th century silks and brocades. That’s nice because it’s the first obvious clue that something’s been remade or that an old dress has been completely taken apart and it’s just the fabric that’s been used. I find it particularly interesting when the waist has been moved or the seams have been taken off or re-sewn in a different shape or something like that. It can be subtle but once your knowledge base grows, that’s one of the most fascinating areas that you can look at.

You page through the book and you watch these trends unfold and there are occasional sea changes will happen fairly quickly, like when the Regency style arises. But how much change year-to-year would a woman have seen? How long would it take, just as a woman getting dressed in the morning, to see styles just radically alter? Would you even notice?

Well, this is the thing—I think it’s very easy, when we’re looking back, to imagine that in 1810 you’d be wearing this dress and then all the frills and the frouf would have started to come in the late 1810s and the 1820s, and suddenly you would have had a whole new wardrobe. But obviously, unless you were the very wealthiest women and you had access to dressmakers who had the absolute newest patterns and newest fabrics then no, you wouldn’t have seen a massive change. You wouldn’t have afforded to be able to have the newest things as they came in. You would have maybe remade dresses to make them maybe slightly more in line with a fashion plate that you might have seen, but you wouldn’t have had access to new information and new fashion plates as soon as they came. To be realistic, there would have been very little change on a day to day level.

But I think also, for us now—it’s hard to see it without hindsight, but we feel like we’re fairly fluid in wearing the same kind of styles, but obviously when we look back in 20 years, we’ll look at pictures of us and see greater changes than we’re now aware. Because it happens on a slow pace and it happens on such a subconscious level in some ways.

But actually, yeah, it’s to do with economics, it’s to do with availability. People living in towns where they couldn’t easily get to cities—if you were living in a country town a hundred miles away from London, there’s no way that you would have the resources to see the most recent fashion plates, the most recent ideas that were developing in high society. So it was a very slow process in reality.

If you have a lot of money you can change out your wardrobe quicker and wear the latest styles. And so the wealthiest people, their clothes were what in a lot of case stood the best chance of surviving and being in modern collections. So how do we know what working women would have worn or what middle class women would have worn?

Yeah, this is hard. I do have some more middle class examples, because we’re lucky in that we do have quite a few that have survived, especially in smaller museums and historical collections, where people have had clothes sitting in their attics for years and have donated them, just from normal families over the years.

But, working women, that’s much more difficult. We’re lucky from the 19th century because we have photographic evidence. But really a lot of it will come down to written descriptions, mainly letters, diaries, not necessarily that the people themselves would have kept, but there’s examples of people that worked in cotton mills, for instance, and people that ran the mills and their families and wives and friends who had written accounts of what the women there were wearing. Also newspaper accounts, particularly of people who would go and do charity work and help the poor. They often wrote quite detailed descriptions of the people that they were helping.

But in terms of actual garments, yeah, it’s very difficult. Certainly 18th century and before, it’s really, really hard to get hold of anything that gives you a really good idea of what they wore. But in the 18th century—it’s quite interesting, because then we get examples of separate pieces of clothing worn by the upper classes, like a skirt with a jacket, which was actually a lower middle class style initially and then it became appropriated by the upper classes. And then it became much fancier and trimmed and made in silks and things. So then, we can see the inspiration of the working classes on the upper classes. That’s another way of looking at it, although of course that’s much more problematic.

It’s interesting how in several cases you can see broader historical context, or other stories happening through clothes. Like you point out that the rise of the one-piece dresses is due to the rise of mantua makers, who were women who were less formally trained who were suddenly making clothing. Are there any other interesting stories like that, that you noticed and thought were really fascinating?

There’s a dress in the book that a woman made for her wedding. I think she was living on her own, or she was living with a servant and her mother or something. She made the dress and then turned up to her wedding and traveled quite a long way to get there, and when she arrived, the groom and all the guests weren’t there. There was nobody. So she went away and came back again a week later, and everyone was there. And the reason that no one was there before was that a river had flooded in the direction that they were all coming from. She had obviously no way of finding out about this until after the fact, and we have this beautiful dress that she spent ages making and had obviously gone to a lot of effort to try and work out what the latest styles were, to incorporate it into her wedding dress.

Things like that, I find really interesting, because they talk so much about human and social history as well as fashion history, and the garment is the main way we have of keeping these stories alive and remembering them and looking into the kind of life and world these people lived, who made these garments.

Over the centuries, how does technology affect fashion? Obviously, we think of the industrial revolution as really speeding up the pace of fashion. But are there other moments in the history of fashion where technology shapes what women end up wearing?

One example is where I talk about the Balenciaga dress from the early 1950s—with a bubble hem and a hat and she would have worn these beautiful pump shoes with it—with the introduction of the zipper. Which just made such a huge difference, because it suddenly meant you’d have ease and speed of dressing. It meant that you didn’t have to worry about more complicated ways of fastening a garment. I think the zipper made a massive change and also in terms of dressmaking at home, it was a really quick and simple way that people had of being able to create quite fashionable styles on a budget and with ease and speed at home.

Also, of course, once women’s dress started to become simpler and they did away with the corset and underwear became a lot less complicated, that made dressing a lot easier, that made the introduction of the bias cut and things that sit very closely to the natural body much more widely used and much more fashionable.

I would say the introduction of machine-made lace as well, particularly from the late 19th, early 20th century onwards where it was so fashionable on summer dresses and wedding dresses. It just meant that you could so much more easily add this decadent touch to a garment, because lace would have been so much more expensive before then and so time-consuming to make. I think that made a huge difference in ordinary women being able to attain a kind of luxury in their everyday dress.

That actually makes me think of something else I wanted to ask you, which is you point out in your intro the way we casually use this word “vintage.” I think about that with lace. Lace is described as being a “vintage” touch but it’s very much this question of when, where, who, why—it’s a funny term when you think about it, the way we use it so casually to describe so much.

Oh, yes. It’s crazy. I used to work in a wedding dress shop and I used to make historically inspired wedding dresses and things. And brides used to come in and say, “Oh, I want something vintage.” But they didn’t really know what they meant. Usually what they meant is they wanted something with a bit of lace on it, or with some sort of pearls or beading. I think it’s really inspired by whatever is trending at the time. So, you know, Downton Abbey became vintage. I think ‘50s has always been kind of synonymous with the word vintage. But what it means is huge,
judy smith Apr 2017
It’s the tail end of fashion week in Paris, the busiest week of the year for fashion buyers.

When I meet Clodagh Shorten, owner of Samui, the game-changing boutique that put Cork on the fashion map, she’s already been here four days and is on her tenth buying appointment — there’ll be at least another five before she leaves in a couple of days time.

These appointments, private bookings with designers, allow her to get up close and personal with the clothes that have just been showcased on catwalks.

She’s deciding which pieces will best suit her customers.

Today, we meet at Schumacher, the stunning German label known for its easy chic look.

A beautiful white space, with lush cream velvet sofas, bare walls and white rails (nothing here to distract from the main event — the clothes), this room, prime space in Paris, is rented by the designer year-round just so they have the right venue to sell at Fashion Week.

It gives some indication of the power Fashion Week wields.

Clodagh is here with her right-hand woman, Samui manager Mary-Claire O’Sullivan.

There are two rails — the keepers and the ‘ones that got away’.

They’ve already seen this collection in London.

Today they are here to fine-tune.

This is unusual, Mary-Claire explains — at most appointments, they are seeing the clothes for the very first time.

“This is a big spend,” they tell me, and they’ll stay as long as they need “to get it right”.

Piecing together a collection is something akin to a jigsaw puzzle.

All the items are photographed — later they will be analysed back in the apartment they rent during Fashion Week.

The mix has to be right.

So the coats, a sleeveless waistcoat, are moved to the rail on the right.

They won’t make it to Cork.

Coats were already picked up this morning at another appointment.

Like I said, a jigsaw puzzle.

Two models are on hand to try on clothes when requested — I hear ‘can I just see this on one more time’ a lot.

There’s no haggling over prices in these sales negotiations — it’s all too civilised.

The price is set, as is the instore mark-up. These lauded designs must cost the same the world over.

Clodagh and Mary-Claire share a language and a wavelength. They can finish each other’s sentences and, while I don’t so much as sniff a hint of tension, they tell me they can disagree on buys.

“Clodagh doesn’t want a yes woman,” Mary-Claire says simply.

From Schumacher, Clodagh leads the way through the Parisian cobbled streets, phone held aloft, Google Maps to direct her.

Her wheelie bag is constantly behind her — inside there’s the laptop for orders and a camera for instant access to photographs of collections.

Her calculator is another permanent fixture in the showroom.

Today, Clodagh is dressed in an Australian label coming soon to Samui, Ellery. The lush black fabric sways and moves with her body; an outfit like that makes you really appreciate her eye for fashion. It’s sensational.

For this 5.30pm appointment we are heading to see another new label for Samui — Paskal (Clodagh will wear a piece from this line tomorrow).

The Ukrainian designer is looked after by an agency so in this showroom there are pieces by a handful of brands.

Again, the setup is the same — private appointments, models on hand.

Clodagh and Mary-Claire have to be more careful here — this is a new label and it’s more fashion forward so black is prioritised.

Not every client at Samui will wear this line. Every purchase, I realise, is a gamble.

“We’ve made mistakes, of course we have,” says Mary-Claire though you get the feeling that could be a rare event.

Pieces bought by these two women rarely end up in Samui’s sales rack.

They know their customer, plain and simple.

There is so much trust there, some clients are simply sent collections each season, allowing Clodagh to make the call for them.

So much of their day is spent discussing various clients (never by name in my presence) — what they might like, the best size.

It is effectively the ultimate personal shopping experience.

The number of items and sizes are limited, so customers know they are truly getting one-off pieces.

As we leave, kisses over, the agency head tells them, “you’re our favourites” and you just know it’s not empty fashion talk.

People genuinely love Clodagh and Mary-Claire. And they respect what they do.

Samui is open 16 years now. Clodagh mastered her trade at Monica John before stepping out on her own. Mary-Claire joined her eight years ago.

It has been one of the few boutiques in Cork to not just survive the downturn but to positively thrive.

As the economy spluttered around her, Clodagh very masterfully decided to go high end.

First came Moncler — the top people here had to come and view Samui to see if it was the right match for their esteemed label.

It was — and, increasingly, doors began to open.

Carven, Marni, Rick Owens — people really began to sit up and take notice of Samui.

Now labels are often vying for space on the shop floor. Still though, it takes work to secure the big new names.

Clodagh spends a lot of time on planes, networking, meeting the key players. And it’s not as simple as a visit to Fashion Week twice a year either.

These days pre-collections are key too: these pieces will be on the shop floor for longer.

So Clodagh and Mary-Claire travel in January to Paris for pre- collections, Milan in February for Moncler, Paris in March. The same cycle begins again in June for A/W pre-collections, with S/S Fashion Week in September.

Clodagh is always pushing, always striving for new.

She was devastated to say farewell to Transit, the brand with her from the very beginning. It was simply time for a change she tells me.

They love seeking out new labels, nurturing them, sharing them with their customers.

The next morning we meet at 9am for Dries van Noten.

Clodagh stocks around 50 different labels, most exclusive to Cork. This Belgian designer is one of them.

Here again is a very fashion forward line.

There’s a minimum €20,000 spend here, and that’s the amount Clodagh and Mary-Claire can play with.

This is a much busier showroom, a slick operation. Buyers are everywhere, the models weaving between them.

They are assigned a seller and a table, laptop at the ready to secure the sale.

Sophie, today’s seller, walks them through the long rails and talks to them about the collection, the fabrics, the colour, the catwalk, the vision.

Clodagh and Mary-Claire repeat the process a second time alone, a third time again with Sophie.

There are little standing breaks for coffee — refreshments and lunch are provided by the designer.

Clodagh and Mary-Claire know to carry snacks everywhere. The buying process can be a long one; Dries could be an all-day event.

The price point is much higher here so, again, each piece has to be carefully thought out. Checked and checked again.

These A/W deliveries will land in store in July.

Watching them make their Samui edit on that March morning, I just know the Dries selection will be a show-stopper this Autumn.

I leave them to sign on the dotted line, wishing them success for the rest of their gruelling schedule as I head for Charles de Gaulle.

“People don’t realise what goes into this,” says Clodagh. And she’s right.

None of us can possibly grasp what it must have taken for one woman to put Cork on the fashion radar.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/short-formal-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/red-carpet-celebrity-dresses
judy smith Mar 2017
WHEN Jayson Brunsdon learnt he had to muster the strength to fight cancer as his fashion empire crumbled around him, he was at breaking point.

Luckily for him and husband Aaron, a saviour was on the way — in the form of a beautiful brown-eyed angel — their son, Roman.

In a heartfelt interview with Wentworth Courier ahead of the March 30 launch of their book, Designer Baby, the couple shared their tumultuous journey to bring Roman home to Australia after he was born to a surrogate in Thailand.

Watching their faces light up as the now two-year-old Roman gleefully dives under a mountain of pillows on the couch at their Elizabeth Bay apartment, it is easy to see why they describe him as “the light at the end of the tunnel” after what they have been through.

And the couple has held nothing back in telling their amazing story of survival, hope and determination in the face of unbelievable adversity.

Their world came crashing down in 2008 when the global financial crisis delivered a devastating blow to their Jayson Brunsdon label, a darling of the fashion world, worn by Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and Jennifer Hawkins.

“Most of our business was international, in America and England … and we lost all that business overnight,” said Jayson, 52.

“It was around the same time that I was diagnosed with (testicular) cancer.”

He faced a three-year battle, including four months of intense chemotherapy, after surgery had failed to stop the disease spreading.

“It’s very difficult to be creative when you can barely get out of bed and you’re deliriously ill and you feel like you’re dying,” he said.

“It was a really hard time and it went on for a long time so we had to downsize and we had to get rid of our stores.”

Aaron, 44, said the cancer made it impossible to keep the business afloat.

“Jayson was the creator of the brand but my time had to be devoted to his care as well and so … everything started to suffer and it kept going down and down until we reached rock-bottom,” he said.

“It was the GFC, it was the cancer, it was everything and one day we woke up and lost everything, we lost the entire business.”

Rather than give up, Jayson fought the cancer and won — a process which caused him to reflect on his life to the point where he questioned whether he even wanted to be part of the fashion world.

“Cancer was life-changing because after you’ve been through it, you just can’t deal with ******* and there’s so much of it in the fashion world, it kind of revolves around it and I thought; ‘I don’t know if I can do this any more’,” Jayson said.

“But what else was I going to do? We had the business and … when we downsized, I could kind of get away from it all.”

The couple has since rebuilt the business and the Jayson Brunsdon black label is in 40 Myer stores.

When Jayson went into remission, the couple of 18 years could finally pursue their dream of having a family together.

“We had wanted it for a long time but (the cancer) meant we had to put the whole thing on hold,” Jayson said.

“At that time we started to realise there was a lot more to life than working seven days a week and struggling every day,” Aaron said.

“We wanted something more and I think one of the most important things in our lives was having a family.”

After doing a mountain of research, the couple began eight months of preparation work with the All IVF Center in Bangkok and they were matched with their Thai surrogate ****.

They were over the moon when she fell pregnant with Roman, using Aaron’s cousin Rebecca’s egg, donated altruistically, and Jayson’s *****.

But their excitement turned to panic when the Thai Government announced it was going to outlaw surrogacy in the wake of the Baby Gammy scandal, when an Australian couple left their son with his surrogate mother because he had Down syndrome.

The couple was told the chances of bringing Roman home were “almost impossible”.

“At the time, it was the worst news any parent could face — we were five-and-a-half months pregnant and at that point we knew there was going to be a fight and we just didn’t know how long the fight was going to be,” Aaron said.

“It was one of the most tumultuous times in our lives because we had gone through so much to get to this point and we’d had so many challenges.

“When we finally got pregnant, we thought there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

“And then for the bombshell to drop on us to say that ‘you can’t bring him home’, that was the most frightening thing that had ever happened to us.”

In the wake of Gammy, the Thai Government ordered an audit into IVF clinics.

This led to the forced closure of the All IVF Center after authorities allegedly discovered links to the human trafficking of surrogate babies.

The fate of about 50 Australian couples — including the Brunsdons — was thrown into limbo.

After much political wrangling, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop arranged a pact with the Thai Government who agreed to grant a grace period for pregnancies already in progress.

Jayson finds it difficult to articulate the relief he felt.

“It was just sheer joy, it was like, ‘thank God’, it’s difficult to describe really because it’s about our child and if you can’t get him home, you don’t know what to do,” he said.

“When it was all clear, we were just ecstatic and we could get on with living again. We were just on hold, we were holding our breaths.”

But they were not out of the woods yet.

Despite being assured they would have not issues leaving Thailand after Roman was born on January 5, 2015, they were detained at the airport for human trafficking.

“Initially they said, ‘we are not going to let you go until we see the surrogate mother’ and they asked us all these questions and they were screaming at us,” said Aaron.

“It was awful, we were so terrified.”

Eventually they were allowed on the plane — Roman had an Australian passport and Jayson’s name was on the birth certificate.

Jayson has spoken out for the first time in response to accusations that he saw Roman as a commodity akin to a buying a fashion accessory.

“That’s kind of pathetic really. Who has a child so they can have them as an accessory that they can dress up?” Jayson said.

“I just think it’s just really bigoted, discriminatory, really ill-informed and it’s unacceptable.

“Some people are just really ignorant people and they don’t understand that when you’re gay, you’re born gay. It’s like being born black … you can’t help it.

“So if you want to have a child, why shouldn’t you have a child?

“If we got him as just an accessory, we would have been over him by now wouldn’t we?

“It’s part of the joy of being a new parent, to buy the cot and decorate the bedroom and all that kind of stuff.”

Jayson said Roman had “enriched” their lives.

“He makes us so much more responsible, patient, caring and loving and we are very lucky because he is just a gorgeous little angel,” he said.

“(Parenthood) is such a fantastic experience. It’s the hardest thing you ever do, but it’s the best thing you ever do.

“It’s the best thing we ever did, it’s better than showing in New York Fashion Week or anything, it’s a much more heart filling experience than anything you’ve ever done.”

Aaron said they would ensure Roman was not deprived of anything.

**** said she would do it all over again if they ever wanted a sibling for their son Roman.

“One day in the future if you want to have a sister or brother for Roman, if she can help and do again, she is happy to do,” said an interpreter responding to questions.

The mother, who had never been a surrogate before, said she discussed her decision with her husband and family, including her two children Jonus, 16, and Nicky, 6, “so everyone knew and agreed”.

Her motivation was to help the Australians, “fulfil a family that would be the most wonderful gift to them that they can never forget”.

“She also believed this is a very good thing she did, to give life,” the interpreter said.

“She look after someone’s baby for them. She want to make that couple also very happy.

“She loves and talk to baby and let her kids and family touch and talk to a little boy inside. “Because she believe her love and care will be the best vaccine for baby to grow well.”

When she met Aaron and Jayson, she understood how they felt.

“You two very good people. She knew you are super fathers who will raise a little boy surrounding with love, good education and all good things,” the interpreter said.

“Buddha teach her to be good people, to help other people and bring happiness to people.”Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/short-formal-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/red-carpet-celebrity-dresses
judy smith Mar 2017
In one shot, the actress posed in a barely-there Burberry cape, revealing quite a lot of her *******, and it is this picture which has been criticised. Broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer condemned Watson for her hypocrisy in campaigning against page three while then bearing all in a ‘posh magazine’, while also suggesting that she wouldn’t be taken seriously for the move.

Watson, however, defended herself, stating that she was ‘stunned’ by the controversy, and didn’t see what her ‘**** have to do with it’. Indeed, many have backed the actress up, arguing ****** and fashion have nothing to do with feminism. And yet, in society at the moment, it does seem that way.

Women across the globe struggle to be taken seriously unless dressed in a certain way. Even our own Prime Minister is fodder for tabloid’s style sections; focusing more on her shoes than her politics. This certainly wasn’t the case for her predecessor David Cameron.

Similarly, professional women are only taken seriously when conforming to the predetermined white male power ideal. Suits, straight and sleek hair, minimal makeup (that is still flattering to a feminine ideal) is encouraged, and leaves very little room for women of colour, gender nonconforming people, and others.

This double standard between genders is evident not only in professional spheres, but in everyday life. Women who choose to wear the hijab, for example, are sometimes demonised and are branded as oppressed, with those expressing such an opinion often having no factual knowledge of the context behind the garment. Surely a woman’s choice of how they present themselves to the world is their business and their business alone. As Watson argued, ‘feminism is…about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality’.

Fashion and style is an incredibly powerful tool which one can use to express oneself and its value most definitely shouldn’t be discounted within feminism. Denouncing stereotypes of style and outdated ideals of beauty can empower some, and allows people to embrace their uniqueness and difference. Others, however, may be empowered by embracing typically gendered style, or what may be branded as ‘conservative’ fashion.

The importance here, though, is not what they are wearing but that what they are wearing is a consequence of them exercising their choice, and how it allows them to express their personal beliefs and message.

Watson’s choice to wear a revealing top is just as valid as her choice to wear a suit on any other day. A person’s style should not impact their validity or respectability. It is not for other people to say what may empower an individual. That choice is yours, and yours alone. Whether a woman chooses to pose for **** photo shoots, or cover herself from head to toe, it does not make either any less feminist nor any less of a role model.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses-adelaide | www.marieaustralia.com/backless-formal-dresses
judy smith Mar 2017
On Wednesday the Supreme Court ruled in the Star Athletica v. Varsity Brandscase, which centered on the issue of copyrighting the chevron, stripe, and other patterns of cheerleading uniforms. To laypeople, this was the case that gave the world the justices’ unforgettable banter about fashion and style. “The clothes on the hanger do nothing. The clothes on the woman do everything. And that is, I think, what fashion is about,” said Justice Stephen Breyer during an argument with Justice Elena Kagan, who responded, “That’s so romantic.” But, to those inside the fashion world, this was a landmark that has potential to resonate in the industry for years to come. Not only is the suit the first time the Supreme Court has ever heard a case centering on apparel design copyrights, but the 6–2 ruling in favor of Varsity Brands allows elements of a garment’s design to be protected by copyright law. In the Court’s syllabus, it declares: “The Copyright Act of 1976 makes ‘pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features’ of the ‘design of a useful article’ eligible for copyright protection as artistic works if those features ‘can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article.’ ”

To help translate the government legalese, Vogue spoke with Joseph Mueller, a lawyer at Dewey Pegno & Kramarsky LLP, a litigation boutique that regularly handles copyright disputes. Mueller wrote, “The Court decided that copyright law can sometimes protect aesthetic elements of designs for cheerleader uniforms. This sounds straightforward, but a little background shows why this case was complicated. Copyright law protects certain types of artistic and creative expressions. On the other end of the intellectual-property spectrum is patent law, which protects innovations based on their usefulness and novelty. This case dealt with a tricky middle ground: Copyright law can protect aesthetic features of a ‘design for a useful article’—but only if they are distinct enough from the article’s useful or functional aspect.”

But how to define what’s useful and what’s not in a garment? Would you call Craig Green’s many ties and knots functional or decorative? What about Julien Dossena’s linked squares at Paco Rabanne? “There is tons of gray area,” Mueller wrote. “The Court articulated a rule that sounds neat and tidy, but we won’t know precisely how much protection it actually gives designers until other courts apply these principles to other cases.”

In short, this ruling isn’t a blanket statement protecting all designers from knockoffs and copying, but rather it opens the door for making the case that certain parts of design can be protected by copyright. That’s important, especially considering that Congress has discussed expanding copyright protections for fashion designers but has not yet made it into law.

Still, the impact this decision could have on high fashion is great. Not only does it provide luxury houses some ground to defend themselves against fast fashion retailers who churn out replicas of runway designs before the originals hit stores, but it also has the potential to discourage designers from borrowing motifs from their peers or from the past. “Designers have relied mostly on trademarks to protect themselves, but now they can argue that more conceptual, less obvious aspects of their designs should be protected by copyright too,” wrote Mueller. “As with many Supreme Court opinions, it will take some time to know what the practical effect of this decision will be. But there’s no question that it’s a big shift. You can expect to see designers relying on copyright law more often to challenge what they perceive to be knock-offs.”Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/bridesmaid-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/red-carpet-celebrity-dresses
judy smith Mar 2017
In keeping on track to make art more accessible, Isabella Huffington has a two-item collaboration with Designow and two upcoming exhibitions.

While her paintings can be “kind of intense, colorful, bright and a bit overwhelming,” she decided to translate a “very light one” called “Chrysanthemum” for the dress and scarf that will be sold on Designow’s site starting March 30. The artwork’s floral motif is actually a collage made of found objects like books and magazines. With clothing, you’re thinking about the consumer and you’re thinking about yourself, so it’s much more like an architect. You want to be authentic but it also has to look good on the person.” Huffington said of the $250 long-sleeve knee-length dress with a tapered waist. “You could wear it to a party but you could also wear it to work at 20 or at 40. I’m really interested in making art that has mass appeal.”

There is also a scarf with an artistic box that is geared for gift-giving or for a younger shopper who might not want to wear a dress. Huffington said of her fashion debut, “This is the first dip in the water but I’m definitely interested in pursuing this further. A lot of people don’t think they have interest in art or access to art so I love the idea of bringing art into the everyday.”

On April 28, Huffington will open an exhibition at Rebecca Minkoff’s gallery adjacent to the designer’s Melrose Avenue store. The artist has another show opening May 3 at Anastasia Photo on the Lower East Side of Manhattan about women and politics.

An admirer of Japanese artists Yayoi Kusama and Haruki Murakami, Huffington said a lot of Japanese artists, and American ones too, are collaborating outside of fine art so she’s looking to what they’re doing for cues. Even buying flowers in Japan calls for almost “artlike wrapping,” she said. “We’re almost missing that in the States because art is very much seen as something that is reserved for the elite. Even with Trump trying to cut [the National] Endowment for the Arts, it’s just not seen as a priority. But people who need art most almost don’t have access to it. I love being in a country where art is so much a part of the culture.”

Huffington said she has been really lucky to have her mother Arianna’s encouragement for years. “Since I’ve been a kid, she’s basically let me completely destroy my entire bedroom. I put paint on the walls and colored. At one point, I glued sponges so she really let me experiment. That really was my introduction to art,” Huffington said. “The best lesson my mom ever taught me, it’s especially [good] for my generation, was if something doesn’t work out it’s very easy for us to get discouraged. My mom basically said, ‘You have to knock on a lot of doors before things work out.’ So you just keep going. It’s like a task. A bunch of tiny things will lead to a big thing. It’s not one thing that changes everything. So you have to do a million different things before the right thing comes along.”

In other Designow news, the first Collective x Designow fashion show will be held April 2 with 28 students from FIT, the New School’s Parsons School of Design and Pratt Institute. The event at 526 West 26th Street is part of a competition.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses-sydney | www.marieaustralia.com/black-formal-dresses
judy smith Mar 2017
This year’s WoolOn Creative Fashion event will feature some "exciting" new elements, but they are under wraps for now, organisers say.

The event, which used to be held annually in October in conjunction with the Alexandra Blossom Festival, last year was separated from the festival to become a separate entity.

No WoolOn was held last year and this year’s event had a new date, May 26-27, WoolOn chairwoman Clair Higginson said.

A final call for entries was being made this week, and the closing date for entry forms had been extended by a week, until March 24, Ms Higginson said. Designers then had another month to complete the garments, which had to be handed in by April 27.

Ms Higginson said this year’s WoolOn would be held in a new "industrial-style" venue in Alexandra, but organisers could not yet say where as consents were not in place.

Other "exciting" new elements were being added to the event, but they were also being kept under wraps.

"We’re trying to make better connections between the wool on the farm and the wool on the fashion catwalk. But just how we will do that is going to be a surprise."

Rural Women New Zealand was the new naming sponsor of the event and WoolOn organisers were excited about the partnership, believing it would bring extra focus to the raw product

the WoolOn garments were created from.All garments must be at least 75% wool and there are eight categories in the event, as well as an Under 23 Emerging Designer Award.

The event will still feature a Friday night "First Look" event with a "fashion show feel", and a Saturday gala evening, when winners will be announced.

This year’s judges are Deirdre Mackenzie, of Tauranga, who was one of the people to establish WoolOn in its present format; Simon Swale, a design lecturer at the Otago Polytechnic, in Dunedin; and designer Jaimee Smith, of Dunedin, who has her own fashion label, "Florence".Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/bridesmaid-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/red-carpet-celebrity-dresses
judy smith Mar 2017
The line between technology and fashion is blurring. Brands and designers are now using electronics to make cutting-edge wearables and experiences, while companies like Amazon are trying to break into a space that hasn't until now been very welcoming of outsiders. Intel is another tech company that's set its sights on the fashion world, with various smart garments and accessories, including dresses, glasses and bracelets. In an interview at SXSW, Intel Vice President of Wearables Sandra Lopez said her team's mission is to be an enabler first and foremost rather than trying to become a fashion brand unto itself.

Lopez pointed to last year's New York Fashion Week, when Intel teamed up with 13 designers to livestream a runway show in virtual reality -- a medium that's being embraced by many fashion houses. Another example, she said, is Tag Heuer's Connected Modular 45 smartwatch, which Intel helped build with Google and the Swiss watchmaker. "Our strategy is focused on collaboration and empowering leaders in the fashion industry to push the boundaries of fashion with technology," Lopez said. "We are constantly working to make our technology smaller, faster, more energy efficient and more capable than ever before to help our partners succeed."

One of the challenges for brands is figuring out how to make the most out of technology, she said, especially in terms of the data they're collecting through connected garments, other types of wearables and at their retail stores. "There is a real opportunity to help the fashion industry harness the power of data," Lopez said. "How can you analyze what consumers are doing in store, online and through every interaction you have in real time to maximize sales and open up new revenue streams?" That's something designers like Rebecca Minkoff are already trying to do with in-store features like smart mirrors, self-checkout and RFID tags that let the brand know more about customers' buying habits.

"Personalization and customization is only beginning to be tapped into," Lopez said about the potential of both industries working together on wearable products. "Technology has the ability to transform industries, and fashion is no different."Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/short-formal-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/red-carpet-celebrity-dresses
judy smith Mar 2017
The streets of Paris were clogged by rallies and demonstrations on the Sunday of fashion week. At the Trocadero, a pro-rally for embattled French conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon, blocking the route between the Valentino and Akris shows; at Bastille, an anti-Fillon demonstration.

The French elections — and ever-increasing security — were providing a tense backdrop to the autumn-winter collections, much like Donald Trump, Brexit and Matteo Renzi did on the fashion circuit of New York, London and Milan this season. Politics and the changing of the guard, women’s rights and diversity may make fashion seem irrelevant until you add up the value of the industry to the world economy. In Britain it is £28 billion ($45bn) — and that is small fry next to France and Italy.

Perhaps politics and social change have influenced the French designers for there was much less street style this season and a lot more tailored, working clothes on the catwalk. They used mostly masculine fabrics but worked in such a graceful way. You need only look at Haider ­Ackermann, Chanel, Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, Lanvin, Akris and Ellery to see this — lots of great wearable clothes.

Karl Lagerfeld wanted to fly us to other worlds (to abandon the mess here perhaps) in his Chanel space rocket. There were checks, cream, silvery white and grey tweeds, for suits and shorts and dark side of the moon print dresses that cleverly avoided the 60s’ ­futuristic cliches. Silver moon boots, space blanket stoles and rocket-shaped handbags were as space-age-y as it got. There was quiet, seductive tailoring at Haider Ackermann — tapered silhouettes in black wool and leather softened with a knit or the fluff of Mongolian lamb for a blouson or skirt. At McQueen the asymmetric lines of a black coat or pantsuit were ­inspired by the fluid lines of ­Barbara Hepworth’s sculptures, whereas David Koma reclaimed the soaring shoulderline of Mugler’s 80s silhouette for pantsuits and mini-dresses for the brand.

Christian Dior’s uniform-inspired daywear was produced in tones of navy blue with 50s-style navy belted skirts suits, long pleated skirts and some denim workwear. “I wanted my collection to express a woman’s personality, but with all the protection of a ­uniform,” explained Maria Grazia Chiuri before the show.

There was more suiting at ­Martin Grant with voluminous trousers, cummerbunds and men’s shirting. The cut was more mannish at Ellery and Celine with ­Ellery balancing her masculine oversized jacket looks with feminine bustier tops with giant puff sleeves. The mannish look at ­Celine was styled with sharp ­lapels, slim-cut trousers under crushed textured raincoats, whereas ­double-breasted jackets (a trend) and peacoats over loose-cut trousers appeared at John Galliano.

Checks jazzed up the tailoring at Akris where there were more sophisticated double-breasted jackets and swing coats, and at ­Giambattista Valli from among the flirty embroidered dresses a dogtooth coat emerged with a waspie belt and a suit with a peplum skirt.

Stella McCartney displayed her Savile Row skills in heritage checks for her equestrian-themed show. Of course, she is crazy about riding and her prints featured a famous painting by George Stubbs, Horse Frightened by a Lion. It turns out Stubbs was another Liverpudlian, like her dad Sir Paul.

Of course Hermes’s vocabulary started with the horse and there were leather-trimmed capes and coats that fitted an equestrian, or at least country theme worn with woollen beanies and big sweaters, offering a different way of tailoring, in an easier silhouette with a soft colour palette.

The highlight of the week for Natalie Kingham, buying director at MatchesFashion.com was ­Balenciaga. “Great accessories, great coats and great execution of ideas,” she says of Demna Gvasalia’s off-kilter buttoned coats, stocking boot and finale of nine spectacular Balenciaga couture gowns reinterpreted in a contemporary way. “It was wearable, modern and the must-see show of the week.” It was also, she pointed out “the must-have label off the runway with every other person on the front row decked out in the spring collection”.

Although tailoring worked its subtle charms on the catwalk, there were flashes of brightness, graceful beauty and singularity. Particularly bright were Miu Miu’s psychedelic prints, feathered and jewelled lingerie dresses and colourful fun fur coats with furry baker boy hats. Then there was the singular look evoked by Austrian-born Andreas Kronthaler in his homage to his roots, with alpine flowers, Klimt-style artist smocks and bourgeois chintz florals worked in asymmetric and padded silhouettes for Vivienne Westwood — some of it modelled by the Dame herself.

Pagan beauty, the wilds of Cornwall, ancient traditions such as the mystical “Cloutie” wishing tree led to Sarah Burton’s enchanting Alexander McQueen show, which was another of Kingham’s favourites with its unfinished embroideries inspired by old church kneelers and spiritual motifs. “I loved the artisanal threadwork and the spiritual message that was woven throughout,” she says. The artisanal and spiritual she considers an emerging trend around the shows. “It had a slight winter boho vibe but much more elevated.”

Chitose Abe shared that mood for undone beauty with her Sacai collection of hybrid combinations of tweed and nylon for an anorak, and deconstructed lace for a parka, and puffers with denim re-worked with floral lace for evening.

There was more seductiveness at Valentino and Issey Miyake. The latter’s collection shown in the magnificent interiors of Paris’s Hotel de Ville, shimmered with the colours of the aurora borealis and used extraordinary fabric technology to create rippling movement as the models walked.

Valentino was a high point. On a rainswept Sunday Pierpaolo Piccioli cheered us with high-neck Victoriana silhouettes and long swingy dresses in potentially (but not actually) clashing combinations of pink and red in jazzy patterns of mystical motifs and numerology inspired by the Memphis Group of Pop Art. The sheer loveliness of the collection was enough to drown out the world of politics only a few blocks away.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/short-formal-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/blue-formal-dresses
judy smith Mar 2017
It is rare that, outside Japan, you hear anything positive about the lot of women in the Japanese workplace. Well-meaning rankings and anecdotal articles frequently do little more than reinforce tired stereotypes. Still, change is afoot and there are many voices in the Japanese corporate world that have a nuanced story to tell—even some who dare to assert that there might be something that Japanese working women have to teach the world.

One important factor preventing progress in how women are viewed in the Japanese workplace is the ongoing prevalence of highly gendered uniforms. This is true both in the literal sense and in what is implied—from strictly structured dress codes that govern post-graduation job hunts right through to the president’s chair. These remain highly gendered for both men and women, a visual reminder of the very different roles played by the “salarymen” and “office ladies” of years gone by, but a stumbling block now, considering how much has changed.

Representative of this change is fashion brand Kay Me, from entrepreneur Junko Kemi. Not just an oddity in the Japanese fashion world, Kemi is an unassuming revolutionary who has dispensed with the establishment path to the racks by forgoing trade shows and industry-only runways. Instead, she builds on her own experience in the Japanese corporate world to fashion the clothes she would wear to the office. In the process, she has managed to chalk up a Ginza flagship store, key retail positions at Japan’s top department stores—including Odakyu in Shinjuku, Mitsukoshi in Nihombashi, Breeze Breeze Umeda in Osaka, and Isetan at Haneda International Airport — and even a presence in London. She’s accomplished this in just over five years — less time than it takes the average brand that plays by the fashion industry’s rules to get their first round of scattered stockists.

Kemi sat down with The Journal to talk about why she moved from marketing to fashion, how she sees women in the workplace, and what she aims to achieve with her designs.

Japanese fashion is a notoriously saturated field. With no background in fashion, why did you choose to enter it?

My background is in marketing and consulting, but I was always aware that, at the root of all market analysis, is the Japanese phrase ishokuju, meaning the necessities of life: food, clothing, and shelter. When you look at Tokyo, there may be a lot of fashion, but that is the way it should be. It is as important and necessary as food and shelter. After the Lehman shock and the March 11 earthquake, this idea of necessity came to have greater meaning for me. I wanted to make something that was really required by people in their lives.

Of course, my background in marketing helped, and I knew that the bigger companies would be scared to compete with me if I chose a niche that wasn’t a proven quantity yet. That niche was professional women; women with the drive to go beyond what society expects of them and who want to express themselves on their own terms in the workplace. There is also part of me that likes to be the rebel, and to a certain extent I just wanted to prove people wrong when they said the market was oversaturated.

One of the most important Japanese fashion designers of our time, Yohji Yamamoto, famously started his eponymous brand in rejection of Japanese “office lady” attire and how working women, as a whole, dressed. Is this a shared source of inspiration?

Perhaps. Although, ironically, given that Yohji Yamamoto mainly uses black, I feel that women’s clothes are too dark! Fundamentally, I feel that historically it made sense that for women to enter the male-dominated workplace they first started dressing like men; but that can’t be where it ends. Far more interesting is for women to be unapologetically feminine and be accepted for it. Women should not have to cast off their own culture to enter the workplace, nor deny their own nature between 9:00 and 5:00. Why shouldn’t there be flowers in an office? In that sense, I am the opposite of Yohji Yamamoto — he wanted his clothes to protect women from men, but I don’t think women need protecting.

My real inspiration is surprisingly conventional. My grandmother ran a kimono shop, so I am always attracted to traditional themes in my work. The Japanese motifs I use, in particular, have been key to reaching people abroad. It is not necessarily targeted like “Cool Japan,” just a lucky coincidence. For Japanese customers, they are a way of building elements of kimono into their working wardrobe instead of wearing full kimono, which is hard in daily life—never mind the workplace.

As an entrepreneur, what do you look for in your employees? Do you actively create a female-friendly work environment?

I have been all around the world meeting entrepreneurs — especially in the UK and East Asian countries — and I am frequently the only Japanese person, and nearly always the only Japanese female entrepreneur. Therefore, similarly minded people with an international mindset are my key assets. With that comes an ability to communicate in English, and the confidence that your ideas will resonate not only in your own country but globally. That is rarer than you think, and a big issue over the course of a career is that only high-ranking members of Japanese companies ever go abroad on business. That locks women out of having experience abroad and stops them thinking more globally.

In terms of workplace, I would like a 50-50 split in my workforce; but right now we are still at the early stage of growing, so it has been vital that everyone understands the shared goal. As I am dressing working women, I have far more women than men working for me for now; unfortunate, but it will change. Also, I insist on flexible working hours for my staff with children. It creates some small issues with timing group meetings, but it is easy to work through and worth it for the talent they bring.

What could institutions like the Japanese government and universities do to change the status quo?

Universities are taking the lead in thinking globally, but that is only half the battle — they need to create more competition among students — female in particular — so they have confidence to go abroad. That needs to be the spark that starts a movement.

As for the government, there are lots of programs out there to support companies like mine, but to be honest we just don’t have the time to apply for them — they require so much documentation. So far, the programs feel like lip service from an older generation who doesn’t understand mine; time will change that.

In the meantime, I am focused on thinking globally. We haven’t targeted the inbound phenomenon as such because they are not necessarily our customers. Instead, I am focused on online expansion and taking my brand to Europe, and hopefully to America via New York in the near future. Of course, I want quick expansion; but ultimately we have been quality- and service-driven in Japan, so we can’t forget that as we look abroad.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/bridesmaid-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/red-carpet-celebrity-dresses
judy smith Mar 2017
Teen model Shonali Khatun strutted the catwalk as the audience cheered at a fashion show in Bangladesh's capital.

But Shonali is no ordinary model, and this was no ordinary show.

She and the 14 other models are survivors of acid attacks, common in this south Asian country, where spurned lovers or disgruntled family members sometimes resort to hurling skin-burning acid at their victims.

The fashion show, held Tuesday night in Dhaka and attended by fashion lovers, rights activists and diplomats including the US ambassador to Bangladesh, aimed to redefine the notion of beauty while calling attention to the menace of such attacks.

For 14-year-old Shonali, the event was nothing short of empowering. She was attacked just days after she was born amid a property dispute involving her parents, and was left with burn scars on her face and arms. She spent nearly three years in a hospital and underwent eight operations. Her attacker has never been caught.

"I am so happy to be here," she said. "One day I want to be a physician."

The models, including three men, walked the catwalk, dancing and singing and showcasing woven handloom Bangladeshi designs. The show was choreographed by local designer Bibi Russel.

Organisers said they hoped to highlight the fact that acid victims, too often overlooked, are a vital part of society. They deliberately chose to hold the event on the eve of International Women's Day.

"We are here today to show their inner strength, as they have come a long way," said Farah Kabir, country director of ActionAid Bangladesh, which organised the show. "I often take inspiration from them. Their courage is huge."

Bangladesh has struggled to deal with acid attacks in recent decades, and has instituted harsh punishments for the perpetrators, including the death penalty. The country has also trained doctors to treat such sensitive cases and attempted to control the sale of acid, but has failed to eliminate the scourge entirely.

In 2016, some 44 people were attacked with acid in Bangladesh - an annual number that has remained relatively stable.

"I am ashamed of having such things in the country," Kabir said. "Unfortunately, in Bangladesh we do have acid victims because of either gender discrimination or violence, or because of greed. And we want to remind everyone the kind of injustice that has been meted out to them."Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/bridesmaid-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/red-carpet-celebrity-dresses
judy smith Mar 2017
There is something discombobulating about feeling a shudder and a tilt, the models in front of you apparently moving slowly sideways, as the stand with your show seat starts to move in circles.

At the same time, the models at the Céline show seemed to be going off in all directions. Popping in and out of the black holes of space were models - young or older - wearing a smart green masculine trouser suit, a striped shirt, a white belted raincoat, something furry and - unexpectedly - a tunic and trousers printed with black wheels and checks skittering before your eyes.

All this and the bodies and arms of shadowy people behind the plastic backdrop. I rushed backstage to try to make sense of the show chaos (sorry: artistic intrigue), but designer Phoebe Philo did not want to talk when I asked her the point of her dramatic presentation of her Autumn/Winter 2017 collection.

"Just ideas coming together with lots of ideas," said the designer. "Just lots and lots of ideas and how they impact each other."

Around me, Phoebe's team were hugging and sobbing and clutching each other, as if this show were their last. Overview notes provided by the public relations people seemed even more confusing, apart from telling me that the installation (that required more electric cables and wires than I have ever seen above a fashion runway) was by French artist Philippe Parreno.

''The Céline AW17 collection explored Phoebe Philo's storytelling design process of how a collection is created and the notion of how changes result in impact," read the statement. "Further, the collection relates closely to the interconnected nature of women's lives and possibilities for women."

Before I read this, I had thought of Phoebe as the English designer who has her children running around backstage and who made practical but classy clothes for today's woman. She threw into the mix a few charming pieces like the fluffy flat sandals that have been picked up by other designers across the world.

With all that on offer, why did the new Céline collection have to complicate things so much?

Take away the moving seats and impossible-to-follow criss-cross of the models and there was the Céline look that any woman would crave: the bold, floor-length tailored coat; a tuxedo with its hemline sweeping right down to the ankle. The tailoring looked bigger, oversized even, which is in tune with the Eighties-style square shoulders that we have seen elsewhere this season.

Phoebe seemed to be offering a hardened version of the serenity she once found in streamlined clothes. An example of the new severity would be a plain, long sleeved dress with a hemline at mid-calf. Its softer side was a blue shirt elongated to the ankle and worn with trousers.

Ultimately, Phoebe offers 21st century elegance with the smooth lines disrupted by a tangle of fringe at the hem or what appeared to be a big blanket over one arm.

I received an overall impression of longer - to the ankle - length, a sense of sobriety and a few fanciful things for evening. What I missed in the hurdy-gurdy of the presentation, is, as yet, unknown.

With exquisite workmanship and Victoriana melded with pop, Pierpaolo Piccioli had a new vision of romance for the digital era.

Prudishness and pop - can the two really meld together? Yes! If the Victorian-style cape is in a vivid, sugary, postmodern pink and the dress underneath a colourful geometric pattern, recalling the Memphis era.

At Valentino, the 1880s met the 1980s with sensational results as designer Pierpaolo Piccioli dismissed the feminist vibe that has reverberated through the Autumn/Winter 2017 season yet created a collection that was respectful to and joyful for, women.

Just looking at the designer's four moodboards was a history lesson, as Pierpaolo whizzed me through dark Victorian carved birds, bright Memphis furniture, coral with a religious connection to Medusa - so much from the past crammed into one collection.

Yet on the runway, the result was far from overloaded, as the history of coral was subsumed into the necklaces all the models wore and the deflated Victorian silhouette - long and high waisted, but slim where a crinoline once was, seemed perfectly acceptable as a romantic vision of the 21st century.

"I wanted to add deepness and romanticism to the modernity of the shapes, so these are absolutely items that you can wear separately - a white shirt or the skirt with your own sweater," said Pierpaolo. "I think fashion is made for dreams, but sometimes you want a dream that is daywear."

The Valentino studios are at the heart of the matter, apparently finding it as easy to toss off a tailored coat with a mid-calf hemline nudging Victoriana bootees, as it is to make a soft, light dress to flow underneath. The detail and delicacy of the dresses seemed like an extension of the haute couture, but the designer was eager to point out that the clothes came from the Italian factory dedicated to Valentino.

Whether it is so easy visually to mix a sorbet pink top with tiny ruffles down the arms that flowed into a cherry ripe panelled skirt, the result was surprisingly calm. Even the dresses patterned with Memphis pop blended in with the plainer, pleated versions. And just when you thought that the show's high romance was over blown, the designer would slip in a black top over a pair of sloppy velvet trousers or calm a Memphis patterned dress with a tailored coat. A severe black jacket could be worn with anything already in the closet from an LBD to blue jeans. Like the tailored coats, it kept ripe femininity in check.

"For me it is important to keep the lightness, otherwise it doesn’t feel confident and if you don’t feel that you don’t feel beautiful," said Pierpaolo. "I think if you feel confident you can even be able to show your sensibility and really feel stronger."

However you rated the clothes - too fancy, too froufrou, too historical - there is no denying that Pierpaolo has created a vision that is respectful to women and which makes them feel beautiful. In a churning political universe, Valentino offers a small, still voice of calm.

Demna Gvasalia revisited Cristóbal’s silhouettes with surges of modern colour, print and volume.

Balenciaga haute couture has been revived for the first time since Cristóbal himself closed the house nearly half a century ago. The last nine outfits shown by creative director Demna Gvasalia, on the huge carpet patterned with the word 'Balenciaga,' had their roots in the legacy of grandeur left by the noble Spanish-born couturier, who died in 1972.

Demna, who started in fashion by building street-smart, unadorned clothes, deliberately named just Vetements (the French word for clothing), has turned towards the grandeur of the original designs that are part of the Balenciaga legacy.

“I thought 100 years was a good reason to make couture available again,” said Demna backstage. “We're not going to do a couture line or show during couture, but these pieces will be made to order – basically for people who want to buy a couture dress from Balenciaga.”

The grand offerings – the polka dot dress with bustle back, the layers of dark pink taffeta, and a slim black gown, all with large back bows, were not the only historic links. The show opened with tailored coats which were worn with a drape over the left shoulder, reminiscent of the way that the models of an earlier era would walk with their heads up, shoulders rounded and stomachs sunk in.

“I studied how the pieces are worn and I found these images from old mood boards of Cristóbal where women are standing with their coats like this,” the designer explained. “The idea was to bring this kind of elegance, the gesture of wearing those pieces, but take it into a kind of cool and make it more modern. You can also wear it in a normal way, but it is constructed so that one part is larger and then you can also pin it up. And this is what you see basically in all these books.”

Demna's way of rethinking with his brain what he had seen with his eyes is exceptional – and the reason why he seems able to update the house as if he were growing new shoots from existing roots.

The arrival of vivid colour signalled a change of pace, as every figure stood out in the farthest reach of the enormous sports stadium. The hosiery especially perhaps, in grass green, and cut-away waistcoats like harnesses in pastel colours, took the image of Balenciaga back to the early days of Nicolas Ghesquière and his futuristic period at the house.

Demna is also drawn by the flowers that were a part of the Cristóbal Balenciaga look; by showing a patterned skirt with big, bold, brightly coloured sweaters, he gave print a modern feel.

The show was not perfect. Mini dresses in the floral patterns and bright hose looked out of place. But the overall effect was precise but theatrical, with the couture creating a dramatic ending.

Choosing Demna may have been a gamble by François-Henri Pinault, CEO of Kering, the luxury group that owns Balenciaga. But the designer has turned out to be able to answer fashion's most difficult challenge: finding the balance between old and new, tipped towards the future.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/cocktail-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/****-formal-dresses
judy smith Mar 2017
Invited guests onto the hallowed ‘frow’ (aka, the front row) have always been magazine editors, global fashion media, all-important buyers, A-list celebrities and ‘friends’ of the brands.

But according to Sydney-based entrepreneur Karim Gharbi, the opportunity is now available for everyone. But it will come at a price.

“What once was only accessible to the rich and famous (and Anna Wintour) can now be yours,” says Gharbi, whose lifestyle concierge company, The VIP Sydney says it can make a front row bucket list wish come true.

“For those with a love of fashion, we have the ultimate experience at the Chanel prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear) show during Paris fashion week,” Gharbi tells news.

“This access is generally reserved for Anna Wintour, the Beckhams and Beyoncé. Our package includes luxury accommodation, personal chauffeur, front row seating at the show, followed by a personal tour of the apartment of Coco Chanel.

“Sure, there are always tickets for buyers and media at all shows but there are just a very few that are put aside for the top concierge companies in the world, so this is how we have been able to do it.

“If you are a lover of fashion, you can die happy after this once in a lifetime experience for a total cost of 10,000 euro.”

In our money that is just under $14,000, which, for someone with those kind of bucks to chuck around, isn’t actually too bad for what the package promises to deliver.

Mr Gharbi says the package will ‘immerse clients into the world of Coco Chanel and the style of Paris fashion week’.

But if you’re planning on doing it soon, you’ll have to move quick as the Chanel show in Paris this season is happening next Tuesday morning.

After an expansion into the European market with the launch of The VIP Monaco last year, the boss of the Sydney based ‘lifestyle concierge’ company says European contacts and the new Monaco office have made the ‘front row’ experience possible.

The team from The VIP Sydney says it can assist clients from around the world to complete other ‘bucket list’ requirements and according to Gharbi, you could discuss Donald Trump during a private and intimate dinner with Bill Clinton or attend a one-on-one VIP meet and greet with Lady Gaga before her sound check.

“My philosophy is simple,’ 'adds Karim.

“I believe that everyone deserves to be a VIP, how often is up to them. That’s why we are one of the only concierge companies without a membership as we want anyone to contact us at anytime.”

VIP Sydney ‘curates’ packages and experiences for their clients with Ghabi telling news.it has access to events as diverse as the Academy Awards, Met Gala, New York fashion week, Grand Prix races around the world, the MTV Awards, the Victoria’s Secret fashion show and Coachella.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/bridesmaid-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/****-formal-dresses
Mar 2017 · 373
Paris Fashion Week
judy smith Mar 2017
Veteran fashion show casting director James Scully has taken to Instagram to call out the fashion industry, specifically the Parisian contingent, for its treatment of models.

Taking on the role of whistle-blower, Scully named and shamed slew of brands contributing to the mistreatment of models during the casting process.

“So true to my promise at #bofvoices that I would be a voice for any models, agents or all who see things wrong with this business I'm disappointed to come to Paris and hear that the usual suspects are up to the same tricks,” Scully wrote on the social media app, before going into a story of the poor treatment of models waiting to be cast in the upcoming Balenciaga show in Paris.

“I was very disturbed to hear from a number of girls this morning that yesterday at the Balenciaga casting Madia & Ramy (serial abusers) held a casting in which they made over 150 girls wait in a stairwell told them they would have to stay over three hours to be seen and not to leave. In their usual fashion they shut the door went to lunch and turned off the lights, to the stairs leaving every girl with only the lights of their phones to see,” Scully revealed.

The casting director, who has worked with the likes of Stella McCartney, Derek Lam, Nina Ricci, Jason Wu, Carolina Herrera and for Gucci during the Tom Ford era, is a well-established and respected member of the fashion community and a long-time advocate for diversity in the modelling community.

“Not only was this sadistic and cruel it was dangerous and left more than a few of the girls I spoke with traumatised. Most of the girls have asked to have their options for Balenciaga cancelled as well as Hermes and Elie Saab who they also cast for because they refuse to be treated like animals,” Scully continued, adding that, “Balenciaga [is] part of Kering it is a public company and these houses need to know what the people they hire are doing on their behalf before a well-deserved lawsuit comes their way.”

Scully then went to touch upon the diversity and age issues the industry is also facing, noting that houses were turning away women of colour and attempting to use underage models.

“On top of that I have heard from several agents, some of whom are black, that they have received mandate from Lanvin that they do not want to be presented with women of colour. And another big house is trying to sneak 15 year-olds into Paris! It's inconceivable to me that people have no regard for human decency or the lives and feelings of these girls, especially when too, too many of these models are under the age of 18 and clearly not equipped to be here but god forbid well sacrifice anything or anyone for an exclusive right?”

Scully’s post has racked up over seven thousand likes and comments from models who found themselves entangled in the Balenciaga stairwell.

“I was one of this 150 girls waiting in this stairwell, Hopefully, I'm 27 now, and it's not my real job, but if I would have been younger and more into this, I would have been so destroyed by this kind of people or treatment. Personally, I decided to leave the casting, just before it was my turn. Just after I saw the casting director screaming at us to go out — outside, in the dark — and told us that we are like groupies in a concert, and how incredible and unbearable it was,” commented Instagram user Judith Schiltz, who purported to be in the stairwell.

Models Joan Smalls, Doutzen Kroes and Candice Swanepoel have also commented on the post.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/short-formal-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses
judy smith Feb 2017
Emma Stone must have known she was a dead cert to take home the award for best actress — her gold Givenchy gown was calling out for accessorising with the gold statuette. Stone led the charge for shimmering metallic gowns at a ceremony that was underwhelming from a fashion perspective, bar a handful of stand-out stars.

Those included Nicole Kidman, Jessica Biel, Halle Berry, Charlize Theron and fashion’s latest It girl Janelle Monae, who translated fashion chops from her musical background into acting with spectacular results, courtesy of designer Elie Saab.

Fashion pushes a more casual agenda and elements of this are filtering onto the red carpet. Hair was more undone: loose waves for Kirsten Dunst, a half-up style from Felicity Jones and Alicia Vikander’s messy topknot. Berry’s wild curls deserved their own statuette.

A mini-trend emerged with actresses wearing jewelled headpieces, including Ruth Negga, Salma Hayek and Monae.

While things did get political in speeches at the event, embracing diversity in the arts, stars didn’t give in to the current feminist mood. There was a distinct lack of pantsuits, which had been increasingly common at recent awards. Meryl Streep almost went there, in a “drouser” ensemble of dress over trousers, but that was as close as it got.

The lone political nod was an abundance of blue ribbons, supporting the American Civil Liberties Union’s action against the Trump administration’s immigration policies. Best supporting actress nominee Ruth Negga pinned one to her red Valentino gown, Karlie Kloss to her white Stella McCartney, while Moonlightdirector Barry Jenkins and best original song nominee Lin-Manuel Miranda added them to their tux jackets.

“I think art is inherently political,” said Miranda.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/long-formal-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/red-carpet-celebrity-dresses
judy smith Feb 2017
In 1983, the Fashion Design Council burst on to the Melbourne scene like a Liverpool kiss to the mainstream fashion industry. Inspired by punk's DIY aesthetic and armed with an audaciously grandiose title, an earnest manifesto and a grant from the Victorian government, FDC founders Robert Buckingham, Kate Durham and Robert Pearce were determined to showcase the burgeoning Melbourne design scene in all its outrageous glory.

"People resented hearing about Karl Lagerfeld," says Durham. "Our movement was against the mainstream and the way Australians and magazines like Vogue treated Australian designers."

Over its 10-year lifespan, the FDC launched such emerging designers as Jenny Bannister, Christopher Graf and Martin Grant. But what was perhaps most exciting was the FDC's ecumenical approach. Architects, filmmakers, artists and musicians all partied together at runway shows held in nightclubs.

"It was an inventive time when people came together and made people notice fashion," says Durham.

Among the creative congregation, Durham remembers artist Rosslynd Piggott, who constructed dresses of strange boats with children in them and filmmaker Philip Brophy, who used "naff" Butterick dress patterns. Elsewhere, an engineer made a pop-riveted ball dress out of sheet metal. The crossover between music, art, graphic design and film extended to architects such as Biltmoderne (an early incarnation of celebrated architects Wood Marsh) who designed the FDC's favourite runway and watering hole, Inflation nightclub.

"Clothing was confronting," says Durham. "It was brash and tribe-oriented. It was quite good if you weren't good-looking. People liked the idea that this or that clothing style was going to win you friends."

Today, however, even Karl Lagerfeld has a punk collection. To complicate matters, "fast fashion" appropriates the avant-garde at impossibly low prices. The digital era too has caused the fashion world to splinter and bifurcate. What's a young contemporary designer to do?

"The physical collective is no longer that important," says Robyn Healy, co-curator of the exhibition High Risk Dressing/Critical Fashion, which uses the FDC as a lens to view the current fashion landscape. "These are designers who are highly networked through social media who put their work up on websites."

Fashion designers still use music, film and architecture, but in different ways. Where FDC members might document its runway shows with video, studios such as Pageant use video as the runway show and post them online. Social media is perhaps the big disrupter. Where FDC designers might collaborate with architects, today it's webdesigners.

"Space has changed," says Healy. "Web designers might be the equivalent of the architect today. It's a different use of space."

As grandiose as the FDC, yet perhaps even more ambitious in scope, is contemporary designer Matthew Linde's online store *** gallery, Centre for Style. Like the FDC, it offers space for "artists who aren't at all designers per-se, but they're dealing with a borrowed language from fashion", Linde told i-D magazine.

"It's an extraordinary juggernaut across the world with a huge amount of Instagram followers," says co-curator Fleur Watson. "[Linde] has created a brand that uses social media in an interesting avant-garde way."

Yet unlike their often untrained FDC counterparts, these designers are perhaps the first generation of PhD designers, notes Watson. "Robert Pearce had a belief in culture changing the world. That's what these new designers are reflecting on in their research, their position in the fashion world and how do they change the way fashion works?"

While it's also true that new technologies offer exciting possibilities in embedded fabrics and experimentation with 3D printing, fast fashion has created certain expectations.

As Cassandra Wheat of the Chorus fashion label laments: "It's just hard for people to understand the complexity and the value that goes into production without being really exposed to it. They think they should have a T-shirt for cheaper than their sandwich."

During the course of the exhibition Chorus will produce its monthly collection from one of the newly designed spaces within the gallery. The exhibition's curators have commissioned three contemporary architects who, like its '80s counterparts, work across the arts, to interpret FDC-inspired spaces. Matthew Bird's Inflation-influenced bar acts as a meeting place for the exhibition's forums and discussions on the contemporary state of fashion. Sibling architects abstracts the retail space, while Wowowa's office design resembles a fishbowl. For Watson, the exposed shopfront/office has as much front as Myer's. Its architecture suggests the type of brazen confidence every generation of fashion design needs. Says Watson: "Fake it till you make it."Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/cocktail-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses-2017
judy smith Feb 2017
In this age of global uncertainty, clothes have become a kind of panacea for a growing number of consumers. Designers are responding to the political upheavals of the past year by injecting some much-needed humour into women’s wardrobes. Browns CEO Holli Rogers is already predicting that spring’s sartorial hit will be Rosie Assoulin’s smiley-face T-shirt. This cheery number, which reads "Thank you! Have a Nice Day!’" neatly sums up the jubilant mood of the coming season.

The logic goes that turning up the dial on the fun, the colourful and the crazy is the sartorial equivalent of Michelle Obama’s "when they go low, we go high" mantra. We may not be able to control the chaos of world events, but we still rule our own style.

It’s no coincidence that a cartoonish aesthetic, of the sort you’d find if you rifled through an eccentric child’s dressing-up box, was in plentiful supply on the spring/summer 2017 runways. Alessandro Michele’s army of Gucci geeks displayed growing swagger in garish get-ups that ran from fuzzy crayon-coloured furs featuring zebras to tiered, tinsel-y coats that rivalled Grandma’s Christmas tree.

It was a similar story at Dolce & Gabbana, where sumptuous eveningwear was loaded with pasta and pizza motifs, and drums became bags, while Marc Jacobs tore a page from a psychedelic colouring book, covering clothes with the childlike scrawl of the London illustrator Julie Verhoeven. Even ardent minimalists would have to admit that these playful looks have potent pick-me-up power.

For Anya Hindmarch – whose empire is built on feel-good fashion – all this frivolity is nothing new. "An ironic, lighter and more irreverent approach has always been my thing. People love beautiful objects and increasingly, they want to show their character – that’s the point of fashion," she says. "Customers today are more confident with their style. There aren’t so many rules. It’s about putting a sticker on a beautiful handbag and not being too precious about it."

What’s surprising is who is consuming this cartoonish style. Though there’s no real rhyme or reason, says Hindmarch, often it’s older clients who are investing in the maddest pieces – like her cuddly, googly-eyed Ghost backpack that has also been spotted on Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner.

The same is true of the customer for the Lebanese designer Mira Mikati’s emoji-embellished styles. Though her fans run from twenty to fiftysomethings, at a recent London pop-up one of Mikati’s most ardent buyers was an 87-year-old. "She tells me that whenever she wears my clothes people stop her on the street. They smile. They start conversations. She literally makes friends through what she wears."

Mikati began her career as a buyer, co-founding the upscale Beirut boutique Plum, before launching her own line some four seasons ago – largely out of frustration at the sameness of the mainstream collections. "I wanted to create something fun and colourful but easy to wear – that you can add to jeans and a white T-shirt, but that’s also a conversation point."

Her clothes, worn by Beyoncé and Rihanna, are certainly that: pink parrot-appliquéd trench coats, scribble-print hooded tops and dresses clad with a family of monsters who spell out her Peter Pan ethos in scrawled speech bubbles that read "Never Grow Up’" The antithesis of normcore, these designs take their cue from her children’s toy trunk and the Japanese pop art of Takashi Murakami – who returned the compliment by donning one of her patched bombers.

Mikati is clearly onto something. According to Roberta Benteler, who founded online fashion emporium Avenue 32 in 2011, it’s the cartoon aesthetic that’s really piquing women’s desire right now.

"Anything that looks like a child’s drawing or a toy sells incredibly well," she says. "Brands like Mira Mikati, Vivetta and Les Petits Joueurs inspire the impulse to buy because they’re so eye-catching. You have to have it now because there’s a sense you won’t find it anywhere else."

The exponential rise of street-style stars and the social-media machine that now propels the fashion industry also plays a part in the popularity of these playful looks.

"Designers are creating for the online world and customer," continues Benteler, who cites the Middle Eastern consumer as a big investor in these niche eccentric designs. "People find escapism in fashion and more than ever they need something to cheer them up. These are clothes that stand out on Instagram, and for designers that translates into sales."

In practical terms, in an effort to beat the warp speed of high-street copying, designers are differentiating themselves with increasingly intricate and artisanal styles that are harder to mimic. Just because these pieces have a childlike sensibility doesn’t mean they’re not beautifully crafted.

"My aim is create a handbag that you can keep as a design piece," explains the accessories designer Paula Cademartori. One of her most successful designs – the Petite Faye bag, which comes in a whole rainbow of configurations – takes more than 32 hours to create at her Italian studio. "Even if the styles are colourful and speak loudly, they’re still sophisticated," says Cademartori, whose brand was recently snapped up by the luxury goods group OTB. It can pay to be playful.

One man with a unique insight into the feel-good phenomenon is Marco de Vincenzo, who combines his longstanding role as leather goods head designer at Fendi with creating his own collection. "When we first created the Fendi monster accessories for bags we were simply playing around," he says of the charms that still loom large some three years on. "The most successful designs are created without pressure, through play."

His own-line debut bag features an animalistic paw. ‘It’s about creating something new and different for women to discover,’ he explains. "You buy something because you love it, not because you need it. Fashion is like a game – it has to excite."

When it comes to distilling this childlike abandon into your wardrobe, take cues from super style blogger Leandra Medine, who balances madcap pieces, such as her first collection of colourful footwear under her MR By Man Repeller label, with plainer, simpler ones. "It’s all about wearing your clothes with joy, and having fun, but not looking ridiculous," says Cademartori. "You don’t want to look like an actual cartoon."

It’s advice that chimes with that of Anya Hindmarch. "I love the idea of wearing a super-simple Comme des Garçons jacket and a white shirt with a really fun bag to mess it all up a bit." It’s a failsafe formula for dressing your way to happiness.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/red-carpet-celebrity-dresses
judy smith Feb 2017
A decade on from creating the hit Galaxy dress that became a defining look of the noughties, Roland Mouret has celebrated the 20th anniversary of his label by bringing his catwalk show home from Paris to London for fashion week.

And that dress was back, too – in spirit, at least. “When I think about the Galaxy dress now, I see that it was all about the women who wanted to wear it,” Mouret said backstage after the show at the National Theatre on Sunday, referring to the curvy, back-zipped dresses that made him a star.

“It wasn’t the dress that said anything, it was the women who wore that dress who had something to say. It was a dress for a woman who knows her body. A woman who is in a relationship with a man but who also goes out into the world and has a life outside of that relationship, too. That inner woman is the icon, not the dress.”

The anniversary show – his first in London after 10 years of showing his collections in Paris – was a celebratory affair, with the foyer of the National Theatre turned into a catwalk. It provided a suitably theatrical atmosphere for the wearing of high-voltage dresses on a grey Sunday morning, and an appropriate setting for a designer who rivals Stella McCartney as one of Britain’s foremost names in red-carpet fashion. At last week’s Bafta awards, the author JK Rowling and the Star Wars actor Daisy Ridley both wore Roland Mouret.

The Galaxy elements on this catwalk were updated for 2017. The cleavage that was an essential part of the dress when it was worn a decade ago by everyone from Cameron Diaz to Carol Vorderman is now out of fashion, so the distinctive origami folds of the neckline were raised several inches higher and instead of framing a balcony-hoisted decollete, they accentuated bare shoulders.

The full-length back zip was present and correct, made even more steamy by being emphasised with a small keyhole of cut-out fabric in the small of the back. The fabric has also moved with the times, from stretch crepe to wool knit and velvet, which give the shape of the body a less stark frame.

Mouret was born in Lourdes, south-west France, where his father was a butcher, but now lives between London and Suffolk. His UK-based company employs 75 people, and has been a champion of British manufacturing.

Sunday’s show, which was attended by about 100 of Mouret’s best customers, as well as editors and retailers, was set to a ***** soundtrack that began with Burt Bacharach’s The Look of Love and ended with Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man. It was followed by a champagne trunk show at which orders were being taken for delivery in a few months’ time.

The only archive design Mouret resurrected faithfully was a dress from his pre-Galaxy days, of which no pattern existed because “in those days, I just draped and sewed the dresses on to the girls”.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/evening-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses-2017
judy smith Feb 2017
Tiffany Trump has been viewed as the least known of Donald Trump’s children. The 23-year-old, who was raised separately from her siblings and made a late appearance on the presidential campaign trail, has been dubbed the “forgotten” Trump.

All the same, this has not made her exempt from the fury of her father’s detractors. This could be most clearly glimpsed during New York Fashion Week where there were reports the President’s second youngest child had been snubbed by fashion writers.

Former Wall Street Journal style columnist Christina Binkley shared a photo of Ms Trump sitting with two empty seats beside her, saying: "Nobody wants to sit next to Tiffany Trump at Philipp Plein, so they moved and the seats by her are empty”.

Fortunately for Ms Trump, who is the billionaire developer’s only daughter from his second marriage to Marla Maples, Whoopi Goldberg swooped in to save the day.

Despite the fact Goldberg has been an outspoken critic of Mr Trump, she suggested it was unfair for anger at his policies to be directed at Ms Trump given she was simply there to enjoy the catwalk.

"You know what Tiffany? I'm supposed to go to a couple more shows. ... I'm coming to sit with you," Goldberg said on The Viewwhich she hosts on ABC on Wednesday.

"Because nobody is talking politics at the [shows], you're looking at fashion! She doesn't want to talk about her dad. She's looking at the fashion!"

Goldberg, who previously said she would leave America if Mr Trump became President, argued the incident was "mean”, saying: "Girl, I will sit next to you because I've been there where people say, 'Ooh, we're not going to sit next to you. I'll find your a*se and sit next to you."

Fashion writer, Binkley, has now said Ms Trump was not actually snubbed at the show. She said the seats remained unoccupied for two minutes or less and the first daughter seemed unaware of what was going on.

Nevertheless, Nikki Ogunnaike, senior fashion editor at Elle, said the actual show started late due to frenzied last minute seating change, with editors at the show “fleeing” so they would not have to sit around Ms Trump. The tweets made headlines, with fashion designer, Plein, even weighing in to defend her by saying she is not a “politician” and merely a “teenager”.

Ms Trump, who thanked Goldberg for her show of support on Twitter, was raised separately from the other Trump siblings. She moved to California at the age of five and was brought up by her mother, Ms Maples, while her father and siblings were based in New York.

In a 2015 interview, Ms Trump said of her father: “I don’t know what it’s like to have a typical father figure. He’s not the dad who’s going to take me to the beach and go swimming, but he’s such a motivational person.”Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/cocktail-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/red-carpet-celebrity-dresses
judy smith Feb 2017
It’s an annual tradition that London Fashion Week opens every February with the newest of the new—the bang-fizz of The Central Saint Martins’s M.A. graduation show. These are the people who are destined to shape the fashion world—not least because they are talents gathered from everywhere. The class of 2017 has students from China, Taiwan, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Gibraltar, and the United States as well as Britain. This is just normal in London, a city that has built its reputation as a creative capital on the strength of talents from all over: all backgrounds, all nationalities. In the face of Brexit, and its possible future curb on immigration, London has its Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan, the city’s elected representative, who stands up for the vitality of diversity and interfaith harmony every day with his social media campaign from City Hall, #Londonisopen. In his words: “We don’t simply tolerate each other’s differences, we celebrate them. Many people from all over the globe live and work here, contributing to every aspect of life in our city.”

Nowhere will that be better demonstrated than in what’s to come in London Fashion Week. In defiance of dark times, its youth and multicultural camaraderie is about to roll out the welcome mat. Expect to see it coming from all directions, in kaleidoscopic variety. On the Central Saint Martins’s runway, there’s Gabriella Sardena’s wildly decorative glam-femme collection to look forward to, for example (she’s the one from Gibraltar). Day one, there’s also the opening of The International Fashion Showcase at Somerset House, where emerging designers from 26 countries, including Ukraine, Russia, Khazakhstan, India, Romania, Czech Republic, Egypt, and Guatemala, will put forward their viewpoints on the theme “Local and Global.”

Stand back for a blast from New York, too. Michael Halpern, one of the latest Central Saint Martins M.A. graduates (class of 2016) will unleash his first multi-sequined disco-fabulous collection in a presentation that is being aided and abetted with volunteer help from Patti Wilson and Sam McKnight, held at a posh venue laid on for free in the heart of St James on Saturday.

Fighting gloom with glitter is a London thing. Ashish Gupta, born in India, longtime London trailblazer for LGBTQ rights, is the king of that. Given last September, when he took his bow in a T-shirt emblazoned IMMIGRANT, admirers will surely be packing his Ashish show to the rafters. These times demand a standing up for pride in identity. Osman Yousefzada, more quietly creative, with his strong art-world following, will be coming out with a statement about his British-Asian roots: “Before, we were rarities, trophies and exotics from distant lands…some of us fleeing famine, war, or persecution,” he writes. “We were thought of as good labourers, businessmen and women—hungry, reliable and eager to succeed…and then some wanted to close the doors. Today, I bring you colour, opulence, texture, tailoring, a modern woman in different hues who isn’t scared to stand out and have fun, and embrace the beauty and difference around her.”

London is open to more newcomers. The Ports 1961 women’s show has relocated here from Milan this season. It’s actually a homecoming of a sort: This collection, placed on a woman-friendly lifestyle-centric wavelength somewhere on the continuum between The Row and Céline, has in fact been designed by the Slovenian-born Natasa Cagalj (also a CSM M.A. alumna) from a studio in London’s Farringdon all along. Two more “returners” to the schedule are Hussein Chalayan and Roland Mouret, long rooted in London since the ’90s, who are repatriating their shows from Paris.

It’s a whole London creative community picture, in fact—one that makes a complete commercial nonsense on every level of the “Little Britain” xenophobia of the send-them-home faction in U.K. politics. Cohesion and creativity, the welcome and support given to the newest, from everywhere—that’s the flag that flies over London Fashion Week. Scotland, Ireland, Greece, Austria, America, Serbia, Canada, Syria, India, Germany, Pakistan, Nigeria, Turkey, Ghana, New Zealand, Portugal—come one, come all, says fashion. There’ll be protest and prettiness, resistance and humor—that’s a given this week. Here’s glitter in your eye!Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/red-carpet-celebrity-dresses
judy smith Feb 2017
Leading fashion stylists and casting directors have been directed by clients to avoid doing business with Trump Models, a company that promotes itself as “the brainstorm and vision of owner, Donald Trump”, several sources have told the Guardian.

Trump Models refused to comment, but according to its Twitter feed several models had made it on to the catwalk. News of such directives comes during New York fashion week, days after the president used Twitter to condemn the retailer Nordstrom for dropping his daughter Ivanka’s clothing brand, claiming poor sales.

According to one leading casting director who spoke to the Guardian on condition of anonymity, directives to avoid using models represented by Trump Modelsbegan last fall, before the presidential election. They then spread by “word of mouth”, the casting director said.

The effectiveness of any de facto boycott is hard to gauge. Trump Models, founded in 1999, is not considered a big player in the fashion business.

“It’s not a great agency, so it’s not such a big loss,” said the casting director, who was not authorised to speak on behalf of their client.

A French fashion stylist, who also requested anonymity, said she was reluctant to engage with a business that would put money in the pocket of the Trump family. When asked if they would use Trump models during fashion week, she replied simply: “Nooo!”

“People certainly look twice if a Trump model comes for a casting,” said another leading American stylist. “But a boycott wouldn’t necessarily be a big loss to the business.”

A third stylist, a prolific veteran in the industry, said he hoped there was a boycott on the Trump agency but added that “if there was a girl I wanted, I wouldn’t mind if she was represented by Attila the ***”.

On Thursday, the fashion website Refinery 29 reported that hairstylist Tim Aylward had vowed to stop working on jobs that involved “talent” from Trump Models.

Trump Models once represented first lady Melania Trump, and currently represents dozens of models from all over the world. It also runs a division for “legends”, including Paris Hilton and Carol Alt.

The agency, which claims to be at “the forefront of cultivating a wide range of innovative and vibrant talent which personify the trends of the fashion industry”, has faced claims of mismanagement.

Last year, Canadian model Rachel Blais told CNN some managers at the agency had encouraged her to skirt US visa laws. “As a model, one of the things you learn quite quickly is that … you shouldn’t ask too many questions,” Blais said. “If you want to work, you have to do as you’re told. Yet you’re kind of aware that it’s not legal.”

Last year, Canadian model Rachel Blais told CNN some managers at the agency had encouraged her to skirt US visa laws. “As a model, one of the things you learn quite quickly is that … you shouldn’t ask too many questions,” Blais said. “If you want to work, you have to do as you’re told. Yet you’re kind of aware that it’s not legal.”

Blais was also one of four women who described their experience with Trump Models to Mother Jones. The women said they were forced to live in squalor in a crowded apartment in the East Village of New York City.

The women said the apartment contained multiple bunks, for which models paid $1,600 each, and housed up to 11 people at a time. “We’re herded into these small spaces,” one former model said, saying the apartment “was like a sweatshop”.

The then vice presidential candidate Mike Pence told CNN he was “very confident that this business, like the other Trump businesses, has conformed to the laws of this country”.

In court papers filed in 2014, Trump model Alexia Palmer said she was promised full-time work and $75,000 a year. She sued after earning just $3,880 and some modest cash advances for 21 days of work over three years.

“That’s what slavery people do,” Palmer told ABC News in March 2016. “You work and don’t get no money.”

Trump attorney Alan Garten said allegations of being treated like a slave were “completely untrue” and said Palmer had simply not been in demand. The suit was dismissed. Laurence Rosen, a lawyer who represented Trump Models in the case, told the Guardian his firm “is not handling any other lawsuits or claims concerning model representation, nor am I aware that any such lawsuits or claims have been asserted” against Trump Models.

Shannon Coulter, of the Trump boycott movement #grabyourwallet, said Trump Models had not been added to its list of Trump-owned or affiliated businesses because it was not a consumer-facing business.

“What we’re seeing is that the Trump name is becoming truly toxic,” she said. “It seems that people can’t get away from the Trumps fast enough now. I think those casting directors and stylists are making the right call not doing business with them.”

Coulter rejected the suggestion that a boycott of Trump Models might end up hurting the working models it represents, rather than the owners of the business.

“When you chose not to do business with a company,” she said, “you chose to do business with other companies that do have employees, too, so I don’t put stock in that.”

Amid continued questions about Trump’s relationship with his business empire and how it fits with federal ethics regulations, Trump-owned fashion interests have suffered adverse publicity.

On Saturday, retailers Sears and Kmart removed 31 Trump Home items from their online product offerings to focus on more profitable items, a spokesman said. The collection includes furniture, lighting, bedding, mirrors and chandeliers.

Last week, retailer Nordstrom followed Macy’s and Neiman Marcus in dropping Ivanka Trump products. That prompted a furious response from Trump, whotweeted: “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom.”

Nordstrom justified its decision, reporting that online sales of Ivanka Trump products fell 26% in January year on year.

Within the fashion industry, there is speculation that while the performance of Ivanka Trump’s line was disappointing, it was not enough to merit being abruptly dropped.

At least part of the reasoning, they speculate, was pressure from other brands and labels carried by Nordstrom.

“We would not base a decision on that. Our decision was based on the performance of her brand which had been steadily declining over the year. We had discussions with Ivanka and her team and shared our decision with Ivanka personally in early January.”

However, Coulter said it was likely Nordstrom had faced pressure from other suppliers. “The Ivanka Trump sales were down but it’s possibly not the whole truth. There are studies that say boycotts work at the brand level, not the sales level, so probably both forces were at play.”

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway later urged the public to buy the Ivanka Trump brand – and faced widespread criticism that she had overstepped ethics regulations. The White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, said Conway had been “counseled”.

On Saturday, Trump said on Twitter that the media had “abused” his daughter.

In New York, protests against the Trump presidency have rippled through the fashion industry’s market week. Calvin Klein played David Bowie’s This is Not America and a Mexican immigrant designer for LRS Studio showed underwear that carried the message: “**** your wall”. Public School’s Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne sent out red Trump-esque baseball hats spelling out: “Make America New York.”

Senior industry figures, including Vogue’s Anna Wintour and LVMH chief executive Bernard Arnault, have, however, held meetings with the president. Vogue plans to feature Melania Trump on its cover.

Designers including Dior and Ralph Lauren have dressed the first lady. Others, including Marc Jacobs, have said they will not.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com | www.marieaustralia.com/cocktail-dresses
judy smith Feb 2017
In a few days, modernistas will flock to Palm Springs to ogle its healthy roster of mid-century gems.

There will be home tours, double-decker bus tours, fundraisers, art receptions and cocktail parties. At every turn, is an opportunity to embrace your inner modish self and dress the part.

Don’t worry, you won’t be alone. All the parties are rife with guests in fun retro apparel. Everything from caftans and A-line shift dresses to graphic prints and knee high boots.

“It's nostalgia for a bygone era and we dress up because it feels great when you are surrounded by stunning midcentury modern architecture and vintage cars. It makes me want to put on gloves and a pillbox hat and sip martinis - plus it makes for great photos,” said Lisa Vossler Smith, executive director of Modernism Week, who likes to dress the part as well. Modernism Week runs Feb. 16-26.

The mod-style which originated in London in the 1960s is all about sleek and simple silhouettes.

“Clean-tailored lines and lots of black and white define mod fashion for me,” Vossler Smith said.

Pegged ankle-length pants, colorful tights, Mary Jane heels and sweater twin sets also come to mind.

For inspiration, Vossler Smith turns to the likes of Twiggy, Edie Sedgwick and fashion designer Mary Quant, because of their iconic and forward-thinking mod style.

“But I also look to old movies and TV for inspiration. "James Bond," “Batman,” “Get Smart,” “Gidget,” and my favorite, “Breakfast at Tiffany's,” are great for inspiring new vintage looks from my daily wardrobe. Sometimes I even throwback to a little Rosalind Russell "Auntie Mame" or Grace Kelly influence - on a good hair day,” she said.

Her favorite vintage item is her 1960s leopard print, pointy-toe boots. “I wear them all the time,” she added.

Much like the classic, simple and timeless architecture of the homes and buildings that signify mid-century modern - mod fashion has had a lasting effect on popular culture and current design.

There are new, vintage inspired lines, such as the ones created by New York based Lisa Perry who led a discussion at last year’s Modernism Week on the mod looks that make up her collections.

Palm Springs’ own Trina Turk, who is known for her bold prints and vintage inspired designs , will present a “Trina Turk + Mr. Turk Fashion Show” poolside at the Modernism Week Show House on Feb. 21.

Palm Springs and the rest of the Coachella Valley is full of thrift shops and specialty boutiques teeming with outfits perfect for a mod party. You can go new – Turk’s flagship store is in Palm Springs – but it’s a lot of fun and rewarding to dig through thrift shop racks for that signature outfit.

“We really have great stores throughout the desert,” Vossler Smith said.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/****-formal-dresses
judy smith Feb 2017
It is the only platform for designers of men’s clothes on the continent that does not have to share the spotlight with the more traditional women’s fashion scene, organizers of the South Africa Menswear Week (SAMW) say.

In its 5th edition this year, SAMW showed African designers challenging the imagination of menswear style and standing up to be counted alongside some of the world’s top fashion creators.

Mzuksi Mbane – an accounting graduate with no formal design training, used his brand ‘Imprint’ to stay true to African influences, with a range of distinct prints on soft but structured pieces and inspired by style beyond the designer’s home base, South Africa.

“For me I always play around with the story of a traveler, so it’s not just a person focused in SA, it’s an African man from all over Africa because if you look at my collection that I did for Winter, it was focused a lot from Morocco so it was Africa from South Africa, it carried stories from Morocco and then I had pieces there that I took from Ghana, so there is always that mix because it is supposed to unify a, it is supposed to focus on roots that we share as Africans. So yes I take a lot from Africa as a whole,” said the designer.

“Imprint’s style is quite contemporary and the details, oh my gosh! It’s fantastic and the mixture of the colours, it’s not every day you see a designer that can combine such kind of basic colours together and come up with such details,” said Evans Johns, a guest at the show.

UK-born Nigerian designer, Tokyo James’ urban street-wear chic went beyond the African print staple for looks he said are meant to cater to the tastes of men anywhere in the world.

“I draw inspiration from Nigeria but I design for a global audience. I strongly believe Africa is part of the world so I tend not to like to just limit myself to just to the Africa aesthetic. Africa is part of the world so when I am designing I am designing for the man in general, so it could be a European man, it could be the Asian man, it could be the African man. I am designing for the man, basically just as long as you are a man you can wear Tokyo James,” he said.

Sponsored by carmaker Lexus, the event was held at The Palms in Woodstock, Cape Town – an airy space that organizers said was classy yet simple enough not to compete with the spirit of SAMW, which aims to take men’s fashion more seriously.

“There are hundreds of fashion weeks on the continent, the problem is they are mostly driven by entertainment or other effects. What we have done to separate ourselves from everybody else is to focus on the clothes. We have only the best designers that get curated and the whole process to curate, to get the best clothing on to our runway and that is why everyone comes here to look at this point where the clothes is, because if they wont to see what are the new trends, what is happening in African fashion, this is where they come to find it because we have got the best people on our platform on our ramp,” said Ryan Beswick, executive director of SAMW.

SAMW takes place twice a year and is modeled around the London Fashion Week Men’s.

It also provides opportunities for African designers to eventually show their work in London – one of the world’s top fashion capitals.

This year, some critics challenged African designers to take it to the next level and make a bigger mark on the global scene by setting a new standard of quality.

“We take the style as it is and we know how to interpret the African traditions and the style and you know… the ethnicity and what happens is that the rest of the world takes that style and adapts it and kind of, sometimes improves on it, so we need to learn to refine our own style ourselves and make it top notch that when the world sees it they are like wow! You know? And they stand back and they look and they think, there is nothing you can actually improve on,” said Boitumelo Pooe, from the South Africa Fashion Council.

South Africa has one of the continent’s most successful fashion industries and was worth more than 200 billion rand ($15 billion) at the end of 2014.

Other designers who took part in the event were Nao Serati, Nguni Shades Kidd Hunta and Craig Jacobs as well as Jenevieve Lyons and Kim Gush.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/black-formal-dresses
judy smith Feb 2017
He has given a luxurious twist to the dying art of weaving and popularised the use of Khadi. Award-winning textile designer Gaurang Shah is more than happy that the Indian fashion industry has welcomed handlooms. “As a textile designer, I would like to say the Indian fashion industry has embraced handlooms with lot of admiration and helped revive our ancient traditions of weaving art, like the jamdani weaves, that we use in creating our fashion pieces,” Shah told IANS.

“It also reinforced its unparalleled beauty around the world,” he added. The designer says that one must acknowledge the passion and intense amount of production hours every weaver at the looms puts to bring out timeless pieces of handlooms.

“The fashion industry did contribute to bring them back into vogue in recent years,” he said. Shah showcased his latest collection of 40 garments titled Muslin at Lakme’s Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2017. His anthology for the gala was inspired by romance of nature.

Giving details about his range, he said: “Our collection incorporates weaves and techniques from West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The amazing all-in-whites collections integrate gorgeous Mughal motifs and geometric patterns on Khadi, chikankari embroidery and Parsi gara.”

The designer’s collection involved 50 weavers working relentlessly for over six months. Shah, whose handloom creation made its way to the 69th Cannes Film Festival when Deepshikha Deshmukh, producer of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan starrer “Sarbjit”, stepped out in an ensemble featuring Paithani and Kanjeevaram details, says that handlooms are a glorious heritage of India and it is important to preserve and help the artists’ community grow.

“I would like to add that a few years ago this beautiful art was fading away. Thanks to persistent effort and motivation from label like ours, followed by the efforts of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, that pushed Indian handlooms to higher level of acceptance,” he said.

Shah began his journey in the textile world with just two weavers and today the label works with 700 weavers, and the number is still growing.

“The biggest contribution we as a designer can make is to keep our artisans motivated and also help them gain confidence that it is a highly profitable profession,” said the designer, who has styled the stars like Vidya Balan, Sonam Kapoor and Kirron Kher.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses-adelaide | www.marieaustralia.com/red-carpet-celebrity-dresses
judy smith Jan 2017
Women on the march was the story of the weekend. And so it was with perfect timing that 23 years after he diversified into designing for women, Sir Paul Smith included clothes for women on his Paris catwalk during menswear fashion week for the first time. The designer has scrapped his slot showing womenswear during London fashion week in favour of a blockbuster Paris show in which clothes for both genders are shown together.

There is an industry-wide trend toward unisex catwalks, but the move felt organic for Paul Smith, whose womenswear has its roots in men’s tailoring. First on the catwalk was a woman in a trousersuit in the black-and-green check of Black Watch tartan, alongside a man wearing a tailored coat in the same fabric over beige trousers.

Backstage, the designer said putting the show together has reminded him why he started designing for women in the first place. “Grace Coddington and Liz Tilberis, all these incredible women, were dressing supermodels like Linda Evangelista in my clothes for men,” he recalled.

But one of the secrets of Paul Smith’s cheery, straight-talking brand is that it is more sophisticated than it lets on. The womenswear on the catwalk was not simply borrowed-from-the-boys, but fine-tuned for the female body. The attitude and fabrics are taken from menswear, but the tailoring – a higher and more defined waist, a longer jacket, a strong shoulder – is calibrated to flatter the female form.

A dandy aesthetic running through the men’s velvet suits and fitted waistcoats was adapted for women with colourful Fair Isle-knit sweater dresses, and silk blouses with a painterly feather print.

The show was staged under the glass roof of the grand École Des Beaux-Arts, just a few streets from where Sir Paul Smith staged his very first fashion show in a friend’s apartment on the rue de Vaugirard, that time to an audience of 35 people, with friends as models and a soundtrack he had compiled on a cassette.

But it was very British, not just stylistically but in the emphasis on British-made fabrics – in many cases modern, lightweight versions of fabrics Smith first used in the 1970s. The brightly coloured feathers, which appeared on men’s suit linings as well as silk womenswear, were inspired by an illustrated 18th-century book of British birds.

In the face of the unstoppable rise of a sports aesthetic in menswear, Smith remains a staunch defender of the suit. “People think that suits are stuffy, or that you can’t move in them,” he said backstage. “But it’s not true.” Soft, narrow suits were styled for life outside the office, worn with trainers and with poloneck knits.

The Paul Smith show was followed by Kenzo, also showing men’s and women’s collections together for the first time. In London, Burberry and Vivienne Westwood have both recently merged their collections for men and women. The trend for unisex catwalks, which is driven both by the rise of a genderless, sports-influenced aesthetic and a social media appetite for catwalks that are newsworthy moments, appears unstoppable.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/bridesmaid-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/red-carpet-celebrity-dresses
judy smith Jan 2017
BCBG Max Azria, with its 570 brick-and-mortar boutiques, is the latest American retail firm to fall prey to digital competition.

On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that the fashion label, one of three under the BCBG Max Azria Group umbrella, which also includes Herve Leger and BCBGeneration, is closing several stores and shifting its focus to e-commerce, wholesaling through other retailers and licensing.

Said Seth Lubove, a spokesman for BCBG at Sitrick & Co., "Like so many other great brands, BCBG has been negatively impacted by the growth in online sales and shifts in customer shopping patterns and, as a result, has too large a physical retail footprint."

The company founded by Max Azria in 1989 (which stands for the French phrase "bon chic, bon genre") peaked in the mid-2000s, finding favor on the red carpets with tween darlings Lauren Conrad, Camilla Belle and Miley Cyrus, the latter of whom collaborated with Azria on a short-lived Walmart collection in 2009.

One of the most powerful figures to emerge from the L.A. fashion scene in the last 25 years, Azria, an immigrant from Tunisia, was early to the idea of democratizing fashion, selling gowns in the $500 range and showing them on the runway in New York to lend a high-fashion patina. He built an international empire that once boasted $1 billion in retail sales.

He is married to Lubov Azria, chief creative officer of the BCBG Max Azria Group. The West Coast couple made headlines in 2015 for selling their Beverly Hills estate for $85 million.

BCBG Max Azria has struggled over the past few years, hampered by overly aggressive brand extensions and retail expansion plans, and increased competition from fast fashion giants Zara and H&M.; Last year, 123 employees were laid off from its Vernon, Calif.-based offices. The company has hired Alix Partners LP to restructure its debt load, although, according toBloomberg's sources, the company isn't in risk of bankruptcy.

Just last week, fellow L.A.-based retailer American Apparel announced the closure of all 110 of its retail stores. Other mall fixtures, including Macy's and Sears, also announced store closures scheduled for early 2017, and all of The Limited stores closed this month.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/bridesmaid-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/red-carpet-celebrity-dresses
judy smith Jan 2017
Followers of Sfera would be glad to know that the Spanish fashion brand recently launched its Fall-Winter 2016 collection at its flagship store in SM Makati.

The event, held in partnership with the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (La Camara Manila), had the local Spanish community and members of the diplomatic corps among the guests.

They were treated to a fabulous showcase of the collection, along with cocktails and an exciting shopping experience.

In attendance were Maria Jose Carrasco, wife of Spanish Ambassador Luis Antonio Calvo, Pedro Pascual of the Commercial Office of the Embassy of Spain, Alfredo Roca, vice president external of La Camara Manila.

Sfera, part of Madrid’s renowned El Corte Ingles Group of Companies, opened its first store in Asia in the Philippines in 2014, on the second floor of The SM Store Makati. In 2015, it opened more branches—on the second level of Building B in SM Megamall, and on the upper ground floor of SM Seaside City Cebu.

September 2016 saw its first department store corner at The SM Store in Aura Premier.

This premium fast-fashion brand offers men’s and women’s wear, and is known for its ability to stay on-trend every season while maintaining good-quality clothing and affordability.

From SM, heading to the opposite side of town, we were treated to a gastronomic symphony at one of our favorite restaurants, Salvatore Cuomo.

The six-course dinner, prepared by chef Salvatore Cuomo himself, served as a sneak peek of his new dishes on the menu.

The Italian culinary titan has narrowed the boundaries between innovation and fine taste. The meal was a roller-coaster of dynamic flavors and textures—an array of small bites paired with light aperitif for starters, washed down with Italian and French medium-bodied red and white wines.

In true Salvatore Cuomo fashion, the ingredients used in the entire dinner were thoughtfully selected and sourced from the best producers in Europe and Asia.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses-sydney | www.marieaustralia.com/red-carpet-celebrity-dresses
judy smith Jan 2017
Maybe it was strength, speed and endurance. Maybe it was the cape.

But while flipping a wine barrel end to end down Main Street in Jordan as spectators cheered, Yvonne Irvine knew she was on a roll.

The assistant winemaker at Creekside Estate Winery clocked under 19 seconds in the annual barrel race, a crowd favourite at Twenty Valley Winter Winefest.

“The hardest part is getting around the corner,” said Irvine, who won the coveted Golden Boot on Saturday.

“When I made the corner and I was coming back, I felt I had some good speed.”

Competitors from wineries charged down the course flipping the barrels that weighed more than 45 kilograms.

It was one of several events, including a fashion show, celebrity chef dinner with David Rocco, after party and live music, that drew large numbers to this year’s three-day festival.

Irvine said icewine is unique and it’s great to have an event that celebrates it.

“It’s really fun. Most people hate winter. It’s so nice to get out, do some winter activities … Beat the winter blues.”

Kris Smith, executive director of Twenty Valley Tourism, said she expected the festival would hit its goal of 10,000 visitors this year, if not exceed it. It had about 9,400 visitors in 2016.

“We’re pretty jam-packed right now.”

While the festival draws local Niagara residents, it also saw visitors from as far away as Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Tennessee, Texas and Alberta this year.

Smith said people are hearing about it through social media and on the Internet.

“A lot of it is returning or families or word of mouth. We don’t advertise that deep into the U.S. but people are finding out about us. It’s exciting.”

She said the festival has added a lot of diverse programming over the past couple of years, such as an icewine puck challenge and chef’s one-*** challenge in an effort to have something for everyone. That’s proving to be successful, she said.

It also introduced a European market theme last year, ditching larger tents for smaller ones around the perimeter featuring wine and food. More heaters were dotted throughout the area and included large steel pinecone fire pits that visitors could cosy up to.

“We just opened it up and embraced the great outdoors,” Smith said. “We’re Canadians. We should be embracing winter so that’s part of it.”

Sue-Ann Staff, president of the tourism association, owner of Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery and barrel-rolling competitor, said the festival had a larger footprint than ever before and more vendors.

“It’s fantastic,” she said. “I’m really proud of our organizers, our volunteers, the board, the directors. We just keep fine-tuning this event every year. It looks better. There’s more entertainment, more energy. It’s awesome.”Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/cocktail-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/red-carpet-celebrity-dresses
Jan 2017 · 323
Fashion Trends
judy smith Jan 2017
Fashion is one of the last decade’s rare economic success stories. Over the period, the industry grew 5.5 per cent annually, to now be worth an estimated $2.4 trillion.… Yet, 2016 was one of the industry’s toughest years.

Terrorist attacks in France, the Brexit vote in the UK and the volatility of the Chinese stock market have created shocks to the global economy. At the same time, consumers have become more demanding, more discerning and less predictable in their purchasing behaviour.…

Yet, this sluggish overall growth masks some big winners: affordable luxury, value, and athletic wear.

With respect to sales growth, the affordable luxury and value sectors outperformed all other segments by one to oneand-a-half percentage points. This is consistent with their compound annual growth rate over the last three years, which has been 9 per cent for affordable luxury and 6 per cent for value, the highest of any segment since 2013.

Affordable luxury players benefited from consumers trading down from luxury, particularly among Chinese consumers. However, their profit margins are expected to decline, especially after 2016, because of a pricing arbitrage disadvantage across geographies and fluctuating foreign exchange rates.

The value segment continued to grow in 2016, particularly as a consequence of large global players expanding geographically. With its clearly defined value proposition, the value segment has been taking share from discount this year.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/bridesmaid-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/red-carpet-celebrity-dresses
judy smith Jan 2017
Britain's dame of fashion Vivienne Westwood wrapped up London Fashion Week Men's on Monday with an eclectic collection showcasing edgy designs that included dresses for men.

Westwood, 75, who is known for her eccentric creations and environmental activism, presented both menswear and womenswear for her autumn/winter 2017/18 "Ecotricity" line, putting men in dresses and skirts and ties on women.

Models wore colorful knits made up of jumpers and trousers as well as long dresses and arm cuffs, at times slit on the sides. Men's suits were deconstructed or had wide, ankle length trousers and sometimes were worn with long cloaks.

Women's jackets had asymmetric cuts or exaggerated shoulders. Shirts had large collars and colorful prints and patterns, including skulls and faces, adorned most designs.

"She and he are having fun with unisex and swapping clothes," shownotes for the collection read. "'Buy less, choose well, make it last' limits the exploitation of the planet's natural resources."

Outfits were often layered and looks were accessorized with face paint, paper crowns, colorful socks, tights and boots.

Westwood, who previously showed menswear in Milan, was the biggest name at the four-day London event following the departure of brands like luxury label Burberry.

"London is my home. I regret leaving Milan because they've been so kind to me," the designer said backstage.

"It's just easier and more efficient for us to be here."

Burberry will present its menswear collection alongside its womenswear line at London's higher profile women's fashion week next month.Read more at:www.marieaustralia.com/red-carpet-celebrity-dresses | http://www.marieaustralia.com/red-formal-dresses
judy smith Jan 2017
International designer Vivienne Tam is known for her culture-bridging, East-meets-West concepts in her collections. Her looks are global, often pioneering collaborations that marry fashion with technology. Her knack for blending her cultural roots with a modern design vocabulary in her looks is recognized. Often, her designs are sheer artistry.

Tam is also the author of the award winning book, “China Chic.” Pieces of her collection are a part of the permanent archives of the world’s most prestigious museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Tam also loves the space program and cowboy themes. Inspired by her recent trip to Houston, Texas, she utilizes the NASA logo in her collection. There are also soft suede jackets with fringe and chrome metallic flares, and a ruffled blouse in a blue and white motif. Pretty dresses in beautiful prints and patterns are enhanced with embroidery, sequins and appliques. Some of her looks reflect styles seen on folks at the rodeo. Tam’s signature 3-D butterflies were apparent on her garments. A black Western belt cinched the waist. Good show!

Rhode Island School of Design’s Apparel Design Department showed a rugged, yet fashionable collection of menswear on the New York Fashion Week runway. RISD prepares students to meet the demanding requirements of the fashion industry. The program is built on the philosophy that design and technical skills are mutually enhancing. From functional to experimental clothing, the course is structured to take students through all aspects of apparel design and construction.

RISD’s technical classes proceed from basic to advanced drafting, draping and construction and incorporate the use of computers as a tool for design and product visualization. RISD has offered programs in costume, clothing and fashion since 1918, and established the Apparel Design Department in 1952. Their graduates include such top designers as Nicole Miller, Sari Gueron, Sally Lapointe, Robert Geller and Nicole Romano. Many students have found success with designers such as Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/short-formal-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/red-carpet-celebrity-dresses
judy smith Jan 2017
Two opposing ideologies vie for attention. Dedicated supporters believe fervently in one, single vision. Ultimately, half a century of the old order is upturned. A new era dawns.

We’re talking about the Trump-Clinton stand-off and the UK’s “Brexit” - right?

Wrong! This is about fashion: how the people’s choice up-ended taste, timing and fame - and all of this before politics even began to mirror the same populist trends.

I see fashion’s polarisation as happening around two years ago. On one side was Balmain, where an in-your-face, brash-and-flash couture was heartily disapproved of by the fashion establishment. But the bold and **** style of Creative Director Olivier Rousteingwas adored by his A-list audience, led by Kim Kardashian, who embraced the glitter and glamour.

Let’s see this fashion movement as a precursor to Donald Trump’s up-turning of America’s presidential race, with his lewd comments, **** wife and rabble-rousing. To some, a Kardashian backside might seem as distasteful as a Trump rant. But millions love Kim’s look as much as they gave the thumbs-down to the Hillary Clinton trouser suit.

But something else - even more populist and unsettling - was going on in fashion.

Demna Gvasalia and his brother Guram, whose migration from Georgia in the former Soviet Union eventually led them to Paris, caused a different kind of shake-up: a “non-style” revolution they called “Vetements”, meaning “clothes”. Instead of fashion as we understand it, the defining pieces were resolutely plain: hoodies, puffer coats, and jeans, albeit meticulously worked.

In retrospect, this new brand, which also challenged the timing of shows and the distribution of the collections, can be seen as a fashion mirror-image of a world-wide people’s revolt, from Britain’s Brexit to Italy’s Beppe Grillo, whose day job is on stage as a clown.

The Vetements collective was launched in 2014, before global politics started heaving with change. But now that Demna has been made Creative Director of Balenciaga, whose founder Cristóbal was the epitome of grandeur, the graffiti is on the wall. An haute couture house has been taken over by an agent of street populism.

With people demanding to “see now, buy now” and brands as mighty as Burberry and Tommy Hilfiger responding to their cries, it seems like populism is winning. Not to mention the effect of Instagram, where Rousteing has 4.1 million followers to Trump’s 4.5.

But why be surprised by fashion as the harbinger of history? It has always been so.

In the early 1960s, Mary Quant ramped up her hemlines to start the rise of the “mini-skirt” - right before the contraceptive pill became available to all women. Twenty years on, in the 1980s designers celebrated in advance the shattering of the boardroom’s glass ceiling by swapping Flower Child dresses for mighty padded shoulders on female trouser suits.

Reeling back through history, Marie Antoinette threw off rigid, royal clothes, replaced in 1783 by portraits of her dressed with Rococo sweetness - six years before the French monarchy was overthrown.

Other theories, pooh-poohed by financial experts, have the rise and fall of hemlines linked to the ups and downs of Wall Street.

So is there a traceable link between fashion and politics? In this new millennium, the designers themselves are now bitterly divided. Playing fashion feminist - like Clinton to Trump or “Remain” to “Leave” - are key houses such as Valentino, presenting powerful, cover-up clothes with long sleeves and hemlines.

Significantly, when Maria Grazia Chiuri, one half of the long-term Valentino duo, left for Dior, she brought to that august house a T-shirt printed with the words: “We Should All Be Feminists”.

On the other side are an increasing number of hyper-flashy, sexist brands, such as Victoria’s Secret and its rowdy, revealing lingerie spectaculars or the loud looks of German designer Phillipp Plein and his display of rhinestone-cowboy decorated denim.

Two ideologies and two audiences competing for the triumph of one belief. Sounds familiar? Fashion and politics: it’s all one.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses-sydney | www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses-brisbane
judy smith Dec 2016
Ports 1961 just announced their company’s collaboration with iconic sportswear and boxing brand Everlast, made famous by the world’s greatest boxers and actors. The collection is now available in stores and on farfetch.com. Milan Vukmirovic, menswear creative director, has revived his Everlast classics such as the “Rocky” hoodie and other essentials. They are all adorned with a trademarked star camouflage motif. Unveiled on the catwalk at the runway show that opened Milan Men’s Fashion Week, this collaboration is a tribute to the fighter inside us all.

A true highlight of the menswear collection, Ports 1961’s signature men’s bow sneaker was also a hit. Their bow sneaker features a distinctive suede bow on top instead of laces or more predictable fasteners. Each pair of bow sneakers is raw-cut, hand-stitched and hand-knotted to be uniquely distinctive to the wearer. As well as bow fasteners, the sneakers can also be opened and closed with a central zipper in the heel for convenience and ease of wearing. These sneakers are available in fabrics and shades to match this season’s garments in classic raw-cut suede and leather. For comfort and durability, they feature hardy rubber soles.

Fashion East Men’s presentation for autumn/winter ’17 offered a significant designer lineup. Fashion East, with the continued support of Topman, was excited to reveal a double billing of bright, emerging talent. Sponsored by London Fashion Week’s Menswear, the showcase featured up-and-coming designers Charles Jeffrey Loverboy, Feng Chen **** and Per Gotesson.

A Central St. Martin’s MA graduate, Jeffrey is an illustrator with a radically creative style. For his Loverboy label, his cast included artists, musicians and friends who stomped stylishly down the runway. They created a club-night scene that the audience identified with immediately. Jeffrey’s tailoring was impeccable. His signature knits collaged with chainmail showed up with Swarovski bug-encrusted boxers and foam accessories.

**** was born in Beijing, but her business is based in London. She launched her label Feng Chen **** in 2015 after the completion of her MA at London’s Royal College of Arts. ****’s 2017 collection explored and celebrated connectivity in the digital age. She combines functionality with an astute attention to detail and puts a strong focus on outerwear pieces as the core of her collection. Her clothes are available in New York City.

Gotesson is originally from a small town in the province of Smaland in Sweden. This London-based designer is also a graduate of London’s Royal College. His looks are voluminous denim pieces in classic blues and monochromes juxtaposed and worn with white tops. The collection played with proportions and was an experimental take on the designer’s own wardrobe. “It’s about scale and about finding balanced pieces between either huge or small,” he explained.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/mermaid-trumpet-formal-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/backless-formal-dresses
judy smith Dec 2016
Timeless fashion is part of Debbie Hawkins seasonal home decor.

When the Etcetera collection arrives, her living and dining rooms become showrooms, a place where by appointment women can choose classic fashion, well made from high end fabrics, "things you turn to for years."

"We bridge the gap with versatile selections," said Hawkins, an Etcetera sales consultant. "Pieces that bring something special to a wardrobe."

The unique, sell-from-home business us part of the Carlisle Etcetera trademark, a New York based brand that offers women an opportunity to become entrepreneurs. Consultant/stylists are trained to guide fashion choices.

"I had raised my kids and wanted to do something interesting," Hawkins said, "Etcetera came out at the top of the list. I could work at my own pace and hours."

Four times a year Hawkins attends a fashion show, where she and 100 other consultants have a chance to meet designers, look at quality fabrics and learn about techniques used to make the Etcetera collections.

Ordering clothes online isn't the same.

"Pictures don't translate to what we have seen before the trunk show boxes arrive," said Hawkins. "We receive upward of 300 items. We talk with each customer and they get to see in person what is available."

Clients are either referred to Etcetera stylists by friends or through the www.etcetera.com website. They are directed to the consultant closest to them; some of Hawkins' customers drive to Wichita Falls from Oklahoma.

A few have a hard time committing to an Etcetera trunk show because "they feel a little intimidated."

"Once they see it's a very relaxed environment it's much easier," Hawkins explained.

Two appointments are made with each customer, one to check their existing wardrobe for what may work well with Etcetera selections and another to try on what they've picked. Hawkins adapted a bedroom as a dressing room.

"One of the biggest pluses is knowing our customers so well," said Melissa Prigmore, Hawkins' associate assistant. "They know they won't be wearing duplicates of what they've seen at Lord and Taylor."

According to Hawkins, Etcetera's high quality skirts, trousers, blouses, jackets, coats and accessories are priced in the "Neimans and Nordstrom range."

"These are the kind of clothes you don't bury in the back of the closet and never see after the first wear," Hawkins pointed out. "Comfortable style and fabric, they get brought out every season."

Clients can also turn to Hawkins and Prigmore for advice on style, color and fit.

"I'm not good at editing myself on fashion decisions," said Hawkins. "It's nice to have someone else tell you what they think."Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses-2016 | www.marieaustralia.com/red-carpet-celebrity-dresses
judy smith Dec 2016
For someone who is as busy and as big a deal as Tamannaah Bhatia, her courtesy comes as breath of fresh air. "I am in Mumbai in the middle of back-to-back shoots for endorsements," she says, apologising profusely, for a few minutes' delay in keeping her appointment with us. With films lined up in Telugu, Tamil and Hindi, Tamannaah is one busy bee, indeed. "The Bahubali shoot still on — I have some work left in it which will be completed this month," she says, as she settles down down for a chat with Hyderabad Times. Excerpts.

So, you must have become quite a pro at sword-fighting, horse-riding et al, now that you are close to wrapping up the shoot for Bahubali...

(Laughs) Playing Avantika has changed my life. Horse riding was something I had never tried before. It was a completely new space to be in and it was scary. I realised that the only way to deal with it is to first face my fears, even before I stepped into the arena to train. Because once I'm on the horse, it's either me riding the horse or the horse taking me for a ride. (laughs). So there was no room for fear. But the training really helped me become more agile and sensitive to my body. This film changed how the industry looked at me. I went from being a dainty, soft girl to this strong woman.

So, do you look at yourself differently as well?

Well, I have overcome a lot of fears — be it the fear of heights or anything that's even remotely challenging physically. I feel empowered now. I have seen myself transform. I was someone who would think twice before going out alone; now, when someone says you have to do an aerial shot, I am like, 'Bring it on!' I'm not scared of things any more. I'm not nervous; not anxious. In general, I'm a braver person.

After this, acting in entertainers might seem like a cakewalk...

Not necessarily. Even the song in Abhinetri demanded a lot from me physically. I mean, there were 15 days of hectic rehearsals alone before we got to the real shoot. The job of an actor is such that you are required to be fit all the time. This is one profession that gives you the ability, no, the right to focus on yourself — physically, mentally and emotionally. It makes you stronger. And I quite enjoy it!

You seem to be enjoying being the fashionista too, of late...

(Laughs) Believe it or not, before I went to Bollywood, I thought there was no such thing as fashion industry. I thought movies drove fashion. I had no clue how trends came about. I did not know that there were trends for every season, nor was I aware of the many fashion weeks. I was more of an actor; less of a fashionista.

When I started doing Hindi films, I realised that fashion was not some frivolous business! People might think, 'Arrey, what's the fuss about what shoe you wear?'. But, now,

I like dressing up because I realise that it is an expression, and an extension, of your personality. There was a lot of trial and error, but in the end, I found my personality through clothes. Now, when I am sitting and chilling, I find myself researching on trends. I feel responsible for the fashion choices I make, because when you set a trend, hundreds are going to follow you. You don't want to set the wrong example.

So much pressure! How do juggle it all and manage to stay sane?

Family. I have always had them around me, even if they aren't physically present. So when I am having a crazy day and need to find some sanity, I will look for solace in family. In fact, there have been times when they felt I didn't sound alright on the phone, so they took the next flight to come see me. Having a support structure like that keeps me sane.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses-canberra | www.marieaustralia.com/plus-size-formal-dresses
judy smith Dec 2016
"I wouldn't know what to do; I think I would just rot in a corner," replied Zandra Rhodes when asked if she plans to retire anytime soon. The 76-year old British designer who was down in KL (it's her fourth time here now) for the recent KL Alta Moda held at Starhill Gallery where she showed a collection of beautiful songket pieces alongside her signature chiffon print dresses, shows no signs of slowing down even after an extensive six decade-long career that has seen her dressing both rockstars and royalty.

Dressed in one of her designs – a stunning midnight blue, tiered kaftan dress covered all over in gold squiggles, huge pearls and her trademark fuchsia bob, red lips and blue eyeshadow-rimmed eyes, Rhodes maintained a spirited, bubbly cheer at Ritz Carlton where we finally sat down with her after stealing her away mid-tea with the crème de la crème of Malaysia's society.

What's the story behind the collection that we've just seen?

We did a collection initiated by Dodi Mohammad – one that really focused on songket. We chose lovely iridescent greens and pinks, and various groups of clothes. Then I designed and worked on the weaves to make suits and short dresses. It was really to give it another look. Three quarters of the collection are made up of Malaysian songket weaves.

What about the archive looks that you included? How do they relate to the new collection?

I had students who couldn't believe how people were copying the things that I've did in the past – like the pink dress for Princess Diana or the gold dress that Pat Cleveland wore dancing at Studio 54. They suggested that I produce the collection again in a new look, so we did that for Matches Fashion in UK.

Your AW16 collection is said to be inspired by Studio 54 back in its heyday. Would you be able to share with us an interesting story of your own at Studio 54?

I remember with shame going to Studio 54 when they reopened. I sat down in the corner and I was so tired, I fell asleep. I'm sure I was the only person who would fall asleep in Studio 54. I also remember lots of times it was like the parting of the Red Sea when you went in there with Bianca Jagger or Pat Cleveland.

Could you tell us about the Hieronymus Bosch-inspired prints you created for Pierpaolo Piccioli's first solo collection at Valentino?

That was one of the most amazing experiences in my life. He flew over with two of his assistants, opened the Hieronymus Bosch book and said he wanted the collection based on that. And I'm thinking, "Do we want naked people all over it?" It was a fantasy look that I was completely overwhelmed with. I came up with five or six initial ideas and he would look at the things I did and say, "I like your wiggle" or "I like this." Finally, he looked at one of my designs – a lipstick design I had done in 1963 – and said that he wanted daggers and hearts, so we turned that into daggers and hearts and it was wonderful.

Is there anyone else on your collaboration wishlist?

Oh gosh, that's difficult. I think I really just pick and choose. For example, we're currently working on the idea of me doing a print for Anna Sui who is going to have an exhibition in my museum in London. We're going to do the print here in Malaysia using Malaysian fabrics.

Your dresses have been worn by iconic stars from Princess Diana to Pat Cleveland. If you could design an outfit for a current It girl, who would it be for?

I would love to do something for Princess Kate. It would be fabulous to do something for her. She always looks good.

If you could describe Malaysia as a print, what would it look like?

Mad Malaysian houses! I love looking at these tall blocks with curved roofs. I've done a Manhattan print but I think I should do a KL print. You'd need to put the Twin Towers in. I think there's room for a lot of things.

What projects have you got lined-up for the future?

At the moment, I'm designing for the Turandot opera, which is about a mad Chinese princess and a pair of lovers that get beheaded. It's wonderfully mad. It's due to be out in San Diego in 2018.

You've been working since the 60s, any plans of settling into retirement soon?

I wouldn't know what to do; I think I would just rot in a corner.

What inspires you?

Wonderful people. I think it's one's friends. It's very important to do something and exchange ideas. I also love traveling when I get the chance. It's really a case of seeing how far my adventures can take me.

What do you think has been the key to your longevity in this industry?

I'd say longevity is the result of hard work and enjoying what you do. If you do something and it doesn't succeed, you pick yourself up and have another go. You never give up.

Describe yourself in 3 words.

Pink, short, makeup.

What would your hair be if not pink?

I think it will be several different colors. I see all these people with all these different colours, I think I might try that next.

What's your hobby?

Cooking and gardening.

If you weren't a fashion designer, what would you be doing?

I don't know, I don't have time to think about that.

What's the best advice anyone has ever given you?

Oh, good one! Be careful who you step on going up, cause you might have to lean on them going down.Read more at:www.marieaustralia.com/one-shoulder-formal-dresses | http://www.marieaustralia.com/red-formal-dresses
Dec 2016 · 590
Remembering China Machado
judy smith Dec 2016
Fashion has no shortage of characters, but China Machado was arguably one of the most vibrant among them. The industry veteran, according to reports, suffered cardiac arrest this weekend and died on Long Island reportedly at the age of 87, leaving behind a powerful legacy. A muse to Avedon and Givenchy, Machado spent decades at the nexus of fashion and entertainment, experiencing the business from all sides first as a model, then as an editor, gallerist, designer, and television producer, before cycling back to where it all started and signing a modeling contract with IMG Models in her early 80s.

Machado’s firebrand personality matched the outsized events of her life. The daughter of a Chinese mother and Portuguese father, Machado spent her childhood in Shanghai until World War II uprooted her family. Traveling through Argentina and Peru in her youth, Machado romanced the famed bullfighter Luis Miguel Dominguín until he left her for Hollywood star Ava Gardner. Relocating to Paris after the breakup, she eventually found herself modeling for Hubert de Givenchy and Cristóbal Balenciaga.

As one of the first nonwhite models to gain prominence on the runway of Europe, Machado opened doors for the generations of women of color who followed. Her refined good looks quickly made her an in-demand face, but it wasn’t until she joined forces with photography legend Richard Avedon that her career became iconic. When a magazine refused to publish Avedon’s images of Machado due to her race, he threatened not to renew his contracts and sent shock waves through the fashion world. Machado went on to become the first nonwhite woman to grace the cover of an American magazine, setting the stage for a representation of beauty that was considerably more inclusive than the blonde-haired blue-eyed standard of the 1960s.

As well as being a trailblazer, Machado was a master of reinvention. In a business known for discarding people, she stood the test of time by doing things her way. Switching gears to serve as senior fashion editor and fashion director of Harper’s Bazaar, getting shot by Andy Warhol, designing a namesake line of wraps, or resurfacing to pose with the likes of Steven Meisel—whatever project Machado took on, it was done with a respect for fashion. Speaking with Vogue earlier this year regarding her exceptional career, Machado chalked her successes up to one thing: the constant search for happiness. “Someone like me is a bit of a vagabond,” she said. “I like to experience every aspect of life. I think it’s crucial to be happy.”Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/red-carpet-celebrity-dresses
judy smith Dec 2016
She has dressed Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o and Uganda's chess Woman Candidate Master Phiona Mutesi for the premiere of 'Queen of Katwe'. She has also designed several Miss Uganda and Miss Tourism contestants among others.

Yet Brenda Niwagaba Maraka, who is undoubtedly among Uganda's top fashion designers, describes herself as "just a simple person who loves work and fashion". She is also quick to recognise people who have inspired her, including renowned fashion designer and artist Stella Atal and Xenson Samson Ssenkaaba

In January 2007, Maraka officially launched 'Brendamaraka' as a fashion label.

"I work to represent Uganda as a tropical country through fashion and also extend Kampala's position as a fashion hub," said Maraka.

For the love of developing and inspiring others through her fashion skills, Maraka grooms two talented and interested students in fashion and design every year.

Come next year January, Maraka is set to showcase at her own fashion show marking ten years in the industry.

It will be the highest point for a woman who from way back, as a young girl, has loved being artistic. It was no surprise that she concentrated on art in school and one of her fondest memories as a student is designing costumes for school plays and beauty pageants.

"That confirmed my goal in life of creating designs through my own fashion label," she says, "I love to create new things."

At 13 years old, after completing primary education, Maraka proceeded to Namasagali College in Kamuli for O-level and these to her were years of fun and building character. She then left to a new environment of only girls at Trinity College Nabbingo for A-level and by the time she left she had forged a career path.

"It was a totally different and harder experience. However, by the time I completed Form six, I knew what I was meant to be a fashion designer courtesy of the school's arrangement on career guidance," says Maraka.

She was offered several opportunities including one on government sponsorship at Makerere University all of which were meant to grow her fashion career but Maraka settled for a fashion design program at the London Academy of Design and dress making where she completed in 2005.

Maraka chose exposure to international fashion trends at the London school at a cost rather than free education in Uganda. She rates it as a priceless decision that has paid off.

In 2014 as part of her internship program, Maraka made a maiden runaway showcase during the Uganda International Fashion Week and since then she has not looked back. She has participated in a number of fashion events both in Uganda and UK.

In comparing London's fashion industry to Uganda, Maraka says London has already established big brands and it is close to impossible for anyone starting out.

"The industry is faster, bigger and people produce too many new collections every year as the market demands," she says.

By contrast, she says, Uganda offers limitless opportunities are limitless or, in her words, "There is room to define who you are".

Maraka was born in Soroti-Teso, Eastern Uganda in 1981. She was raised by a single mother Elizabeth Maraka who worked long at the Soroti Flying School and she says is her great inspiration. She used to make dresses for her and remains her stylist to date. Maraka grew up as an only child because her twin siblings died. It is the reason she is also called Akello, meaning 'follower of twins'.

Liteside

Any three things we don't know about you?

I am an only child of my mother. I really love sports to the extent that I train for kickboxing. I had a dream of representing Uganda for RIO 2016 though it didn't come to pass. When I am confident enough to have my face punched, I will get to the ring.

I love to travel and for this year, I chose to visit every part of Uganda that I had never visited. One of them was Kidepo and it was a breathtaking experience where I realised I had made it. I also visited the pyramids in Cairo.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Doing what you love. If you think you can regret doing it, then it's not worth doing. Even when you fail to achieve at something you loved doing, you gain satisfaction.

What is your greatest fear?

I have a phobia for rodents. I can face anything in life but not them.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

I am not a confrontational person yet sometimes I wish I could be one to give my all. It makes people walk all over me.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

I just don't like dishonest people. I appreciate honesty.

Which living person do you most admire?

My Mother, Elizabeth Maraka; she taught me to be a strong person, believe in myself and to see good in people. I am privileged to live with her even as an adult.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Everything about improving my fashion and design career.

What is the greatest thing you have ever done?

I still have to do it and I am planning on how to achieve it.

What is your current state of mind?

I am at peace and love my life.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

That whole saying of 'Government should help us' or 'government has not done much' just breaks my heart. How I wish the same people would ask themselves what they have done for government as well. Anyone can start small and grow big.

What does being powerful mean to you?

Being able to make a difference in someone's life or inspire someone. It can also mean being well connected in society.

On what occasion do you lie?

I like to be real.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

When I was young I was chubby and I didn't like it but I have since found peace in myself.

Which living person do you most despise?

Even when I see the worst in a person, I don't destroy bridges because I might need them tomorrow.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

Having a plan or purpose in life.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Having a purpose in life.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

I like saying 'you know' and 'yeah'.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

I guess it is my Mum but there are so many other people I love.

When and where were you happiest?

There is no one single moment because there are so many things I do that bring happiness to me. Finishing School in 2006 was a happy moment but also each time I remember when I had my first fashion show during my internship in 2004, I am fulfilled.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I love music and may be one day I hope I will drop an album. I used to play a violin and hope that one day I will do it once more.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I am just in love with myself.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I am still a work in progress; I haven't yet reached there.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

As me and fix everything I didn't do from as far as a child.

Where would you most like to live?

Uganda but particularly in Karamoja and Kidepo; the landscape and weather are amazing. It can rain so heavily and dry up so fast.

What is your most treasured possession?

I never got to see my grandfather but I was given a crucifix from his things. It has that sentimental value and makes me relate with him. But even when everything is taken away from me, I can start afresh and build-up.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Suffering from cancer; I visited Mulago Cancer ward and witnessed people suffer in too much pain. Things like broken heart can be amended but not cancer.

What is your favorite occupation?

I always wanted to be a fashion designer.

What do you most value in your friends?

Honesty

Who are your favorite writers?

I am not a fan of any particular person but I love to read inspirational pieces.

Who is your hero of fiction?

I like Superman and how he comes in to rescue at the right time. I wish there were true supermen.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

I may model myself to Mother Theresa but I can't come even an inch to who she was and what she did.

What is your greatest regret?

I don't regret anything.

How would you like to die?

I want to die of old age on my bed with my grand children all looking and smiling at me.

What is your motto?

Always make sure you are climbing the right hill.Read more at:www.marieaustralia.com/backless-formal-dresses | http://www.marieaustralia.com/long-formal-dresses
Dec 2016 · 776
Holiday Fashion
judy smith Dec 2016
As excited as I am about the end of the semester and Christmas approaching, the bitter cold this week has almost frozen me. Don’t get me wrong, winter is a great time for fashion, but the cold weather is not for me. I would prefer to stay inside with a huge glass of hot chocolate. Aside from cocoa, he secret to staying warm is to dress in layers. I’ve tried to do that with this outfit but I’ve failed a bit.

The majority of this outfit comes from The Yellow Rose, which is a locally owned boutique in my home town. The blanket scarf and shirt are both from the Rose. These boots are from Maurices, but could be swapped for converse or duck boots. The coat is from Aeropostale.

It’s safe to say that I have fallen in love with the blanket scarf. Not only are they adorable, but they also provide ample warmth. They can be worn with nearly anything, including this great shirt. This shirt has a tassel tie underneath the scarf which means it could be worn on it’s own, if you aren’t as big a fan of the blanket scarf.

This jacket is a life-saver to say the least. The reason it works with this outfit so well is because the green in the scarf is the same green on the jacket. Army green goes with just about anything. The sleeves are a sweater material which makes them warmer than normal. You could dress this up a bit which a nice trench coat or long cardigan. You could also change the boots out for black booties or flats.

This outfit is perfect for Christmas parties or Christmas dinners. It has all the traditional Christmas colors and it will keep you warm.

However isn’t only for Christmas. You can easily wear this at any time during the winter.

Hopefully this has given you a bit of holiday wardrobe inspiration. I know holidays can be a stressful time for some, but the outfit you wear should be one thing you don’t have to stress about. Stay warm and stay comfortable.

I hope your break is wonderful and filled with joy. I know we all need that after those finals. I’m sure we’re all ready for present, family time, and much needed sleep. Spread Christmas cheer this year and enjoy the time off. May your Christmas be merry and bright, and don’t forget the Christ in Christmas! He is the only eternal Gift that keeps on giving.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses-brisbane | www.marieaustralia.com/vintage-formal-dresses
Dec 2016 · 515
A wedding over a cup of tea
judy smith Dec 2016
Amid the flood of horror stories about demonetisation comes a heart-warming incident from Bulandshahr district where the groom’s father asked the bride’s father to welcome the baraatis (wedding guests from the groom’s side) with a simple cup of tea to avoid an expensive marriage in light of the note ban.Traditionally the baraatis are given many gifts from the bride’s family, but seeing how stressed the bride’s father was about trying to arrange cash for the marriage, the groom’s family told him that a ‘simple ceremony’ would do just as well.“The marriage was fixed before demonetisation. We faced a cash crunch like everyone else. After queuing up for 10 days, we got Rs.2,000 only. We told the bank officials that there was a marriage in our house. We got a letter of approval but even after that we did not get any cash,” the groom’s father Vijender Singh told The Hindu.

Thoughtful gestureMr. Singh said that he then spoke to the bride’s father Kali Charan, who was also facing a cash crunch.“When I spoke to Mr. Charan, he was sounding down as he could not arrange funds for the ceremony. I proposed to him a simple marriage ceremony. He initially hesitated as he was feeling bad. But I managed to convince him and finally we decided to hold a simple ceremony,” Mr. Singh said.The marriage between Dinesh and Veena took place on Sunday.Dinesh hails from Jaleelpur village in Jahangirabad in Bulandshahr district while the girl is from Jaypee Nagar.“We, along with the baraatis, reached Bulandshahr on Sunday. After completing all rituals, a cup of tea was offered to the baraatis,” Mr. Singh said.Mr. Charan said that he initially “hesitated” to do a simple ceremony due to social stigma.‘Initially hesitant’“Even on the day of marriage we were feeling bad about how the baratis and locals in our village will react. But everybody encouraged the step and appreciated us. I am thankful to God that I have chosen a good family for my daughter,” said Mr. Charan.The district administration also appreciated the thoughtful gesture of the groom’s family.Setting an example“During demonetisation, we have experienced that rural areas have suffered the most. But decisions like holding simple marriages shows that our nature is to help each other. This example must go on to serve humanity. The State government will facilitate the family for setting an example,” said Bulandshahr district magistrate Aunjaneya Kumar Singh.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/princess-formal-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/red-formal-dresses
Dec 2016 · 515
Wedding weaves
judy smith Dec 2016
Since its inception, Aarong has been determined to bring about effective changes in the lives of artisans and underprivileged rural women, by facilitating and advertising their handicraft. Today, it has become the foundation of independent cooperative groups and family-based artisans. Now, it is known as a contemporary life outlet, among people not only in Bangladesh, but all over the world.

This wedding season, you can adorn yourself with one of Aarong’s festive looks. On November 17, Aarong launched their latest product line – the Wedding Collection.

Aarong has introduced a series of looks and styles to try out this wedding season for brides, the bridal entourage and the wedding attendees. What’s more, they are promoting Jamdani, Muslin and Katan sarees as the choice of outfits to wear for the bride and her close ones.

The line is introducing bridal wear in some uncommon hues, moving away from the routine “red” to peach, pink, purple, blue, green and beige. These unconventional colours can also look grand on the big day, and this is the idea that the creators of Aarong are attempting to establish.

Jamdani saris will be incorporated with remarkable embroidered and printed blouses, helping ladies look regal on their special day. The wedding entourage also has a lot to look forward to. This special compilation includes Katan and Jamdani sarees, paired with embroidered blouses, ideal for any reception soiree. Katan sarees can be worn in bright or bold colours and contrasted with multi-layered pearl jewellery and complementing blouses. Furthermore, the collection also includes Jamdani saris in light shades such as light pink, peach and white, and these can be paired with frilled petticoats or dupattas.

Along with gold, the creators encourage the brides to try out silver jewellery with complementing stones, layered pearl neckpieces and hair ornaments. Hence, the looks are a mix of modern and traditional, and are not only advised for the bride, but also for the close relatives or wedding attendees.

This collection also comprises of saris, appropriate for the bridesmaids, the cousins, the sisters, and even the parents of the to-be-weds. Aarong has prepared similar ‘matching’ attires for the bride and the groom, that are perfect for particular occasions like Holud, Mehendi, Aiburo Bhaat, and so on. For the bridegroom, as well as his family and friends, there is also an exclusive range, that includes Sherwanis and Panjabis. Aarong also provides a variety of gift options such as ceramic dinner set, cushion and bed covers, as well as women’s accessories, such as bags and purses.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/white-formal-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/backless-formal-dresses
judy smith Nov 2016
Now that the Ben Higgins Lauren Bushnell wedding is on once again, many are wondering why Higgins called it off in the first place.

In the previous episode of the reality show, Higgins decided to call off the wedding. Many were shocked with his decision, including his fiancee. Bushnell admitted that she was totally blindsided by Higgins when he revealed during their therapy session that he wanted to postpone their wedding.

At the time, Higgins said they felt an enormous pressure on their relationship since The Bachelor finale.

When asked about how their respective families reacted on Higgins’ decision to call off the wedding, the 28-year-old software sales rep admitted that most of them already knew and their families were not surprised by the emotional episode.

In Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After? finale Tuesday night, Higgins revealed to his fellow Bachelor stars that the wedding was off and he and Bushnell have been in couples therapy. Everyone was shocked and saddened. The group, however, still managed to pull their emotions together and made a dinner plan for the couple.

They also decided to surprise Higgins and Bushnell with a montage of their journey together showed on a screen atop the Marque. Higgins then called Bushnell to meet him at the top of the Skyfall Lounge, overlooking Las Vegas. Higgins then told Bushnell that he still wanted to be her husband.

“I know that these last couple of weeks have been hard and confusing and tiring and sometimes something we both can’t understand. But through it all, I want you to know that I never thought for a second I could live a day without you in my sight. Lauren, I’m gonna be your husband. Lauren, you’re gonna be Mrs. Higgins.” Bushnell asked if Higgins’ words mean the wedding is back on. He replied yes.

Ben Higgins Lauren Bushnell first met and fell in love in The Bachelor 2016. Higgins popped the question at the season finale. Shortly after, the two moved in together in Denver. However, split rumors continue swirling around their relationship.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com | www.marieaustralia.com/****-formal-dresses
judy smith Nov 2016
What would you say was the reason you got married?

I loved Patrick and I knew he was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. But besides having found the right person, I accepted marrying my husband because I felt like it was the right time for us to take a step and start a family.

With today’s relationships, it’s becoming hard for couples to stay together for long; how did you make it?

I think compatibility plays a huge role in this. We are compatible with each other because for the years we have spent together, we’ve rarely had fights. We are also aware of each other’s weaknesses and strengths and this helps us to avoid pressing each other’s buttons. Keeping a stronger communication between us has also helped a lot.

You’ve been married for over a year now; do you find marriage what you had pictured it to be?

I always thought marriage was hard, but what I have seen is totally different from what I thought; marriage is sweet. However, I think this also depends on one’s partner, and I personally haven’t found it to be complicated in any way.

A journalist’s schedule is always tight; doesn’t it interfere with your wifely duties?

Well it’s tricky but I get to programme myself. As soon as I am done with my work, I head home to take care of my family. My work rarely does interfere with my wifely duties.

That day you walked down the aisle; how did it feel watching Patrick at the altar?

(Smiles)...I was in a haze and so nervous, mostly because of the excitement. After reaching the altar and taking our vows, I knew I had become Mrs Kigenza and it was exciting.

How did you spend your honeymoon?

We took off three weeks and had part of it here and outside Rwanda. It was relaxing and I was so happy because I was at the point of starting a new life and you know when you are with someone you love it feels awesome.

How do you plan on maintaining the sparkle in your marriage?

Surprising my husband. I always do this by taking him out once in a while and this keeps the sparkle because we get to have ample time just for the two of us.

What are some of the biggest adjustments you made from being single to married?

Taking up more responsibilities; when you’re still single it’s mostly you and nothing more, but when you’re married, responsibilities double. You worry about whether he has eaten, what he is to wear, the kids; all this you get to be responsible for. Managing a home is not that easy.

Wasn’t it hard for you marrying a famous figure?

It wasn’t hard for me actually because I had known Antoinette for a long time even way before she became famous. Deciding to start a family with her was because I trusted her, her nature and personality assured me that she was the right woman for me.

Some men have a belief that for one to get married they first own a certain mass of wealth. What’s your take on this?

Well, that’s not necessarily true because this depends on one’s definition of wealth. However, for one to start a family they have to own some kind of stability financially because it comes with more responsibilities. However, I don’t think one should wait to own things like fancy cars or houses to marry.

Men are known to conceal their feelings; how do you deal with this in terms of communication in your marriage?

I don’t think I fall in that group because if I am happy with something my wife gets to know it, the same with if I am not pleased with something I tell her. I am that kind of person who is open.

How do you keep the fire burning in your relationship?

I still take my wife on dates, and this helps us not to be caught up with the routine of life. This way, we get to spend time together and share wonderful moments as a couple.

Why do you think some marriages break up?

Poor communication, this is a key issue in marriage and when it fails trouble sets in. I always ensure an open communication such that if one f us has an issue there is a platform to discuss it because it’s small matters that later bring about a bigger mess.

Do you help your wife with house chores?

Yes I do. I sometimes cook; I love cooking (laughs). My wife and I share responsibilities at home; she can make the bed as I do the dishes.

What is the most romantic thing you’ve ever done for your wife?

It was the proposal, it happened a few days after her birthday on the August 30, 2014. We held a party for her at her home in Nyamirambo. I had a ring, but it was in a beautiful box that looked like a flower, no one could suspect I had a ring. I later asked for a speech and as I expressed my birthday wishes I went on my knees and asked her to marry me. Amidst her being emotional, my partner in crime, my cousin had champagne and after she said ‘yes’ we toasted to the proposal.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses-melbourne | www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses-adelaide
judy smith Nov 2016
Whether in Montreal, where she was born and raised, or in Delhi, where her award-winning brasserie sits, the stylish chef’s love for gastronomy has always run deep. She came to India to chase her passion about eight years ago, after leaving behind an engineering career and having trained at the esteemed ITHQ (Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec). In 2014, she introduced unusual combinations like oysters with charred onion petals, tamarind puree, and rose vinegar when she became the first Indian chef to be invited to host a solo dinner at the James Beard House in New York City. Also presented there was her very own coffee-table book called Eating Stories, packed with charming visuals, tales and recipes.

In pursuit of narratives

“I am studying Ayurveda so, at the moment, I’m inspired by the knowledge and intuition which comes with that, but otherwise I completely live for stories. Those of the people around me — of spices, design forms, music, traditions, history and anything else I feel connected to.”

Culinary muse

“I truly believe that nature is perfect, so I feel privileged to use the ingredients that it provides, while adding my own hues, aromas and combinations…it feels like I get to play endlessly every day.”

After-work indulgence

“My favourite places to eat at are Cafe Lota and Carnatic Cafe in Delhi, and Betony and Brindle Room in NYC.”

Dream dish

“This salad I created called ‘secret garden’. It’s so beautiful to look at and has such a unique spectrum of flavours…all while using only the freshest, most natural produce to create something completely magical.”

Reception blooper

“Most people make the mistake of over-complicating the menu; having too much diversity and quantity. Wastefulness isn’t a good way to start a life together.”

A third-generation entrepreneur from a highly distinguished culinary family, she runs a thriving studio in Khar where state-of-the-art cooking stations and dining tables allow her to conduct a variety of workshops and sessions. Her grandfather is remembered as the man who migrated from Africa to London to found the brand that brought curry to the people of the UK — Patak’s. She took over as brand ambassador, having trained at Leiths School of Food and Wine and taught at one of Jamie Oliver’s schools in London. What’s more, Pathak is also the author of Secrets From My Indian Family Kitchen, a cookbook comprising 120 Indian recipes, published last year in the UK.

Most successful experiment

“When I was writing recipes for my cookbook, I had to test some more than once to ensure they were perfect and foolproof. One of my favourites was my slow-cooked tamarind-glazed pork. I must have trialled this recipe at least six times before publishing it, and after many tweaks I have got it to be truly sensational. It’s perfectly balanced with sweet and sour both.”

Future fantasy

“As strange as it sounds, I’d love to cater my own wedding. You want all your favourite recipes and you want to share this with your guests. I could hire a caterer to create my ideal menu, but I’d much prefer to finalise and finish all the dishes myself so that I’m supremely happy with the flavours I’m serving to my loved ones.”

Fresh elegance

“I’m in love with microgreens for entertaining and events…although not a new trend, they still carry the delicate wow factor and are wonderfully subtle when used well. I’m not into using foams and gels and much prefer to use ingredients that are fuss-free.”

This advertising professional first tested her one-of-a-kind amalgams at The Lil Flea, a popular local market in BKC, Mumbai. Her Indian fusion hot dogs, named Amar (vegetarian), Akbar (chicken) and Anthony (pork), sold out quickly and were a hit. Today, these ‘desi dogs’ are the signature at the affable home-chef-turned-businesswoman’s cafe-***-diner in Bandra, alongside juicy burgers, a fantastic indigenous crème brûlée, and an exciting range of drinks and Sikkim-sourced teas.

Loving the journey

“The best part of the job is the people I meet; the joy I get to see on their faces as they take the first bite. The fact that this is across all ages and social or cultural backgrounds makes it even better. Also, I can indulge a whim — whether it is about the menu or what I can do for a guest — without having to ask anyone. On the flip side, I have no one to blame but myself if the decision goes wrong. And, of course, I can’t apply for leave!”

Go-to comfort meal

“A well-made Bengali khichri or a good light meat curry with super-soft chapattis.”

What’s ‘happening’

“This is a very exciting time in food and entertaining — the traditional and ultra-modern are moving forward together. Farm-to-fork is very big; food is also more cross-cultural, and there is a huge effort to make your guest feel special. Plus, ‘Instagram friendly’ has become key…if it’s not on Instagram, it never happened! But essentially, a party works when everyone is comfortable and happy.”

A word to brides

“Let others plan your menu. You relax and look gorgeous!”

This Le Cordon Bleu graduate really knows her way around aromas that warm the heart. On returning to Mumbai from London, she began to experiment with making small-batch ice creams for family and friends. Now she churns out those ‘cheeky’ creations from a tiny kitchen in Bandra, where customers must ring a bell to get a taste of dark chocolate with Italian truffle oil, salted caramel, milk chocolate and bacon and her signature (a must-try) — blue cheese and honey.

The extra mile

“I’ll never forget the time I created three massive croquembouche towers (choux buns filled with assorted flavours of pastry cream, held together with caramel) for a wedding, and had to deliver them to Thane!”

Menu vision

“For a wedding, I would want to serve something light and fresh to start with, like seared scallops with fresh oysters and uni (sea urchin). For mains, I would serve something hearty and warm — roast duck and foie gras in a red wine jus. Dessert would be individual mini croquembouche!”

Having been raised by big-time foodie parents, the strongest motivation for their decision to take to this path came from their mother, who had two much-loved restaurants of her own while the sisters were growing up — Vandana in Mahim and Bandra Fest on Carter Road. Following the success of the first MeSoHappi in Khar, Mumbai, the duo known for wholesome cooking opened another outlet of the quirky gastro-bar adjoining The Captain’s Table — one of the city’s favourite seafood haunts — in Bandra Kurla Complex.

Chef’s own

AA: “We were the pioneers of the South African bunny chow in Mumbai and, even now, it remains one of my all-time favourites.”

On wedding catering

PA: “The most memorable for me will always be Aarathi’s high-tea bridal shower. I planned a floral-themed sundowner at our home in Cumballa Hill; curtains of jasmine, rose-and-wisteria lanterns and marigold scallops engulfed the space. We served exotic teas, alcoholic popsicles of sangria and mojito, and dishes like seafood pani puri shots and Greek spanakopita with beetroot dip, while each table had bite-sized desserts like mango and butter cream tarts and rose panna cotta.”Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses-2016 | www.marieaustralia.com/red-carpet-celebrity-dresses
judy smith Nov 2016
While Walmart and Best Buy attract Black Friday shoppers nationwide, Fayetteville’s local businesses offer unique deals throughout the week on boutique clothing, gift-worthy items, outdoor accessories and Razorback apparel.

Southern Trend

Sale rack prices will range $5-15, and customers whose total reaches $50 or more will receive a free tote bag. Southern Trend clothing company offers Razorback apparel for men and women and other casual clothing that depicts Southern living. Their headquarters and closest retail location is at 614 W. Sycamore St.

The Mustache Goods & Wears

Saturday following Thanksgiving, The Mustache Goods & Wears will participate in Small Business Day with special deals throughout the store. The Mustache sells gift and novelty items and clothing, striving “to carry products you don’t normally find in Northwest Arkansas,” according to their website. The store is located on the Downtown Square at 15 S. Block Ave.

Lauren James

All regularly-priced items will be 25 percent off, and planners will be given to customers with a purchase of $65 or more. The Lauren James brand includes fashionable dresses, a line of women’s collegiate clothing, and other clothing and accessories with a Southern flare. One of three corporate locations in the country, the Fayetteville Lauren James shop is located just off campus at 623 W. Dickson St.

Houndstooth Clothing Company

Now until Thanksgiving day, all long sleeve and short sleeve tops are buy two, get one free with Black Friday deals to follow. The brand includes Razorback apparel and other casual clothing with outdoorsy designs. Houndstooth Clothing Company began in Fayetteville and now sells merchandise online and in stores across the state. The closest location to campus is just off the Downtown Square at 29 N. Block Ave.

Pack Rat Outdoor Center

Pack Rat Outdoor Center will sell featured Black Friday merchandise from The North Face brand. Saturday, Nov. 26, shoppers may enjoy food and drink at Customer Appreciation Day. Pack Rat sells clothing and accessories fit for an active and outdoor lifestyle, with products such as hammocks and hiking boots sold at their 209 West Sunbridge store.

Riffraff

All merchandise, except nine specially marked-down items, will be priced 30 percent off the original price tag during Black Friday, 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Just off the Downtown Square at 19 S. Block Ave., Riffraff boutique sells women’s clothes fit for everyday life to holiday parties, as well as gift and novelty items.

Campus Bookstore

The Campus Bookstore sells new and used textbooks, school supplies, Razorback gear and clothing. The store is located just outside of campus at 624 W. Dickson St.

Alumni Hall

Alumni Hall, located at 3417 N. College Ave., sells various brands of Razorback apparel as well as Razorback accessories and gifts.

Maude

Established in 2007 in Fayetteville, the racks of Maude boutique feature women’s clothing from sweaters to skirts with shoes and accessories also for sale. Maude in Fayetteville is located at 706 N. College Ave.

Savoir-Faire

A boutique local to Fayetteville at 1 E. Center St., Savoir-Faire offers casual and dressy clothing and accessories, including holiday fashions sold online and in-store.

Gatsby’s Boutique

Boasting a ‘20s fashion influence, Gatsby’s Boutique sells clothes and accessories at their shop located at 609 W. Dickson St.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses-sydney | www.marieaustralia.com/one-shoulder-formal-dresses
judy smith Nov 2016
EXPORTERS in the agriculture and food processing business should take note of opportunities arising from six major trends set to impact the global food and drink market in 2017, ranging from traditional products like ancient grains to plant-based foods enhanced by technology, according to a new report.

The “2017 Global Food & Drink Trends” released on November 11 by market research service provider Mintel predicts that in the coming year, consumers will increasingly look for products that are healthy, convenient, and trustworthy. They will also search for food and drink that are recognizable, save time, and contain beneficial fruits and vegetables.

In addition, there are new opportunities for functional food and drink designed for evening consumption, progressive solutions for food waste, and affordable healthy food for low-income consumers.

Mintel identified the first emerging trend as the continued trust in the traditional and the familiar. Consumers “seek the safety of products that are recognizable rather than revolutionary,” even as they are willing to try “modernized updates of age-old formulations, flavors and formats.”

Manufacturers are thus encouraged to look to the past for inspiration, as ancient grains, as well as ancient recipes, practices, and traditions are forecast to continue to be popular.

At the same time, “potential also exists for innovations that use the familiar as a base for something that’s new, but recognizable, such as cold brew coffee,” the report said.

In 2017, the food and drink industry will also see the growing use of plants as key ingredients, said the report. The growing preference for natural, simple, and flexible diets is seen to drive the further expansion of vegetarian, vegan, and other plant-focused formulations.

Consumers’ strong health and wellness priorities will spur the introduction of more packaged products and recipes for home cooking that abound in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, botanicals and other plants associated with good health, said Mintel.

Technology will play a part in this movement, as can be seen in the use of artificial intelligence to develop plant-based alternatives to animal products, including milk, mayonnaise, yogurt and cheese.

The third trend is the global focus on minimizing food waste to align with efforts on sustainability, which is changing consumer perceptions.

“In 2017, the stigma associated with imperfect produce will begin to fade, more products will make use of ingredients that would have otherwise gone to waste, such as fruit snacks made from ‘ugly’ fruit and mayonnaise made from the liquid from packaged chickpeas, and food waste will be repurposed in new ways, such as power sources,” the report said.

Also a significant trend among consumers in the new year is to consider the “time investment” required in cooking or preparing meals.

“Time is an increasingly precious resource and our multitasking lifestyles are propelling a need for shortcut solutions that are still fresh, nutritious, and customizable and already we have seen so-called ‘biohacking’ food and drink that offers complete nutrition in convenient formats,” the report added.

In 2017, the time spent on — or saved by — a food or drink product will become a clear selling point, inspiring more products to directly communicate how long they will take to receive, prepare, or consume.

The study also finds new opportunities for functional food and drink designed for evening consumption as people try to calm down before bedtime, sleep better, and restore their body.

Products like tea can be enhanced with chamomile, lavender, and other herbs as a way to achieve a sense of calm before bedtime. Chocolate, on the other hand, can be positioned as a way to wind down after a stressful day.

Looking ahead, the study forecasts greater potential for more evening-focused innovations formulated for relaxation and satiety. And taking a cue from the beauty industry, food and drink for the evening can be infused with functional benefits while the consumer sleeps.

Finally, healthy food that is affordable to low-income consumers is enjoying a surge in market demand.

“Many lower-income consumers want to improve their diets, but the access to-and the cost of-healthy food and drink is often an impediment,” explained the report.

This will fuel campaigns and innovations to make it easier for lower-income consumers to fulfill their healthy ambitions, including apps to help people make use of ingredients that are on sale, including “ugly” vegetables.

“Opportunities abound for companies around the world to capitalize on these trends, helping them develop in new regions and more categories throughout the course of the next year and into the future,” Mintel said.Read more at:www.marieaustralia.com/pink-formal-dresses | http://www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses-adelaide
judy smith Nov 2016
The 41-year-old actress, who launched her The Eva Longoria Holiday Collection for The Limited earlier this week - following the success of her debut collection in July his year - has admitted she "loves festive colours" and glitzy products for the festive season.

Speaking about her wardrobe choices in a video posted on her Instagram account, the brunette beauty said: "I really look forward to gathering with loved ones, whether its family gatherings, or work place gatherings, there are so many events that happen during the holiday season and you need the wardrobe to go with that.

"During the holidays I like to gravitate towards embellishment [and] colour. I like festive colours, I love red, I love green, I love winter white, something with an A-line, something body conscious, something that looks great with a heel."

And the former 'Desperate Housewives' star has admitted the shape of clothes and how they fall is "everything" to her.

Speaking about her design preferences, and the reason behind the materials she has used in her latest collection, she said: "Fit is everything to me, that's why I love to use textiles and materials."

Eva - who married José Bastón earlier this year - believes romance can be expressed through fashion.

She explained: "I think romance is expressed in so many different ways sometimes you can get dressed up in a nice dress, a little black dress, or something with colour and go to dinner, or you can stay at home in a cosy t-shirt with some leggings and cuddle up by the fire and watch a movie."

Meanwhile Eva has admitted she is "so excited" her new products exclusive to the fashion house are "finally here" and are available to buy now.

She took to social media to announce the news of her latest line, which saw her share an image of her sporting the red floral swing dress from her exclusive capsule.

Alongside the post she wrote: "So excited to announce that The Eva Longoria Holiday Collection is finally here!Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/short-formal-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/long-formal-dresses
judy smith Nov 2016
Investors need to stop treating stocks as a ‘beauty contest’ and follow the difficult investment style of Keynes, global pension expert Keith Ambachtsheer said.

Data produced in a working paper from the Harvard Business Schoolshowed that portfolios built on firms with a good material sustainability rating outperformed those that had a poor rating, an aspect not considered enough by investors who were caught up with quarterly returns, Ambachtsheer said at a Chartered Financial Analyst seminar in Sydney on Monday.

“What I see happening out there is largely speculation – what Keynes called ‘beauty contest investing’, where everybody tries to figure out what the most popular stocks are going to be in six months, buys them and when they become really popular sells them,” Ambachtsheer said.

He added the implications of this investment style as an aggregate was a zero sum game, whereas investing should be taking savings and turning them into wealth producing capital.

“The key thing is you need to look beyond the next quarter; you look at the long-term sustainability of the business model of the corporation, as well as the people behind it in terms of how it is being managed.”

The Harvard Business School (HBS) working paper superimposed the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board materiality map (which identifies likely material sustainability issues on an industry-by-industry basis) onto 400 common US stocks identified through sustainability metrics from Kinder, Lydenberg, Domini Research & Analytics.

They examined what effect materiality would have over the long-term (starting from the 1980s) and found the top 10 per cent of firms that scored strongly on material sustainability outperformed the bottom 10 per cent, by nine per cent over a rolling twenty-year period.

“The practical question is, can you actually manage money this way in the real world? And the answer is yes, but it’s very hard, because you are doing unconventional things,” Ambachtsheer said.

Real-world Keynesianism investors – such as Warren Buffett and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan – are in a minority despite outperforming over the long-term. In chapter 12 of his seminal workThe General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, Keynes explained the reason for this was the essence of long-term investors meant their behaviour would be eccentric, unconventional and rash in the eyes of average opinion.

“Most organisations can’t function like this,” Ambachtsheer said, as they were too focused on the present.Read more at:www.marieaustralia.com/vintage-formal-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/backless-formal-dresses
judy smith Nov 2016
Shortly after 3pm on September 29, 31-year-old Olivier Rousteing strode through the shimmering, fleshy backstage area at Balmain's Spring 2017 Paris Fashion Week show. Along the marble hallway of a hôtel particulier in the 8th arrondissement, long-limbed clusters of supermodels were gamely tolerating final applications of leg-moisturiser, make-up touch-ups and minutely precise hair interventions from squads of specialists as fast and accurate as any Formula 1 pit-stop team. The crowd parted as Rousteing swept through.

Wearing a belted, black silk tuxedo and a focused expression that accentuated his razor-sharp cheekbones, Rousteing resembled a sensuous hit man. Target identified, he led us to the board upon which photographs of every outfit were tacked.

We asked him to tell us about the collection (for that's what fashion editors always ask). "There is no theme," said Rou­steing in his fast, French-accented lilt. "No inspiration from travel or time. The inspiration is what I feel, and what I feel now is peace, light and serenity. I feel like in my six years here before this, I have tried to fight so many battles. Because there is no point anymore in fighting about boundaries and limits in fashion. Balmain has its place in fashion."

And the clothes? "There is a lot of fluidity. A lot of knitwear, lightness, ponchos. No body-con dresses. But whatever I do, even if I cover up my girls, it is like people can say I am ******. So this is what it is. I think there is nothing ******. I think it is really chic. I think it is really French. It is how I see Paris. And I have had too many haters during the last three years to defend myself again. So, this is Balmain." And then the show began.

Star endorsements

Under Rousteing, Balmain has become the most controversial fashion house in Paris. Rousteing has attracted (but not bought, as other, far bigger houses do) patronage from contemporary culture's most significant influencers. Rihanna, all the Kardashians, Kanye West, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, Beyoncé, Justin Bieber – a royal flush of modern celebrity aristocracy – all champion him.

Immediately after this show, in that backstage hubbub, Kim Kardashian told me: "I thought it was very powerful…I loved the sequins, and I loved all the big chain mail belts – that was probably my favourite."

Yet for every famous fan there is a member of the fashion establishment who will sniff over coffee in Le Castiglione that Rousteing's crowd is declassé and his aesthetic best described by that V-word. The New York Times' fashion critic Vanessa Friedman reckoned this collection appropriate for "dressing for the captain's dinners on a cruise ship to Fantasy Island". At least she did not use the V-word. When I once deployed it – as a compliment – in a 2015 Vogue menswear review that declared "Rousteing is confidently negotiating a fine line between extravagance and vulgarity", I was told that Rous­teing was aggrieved.

The fashion world's ambivalence towards Rousteing is a measure of its conflicted feelings towards much in contemporary culture. Last year Robin Givhan of the Washington Post wrote of Balmain: "The French fashion house is always ostentatious and sometimes ******. It feeds a voracious appetite for attention. It is anti-intellectual. Antagonistic. Emotional. It is shocking. It is perfect for this era of social media, which means it is powerfully, undeniably relevant."

Since joining Instagram four years ago Rousteing has posted 4000 images and won 4 million followers. The combined reach of his audience members and models at this Balmain show was greater than the population of Britain and France combined. Balmain was the first French fashion house to gain more than 1 million followers, and currently has 5.5 million of them.

Loving his haters

As digital technology disrupts fashion, Balmain's seemingly effortless mastery of the medium galls some. Last year, the designer posted an image of a comment from a ****** follower to his feed. It read: "Olivier Rousteing spends more times taking selfies for Instagram than designing clothes for Balmain." Underneath, in block capitals, he commented "i love my haters".

Rousteing can be funny and flip – doing a video interview after the show, I opened by asking, tritely, how he felt. He replied: "Now I feel like some Chicken McNuggets with barbecue sauce, and then some M&M;'s ice cream."

When at work, however, that flipness flips to entirely unflip. The previous evening, at a final fitting for the collection, Rousteing had paced his studio, his face a scowl of concentration, applying final edits to the outfits to be worn by models Doutzen Kroes and Alessandra Ambrosio. The 30-strong team of couturiers working in the adjoining atelier delivered a steady stream of altered dresses.

"We are ready," he said from behind a glass desk in a rare moment of downtime. "This a big show – 80 looks – and I want a collection that is full of both the commercial and couture. But it's smooth too. All of the girls are excited about the after-party and interested in the music. And eating pizza." In the corridor outside Gigi Hadid – this season's apex supermodel – was indeed eating pizza, with gusto.

The fitting went on until far beyond midnight; Rousteing, fiercely focused, demonstrated the work ethic for which he is famous. When he was studio manager for Christophe Decarnin, his predecessor at Balmain, the young then-unknown was always the first in and last out of the studio. Emmanuel Diemoz, who joined Balmain as finance controller in 2001 and became chief executive in 2011, says that his hard graft was one of the reasons he was chosen to succeed Decarnin.

"For sure it was quite a gamble," says Diemoz. "But we could see the talent of Olivier. Plus he understood the work of Christophe – who had helped the brand recover – so he represented continuity. He was a hard worker, clearly a leader, with a lot of creativity. Plus the size of the turnover at that time was not so huge. So we were able to take the risk."

Clear leader

Which is why, aged 24, Rousteing became the creative director of one of Paris's best known – but indubitably faded – fashion houses. In 2004 it had been close to bankruptcy. In 2012, Rousteing's first full year in charge, Balmain's sales were €30.4 million and its profit €3.1 million. In 2015, sales were €121.5 million and its profit €33 million. Vulgarity is subjective; numbers are not.

Rousteing, who is of mixed race, was adopted at five months by white parents and enjoyed an affluent and loving upbringing in Bordeaux. "My mum is an optician and my dad was running the port. They are both really scientific – not artistic. So I had that kind of life. Bordeaux is really bourgeois and really conservative, I have to say."

After an ill-starred three-month stint at law school – "I was doing international law. And I was like, 'oh my God, that is so boring'" – he did a fashion course that he managed to tolerate for five months.

"I found that really boring as well. I just don't like actually people who are trying to **** your dream. And I felt that is what my teachers were trying to do."

Obsessed with Gucci

Following a three-month internship in Rome – "also boring" – Rousteing became fascinated with Tom Ford's work at Gucci. "I was obsessed, obsessed, obsessed. Sometimes the press did not get it but I thought 'this is like genius, the new **** chic'. Obsessed, full stop."

He wanted to work there – "that was my dream" – but applied to every fashion house he could, and found an opportunity to intern at Roberto Cavalli. "They took me in from the beginning. I met Peter Dundas [then womenswear designer at the brand] and he said you are going to be my right hand – and start in four days."

Rousteing counts his five years in Italy as formative both creatively and commercially, but when the opportunity came to return to France in 2009 he leapt at it. "Christophe said he liked my work and that he needed someone to manage the studio. So two weeks later I was here. I loved Balmain at the time, when Christophe was in charge. It was all about rock 'n' roll chic, ****, Parisian. And he was appealing to a younger generation. You can see when brands become old but Balmain was touching this new audience. I always say Christophe's Balmain was Kate Moss but mine is Rihanna."

When Decarnin left and Rousteing replaced him, the response was a resounding "who?". His youth prompted some to anticipate failure.

"It was not easy at all. Every season I had the same questions." Furthermore, Rousteing (who has said he thinks of himself as neither black nor white) was the only non-white chief designer at a Parisian couture house. In a nation in which very few people of colour hold senior positions, his race may have contributed both to the establishment's suspicion of him and to his powerful sense of being an outsider.

'Beautiful spirit'

As he began to build a personal vernacular of close-fitted, heavily jewelled, gleefully grandiose menswear – fantastical uniform for a Rousteing-imagined gilded age – for both women and men, that V-word loomed.

"They asked, 'But is it luxury? Is it chic? Is it modern?' All those kinds of words. But you know there is no one definition [of fashion] even if people in Paris think there is. And, I'm sorry, but I think the crowd in fashion are those who understand the least what is avant-garde today."

In 2013 Rihanna visited the studio, met Rousteing, and reported all with multiple Instagram posts. "You are the most beautiful spirit, so down to earth and kind! @olivier_rousteing I think I'm in love!!! #Balmain." :')"

Rousteing met Kim Kardashian at a party in New York – they were drawn together, he recalls, because they were both shy – and was promptly invited to lunch with her family in Los Angeles.

An outsider in the firmament of old-guard Paris fashion, Rousteing was earning insider status within a new, and much more influential, supranational elite. He points out that Valentino, Saint Laurent and Pierre Balmain himself "were close to the jet set of their time. What I have on my front row is the people who inspire my generation".

From them, he learned a new way of doing business. "I think it was Rihanna and the music industry that first understood how Instagram can be part of the business world as well as the personal. But in fashion? When we started it was 'why do you post selfies? Why do we need to know your life, see you waking up, see you working? Why don't you keep it private'. And I was like 'you will see'."

Rousteing cheerfully declares his love for Facetune – "I don't have Botox but I do have digital Botox!" – an app that helps him airbrush his selfies and tweak those ski-***** cheekbones.

Reaching new population

From his office around the corner from Rousteing's, Diemoz adds: "When Olivier first proposed Balmain use social media, our investment in traditional media was costing a lot. Here was an alternative costing less but bringing huge visibility. It has been successful, quite rapidly…we decided to be less Parisian in a way but to speak to a new population. A brand has to be built around its heritage but we are proposing a new form of communication dedicated to a wider group of customers."

The impact of that strategy became apparent in 2015, when Rousteing and Balmain were invited to design a collection for the Swedish fast-fashion retailer H&M.; Within minutes of going on sale – and this is not hyperbole – the collection, available at vastly cheaper prices than Balmain-proper, had completely sold out. In London, customers fought on the pavement outside H&M;'s Regent Street branch. "Balmainia!" blared the headlines.

You have to move fast to get backstage after a Balmain show. I was out of my seat and trotting with purpose even before the string-heavy orchestra at the end of the catwalk had quite stopped playing Adele.

Rousteing had taken his bow merely seconds before. Still, too slow: I ended up in a clot of Rousteing well-wishers stuck in a corridor blocked by security guards. A Middle Eastern woman against whom I was indelicately jammed looked at me, laughed, shook her head, then said: "We pay millions for a fashion house – and then this happens!"

In June, Balmain was bought for a reported €485 million by Mayhoola, a Qatar-based wealth fund said to be controlled by the nation's ruling family. As so often with Rousteing-related revelations, some declared themselves nonplussed. "Why Would Mayhoola Pay Such a High Price for Balmain?", one headline asked. Yet Mayhoola, which acquired Valentino four years previously for $US858 million, might have scored a bargain.

Clothes key to revenue

Despite its huge, Instagram-enhanc­ed footprint, Balmain is a small, lean and relatively undeveloped business. Most luxury fashion houses today – Chanel, Burberry, Dior, et al – will emphasise their catwalk collections for marketing purposes but make most of their money from the sale of accessories, fragrances and small leather goods like handbags and shoes. One of the big fashion companies makes a mere 5 per cent from its catwalk clothes.

At Balmain, by contrast, clothes bring in almost all the revenues. If Balmain had the same clothes-to-accessories ratio as its competitors, its overall annual income could be more than €1 billion ($1.4 billion).

The company is moving in that direction. New accessory lines are in the pipeline. "Now we have to transform that desire into business activity," said Diemoz. "Sunglasses, belts, fragrances, the kind of products that can be more affordable."

The first bags should be available in January, as will a wider range of shoes, and then more, more, more.

Six days after his show, on the last day of Paris Fashion Week, I returned to the Balmain atelier. Apart from two assistants, Rousteing was the only person there – everybody else had gone on holiday to recover from the frenzy of preparing the show, or was busy selling the collection at the showroom around the corner.

Rousteing sat behind his desk in the empty room, wearing slingback leopard-print slippers, sweatpants and shades. "I am not even tired! I am excited. Because there are so many things happening – and I can't wait."Read more at:www.marieaustralia.com/red-carpet-celebrity-dresses | http://www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses-adelaide
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