Sunday, 30 September 2012

Expressing the Haute Couture Lifestyle.

This is a feature article.

When it comes to ready to wear shows, the Wills
Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW) excites every one alike — designers are happy as they feel there are many buyers who place order with them; media is happy because there's good fashion on the runway besides good business news off the runway; an excellent venue in Pragati Maidan and the overall feel for everyone is great as well.

Over the years this event proved to be the best in
terms of participation when it comes to designers and buyers participation. Organised by the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), this event has proved itself to be the most sought-after fashion trade event with the entire focus on the 'business of fashion' and not just runway glamour.

Participating designers, be it the younger ones or the most seasoned ones, have always said that in terms of business, the focal point of any fashion week, WIFW has been the most successful one in the country.

While some of the other fashion weeks that have been happening in the country have been labelled as 'brand promotional events' or events that 'promoted individuals' rather than the business of fashion, WIFW right from its beginning has been focussing on trade. For the same reason every single reason wants to be part of this event every single season.

Even though, in the beginning, participating designers have had confusions on pret and bridge lines while showing their collections on this runway platform, it has changed over the years. Now designers are focussed on the pret part and the coming event should prove to be a treat not just for designers in terms of business but for the guests who will be going to watch the collections also.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Debenhams, Nautica and Next has been acquired by Arvind Lifestyle.

In a major announcement, Arvind Lifestyle Brands will be acquiring the business operations of British fashion retailers Debenhams and Next, along with American Lifestyle Brand Nautica in India from Planet Retail.

According to Sanjay Lalbhai, Chairman and Managing Director of Arvind Limited, the acquisition is a significant milestone as it signals the company’s entry into the Department Store Segment and also the globally fast growing apparel specialty retail segment. “American Sportswear Lifestyle Brand Nautica makes us the dominant player in the sportswear segment. With this move, we have taken a big step towards strengthening our position in the Indian fashion industry,” he added.

With Debenhams, Arvind will enter into the bridge to the luxury department store segment. The company is nursing plans of increasing the number of Debenham stores in the country from the exiting 2 to 8. A Debenham spokesperson went ahead to add. “I’m very excited by the new chapter to be written together with Arvind, who are a very solid and experienced retail group with a fantastic reputation.”

The other major acquisition, Next, will help Arvind enter the fast growing segment of apparel speciality retail and is targeting increasing the number of Next stores from 3 to 12 in the next three years. A spokesperson from Next said that the brand is positive about the new franchise partnership and is looking forward to Arvind Brands re-launching the Next brand in the country.

As far as Nautica is concerned, it will help the company to strengthen its existing position in the sportswear segment. To leverage this opportunity, Arvind plans to add 30 more Nautica stores in the next three years.
“As we continue to grow our brand footprint internationally with our licensed operators around the globe, we look to Arvind with their significant expertise in brand building in India, to grow Nautica’s presence in this important emerging market,” added Maria Vicari, President of Global Licensing, Nautica Apparel.

Speaking on the acquisition, J Suresh, Managing Director and CEO, Arvind Lifestyle Brands said, “We have a strong menswear portfolio, which will get further strengthened with Nautica. Debenhams & Next will substantially strengthen our position in Womenswear and Kidswear segment. We plan to achieve Rs. 500 crore revenue over next five years from current Rs. 70 crore by investing Rs. 150 crore in to these three brands.”

Arvind is targeting revenues of Rs. 5,000 crore from its brands & retail businesses in the next five years. The acquisition of the business operations of Debenhams, Next and Nautica is the first endeavour by the company to cross the Rs. 2,000 crore revenue mark in the next five years.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Ok, With many fashion shops already thinking about spring and summer collections, Emma Harrowing spent two days at London Fashion Week to get a sneak peek at some of the trends we will be wearing next summer.Photo gallery: London Fashion Week trend report - summer 2013.

Tropical leaf prints from Caroline Charles Spring Summer 2013. Copyright
Tropical leaf prints from Caroline Charles Spring Summer 2013. Copyright
With many fashion shops already thinking about spring and summer collections, Emma Harrowing spent two days at London Fashion Week to get a sneak peek at some of the trends we will be wearing next summer.

It is easy to dismiss fashion as a fluffy fad for image-conscious women. Many forget fashion is a business. In fact, designer fashion is reported to bring in £450m a year to the British economy, a figure not to be taken lightly, especially considering the current economic climate.

If presented correctly, fashion can get the pulse racing, the heart beating that little bit faster and yes it does loosen purse strings when people see new colours and styles in new collections.

Here in Norwich and Norfolk we have some amazing fashion, jewellery and accessory designers and makers and up-and-coming fashion designers from City College Norwich and the Norwich University of the Arts. The latter will be producing the first fashion degree graduates next year. We also have independent fashion boutiques and big high street names and brands that bring diversity to our city and towns. These, combined, give us something worth shouting about.

And shout about it we will as the fourth Norwich Fashion Week will take place between March 7 and March 14 next year and I for one cannot wait.

I’ve been so excited that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to spend two days at London Fashion Week earlier this month to see what the trends for next Spring and Summer will be.

These trends could be coming to Norwich Fashion Week in March and it is always worth a sneaky peek into the future, especially as some trends last more than one season so you could get an insight into what you should invest in this autumn. Despite only going to three catwalk shows – plus watching the Topshop Unique show via live stream online, Somerset House in London also provided the opportunity to take a sneak peak at next season’s collections from some of Britain’s and the world’s top fashion designers.

Click on the photo gallery link at the top right of this page to see some of the trends on the catwalk at London Fashion Week that could come to Norwich Fashion Week March 7 -14 2013.

Day 3 of Paris Fashion Week.

The countdown is rife and here we are on day 3 of the PARIS Fashion week. The pictures don't lie and surely, here they are:


An African fabric impression.

Hedi Slimane at YSL and Raf Simons at Dior: The new boys at France's finest Show.

BY Lisa Armstrong | 28 September 2012
Hedi Slimane, YSL's new creative director (left), and Raf Simons, Dior's new designer
Hedi Slimane, YSL's new creative director (left), and Raf Simons, Dior's new designer Photo: Y.R./Rex
Anyone who regularly moves addresses soon acquires a few tricks for cosy-ing up their new abode: scatter cushions, table lamps… you know the drill. In the coming days we will see how Raf Simons and Hedi Slimane have been making their new Parisian houses feel like home: Simons at Dior and Slimane at Yves Saint Laurent. Initial bulletins will be big news; first impressions will be crucial. No pressure - but these are two of the most famous fashion labels in the world, the founding fathers of modern fashion and luxury branding.
All the latest from Paris Fashion Week spring/summer 2013
Both incomers have some fairly imposing decor left over from previous occupiers with which to contend - many of them listed by the fashion conservationists. At Dior, Simons must work around the fittings and fixtures of its many great, and not-so-great, past clients, from Grace Kelly to Nicole Kidman in the chartreuse satin dress she wore to the Oscars in 1997, which first positioned her as a fashion favourite, to all those Russian molls who became Dior addicts during the Noughties. Then there's Dior's historic New Look, surely the equivalent of a Grade I balustraded staircase.

Dior's New Look from 1947; Nicole Kidman in Dior Haute Couture designed by John Galliano at the Oscars in 1997 PHOTO: Rex
At YSL, Slimane has the huge legacy of Saint Laurent himself to deal with, plus legendary Mondrian collections, all those ravishingly chic outfits Deneuve wore in Belle de Jour , as well as Tom Ford and Stefano Pilati's recent reigns there.
Judging from Simons's couture collection back in July, when he'd only been at Dior six weeks, his approach is to work with the existing layout of the house, gently tweaking colours and proportions.
READ: Paris Haute Couture: Christian Dior autumn/winter 2012
Slimane? We'll have to wait and see. His debut is on Monday, although one retailer, who was granted permission to place an order for the pre-collection a few weeks ago, told me that, despite her irritation at the various grandiose conditions imposed on her buying team, it was beautiful.
We can probably expect elegance and reductionism. Slimane enjoyed considerable succès d'estime previously as a menswear designer. He made Pete Doherty's memorably etiolated suits when he worked at Dior - Karl Lagerfeld said the reason he lost so much weight was so that he could fit into Slimane's narrow silhouetted clothes.

Bianca Jagger in one of YSL's original white tuxedos; Julianne Moore wears a YSL dress designed by the house's recently departed Stefano Pilati PHOTOS: Getty
Tellingly, both designers will inhabit their new accommodation part time. Simons lives mainly in Antwerp. Slimane, who has recently taken time out from fashion to work as a photographer, spends most of the year in LA. That's rather brilliant negotiating on both their parts. Simons can duck out of the Parisian pressure cooker that partially undid his predecessor Galliano. Slimane will be close at hand to all those Hollywood celebrities who will doubtless clamour to wear the new YSL after his first show on Monday. Actually, we'd better make that Yves Saint Laurent. For one of the first changes Slimane has instituted in his new house is its name. Or names. Journalists this week were informed that, from now on, the house itself must be referred to as Yves Saint Laurent. The clothes are to be billed as Saint Laurent. The logo will be Saint Laurent Paris. When the clothes are photographed in magazines and newspapers, they are to be credited as Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane.
Given that most of the world is still getting its head around the differences between Britain and England, good luck with this one, Hedi.

READ: YSL set for name change

Thursday, 27 September 2012

The best clothing brand for plus size women?

This question is frequently asked and although I understand a woman’s need to uncover the answer I’m sorry to report that there isn’t one concrete answer.  Labeling something as “the best” would mean that it’s better than the rest but when shopping for clothing what’s considered the best to you may not be the best to someone else so it really boils down to what you’re looking for in particular.

If you have somewhere to go in a few hours and you need the convenience of running in and out of the store then a plus size retailer like Ashley Stewart, Avenue or Lane Bryant are your best options. Each of these stores are located online and in major cities across the country making traveling and shopping so much easier.

If you’re in search of something with a little spunk, give retailers like Torrid and City Chic a try. Both of these stores have this fun teen friendly vibe going on but they definitely carry items that cater to the grown up in you.

For you fitness fanatics plus friendly brand Female For Life is perfect for you. They carry activewear for women in the form of exercise tops, yoga pants and maternity clothing.

Are you planning for a night on the town? International design house Carmakoma is edgy enough to wear to the club and they carry fashion staples that can be added to your everyday rotation.

Headed to the beach? Sealed With A Kiss carries some of the most beautiful maxi dresses and they can be dressed up or dressed down. If you plan on taking a dip into the pool, give a try.
If sophistication is your thing, give online retailers Igigi, Ulla Popken, Queen Grace and upscale department store Nordstrom a try. From evening gowns to chic suits, all of these companies offer fashionable options for mature women and are perfect if you want to take your wardrobe up a couple of notches.

Of course there are hundreds of other designers, retailers and department stores that you can choose from but these are some of my personal favorites. Regardless of what you’re looking for there is a perfect brand for you and it’s not limited to just one. We have choices!

This is a feature blog post:

Glitz From Day 2 of The Paris Fashion week.

Blame all the recent elections, which pit man against man (or woman, in some cases), or simple boredom with the talk about austerity measures and bad job figures and so on and so forth, and the corresponding desire to drum up some drama, but either way this Paris Fashion Week is being framed, broadly, as a face-off between Raf Simons at Dior and Hedi Slimane at Yves Saint Laurent. The two designers will show their debut ready-to-wear collections for their respective historic houses this season: Simons on Friday and Slimane on Monday.

Check out some of the standouts:

Image credit:

In The News: Jack Wills and Timberland to open stores in Cambridge city centre,

Jack WillsTwo major empty shops in central Cambridge are being filled at last.

Footwear specialist Timberland is moving into the former Disney store in Petty Cury, while the former Blacks outdoor shop in Sidney Street is being taken over by clothing chain Jack Wills.

The current Jack Wills store in Rose Crescent will be taken over by the company’s sister brand, Aubin & Wills, which is aimed at customers aged 25 and over.

Both units had been empty for some time – the Disney store closed in January – so the deals were welcomed by Barry Robinson, who is vice-chairman of the Cambridge Retail and Commercial Association and managing director of Millers Music Centre in Sussex Street.

He said: “It’s good for the city to be filled up. A city that’s got a lot of empty shops is bad news because it gives a bad atmosphere to the whole town.”

Both of the new shops will be open in time for Christmas – Jack Wills hopes to open its larger store in mid-November, while Timberland aims to launch on October 6.

The Timberland store will be operated by a company called Seventy Three Retail and Luke Underhill, one of the directors, said the strong trading environment around Petty Cury, plus the large student and tourist presence, were major attractions.

The firm already operates franchises in Bath, Tunbridge Wells and Windsor.
Mr Underhill said: “We’re planning on it being our flagship store. We’ve got pretty high hopes for it.
“Looking at what’s available within the town and who else is doing footwear, there’s a little bit of competition, but compared to some of the places where we are operating there didn’t seem to be so much, so I think it will do well there.”

New shops should be on their way to Lion Yard, off Petty Cury, when a refit of the central square is completed.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Major trends at Milan Fashion Week spring/summer 2013.

As Milan Fashion Week spring/summer 2013 draws to a close, we take a look at the key trends to emerge in the Italian fashion capital.


Floral prints

As seen on the London catwalks last week, floral prints were big in Milan too. Blugirl and Just Cavalli collections featured watercolour floral designs awash with exquisite chiffon flowers painted onto lightweight separates.

Just Cavalli, Prada and Marni Floral prints SS13
Opting for a more oriental feel Etro and Marni presented models clad in rich colourful printed silks and kimono style jackets, representative of a Japanese water garden.
While Prada turned to the swinging sixties for inspiration, showcasing Mary Quant style flower power prints on outerwear pieces. 

Safari meets utility
Salvatore Ferragao, Emporio Armani and Maxmara Safari meets utility SS13
Following the New York and London presentations, safari styles also appeared over in Milan. A new twist was given to the traditional safari as Italy’s finest designers Salvatore Ferragamo, Maxmara and Emporio Armani, fused utility style jackets with classic khaki and beige tonal safari shorts and belted skirts.

Bold stripes
Dolce & Gabbana, Moschino and Fendi Stripes SS13
Items with striped designs surfaced in the Italian fashion capital as leading designers Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi and Moschino sent models down the catwalk in bold stripy summer dresses, bright blocked matching tailored skirt ensembles and long jazzy blouses respectively.

Unlike the classic spring/summer nautical stripes, this season’s tones are all about bright colours such as zesty orange, light blue and sunshine yellow.

Embroidered laceRoberto Cavalli, Versace and Bottega Veneta SS13
Known for their great craftsmanship Gucci, Roberto Cavalli, Versace and Bottega Veneta showed off their exceptional skills presenting delicate embroidered lace collections for spring/summer 2013.

Favouring classic black were Bottega Veneta and Emilio Pucci who wowed their fashionable crowd with stunning colourful embroidered lace fitted dresses and sheer maxi-length gold embroidered evening gowns.

In contrast, Roberto Cavalli produced delicate embroidered lace trousers and blouses and in similar vein, Versace opted for a neutral colour palette to show off the trend. Nude embroidered lace hot pants and cropped top sets complete with matching kimonos were just some of the highlights.

Sea greens
Gucci, Missoni and Alberta Ferretti Sea greens SS13
Sea green shone through as the key colour for spring/summer 2013 at Milan Fashion Week. Alberta Ferretti, Giorgio Armani, Gucci and Missoni all included some of the shade in their collections. At the Alberta Ferretti show, we spotted pretty see-through short dresses in green.

While at Gucci a rainbow of colours sparkled on the catwalk, with gorgeous bright sea green/turquoise silk gowns as the show highlights.

Giorgio Armani and Missoni
had pieces shimmering in sea green as both designers played with glittering fabrics, clearly inspired by exotic fish.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

A Review of Fashion for the Brave in Association with Baileys

Marking the end of London Fashion Week, Fashion for the Brave hosted a fundraising dinner at the Dorchester hotel last Thursday.  Featuring a catwalk show and a live auction, the event raised an astonishing £250,000 for injured Household Cavalry men and the British Special Forces.

Fashion for the Brave_cavalry_runway

Who was there:  a wealth of soldiers, celebrities and VIPs including Claudia Winkleman, Jade Parfitt, Lady Victoria Hervey, Bo Bruce, and Harold Tillman
What they ate:  Guests enjoyed a meal of Beef Wellington  
What they drank:  Coffee with Baileys
Who said what:  Stunning model Jade Parfitt who had made headlines by being dressed in 'I am Julian Assange' t-shirt during Vivienne Westwood's catwalk show said how important it was for fashion to be socially conscious.

'Vivienne is very politically minded and she has lots of different causes that she champions which is brilliant.  I was backstage and she me her agenda is to tackle climate change, she's very passionate about it.  I think it's important for everyone to be politically aware be it models or anyone.  I know what I am doing, it's easy for people in fashion to be ensconced in their own world.'


Emmys 2012: The Celebrity fashion flops.

Video Credit: Youtube.

For all the beautiful gowns that were displayed at the 64th annual Emmy awards there were some major fails. Once again some stars chose to take a risk on their attire and while some may have succeeded many of those that did take risks ended up looking completely unflattering and leaving many stylists unemployed the next day.  

Here some of the notable faces:

Alexandria Breckenridge of "American Horror Story" had a weird gathering at her waist make her dress unflattering.
Alexandria Breckenridge of "American Horror Story" had a weird gathering at her waist make her dress unflattering. Credit:

Amanda Peet in a very minimalistic dress by Calvin Klein. 
Amanda Peet in a very minimalistic dress by Calvin Klein. Credit: http://www/

Christine Baranski is too old to be wearing a dress this short.
IMO, Christine Baranski is too old to be wearing a dress this short. Credit:

Elisabeth Moss in black flowered overkill by Dolce & Gabbana,
Elisabeth Moss in black flowered overkill by Dolce & Gabbana, Credit: http;//

Glenn Close looks like she had an accident with a pair of scissors.
Glenn Close looks like she had an accident with a pair of scissors. Credit:

Julianne Margulies once again lands on the worst dressed list with this dress by Giambattista Valli.
Julianne Margulies once again lands on the worst dressed list with this dress by Giambattista Valli. Credit:

Julianne Moore went with a more modern look that was off in the egg yolk color dress by Dior.
Julianne Moore went with a more modern look that was off in the egg yolk color dress by Dior. Credit:

Lena Durham looks old and matronly in this navy lace covered Prada dress.
Lena Durham looks old and matronly in this navy lace covered Prada dress. Credit:

Monday, 24 September 2012

Tips and Why You Need To Shapen Up.

Although we all come in different sizes and every body is different, experts say there are four body shapes that all women fall into. Body shapes are largely determined by bone structure, genetics and age and, although lifestyle factors make a huge difference to the dimensions of your body, it can be difficult to change your basic shape.

By identifying your body shape, you can work with it to improve your overall health and appearance. Here are the four main female body shapes and what they mean for your health.

Apple-shaped individuals carry excess weight around their abdomens (a "spare tyre") and don't have well-defined waistlines. Weight gain tends to go straight to the tummy area and results in a rounded profile.

Oprah Winfrey tends to be an 'apple' shape.
A perfect example of an Apple shaped woman.

Apple-shaped women tend to be at greater risk of many health issues than those of other shapes, according to studies, including diabetes, heart problems, breast cancer, depression and fertility issues. Anybody carrying excess weight will improve their health and fitness through diet and exercise. But it is especially important for apple-shaped women to take steps to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. To reduce your waistline, opt for a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio exercise every day (running, swimming, aerobics) to target fat and improve heart health.

Also make dietary changes by cutting back on calories (sticking to around 1500 calories a day), opting for low-GI foods and cutting out saturated fats as much as possible. Research also suggests stress can lead to increased storage of fat around the middle, apple-shaped women may also find it helpful to supplement their cardio workouts with exercise such as yoga or Tai Chi.

The "ruler" refers to a body shape where fat is distributed evenly and measurements of chest, hips and waist are all relatively similar, giving the body a straight ruler shape. Ruler-shaped women are not exempt from weight problems (you can still be overweight and a ruler); however, many slender women do fall into this category.

Ruler-shaped women tend to have faster metabolisms than those of other shapes, so they lose weight more easily through diet and exercise. But without an appropriate diet and exercise plan, ruler-shaped women tend to gain weight on the stomach, leading to similar health issues as apple-shaped females.

Luckily, weight gain and loss tends to be pretty even. But this can also frustrate women who want a shapelier figure. Regular cardio workouts are essential for keeping weight off and maintaining good health; and a programme of resistance training will help sculpt the body. Building up muscles in the chest and bum and tightening the core can create definition and add curves. Many ruler-shaped women are naturally thin but it is still important for them to follow a healthy diet. A poor diet can still lead to poor health and energy levels, regardless of your weight. Opt for a balanced diet high in nutritious foods rather than empty calories.


Researchers at North Carolina State University say just over a fifth of women are pear-shaped. Women of this shape have a larger hip than bust measurement and weight tends to settle on the lower part of the body; the bum, hips and thighs.

Research has found that pear-shaped women are at greater risk of dangerous blood clots, including deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and are more likely to suffer from memory loss and arthritis later in life. However, on a brighter note, studies have also found that having a big bum and thighs has some great health benefits, as fat stored in this area mops up harmful fatty acids and cuts risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

Being overweight still has health implications regardless of where it is stored. And without careful weight management pear-shaped women can start to pile on weight on the abdomen and waist, too.

Focus on cardio exercises that target the lower body, such as step aerobics, cycling and walking, to maintain a healthy weight. Resistance training for the upper body can also help balance shape. Pear-shaped women should also implement a healthy, balanced eating plan that can help with weight maintenance and prevent cellulite. Eating foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids can also help ward off memory problems and Alzheimer's, which appear to be more prevalent in pear-shaped women.


The hourglass shape is one of the most sought-after body shapes but also one of the least common, belonging to just 8 per cent of women. For hourglass-shaped women the hip and bust measurements are of a similar size, with a much narrower waist measurement. Weight gain tends to accumulate on the chest, arms, hips and bum rather than on the abdomen.

Hourglass-shaped women are lucky - weight distribution tends to be even, rather than accumulating in one particular area of the body. They also tend not to gain weight on the abdomen. And research has suggested women with hourglass figures are more fertile and may have higher intelligence levels.

Hourglass figures tend to be quite well balanced, so should focus on maintaining their shape with full-body workouts such as circuit training; combining cardio to keep off excess weight and resistance training to tone up. A healthy balanced diet will also help maintain curves.

Like apple-shaped women, hourglass-shaped women may choose relaxing exercises such as yoga, as studies suggest that stress can cause fat to shift from the hips to the waist. As curvy hourglass women are also prone to back pain, try doing exercises which strengthen the core and improve posture, such as pilates, and invest in a good, supportive exercise bra for all workouts.

For more lifestyle news visit

Attention Deficit: The unreliable new age of fashion blogging.

This is a Guest Blog post by Bronwyn Williams.

If you're privy to international newspapers you would have noticed the sudden mass of press surrounding the subject of social media's new place in the fashion world. Amy Odell of Buzzfeed posted an article three months ago titled Fashion Bloggers make Tons of Money from Brands. So What? The article explores the new wave of advertising being used not only by fashion brands, but by lifestyle and technology brands as well. Consumer buying patterns have proven that billboards, print ads and TV commercials are no longer the way to connect with people. The amount of time we spend on social media is growing at an alarming pace, so If you want to get people to buy your stuff, then shove it on a blogger.

It's no secret that many bloggers in the universe (myself not included) actually make a living (and some a very comfortable living) from blogging. Money is made not only via ad banners placed on their sites, but by endorsement deals, special appearances and modelling gigs. The funny thing with these modern terms of making money is that often they can be hard to spot.
Rumi Neely of Fashion Toast undertakes a tonne of "paid-to-wear" deals.

Many of the fashion bloggers we admire the style of are no longer the independent and eclectic dressers we began following them for. Bloggers are now paid money (often tens of thousands of dollars) to feature and wear a designer's garment in their post. Not only that, they're being paid to get street snapped at events wearing the pieces. And it's not as if street style photographers are necessarily in on it either. The bloggers don't have to tell the paps that they're being paid. Our favourite street style photography blogs - deemed editorial content - are quickly becoming advertorial before our eyes.
As Amy from Buzzfeed says, these bloggers could have been paid by Prada to attend this event. Bryan Boy, Rumi Neely, Susie Bubble and Diane Pernet. Image source

Many critics out there are labelling fashion bloggers mere "puppets", but others argue they're doing just as many celebrities do. Endorsement is not a new thing, brands have been using celebrities' faces for cosmetics and luxury goods ads for years. Now it's just the bloggers' turn.
As you can imagine, there are varying degrees of endorsements, and varying degrees on what we deem tasteful or not. The argument is that these "tastemakers" (bloggers) who we have learnt to trust (and whose every word we hang on) are losing their honesty under the influence of money. How de we know if The Glamourai's hair styling secrets are indeed a secret or just paid placement by O&M, Tresemme and Moroccan Oil? Do you see the dilemma?
Bryan Boy's haul of 'Fashion Week packing', with Absolut vodka, Canon, and numerous other obvious brands.

It's food for thought, right? In a world dominated by social media and celebrity culture, how much is too much? Are we losing the honesty? Or are bloggers entitled to make a buck like everyone else?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Day 4 Of The Milan Fashion Week.

It is a truism that, at its best, fashion’s job is to reflect reality: that’s what calling clothes “of the moment” is really all about. But what became increasingly clear as the Milan spring/summer shows drew to an end is that there is an inherent fault in that principle for it assumes a certain consistency. When there’s none there except uncertainty, the result is an uncertain season.

Which is not the same thing as a bad season. The clothes, as a rule, were safe: designers putting their heads down and doing what they do best. While they did not provide a solution to the problem – the collections did not elicit gasps of recognition at some alchemical combination of form and fabric that made you realise, suddenly, exactly how you had not realised you needed to look in order to navigate the future – at least they acknowledged it existed.
Indeed, there was less of that “it’s the fantasy” talk than there has been in years. It’s practicality time. Mostly. Giorgio Armani even acknowledged it obliquely, opening a retrospective exhibit at his headquarters of 50 handpicked examples of his more “eccentric” works – elaborate, imaginative, worn by Lady Gaga or at a Beijing-opening – of the past 27 years, while next door on the runway he showed a collection of his most un-eccentric best.
Eschewing his me-hip-too-ism of recent seasons for a languid, sophisticated silhouette built on the straight liquid trouser, Mr Armani showed layered tone-on-tone suiting with cropped jackets, sometimes in the most supple leather, sometimes beaded like constellations, over longer shirting or simple straight dresses over sheer trousers in an agelessly cool nod to the current pyjama look.
Aside from a star-spangled wire model of the cosmos encasing the final look, it was a primer in how to marry ease with unfussy elegance, and a reminder of how Armani elevated what once upon a time was office wear to a different sphere. For all of our benefit.
While he had his feet firmly on the ground, however, Angela Missoni had her head not in the clouds – she was past that – but in some other universe. “The Missoni woman” for spring, she declared, was a “mysterious intergalactic tourist who has landed on our planet”.
To be fair, it wasn’t quite as weird as it sounds. It was, rather, the house’s signature zigzag knits digitised, rendered in degrade and sequins, and layered, literally, one piece atop the other in a holographic parade of capri suits and A-line dresses, thigh-high, or floor-length, sometimes veiled in organza, or filigree crochet. What was missing, though, was the sense of chic simplicity formerly synonymous with the brand; the idea you could just toss on a sweater and go – in style. Not to Saturn, but the supermarket.
Meanwhile, at Salvatore Ferragamo, designer Massimiliano Giornetti stuck notably closer to the heritage of the house. As the show notes said (granted in somewhat overwrought terms): “The force of modernity is constructed upon a legacy of great tradition.” The catch is that said tradition is as a leather goods house, which can be a strange starting point for spring/summer clothes.
But that apparent hurdle did not stop Mr Giornetti. Instead he sent out chic trenchcoats in leather and suede, later de- and reconstructing the garment in cotton dresses and skirts. If we have seen that before – and we have in many places – it was offset by sporty leather skirts, open weave sweaters and gold-studded dresses.
One hemisphere’s autumn, after all, is the other hemisphere’s spring and these clothes get sold in February and March anyway. There’s nothing inherently risky about ignoring what are effectively meaningless seasons to begin with. Indeed, you could argue, it is actually a more realpolitik – or “realdesign” – approach to the cycle.
As was Roberto Cavalli’s, which involved simply doing his own thing, whether or not it had anything to do with anyone else’s thing. Of course, given the confusion about what exactly will consumers’ things be, this was probably a smart thing (enough things).
And in practice it meant laser-cut leather made to look like lace and appliquéd on real lace in dresses and trousers and blouses, matching floral/animal print silk chiffon trousers and tops, crocodile cropped jackets, and all the rest of the ingredients of a rock ’n roll luxury wardrobe.
On any other catwalk it might have seemed extreme but for Cavalli it was impressively par for the course, and as such it was also a pretty effective summation of the current Milanese approach: when in doubt – or surrounded by it – dig in and distil. Come Wednesday, we’ll see if Paris agrees.

For all the FT’s online coverage of the shows

Italian firm Prada posts a 60% jump in net profit for the first half of this year, boosted by strong demand in Asia.

A woman walks past a Prada store  

Italian fashion house Prada posted a 60% jump in net profit for the first half of this year.
The strong results were driven by Asian spenders who have continued to protect the company from slower growth.
The Milan-based company, popular for its coloured Miu Miu leather handbags, said net profit for the first six months of the year was £228.3m.
Listed in Hong Kong, Prada's shares have gained a whopping 71% so far this year.
China's luxury market, upon which global luxury powerhouses have become increasingly dependent, has been hit by weaker demand than expected due to slowing growth and a crackdown by Beijing on conspicuous consumption.
But things did not look as good for British fashion house Burberry Group, which warned on September 11 that its sales growth in China was far slower than expected.
Burberry has enjoyed rampant growth in recent years, but its sales have started to fall over recent weeks.
Nik Thakkar, founder of fashion brand consultancy Nephew London, told Sky News: "Prada's more affordable diffusion brand Miu Miu has been a huge growth driver, making up for almost a quarter of profits for the first half of the year.
Burberry warned that demand is slowing in China
"Developing a vibrant campaign for Spring/Summer 2012 featuring Australian actress Mia Wasikowska (Alice In Wonderland) is something that helped greatly, as it had great shareability through tumblr and Sina Weibo, truly resonating with financially solvent Millennials."
He added: "It will be interesting to see how Burberry's new digitally progressive flagship store on Regent Street in London helps shape growth for the brand on a local and global level in H2."
Prada said, while market conditions would remain challenging for the short term with more general volatility, it remains "confident about the near future and will continue to pursue the retail focused strategy which is an essential pillar of our long-term growth prospects".
The retailer has continued to push forward with its retail network opening 28 new stores, but closing two, and taking the total number of directly-operated stores to 414 at the end of Jul 2012.


Sunday, 23 September 2012

What To Expect When Italy’s young fashion designers fight for niche.

As Italy’s top fashion brands hit the catwalks in Milan this week, the country’s young designers are finding other ways to show off their collections in a bid to break into in an increasingly challenging market.
The stagnant Italian economy has hit the industry hard, driving many big labels to stronger or emerging markets, leaving up-and-coming designers who don’t have the resources to follow hoping to woo buyers through other means.
In a frescoed room hung with chandeliers off one of Milan’s busy streets, Sicilian designer Fausto Puglisi is rushing between guests, giving each a personal, brief rundown of his collection which is shown off on posing models.
A model display clothing from the Fausto Puglisi show during Fall 2001 Fashion Week in New York 08 February, 2001. AFP FILE PHOTO

“Young designers have to have the cheek to say ‘to hell with the trends, I’m original, my creations are beautiful and I believe in them’,” he said.
“I’m Sicilian, so I’m passionate and disobedient. I may have a formal runway show one day, but now I’m concentrating on building relationships with buyers,” which he does at intimate presentations that run alongside big fashion events.
The 35-year-old may have had no formal design training but he already has an edge on other independent Italian designers: celebrities such as Madonna and Beyonce have snapped up his jewel-encrusted Roman gladiator-inspired creations.
Puglisi is just one of dozens of independent designers who hope to attract the attention of the hundreds of international buyers attending catwalk shows in Milan by presenting collections at unique locations or in unusual ways.
“It’s increasingly difficult for new designers to emerge in Italy. There have not been many new names coming through onto the fashion scene,” said Salvo Testa, a professor in fashion management at Milan’s Bocconi University.
“The young ones need a vast amount of money to get noticed, or they need the courage to present really innovative products in innovative ways,” he said.
Marta Ferri, 27, is hosting a two-day exhibition in a ball room, where she will show off her spring/summer 2013 collection modelled through a series of striking photographs taken by her photographer friend Margherita Chiarva.
Ferri, who began by creating clothes for herself and friends, said she drew on the artistic skills inherited from her photographer father for the show concept, and hoped to “stand out from the crowd by going against the trends.”
A stone’s throw from the city’s Gothic cathedral, the young designers behind the Leitmotiv brand – which is sold in 60 multi-brand stores across Italy – had a similar idea, putting on a show that drew on their artistic backgrounds.
“It’s not easy, because we do everything ourselves: design the clothes, source the fabrics, organise the events, seek out the buyers,” said Fabio Sasso, who launched the brand five years ago with Colombian Juan Caro.
“We didn’t want to do the traditional thing. I studied art history and Juan did painting and we drew on those skills to create an exclusive event with a backdrop for the show where moving images capture our design prints,” he said.
The collection, called “Dream Day,” featured beaches, sunglasses and ice creams in colorful holiday prints which bounced off wall-to-walls screens, transporting the visitor, champagne flute in hand, to far-flung destinations.
Original presentations where designers can get in direct contact with shoppers may be the way to go, says Testa: “many brands are changing their way of communicating, creating personal links through events or the Internet.”
According to Barbara Toscano, the director of fashion institute Marangoni’s Milan campus, “launching a new brand is certainly getting much harder.”
“Italian consumers are highly evolved and demanding. Designers need to present a project that is original and versatile, and they also need help from the institutions, which can create occasions for meeting buyers and the media.”
One such young designer who has been given a helping hand this week is Michela Loberto, 35, who showed off her first collection at a fashion bloggers’ cafe set up by the Food is Fashion event which runs alongside the catwalks.
Her dresses and coats cut from vintage material and worn with gas masks piqued the curiosity of young fashion watchers dropping in for a drink.
“It’s a world of sharks out there. I’m not aiming for stardom, at the moment I just want to get my own workshop and then have my designs sold in Berlin and London. The key is to remain niche, with clothes you can’t get anywhere else.”


Bottega Veneta Lines Up Pretty retro chic dresses for Spring/Summer 2013

Italian fashion house of Bottega Veneta presented their Spring/Summer 2013 fashion show during Milan Womenswear Fashion Week on September 22, 2012 in Milan, Italy and it’s all about pretty florals and retro 1940’s styling...
Designs from the Bottega Veneta Spring/Summer 2013 fashion show during Milan Womenswear Fashion Week on September 22, 2012 in Milan, Italy.
Photo credit: 
Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

For their Spring/Summer 2013 collection, Bottega Veneta focuses on a selection of traditional floral print dresses with a certain 1940’s flair in a rich, dark color palette of deep burgundy, slate blue and black backgrounds as well as blush pink.

Highlights from the Bottega Veneta Spring/Summer 2013 fashion show during Milan Womenswear Fashion Week on September 22, 2012 in Milan, Italy.

And it’s not just about printed fabric – a beige chiffon dress is embellished with appliqué flowers that have dark centers, and cinched at the waist with a black beaded belt. The look is brought together with more black accessories such as a clutch bag, jet bracelet, and black pumps.
Bottega Veneta goes for texture and layers, offering a textured dress in peach and apricot stripes that is topped off with a Swiss dot cardigan and an ornate belt, while a burgundy textured skirt is teamed with a netted top and pretty floral bra underneath, again brought together with an ornate floral belt.

There are also some white ensembles that are glammed up with silver tone embroidery and accessorized with a new take on the good old black and white saddle shoe.
As far as accessories go, the yellow and white alligator skin satchel is quite lovely and pairs well with their yellow and burgundy floral dress.
Bottega Veneta’s blush pink, apricot and peach hued dresses are an awesome addition to this collection!


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