Garment industry

Garment industry Disaster singes fashion ethics. Two weeks on, the Rana Plaza catastrophe in Bangladesh is now the deadliest catastrophe in the history of the garment industry, with the death toll toping 1000. The gruesome accounts of rescuers cutting off limbs from trapped workers (sometimes without anaesthesia) surely leaves a stain on brands that no new collection, celebrity endorsement or micro-trend can wash away? It was simultaneously shocking and grimly predictable. Those who have petitioned the fashion industry to face up to its responsibilities will have felt as sick as I did when they heard a factory complex had collapsed in Dhaka. Yes, there were other types of businesses in Rana Plaza but we knew immediately that the bodies pulled from the rubble would be garment workers producing clothing for the retailers and brands we all patronise. Because garment workers are always there, bulking up the casualty lists of the biggest industrial accidents, and setting mortality records. At this particular complex when dangerous cracks were reported, other workers were apparently sent away. Garment workers were ordered back in. When you’re part of the Cut Make and Trim (CMT) army, as we might call the estimated 40 million producing fast fashion around the world, 3.5 million in Bangladesh alone, there’s no let up. A makeshift factory might collapse at night as happened in 2005 in the Spectrum knitwear factory, also in the Savar district of Dhaka, leaving 62 dead. Or it might catch fire during the day as in Tazreen last November when fire escapes were locked and more than 100 died. Either way, garment workers will be trying to complete near-impossible orders. Perhaps, though, the Rana Plaza tragedy could be a tipping point. Maybe young consumers (often considered difficult to reach) will be jolted into action against the brands they seem to worship. “I would urge any young shopper to think about whether they believe over 500 deaths is an acceptable scenario,” says Stacey Dooley, who saw the real cost of fast fashion production, for the BBC3 series Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts. “If not, they should let the retailers know and threaten to take their money elsewhere,” she adds.  


It’s indicative of the chaos of today’s fashion supply chain that many brands don’t know where they are producing. An order might be placed in a first-tier factory that ticks all the auditor’s health and safety boxes. But, according to Doug Miller, emeritus professor of supply chain ethics at Northumbria University and author of Last Nightshift in Savar: “Factory owners can’t make money on the original order – the price has been set too low – so will therefore find someone who can,” subcontracting to producers of ever-declining standards. “In Bangladesh,” Miller says, “you have a glut of buyers in search of a cheap product wanting to place enormous orders; and capacity is built hurriedly. Factory installations are shoddy, workers locked in and lead times are too tight.” It remains to be seen whether consumers will tolerate the usual excuses from brands. Perhaps the most pernicious of all – I paraphrase – is: “We don’t own the factories so we can’t help what happens in them.” This is usually followed by devolving responsibility to the host government. It is technically true: but let’s not pretend this is a regret. Over two decades the big retailers and brands (not just those caught producing in Rana Plaza) have systematically distanced themselves from the manufacture of their product. Meanwhile fashion brands seem allergic to collective action. Instead of coming together as one body with NGOs to thrash out living wages and safety agreements, they go it alone. They excel at dreaming up new schemes that look great in a corporate social responsibility video but are useless at creating any effective change. “The answers to this latest crisis have got to be collective in every sense of the word,” Miller says.  

Baroness Young

Antitrust laws (also known as competition laws) are cited by fast fashion brands as a reason for refusing to discuss pricing strategies, costs in the supply chain or the factories they source from. Further hope for change, however, was provided last week by word from within the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on ethics and sustainability in fashion. “Let’s now be really serious about the true cost of clothing,” Baroness Young, its chair, said. “The APPG is determined to call to account all of those companies that are implicated in these kinds of practices. And we want them to understand that we will examine how supply chains function and expect them to remedy problems.” Many believe that the whole fashion supply chain is caught up in the problem. “Do not for a minute suppose that just because a brand you wear wasn’t found in the rubble, it is clean. It could have been any of the brands,” says Sam Maher of the campaign group Labour Behind the Label. Just two companies – PVH, owner of Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein among others, and Tchibo, a German retail brand – have signed the Bangladesh fire and building safety agreement drafted late last year. Gap led the negotiations but pulled out in favour of its own agreement. The deadline for brands to sign the agreement is May 15. They must consider it a cultural licence to operate. The ethical brand People Tree wants consumers to join its Rag Rage campaign demanding retailers sign a plan which includes the Bangladesh fire and safety agreement. The window to demand change is closing. The Bangladesh finance minister, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, has played down the significance of the tragedy. If we don’t act now, it’ll be business as usual followed by shopping as usual.  

Daughter therapy

Fashion’s Betsey Johnson goes to therapy in made-for-TV comeback. Mother-daughter therapy, nightly branzino dinners and pulls from a mimosa-filled water bottle at the gym. Welcome to just some of the life of Betsey Johnson, the eccentric and frenetic fashion designer whose personality goes on display in a reality television series beginning on Sunday on U.S. cable network Style.”XOX Betsey Johnson” casts an eye on Johnson, 70, best known for her bright, girly punk dresses, and her daughter Lulu as the inseparable duo look to relaunch their fashion careers after professional and personal setbacks. The eight-episode series is as much a psychological trip through the pair’s emotional high-wire act as it is about the nuts and bolts of the fashion industry.”I think we were always content in our lives, so the joke is ‘Why not do a reality TV show when our lives were completely falling apart?’” Lulu, 38, told Reuters in a joint interview with her mother. For the mother and daughter, who live a few doors apart in the same apartment building on New York’s Upper East Side, their lives were ripping at the inseams. Johnson, who still ends her fashion shows with a trademark cartwheel and split, was forced to shutter her company’s 65 retail stores and file for bankruptcy last year while selling off her brand to footwear giant Steve Madden.”I felt I had lost what I had built and didn’t know if I could continue and get it back,” said Johnson, who is now the creative director behind her brand. Meanwhile, Lulu, a divorced mother, is in the midst of launching her own fashion line. In the first episode, viewers get a taste of a day in the life of the fun-seeking Johnson, whose exercise routine is more flirting with her personal trainer and sipping from her mimosa-filled water bottle than sit-ups and squats. The designer also never misses her favorite meal: a daily dinner of branzino and a half bottle of white wine.But Johnson’s twitchy anxiety about her new gig takes center stage ahead of a big launch party for her Steve Madden brand.  

Like taking

‘LIKE A REALLY BIG THERAPY SESSION’ “I’ve never had to answer to anyone else,” Johnson admits before the party. “I never was controlled. What I’m most afraid of in terms of having people boss me is my pace; I’m very fast.” Never mind that Johnson is a hit at the party in a billowy, embellished gold lamé gown because the series saves its drama for moments away from the boardroom and catwalk, when Johnson and Lulu butt heads as mother and daughter. “I felt that I really unzipped my soul and kind of squeezed out every bit of who I am, and it was rather painful,” Lulu said of the series. “It was like a really big therapy session.”And therapy sessions are what Johnson dislikes the most. “It’s like taking a shovel to cement to try and get this girl to talk about anything emotionally,” Lulu said about her mother, even after a steady schedule of couples therapy.”I don’t like to talk about my feelings,” Johnson said after one session on the show. “Sometimes Lulu is short with me and it hurts me … Lulu really loves therapy, I just like to keep going like a race car. Vroom!” Despite an appearance as playful and Pollyannaish as her designs, the show offers a peek into the dogged work ethic of a successful fashion designer who does not know how to stop. “My work has driven my life,” Johnson said. “I’ve gone through husbands and boyfriends and I can go through anything as long as I have my work.”In the end, Johnson said she found her therapy in an unexpected place: shooting the series over several months beginning last August. “The filming was such a great, wonderful support system for me when I had kind of failed at the business,” Johnson said. “I think I would have been really miserable if I didn’t have the show because it kept me going and it kept me in the spotlight.” Style is part of NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast Corp.  

Fashion magazines

The trouser is so now in the singular world of fashion. The people who brought us jeggings, skorts and coatigans have decided the letter S is no longer fashionable. I love fashion. I mean really love it. I can become obsessive about the cut of an ankle boot, I dream of one day hunting down the perfect silk blouse in just the right shade of oyster, and I devour fashion magazines – well, as if they’re going out of fashion. However, while I enjoy looking at the lovely shiny pages showing lovely shiny clothes, I find the language that accompanies these images equally compelling – and most peculiar. Take the letter S, for example. In recent seasons it appears to have become redundant in the lexicon of fashion and style. It’s as if an edict has been issued from Vogue HQ banning its use. In fact the plural is now more last season than a floral maxidress. The likes of Anna Wintour and Victoria Beckham would be more likely to let a chip butty pass their lips than a rogue S. So we now talk about a printed trouser, a heeled shoe, a nude lip, and no one bats a (smoky) eye – it’s as if we’ve collectively forgotten that, until very recently, there was an obligation to add an S to these nouns. Why has this happened? Is it that the soft, curvaceous form of the letter S offends these rail-thin style mavens? Will they start using other letters in its place? Perhaps K or Z with their bold and angular lines will become a more fashionable choice. Well, you may think, what’s the problem? The world of fashion is all about novelty and affectation – this won’t filter down into everyday parlance. Don’t be so sure. The whole raison d’être of fashion is to influence – it’s why we no longer wear a boot-cut jean or a square-toed shoe (see how naturally I’m doing it). If fashion dictates that we no longer need plurals, S will be condemned to the linguistic discount bin quicker than you can say “boho-inspired-shrug”.  


Planet fashion is also the spiritual home of the portmanteau word. Fashion and its inhabitants move at unrivalled pace, sped by the advent of Instagram and other social media, and merging two words into one is brilliant linguistanomics (I’m patenting that one before Grazia bags it). I remember first reading about jeggings (jeans+leggings) in 2009. How ridiculous it sounded then, a word that conjured up images of urinary infections and squished buttocks. Four years later, the M&S website devotes an entire section to this fashion hybrid. We as a nation have embraced the jegging: the concept, the garment, but first and foremost the word. And it doesn’t stop there: greige, skorts, coatigans, recessionistas, glunge, glamping – all these linguistic mashups began life on the pages of fashion magazines or style blogs and have since gone more mainstream than a Louboutin stiletto. Other ubiquitous fashion words include directional (meaning grossly unflattering on anyone other than a six-foot-tall, seven-stone teenager) and “on trend”, which means, umm, ubiquitous. I don’t blame the journalists or bloggers who pen these fashion dispatches. The real svengalis behind fashionese are the marketers. They are the ones who write the press releases and coin the buzzwords that end up on the glossy pages and blogs of the style arbiters.  

Designers speak

I have a confession. I have played my part in the propagation of fashion speak. I worked in the murky world of fashion PR in the late 90s. It was my job to persuade fashion journalists that my client’s collection was a significant departure from their last; that they had captured the essence of the cultural zeitgeist, simply by adding an embroidered butterfly to a cashmere sweater. It’s then the fashion editor’s job to bring readers information on what is new and “zeitgeisty” (another perennial fave). If they don’t talk about the new, readers won’t make their weekly online pilgrimage to Asos to buy the new, and the industry will collapse upon itself. The truth is that there is no seismic shift from season to season in fashion. Designers may come across as capricious divas, but they also have a business to run. If a particular blouse sold well for spring/summer, they’ll simply update it in a heavier fabric and a deeper colourway for fall (please note: fashionistas no longer say autumn and would never say colour without putting a “way” on the end). So we come back to the power of language. Where fashion is concerned, the quickest way to make something seem new is to coin a new word or phrase to describe it. As Coco Chanel said: “Fashion fades. Only style remains the same” – as relevant to the written word as it is to one of Mam’Zelle’s little black jackets.  


Victoria Beckham Midi skirt is hailed as unexpected fashion hit of summer. Loved by Victoria Beckham and hipsters at Coachella, the length once seen as dowdy is perfect in unpredictable English weather. As the British summer falls flat on its face with yet another false start, a new fashion trend is on the rise. The midi-length skirt – with a hemline which falls below the knee and is most often written off as dowdy – is on course to be the sleeper fashion hit of the summer. Thanks to an unlikely trio of factors including the blustery weather, Victoria Beckham’s much-photographed personal wardrobe and a glut of hipster pop stars pictured at the Coachella festival, the midi skirt is being hailed as the skirt of the season. The shape even scored a red carpet success earlier in the week. Fashion commentators praised Carey Mulligan’s appearance at the Met Ball in New York wearing a midi-length dress by Balenciaga at fashion’s most high-profile event. “The midi is grownup but slightly subversive,” says Katherine Ormerod, senior fashion news and features editor at Grazia, “and that is a winning combination.” It’s a length that has been ignored for some time but women are rediscovering it,” says Jane Shepherdson, chief executive of Whistles.  

Celebrity aesthetic

Retailers across the price spectrum are seeing a steady sales increase. At the high-end e-tailer sales of the midi length are selling 10% faster than other skirt shapes. Meanwhile Asos insiders report that the midi – currently sitting on the front page of the site as a “right now piece” – is up at least 200% on last year’s sales. Part of the midi’s current success lies in its multi-generational appeal. Women in their 20s who are tuned into the celebrity aesthetic of Solange Knowles and Rita Ora are wearing the hemline, as are fortysomething women looking for a more grownup summer look. “It’s an elegant length,” says Sarah Curren “I think you would be surprised as to who is buying them. It’s as much twentysomething women as fortysomething women. The younger women see it on Victoria Beckham as her length of choice and for slightly older women it’s a really flattering shape and length.” Fashion commentators agree that the midi will be a lasting trend that will outlive the summer. “Fashion at the moment is completely polarised between a hip, street aesthetic, and a minimal ultra-luxe stealth look – both of which have a place for the midi skirt,” says Ormerod. Shepherdson, in common with many retailers, has a vested interest in the look lasting. In the autumn Whistles will stock a midi-length leather skirt which has already attracted a waiting list of fashion insiders.  

Skirts and dresses

Who is wearing them? Molly Richards, 21, student I got this skirt from a stall in Camden for £10. Midi length is the only length for a blustery English summer because it doesn’t blow up in the wind. It’s the perfect length when you don’t want show off too much flesh and when you wear your socks with them you don’t have to flash any leg at all. Ting Zhi, 21, student I got this from Bangkok. It’s actually a school skirt. I think midi-length skirts are popular because they are really easy to match with anything and much more suited to the freezing British weather. Hannah Morrish, 20, student I got this skirt for £1 from Absolute Vintage. Midi-length skirts and dresses are a lot prettier and comfortable and you have much less on show without looking frumpy. Aija Koke, 20, student I got this dress from H&M. I love that these lengths are in fashion because they are the most flattering cut on figures and can be worn with anything. You don’t feel too body-conscious in them either. Anastasia Achilleos, 37, facialist I got this dress from Zara last year. I’m glad there are midi-length skirts in all the shops right now because they are so elegant and easy to dress up. You can wear them in the day without feeling overdressed and dress them up for night-time too. Kuzivakwashe Punungwe-Mutandiro, 23, administrator The dress I’m wearing is from Asos. Midi-length dresses are just easier to function in. I think with the whole 60s Mad Men revival there’s a lot of these styles available on the high street. Also, crop tops are in fashion right now and they go really well with midi-length skirts and dresses.  

Wedding achkan

Nawab of Fashion designs Chotte Nawab’s wedding achkan. Saif is tying the knot with his longtime girlfriend Kareena Kapoor Oct 16 and Rathore says “I’m working with him for almost an year now.” “Few months ago, he mentioned that he is probably going to get married soon. So I told him to let me know the right time. Then, three months ago, we spoke and finalised the dates,” Rathore, also known as the Nawab of Fashion, told IANS. He has readied an achkan sans any embroidery for the main function apart from working on “eight-nine other looks”. “We have given him a lot of ‘bandgalas’ and lots of breeches for three to four days of functions. He is free to wear whenever he want. The only thing that has been fixed is the main function attire – an ‘achkan’,” said Rathore. He says for the achkan, he took references from attires and styles of Saif’s late father, Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi. “The outfit for the main function personifies Saif’s personality. We also discussed about what his father wore and what he looked like in the old-world theme. We spoke about his father’s outfit and saw a couple of clipping too.” “One can see very classy, tight-fitted, customised pieces that can be called ultimate couture. He was very keen to carry the brocade idea forward so the outfit is made in Benarasi brocade and is paired with Jodhpuri breeches and turban. The look is classic and he is wearing his set of dual buttons with that. Also, to match the outfit of his wife, we have given him a pocket scarf,” said Rathore.  


“Gold has been the theme for the ‘achkan’. Also, lot of classic and bio-degradable fabrics, including Benarasi brocades, silk, cotton and velvets have been used. We have avoided fabrics like polyster. Everything has been sourced from specific regions of the country,” said the designer. Rathore, who styled Saif in the film “Eklavya”, describes the actor as a “stylish” person. “In my opinion, he is one of the most stylish people in our generation. Also, his understanding of style is superb and lines well with our brand. Therefore, it’s been a great association. I think he understands styles and that is why lot of inputs have actually come from him. “He is not very fussy. Also, he wanted me to stick with my craft work and asked me to use that. There is hardly any embroidery in any of the clothes and to me that is very appealing,” he said. It’s not just the groom. Rathore has also styled Saif’s relatives. “We are also doing a lot of stuff for his relatives, including his son Ibrahim, who will wear an ‘achkan’ inspired by his grandpa. We wanted to make sure they all look smart. I have designed for some other people who is attending from Bollywood.” Rathore says he was tight-lipped about his involvement in designing Saif’s wardrobe because he wanted to be “discreet” about the talked-about wedding. “I choose to keep my mouth shut on particular thing as I feel, it’s good to be quiet. The order of our country right now demands that the less you speak, the more wisdom you will get. I always wanted to be discreet about Saif’s wedding but somehow it didn’t happen,” he said.  

The models

Models ooze charm at Delhi fashion show. Models stole the thunder in scintillating ensembles created by renowned designers during the ongoing Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week- Spring Summer 2013 here. Fashion designer Rahul Mishra used Khadri fabric and explored graphics in this collection, which was appreciated by the audience. His designer collection named ‘Weave, Sew, Yield and Bloom’, saw models displaying creations ranging from warm ivory to black and coral. The models were seen wearing jackets, flowing dresses and asymmetrical patterns. Mishra said that he used khadi, since it is the oldest textile known to mankind and it was still a hit among the youth in this century.”We use all organic khadi with nice texturing. The idea is that organic khadi is one of the oldest textiles known to mankind and how we can make it more relevant for the 21st century,” he said. Designer duo Alpana and Neeraj presented their collection in an unconventional manner, with icebergs and icicles beautifully represented on the clothes. The audiences were in for a visual treat, as snowflakes, white ice, lakes, never-ending-wintry blacks and greys were all stitched on to clothes, creating a heavenly atmosphere. Asia’s biggest business fashion event, Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week Spring Summer 2013 commenced on October 6 and is celebrating its 20th edition on the runway. A little more than a decade after India held its first fashion week, India’s fashion industry is becoming increasingly popular after some of its designers have made their marks on the world stage. Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week is the most prominent fashion week in India, as it has increasing number of Indian and International buyers visiting in every year. Several Bollywood starlets and fashion divas across the country are expected to be a part of this glamorous weeklong extravaganza. Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) systematized the fashion show.  

New meaning

Eco fashion week gives new meaning to ‘timeless’ style. Spotlight on used and sustainable fabrics. Two weeks ago, stylist Myriam Laroche and fashion designer Kim Cathers showed up at Value Village on East Hastings Street at 4 a.m. They had been given access to the store off-hours and the opportunity to sift through clothing and textile rejects (anything that doesn’t sell after a few weeks is taken off the floor) before they were shipped off to dealers in the Third World. The goal was simple: Find 68 pounds of clothing cast-offs and refashion them into a spring/summer 2013 collection. The resulting line, designed by Cathers, will be shown at Eco Fashion Week, which takes place Oct. 16 to 19. “We were so excited to have the store to ourselves and we found amazing stuff. Big denim fabric and silk, and I can’t believe that would’ve gone to Africa because it was beautiful,” says Laroche, who went along to document the process. Laroche founded Eco Fashion Week, now in its second year and fifth season, to promote greener standards in an often wasteful industry. She came up with the “68-pound challenge” after learning that the average American throws away 68 pounds of clothing and textiles each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Cathers, a Project Runway Canada alumna accustomed to up-cycling fabrics in her own line, kdon by Kim Cathers, jumped at the challenge, despite a timeline of just five weeks to create a spring/ summer collection. “It was the right time,” says Cathers. “They wanted somebody to be the front-runner and show people that recycling clothing doesn’t need to look like a garage sale.” At her home studio in the West End, Cathers was surrounded by reams of fabric when The Province dropped by, from a cream, floral-embroidered curtain she’s planning to turn into maxi dresses to plum leather she removed from a sofa.  


The inspiration for her collection, which will include 30 to 40 looks, was sparked by a summer scarf in cream and pale pink. (Mary Zilba, from The Real Housewives of Vancouver, will be among the models walking the runway of Cather’s show.) The designer, who was wearing a thrift store button-down shirt, believes it’s critical that events like Eco Fashion Week exist because there’s still a stigma to “green” fashion. “When I hear eco-designer, I think of brown and green, cordurouy, patchwork, hemp, the traditional hippie. And I’m an eco designer – and I don’t design anything like that at all – but that’s even what I think of,” she says. Held this year at Robson Square, Eco Fashion Week will include runway shows by Vancouver designer Nicole Bridger, who’s known for her artful draping and use of sustainable fabrics; adhesif, another local and eco-minded line that uses vintage and recycled fabrics; Swedish knitwear brand Svensk; and minimalist Quebec label Atelier B. Laroche, who has worked as a buyer and stylist for 18 years, has seen firsthand how wasteful the industry can be. From the resources to produce fabrics to the transportation required to fuel a global industry and the packaging used to ship products, waste can be tracked at almost every step of the process. Add the fact that in the past decade or so, fast fashion – clothes made cheaply and worn for a season or two before being tossed away- has been a cornerstone of the industry and you get an idea of the environmental effects.  

Cruise ship

In 2010, approximately 30,000 tonnes of textiles were disposed in Metro Vancouver – the equivalent weight of a 600-passenger cruise ship. Not all of it was clothing, of course, but it certainly contributed to the alarming statistic. “Where the most wastage is, in the end, from the consumer. Oh, these T-shirts are $5. I’m going to buy all the colours. And am I going to where it all? No. Or I’m going to wear it all, wash it once and because it’s $5 it’s not going to fit any more and so it goes to the garbage,” says Laroche. “I always say $5 T-shirts should be illegal. I know $5 is appealing but someone got hurt along the way. You want to pay $5? Go second-hand. I think there are habits that need to change.” Laroche herself used to be that girl with a hundred pairs of shoes and a voracious appetite for the latest “it” item. Then a friend introduced the Quebec native to thrift-store shopping. “I wasn’t that eco-friendly girl. But then I wanted something different . . . I hate to wear the same pair of shoes or coat as someone else. I had a friend in Quebec who was shopping [at thrift stores] all the time so I was fine, OK, I’ll go. And I stayed three hours,” she says. Laroche became a convert. Now, she counts thrift stores as her “happy place” and a red Christian Dior jacket scored for $9.99 among her prized possessions. To help remove the stigma from second-hand clothing, Eco Fashion Week will also host a Value Village Runway Show in which three stylists will style 10 to 15 looks each with clothing bought at Value Village on a $500 budget per stylist.  


Stylist Nicolette Lang-Andersen has purchased, so far, a patent leather blue skirt, colour-blocked handbags, an orange jumpsuit and “a very cool black dress that has double panel buttons running down the front. “So lots of primary colours but still quite fashion forward. Everyone can expect lots of colours,” she says. About 1,500 people are expected to attend Eco Fashion Week over three days. The goal is to connect buyers with eco-minded designers as well as to educate the public. The last day, Oct. 19, will include a series of seminars, including a talk by Our Social Fabric, a non-profit organization co-founded by Cathers that collects fabrics destined for the dumpster from sources such as movie and TV sets and re-sells them to the community at a discount. “The first goal is for buyers and designers to meet and develop a business relationship. And the second goal is to educate,” says Laroche. TAKE AT LEAST AN HOUR. Let the clothes inspire you. Instead of hunting for a specific item, be inspired by what’s available. Start with shoes. Myriam Laroche, founder of Eco Fashion Week, always starts with shoes, then scarves, bags, dresses and sweaters “because you can find cashmere.” Look at the labels. Anything that says “Made in Italy,” “Made in France,” or “Made in Canada” often suggests quality. Wear tight clothing. Wear leggings and tank tops so you can try the clothing on top.  


Trend for slim fashion models only skin deep in Ghana. Skinniness is increasingly common on the catwalks of west Africa, but on the street it is seen as unattractive and even taboo. You didn’t have to have tickets to Ghana fashion and design week (GFDW) to get a sense that something was afoot at Accra’s most showy venue, the Mövenpick hotel. In the lobby on the morning the event was meant to start (Ghana being Ghana, the 11am launch happened closer to 3pm), I saw something I have rarely seen around here before: skinny women. Not just the odd one – who of course exist in every country – but whole groups of them, moving together in small, conspiratorial-looking packs. “Ah the models have arrived,” an equally bemused woman sitting near me pointed out. “They look like aliens, don’t they, 6ft tall, all arms and legs, with waists the size of one of my thighs?” I wouldn’t describe them quite like that, but this observer – a typically curvy older woman – captured a reality; that in Ghana, sightings of skinny women are extremely rare. Models don’t look like ordinary women – if they did then they wouldn’t, by definition, be fashion models. And the debate about how different their bodies are from the ordinary is nothing new.But in Ghana not only do women not look like models, but they have no desire to look like them. This is a country where pharmacists freely disclose that buoyant sales of appetite stimulants are mainly owing to women who want to, as Ghanaians put it, “grow fat”. Across west Africa, large busts and behinds, and thick legs are highly prized assets. As the legendary Fela Kuti sang in Army Arrangement, “yansh na wonderful material perfect” (“arse is a wonderful thing”). Watch any music video by the growing number of west African artists who are crossing over into the mainstream with hits like Sound Sultan’s Pass Me and you will find ample evidence that the Afrobeat pioneer’s commentary is as timeless as ever. It’s not just that booty is considered beautiful. There are also taboos surrounding skinniness in west Africa, where a lack of body fat is associated with poverty and Aids. A friend who moved to Ghana from Europe told me that when she was breastfeeding her child, people regularly expressed surprise that her “tiny breasts” were capable of producing milk. Girls are still told that if they want to find a husband and bear children – which most do – they will need to fill out a bit.  


The spread of the western fashion industry, and its increasing convergence with Africa’s own long-standing and vibrant fashion culture means all this is changing. I remember the furore in 2001 when Nigeria finally became the first African country to win Miss World because it entered Agbani Darego – a tall, skinny, 18-year-old with non-typical features who was not considered particularly attractive at home. Her victory had a huge impact on the model industry in west Africa, where skinny girls suddenly realised that what had seemed like a hindrance was now an asset. And as African fashion weeks, such as GFDW and the increasingly high-profile Arise event in Nigeria, gain traction with the global fashion industry, it is inevitable that they will begin conforming more to those standards. Some of the collections at GFDW, which finishes on Tuesday, were beautiful. Duaba Serwa combined on-trend, A-line silhouettes, Lurex silver, and textured layers with very Ghanaian textile prints. The more accessible these designers become to a global market, the sooner Africans will be able to profit from their own talent, rather than watching European and American firms exploit their traditions without leaving a trace of benefit. There is probably an argument – which I don’t accept – that African designers have to present their clothes on the same skinny bodies as designers everywhere. And, yes, you can change the models, but you can’t change the customers. I’ve never been to a fashion week before, but at New York and London I’m always reading about lettuce leaf lunches and people who don’t eat. All I can say is that the jollof rice and fried chicken was disappearing at the usual rate at lunch at the Mövenpick; and at the cupcake and champagne reception, I saw hardly anyone drinking champagne, but the cupcakes were gone in a flash. Thankfully the prospect of Ghanaians thinking that models are meant to fill them with self-loathing, seems a long way off.  

American model

Unless you work in the fashion industry or you’re an avid follower of its ups and downs, it’s unlikely that you will have heard the name Arizona Muse. No, she is not an indie-rock band, nor is she one of Truman Capote’s lesser-known female characters and, yes, it really is the moniker her parents bestowed upon her at birth. But her name (‘How could anyone resist someone with that name?’ Anna Wintour said last year) is just the start. Muse is a 23-year-old American model who, over the past 18 months, has captivated the world of high style. Since September 2010, when Miuccia Prada exclusively booked the then unknown to open and close the Prada show, her gazelle-like legs have stalked every catwalk between New York and Paris and her gorgeous features have appeared in advertising campaigns for Yves Saint Laurent, Fendi, Chloé, Louis Vuitton, Karl Lagerfeld, Isabel Marant and, for the last two seasons, the British high-street favourite Next. Last month Estée Lauder named her as its new ‘face’ . In February 2011, the same month that Anna Wintour used her editorial letter to praise this ‘gorgeous, smart grown-up’, the influential style magazine Dazed & Confused dedicated its entire fashion content to Muse. And yet the most interesting thing about her is one of the most normal things in the world: she’s a mother. ‘There are plenty of models who have children,’ Muse says, with a tinge of defiance. We’re sharing a squashy leather sofa in a studio in east London. It’s mid-February and Muse has been working for 20 days without a break. Her three-year-old son, Nikko, is back in Brooklyn with his nanny and after a shoot on the day we meet she will fly back there and wake up with him the next morning. Then she’ll work in New York for two days, go to a shoot in Death Valley for another couple and then have five days off before she starts the four-week tour of duty that is the biannual New York and European fashion shows. She has a cold and a bad cough, which can’t have been helped by working outside on a British Vogue shoot the day before we meet. ‘I was wearing peep-toe heels and short skirts. I was freezing! That’s how glamorous modelling is,’ she says, her hands hugging a hot mug of tea.  


I am still trying to think of the many models with children working at this level and this pelt. Natalia Vodianova has three, Jourdan Dunn has one, Kate Moss has one; but they are few and far between. Muse doesn’t look as if she is going to concede, but then she hits the nail on the head. ‘I think the others were established before they had children. I had a child and then became established, which I would not recommend doing! I highly recommend getting your career established first and then having children.’ She chuckles. But those were not the cards that fate dealt out to Muse. Born in Tucson, Arizona, (oh, the childhood horrors of being named after your address), she grew up in Santa Fe, modelled as a teenager and then moved to Los Angeles. In 2007 she had been signed by the agency Next and was living in New York when she became pregnant. Believing that was the end of her modelling career, she moved back to Los Angeles. After Nikko was born, and with the father no longer in the picture, Muse was faced with the reality of single motherhood. She decided to chance her arm again at modelling. ‘I thought, “I have a child now. I have to support him and I have to support myself. I think I can do this.” So I gave it a try back in New York.’ Muse with her son, Nikko, in the Next campaign The way she puts it makes this sound like a straightforward and rather sensible decision – although she admits later that it has been ‘tricky’. The reality of modelling, well paid though it is, can be grim, whether you’re nursing a baby or not. It’s a tough game with long days that often turn into long nights and lots of travelling far from home. How on earth did she do it? ‘I started out not travelling,’ she says. ‘I started working in April when Nikko was one, and the following September was when I did [the catwalk] shows. So from April to September I didn’t travel.  

Arizona Muse

Are Arizona Muse and Freja Beha Erichsen dating? I was just working in New York and I was really glad I was able to do that for another six months. He didn’t start travelling the crazy way he’s been travelling with me until he was one and a half. And now he’s almost three and he’s doing that a lot less. It was a lot for him, it was rough, although good for him to have me around. Babies need to be with their mommies, in my opinion, and we were really lucky to be able to do that.’ Aside from the hours, there are the obvious aesthetic demands of being a model. Given how her career went stratospheric on her return, it seems that pregnancy and childbirth didn’t wreak havoc on her body. ‘No, it did, it did,’ she insists. ‘At first I was like, “I’m going to be fat for ever!” I think we all feel that way after we have a baby. ‘I threw away so many clothes thinking that it would be so depressing having them sitting in my drawer when they’re never going to fit me. I got rid of my favourite pair of jeans, which of course would fit me now. You just have to give your body time. You can’t have a three-month-old baby and think, “That’s it for me.” I tell mothers that you have to wait a whole year before you start judging your body, before you start working on it. Just give yourself a whole year of rest. And breastfeed. I’m a big advocate of breastfeeding.’ She breastfed for 14 months. ‘I loved it. And weaning was really easy when we did it,’ she says. ‘He was ready, I was ready.’ And then her body pinged back to its old model self…? (Women of a sensitive disposition might prefer to look away now.)  


‘I think my body was better after I had a child, actually,’ she says. ‘I prefer my body now to what it was like before I had Nikko – although I exercise now and I didn’t then. I remember my mom saying that after you have a baby you get really thin. So you gain all that weight and then you just lose it and keep losing it. You’re breastfeeding and you’re busy and you’re tired… so that helped. That was conveniently timed.’ She laughs heartily. I have a romantic notion that motherhood also gave her an allure that the casting agents couldn’t resist. ‘I don’t know about that,’ she says with a laugh. ‘But I remember during my first season feeling really well received as a model and a mother. When people asked me things, they asked about being a mother; they weren’t asking me about walking down a catwalk. They were real-life things. It was nice.’ To say Muse – with her strong eyebrows, olive skin and light-up-the-room smile – is beautiful is like saying Paul McCartney was once in a band. She is spectacularly so. She is neither one of those blank-canvas models whose regular features can be blended to any look nor unapproachably exotic. Her looks are unusual but possess a heartfelt quality to which other women seem to warm. It’s why she can be both the archangel of high fashion in a Chloé advert and also the beaming, friendly face of Next. Muse’s agent, Amanda Bretherton, says, ‘Arizona has a Grace Kelly feel that transcends different styles and eras in fashion.’  


Beauty, impeccable manners and a willingness to reveal that she spends a lot of time washing her knickers in the sink because she once got a hotel laundry bill of £600 turns out to be a rather intoxicating mix. Clad in black, from her Rag & Bone sweater to her authentic Arizona cowboy boots, she is calm, gracious and unfussy. Shall we put this down to her British heritage? Let’s. While her father is an American art dealer, her mother, a clinical therapist, is English. Her maternal grandmother and aunts and uncles live in London, so she sees a lot more of them these days. Is she an anglophile? ‘Someone just asked me that yesterday and I’d never heard the word before,’ she says. ‘But I do feel very English. I think it’s really helped having grown up with an English mother. I don’t speak another language but I’m very familiar with Europe and I like being half-and-half. It’s been really nice to be the face of Next because it’s such a British label. I’m proud of my British heritage.’ Ask her to name something British that she loves and she comes up with…’Grass! I grew up in the south-west of America and it’s beautiful, but in a rugged, harsh way, so I absolutely love grass.’ Her mother obviously felt the opposite. It was she who came up with the name Arizona. ‘She had just moved to the desert when I was born and they’d finished building a house and everything happened all at once, so perhaps she was a bit overwhelmed!’ Muse says, smiling. ‘I like it now but I used to hate it. It took me a long time to grow into it. It’s a big name for a little girl. They called me Zoe as a child and I guess that was better, but I really didn’t like Arizona.’  

Santa Fe

She misses the mountains of Santa Fe where, as a tall, gangly teenager (‘I hunched, dug my feet into the sand, anything to be shorter’), she rode horses, camped in the desert and led an outdoorsy existence (her younger brother is a professional snowboarder). ‘It’s so beautiful. I love it there. I’d love to live there again, but later, not now,’ she adds hastily. I don’t think the fashion world would tolerate any such move. There is too much expected of her. When we meet she has a stint of international fashion collections ahead of her; by the end she’d been in 26 shows. ‘I’m trying to prepare and think about what is going to keep me going through this next season of shows,’ she says. ‘It’s kind of scary to think about it. It’s a whole day after day after day and sometimes fittings until 3am, and then seven o’clock call times.’ Does she have to stay healthy and watch what she eats? ‘Yeah. It would be really nice if there was healthy food everywhere, but there isn’t.’ She shrugs. ‘In Paris there’s… bread. You don’t get to choose because you’re staying in hotels; you don’t know when you’re going to eat next. That’s the tricky part. By the end of fashion week we’re all looking forward to sitting at a proper table with a knife and a fork and a plate, not just snacks and finger food at random times.’ For 18 months her life has been lived at breakneck speed. ‘It hasn’t stopped and it’s not going to either, if I have anything to do with it. I want to keep going,’ she says, her mouth pursing with determination. What’s the drive? ‘I don’t think I have an ultimate goal. I don’t think by next January I want to do this or that. But an immediate goal is that I want to buy an apartment. I would roll around and kiss the floor. I mean I would feel so good if I owned my own apartment,’ she says. ‘It would be a solid achievement: I have done this.’  


Colour’s in vogue for models of diversity. THE face of fashion is slowly changing, with models of colour increasingly elbowing their way through the rail-thin ranks of pale-skinned blondes and brunettes. The latest issue of Vogue Australia features Puerto Rican Joan Smalls on the cover and a fashion editorial with Melbourne model Shanina Shaik, of Pakistani, Saudi Arabian and Lithuanian heritage. Smalls is the first model of colour featured on Vogue Australia‘s cover since Samantha Harris, who is Aboriginal, in June 2010. “Joan is the No 2 model in the world rankings, after Lara Stone, so she’s clearly hot,” said Kirstie Clements, editor-in-chief of Vogue Australia. “We had also shot Shanina, who is a star on the rise, so we put them in the same issue to make a general statement about model diversity. We had noticed that the catwalks feature more women of different ethnic backgrounds – Chinese, African, Indian – than ever before.” It’s a trend partly driven by luxury brands as they push into growing markets such as China and India. Smalls and Chinese model Liu Wen are brand ambassadors for Estee Lauder. The spring-summer global campaign for Emporio Armani starred China’s Wang Xiao and Japan’s Tao Okamoto. Shaik, who is following in the footsteps of Sarah Murdoch and Miranda Kerr by modelling for Bonds, said she was proud to represent a new image of Australian beauty. “I’ve had plenty of opportunities to work overseas,” said Shaik, who appeared on the Paris runway for Stella McCartney last month. “It’s really nice to be able to work at home.”  

Hair fashion

Gray hair’s in fashion, but what about at work? Gray heads have been popping up on runways and red carpets, on models and young celebrities for months. There’s Lady Gaga and Kelly Osbourne — via dye — and Hollywood royalty like Helen Mirren, the Oscar-winning British actress. Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund chief, is one of the most powerful women in the world, and she keeps her hair gray. So does Essie Weingarten, founder and now creative director of the nail polish company Essie Cosmetics. For regular working women, it’s a trickier issue. “I don’t think a woman in the workplace is going to follow that trend,” David Scher, a civil rights attorney in Washington, said with a laugh. “I think women in the workplace are highly pressured to look young. If I were an older working person, the last thing I would do is go gray.” Yes, he’s a man, and at 44 he has virtually no salt in his hair, but he wasn’t alone in issuing a warning against workplace gray for women. “While the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 was created to protect employees 40 years of age and older, some men and women may still encounter ageism in the workplace,” said Stephanie Martinez Kluga, a manager for Insperity, a San Antonio-based company that provides human resources services to small and medium-size businesses. “The long-standing perception that men with gray hair are experienced and women with gray hair are simply old may still be an issue that affects employees in workplaces across the US,” she said. Some of today’s new gray panthers also offer strong words of caution. Anne Kreamer is gray and proud, but she didn’t unleash the color until she left her day job to become self-employed. She dedicates an entire chapter of her 2007 book “Going Gray” to workplace issues. “We only fool ourselves about how young we look with our dyed hair,” said the Harvard-educated Kreamer, a former Nickelodeon executive who helped launch the satirical magazine Spy. When it comes to gray on the job, Kreamer said, context counts. The color might be easier in academia over high-tech, for instance, and in Minneapolis over Los Angeles. Job description and your rung on the ladder might also be in play. In 1950, 7 percent of women dyed their hair, Kreamer said. Today, it’s closer to 95 percent or more, depending on geographic location. In the ‘60s, easy, affordable hair dye in a box hit store shelves. “When women were going to work, it was like they could reinvent themselves and say, ‘I’m no house frau anymore.’ Hair dye got kind of linked in there and we never looked back,” said Kreamer, who went prematurely gray and colored for 25 years. “It’s still very complicated.” Sandra Rawline, 52, in Houston knows how complicated it can be. A trial is scheduled for June in her federal lawsuit accusing her boss at Capital Title of Texas of ordering her to dye her gray hair in 2009, when her office moved to a swankier part of town. The suit accuses him of instructing her to wear “younger, fancier suits” and lots of jewelry, according to the Houston Chronicle. Rawline, an escrow officer and branch manager, wouldn’t comment for this story. The newspaper said her superior called her lawsuit preposterous. The new “gray movement” doesn’t keep tabs on membership, but blogs like Terri Holley’s Going Gray are proliferating, along with pro-gray Facebook fan pages and Twitter feeds. “Society has boxed in women on what’s considered to be beautiful, and this defies how we’re supposed to look,” Holley said. “People say, ‘I’m so glad I found you. I’m so glad we’re having this conversation.’“ Dana King, 53, started going gray in her 20s, began dyeing in her 30s and went to work for San Francisco’s KPIX in 1997, rising to news anchor. In January 2010, she first approached her general manager, a man whom she had known for a decade, about her giving up the dye. “He didn’t like the idea at all and he asked me not to do it,” King said. Soon after, she did it anyway, with the comfort of a no-cut contract good to May 2013. After sharing her hair story on-air, King was deluged with e-mails from viewers, including many women who colored and some who worried she had fallen ill. “The response was overwhelmingly positive,” King said. “They said it was a relief for them, that they could see someone that made it OK to be gray.” King knows her road to gray wouldn’t have gone so well had she been a TV news star elsewhere. “I work in a youth-oriented industry and I’m not an idiot,” she said. “This is not Miami. This is not Los Angeles. I would have been fired had I worked in some other markets. I can’t get a job anywhere else, I don’t think. I have no illusions about what I’ve done, and I’m good with that.”  

Naomi Preizler

Watch model and artist Naomi Preizler create a self-portrait The Telegraph met up with model and artist Naomi Preizler to watch first hand one of her artistic creations. While most models spend the oodles of spare time backstage at fashion week shows attached to their phones, catching up with friends or napping, Argentinean model Naomi Preizler uses it to draw her surroundings. The 21-year-old has built up quite a name for herself with her self portraits and quick drawings of models backstage, which have been featured on, in Harper’s Bazaar Argentina, in the Telegraph’s very own Stella magazine and to illustrate the Harvey Nichols spring/summer 2012 look book – to name but a few. Preizler is drawn to the beautiful clothes and girls that surround her, and after her in-the-moment sketches, usually adds vibrant colours that leap off the page. While her sketches started as secret drawings of fellow models waiting at castings and backstage at shows (they often are sitting around for hours at a time) Naomi now gets girls approaching her and requesting she draws them. Even Jean Paul Gaultier owns a Naomi Preizler original that she drew of him and Beth Ditto at the finale of his spring/summer 2011 show. The Telegraph met up with Naomi during the autumn winter 2012 shows in a spacious loft in Brooklyn, New York, to talk about her love of art and to witness one of her speedy self portraits.  


Israel unlikely pacesetter in war on anorexic models. Israel does not negotiate with anorexics. Last week, that nation became the first country in this woefully food-confused world to ban too-skinny men and women from working as fashion models.You want to walk the runway or pose for the camera in Tel Aviv?You need a body mass index of at least 18.5. (That’s still pretty bony.)About half the models in Israel will have to fatten up or find employment as something more appropriate to their size– human hat stands, maybe.Sadly, such an isolated move carries little weight.There are only 300 working models in Israel, our global village providing the majority of images bombarding that and every culture. An estimated 70 million people on the planet suffer from some kind of eating disorder–and that’s not counting the hundreds of millions who are starving to death because they don’t have enough food.While primarily an affliction of adolescent and young women, eating disorders affect at least one million men and boys in the United States.Anorexia, bulimia and related conditions have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses.People are dying in great numbers, partly in pursuit of unrealistic and even unattainable body images created by the irresponsible partnership of the fashion and media industries. To suggest unhealthy media images of human beauty are the only cause of eating disorders is akin to saying smoking is the single cause of cancer.That acknowledged, those waif-like creatures with their wide, sunken eyes and razor-sharp cheekbones staring at you from the magazine rack–they are indisputably poster children of the disease.Laws are required to protect both the men and women who work in the fashion industry and the billions of people who are subject to its influence.Israel has provided the example and it’s a simple one.In order to work as a model you need to prove you are sufficiently nourished to support major organ function.Get a doctor’s note . . . and a sandwich. With a modicum of political will it is possible to give our children and ourselves a more beautiful idea of beauty.It is a no-cost strategy with the potential for a huge impact on public health.  

Fashion show

Clinton Mayor models in fashion show. On Saturday morning, March 31, Addicted Jeans Store hosted a “Spring Garden Party” with a fashion show featuring Clinton Mayor Janice Kovach as a model. The Garden Party started at 9:30 a.m. and lasted until noon. Mayor Kovach, a customer of Mary’s and Addicted Jeans Store for many years, enthusiastically agreed to model when asked. The fashion show had a romantic theme, and displayed new arrivals from April Cornell, Betsey Johnson, Jessica McClintock, and Samuel Dong. The models, along with Mayor Kovach, were Irma Tornebenne of Clinton, Lorra Barile of Annandale, Isabelle Stein of Annandale and Mary Kayler, the “Mary” of Mary’s, of Clinton, descended from the decorated staircase to an audience seated in the front Garden Party room. The fashion show was commentated by Annie Rossi, producer of the event. All guests were given the opportunity to shop the store afterwards, with a special guest discount of 15% off items from April Cornell, Samuel Dong, Betsey Johnson, or Jessica McClintock, the designer brands showcased in the fashion show. The looks featured ranged from formal elegance to casual elegance. “I would have never thought of wearing this, but I love it on me!” Kovach remarked after trying the first April Cornell dress she modeled in the show. Mimosas, orange juice, coffee and a muffin buffet were enjoyed by the Garden Party guests. The fashion displayed was suitable for events such as weddings, spring event celebrations, dress rehearsal dinners, bridal showers, sweet sixteens, bar/bat mitzvahs, prom, graduation, and other spring occasions. “Mayor Kovach did a fabulous job, she is a beautiful person in every way,” Annie Rossi, Owner of Addicted Jeans Store.  

Anastasia Gura

TANZANIAN fashion model, Anastasia Gura, has been selected to showcase attires created by renowned designer, Olive Randle after impressing in the build up to the South Africa Fashion Week. Anastasia is among fashion models and designers representing Tanzania in the event and she is making her maiden appearance in the major continental fashion show. She won the opportunity after winning the spurs of Randle, who discovered the Tanzanian model’s potential when she was trying out some of the attires in preparation for the event. Most of the models, including the ones based in South Africa, have not had the chance to showcase attires created by Randle despite having participated in various fashion events. And the models, in most cases, win the chances because of their experience in the field but for Anastasia, it has been a completely different case considering that she had never had the opportunity to take the stage and showcase attires previously. One of the South Africa Fashion Week organizers, Savana Erasmo, said she was simply impressed by Anastasia’s qualities when she saw the latter for the first time as the Tanzanian was trying out different garments in the changing room, although there were many others in the room. Apart from Anastasia, there were other models from Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe and several other countries outside the continent. Anastasia, for that matter, became the first Tanzanian to win selection and eventually showcase the attires by Randle and the Tanzanian model took the stage yesterday in her first ever experience at the international stage. Anastasia and three other Tanzanian models were selected by South Africa-based Tanzanian modeling guru, Millen Magese, to participate in the South Africa Fashion Week. The opportunity to showcase Randle’s creations, thus, has become a step in the right direction for Anastasia. Commenting on Anastasia’s achievement, Millen said it has signalled a good start for the Tanzanian models. Other Tanzanian models participating in the event are twins, Victoria and Victor Casmir and Boniface Chizi while fashion designers are Doreen Noni, Jamila Vera Swai and Evelyn Rugemalira.  

Miuccia Prada

Miuccia Prada collection has some basic building blocks: cropped pants worn either under a long skirt, with a short jacket, an empire-waisted long coat or sleeveless vest for a layered look. Details make the difference. Elegant black combinations were the backbone of the collection. Some long coats featured tails, a look Prada launched for men last month. Oversized beads ringed pant hemlines, decorated the bodice like so many brooches, or created a vertical pattern down the skirt. The empire waist of the jackets and dresses provide a flattering silhouette. Even with the heavily layered look, Prada’s lines remain impeccably clean — both ethnic and elegant. After the introduction in black, Prada exploded with brocade prints recalling hip 1960s upholstery in bright orange, pink, green and purple. Long printed coats dipping below the knee and belted high with a jeweled buckle were paired with cropped pants, the better to show off the comfortable flat Mary Janes with bright rubber soles — an antidote to the super-high-heeled strapped pumps. Prada brought back the pant suit, a look which is popping up all over Milan, but she also sometimes paired complementary prints, say a purple and red hexagon vest over brown and black diamond pants, leaving lots of room for the Prada woman to mix and match. A fiesta of bags accessorized the look, including Prada favorites from doctor bags to tiny cell phone-sized evening purses. Models wore dark eye makeup, and long hair extensions often in contrasting colors.  


There’s something of a Nordic warrior in Fendi womenswear collection for next fall and winter. Fresh from the hunt, the Fendi woman is draped in fur — sometimes in bright warpath yellow, more often in earth tones — or clad in leather, crocodile, or eel. Her accessories, from thick belts that double-cinch to oversized collars, create an armored look, tough and resilient. Many of the clothes were stiff and deconstructed, but not without feminine touches like pleated skirts and puffy sleeves. Silvia Fendi Venturini, who collaborates with Karl Lagerfeld, called the collection “strong, sweet and soft.” The collection’s accents were both old-fashioned and modern. A violet blue tailored woolen coat featured balloon shoulders that finished in long sleeves, while two-toned Victorian tie or button-up ankle boots, worn with ripped tights, completed most outfits. To keep it contemporary, there also were square IPad cases carried by handles. Leather gave the collection its toughness, but that wasn’t the final word. Leather dresses or skirts were cut out to allow a lightweight pleated skirt to sway alluringly. Fur was not only shaggy and voluminous, screaming for attention in multicolor, but also light and wispy. A fitted Shearling dress had wisps of fur at the shoulders, while a straight dress featured a ring of fur around the hips. Colors were mostly earthy brown, black and blue with some crimson, mustard and peacock. Models wore double braids, white eye shadow and partially rimmed cat glasses.  

Max Mara

Max Mara Max Mara meets Lili Marlene could be the title for the latest womenswear signature collection from the fashion group known for its fashionable yet easy-to-wear styles. The theme for next winter is without a doubt military, as epitomized by the army cap that appeared throughout the show, and the Khaki green palette. Military coats, duffle coats and toggle sweaters all combine to make up a bold collection for a woman who likes to be in control, and at the same time dares to be different. Leather and alligator print inserts in a dropped waist and leather half-belts accentuate the military feel of the collection. But the latter-day Lili is as much at ease in her fatigue pants gathered at the hem like a parachute as she is in her tailored shorts worn under a long sheepskin coat. Classic Max Mara styles such as the camel coat are given a new twist when fashioned into a power jumpsuit. For a night at the officers club, she wears a sailor-striped jumpsuit highlighted with Art Deco tassels, but never lets go of her hat. Here black and white join the army shades. Fabrics make all the difference. Far from military wool felt, these uniforms are made out of angora, patterned knits and a whole range of soft leathers and wool fabrics. Footwear could hardly be anything but booties with an aggressive heel, but an occasional Mary Jane in silver mirrored leather softens the look. Leg and arm warmers accompany many outfits, a trend that seems to be making a comeback on the Milan preview runway.  


Blugirl Whether cheerleader or Siberian siren Anna Molinari’s girl will have a vast wardrobe to chose from next winter, according to the designer’s latest Blugirl collection. By day, she is on campus cheering on the local football team, in a bright argyle knit skating skirt, oversized sweater and red duffel coat. By night, she morphs into an icy vixen in a white beaded chiffon gown with Mongolian fur moon boots and matching fur hat. In between she’s the life of the cocktail party in combinations of candy colored pink, yellow and green pastels. Her dress is fashioned out of fur, her gloves sparkle with sequins and her two tone high-heeled pastel lace-ups could be the envy of Mary Poppins. Musts in the Blugirl winter wardrobe are cozy knit leg warmers (a favorite on the current Milan runway), furry ear muffs and a pair of fingerless gloves — a reminder that designer Molinari’s first thought is fashion not frost.  


Men add a dash of color to their spring wardrobes. While some indicators say the economy may be improving, brighter colors in men’s fashion suggest it may not be humming along. “When the economy is raging, the colors are a little darker,” said Bruce Baird, owner of Bruce Baird & Co., a men’s clothing store on Broad Street. The brighter colors, he said, will be evident in sportswear, including “tons of plaids and ginghams,” and in accent colors in dressier clothing. For example, Baird said, “the big accent colors in ties are going to be bright- and soft-pink, light- and dark-purple, and seafoam/jade green.” The styles include a variety of paisleys and stripes, he said. “It’s one of the prettiest seasons for ties in several years,” he said. The pairing of suits and color in Frank Muytjen’s spring collection for J. Crew has been called “stripes and brights.” “It is this creative process of mixing colors, fabrics and shapes which keeps it refreshing,” the designer said in an interview with Men’s Health magazine. Baird said the epitome of dressing stylishly for men is still a suit and tie. Among suits, he said, “stripes, period” are in vogue because they always appear dressy. But he acknowledged many people aren’t dressing as often in suits. Since some men want their style to be “over the top,” many men have opted for French cuffs, Baird said. Shirts with French cuffs, or double cuffs, have twice as much material at the end of the sleeve and are folded back. Traditionally, they have been the choice for formal, semiformal or black-tie events. “They’re making a big resurgence,” Baird said. “Now, you can even wear them with jeans with the shirttail out.” Sport coats also are getting a workout with the trend for men to opt not to dress in a suit and tie. They’re fashionable with and without ties, Baird said. They can “be worn dressed up or with khakis or jeans” in order “to get the most money out of your clothing,” he said. Khaki pants remain a staple of a man’s wardrobe, he said.  


Fashion Report: Designers turn to a soft shade of green. Though Margarita, a soft shade of green, fell short of being named Pantone’s 2012 Color of the Year (top honors went to Tangerine Tango), it still nabbed a coveted spot on the color forecasting company’s Top 10 list of best colors for spring. Designers including Marc Jacobs, Tory Burch, Vera Wang, Yves Saint Laurent and Rachel Roy have incorporated shades of greens into their latest spring and summer designs. Katherine Burger, owner of K Boutique on North Market Street, said she’s seeing a lot of green in the merchandise her clothing store carries. Mint is “huge” for spring, she said, with the hue appearing in “fabrics, clothes, bags, accessories and shoes.” That’s good news to Chattanoogan Bonnie Cope, 51, who said green is her best color. “As a redhead, I have avoided lots of colors such as pinks and reds, but green has always been a favorite color for me,” Cope said. “I like the strong greens like forest, olive or emerald. These shades help my red hair stand out.” Former Miss Black Tennessee USA and fashion model Lorean Mays, 28, said green looks good on everyone. “There are flattering shades for every ethnicity,” she said. “The different shades of olive, mint, seafoam and kelly are my favorite.” Mays also likes green eyeshadow and recently purchased Lancome’s Mint Jolie palette of five shades (Dillard’s, $49.50). “It gives my brown eyes a pop and complements my chocolate skin,” she said. Green eyeshadows are one of the must-have cosmetics this season, said Darin Wright, owner of Elea Blake cosmetic store on Frazier Avenue. “The enjoyment of color peaks when the trend sways to feature the color,” she said. “Most people are not fashion trendsetters; they are fashion followers. When the trends hit the stores and are in front of us in many different mediums — clothing, home fashions, paint, advertising — we become comfortable with the trend and adopt it.” Fingernails and toenails are going green, too. According to, look for green polishes that have creamy undertones and lots of opacity. You want the color to stand out on your nails, the website reports. “I’m an OPI fan, and I recommend the ‘Thanks A Windmillion’ from the spring/summer Holland collection,” Mays said. “It’s a beautiful mint green with a little spunk — great for spring and summer.”  


Beyonce stepped out in New York today and offered a timely reminder that fashion is not always our friend.The 30-year-old is one of the sexiest women in the world – she has incendiary body, an incredible smile, impossibly luxuriant hair and that most elusive quality, a sparky personality. So if she doesn’t look good in three of this season’s key trends, there is no hope for any of us.Purveyor of the staggering heel and the tiny bottom-skimming sequinned mini, it’s almost a travesty to see Beyonce swamped in boyfriend style printed chinos. Both this style and crazy prints are on point this season, and there can’t be many patterns wackier than this black and white cartoon characters in lingerie affair. They’re difficult trousers to wear, but with a pair of the aforementioned heels, might’ve worked. The boyfriend blazer, too, would look fine, sharp even, over a pretty fitted dress. But the superstar has paired the masculine items with loafers, again, super-fashionable for women to wear this season, but still a mannish style. Stylish: A helper moves a new crib for Blue last weekThe whole look fails, but Beyonce is of course, slightly more concerned with looking after her four-month-old baby, Blue Ivy. And the loafers do offered a smart alternative to the flash heel, without resorting to the ubiquitous ballet pump. Mother and daughter were out and about to check out yet more furniture stores. The Superstar couple are said to have splashed out on items – to outfit THREE nurseries in their various homes – including a solid gold rocking horse and a diamante-encrusted high chair among a list of extravagant goods for their baby.With an alleged £240,000 alone dropped on the special bedrooms for the baby.A source told Star magazine: ‘Together they’ve bought a Swarovski-studded high chair by Carla Monchen for £10,000, and a Fantasy ‘posh tots’ coach carriage crib for £30,000.‘Jay-Z bought Beyonce a solid gold handmade Ginza Tanaka rocking horse for £400,000.‘They’ve even splashed out on a £20,000 magical windmill playhouse for the garden and a mini Bugatti car, too.’  

Cheryl Cole

She is a slim size 8 and could hardly be called overweight.But Cheryl Cole has revealed that she keeps different sizes of jeans in her wardrobe because her weight goes up and down.‘I’m like any other woman, my weight fluctuates,’ she said. ‘I have a pair of jeans one size bigger than the other just in case that week I’m a little bit heavier. I work out and try to make healthy choices.’ The 28-year-old singer, whose weight has been the matter of much discussion over the years, had to put on the pounds after battling malaria in 2010 while visiting Tanzania and dropping to a gaunt size 6. Asked about diets, she told Marie Claire magazine: ‘I try to avoid them like the plague. That can get you into a vicious circle. I did when I was younger.’ She revealed that she was sent into a panic over her weight when she found fame with Girls Aloud in 2002 after winning ITV talent show Popstars: The Rivals. ‘When I first got in the band I remember the first mean story I read  where newspapers called us “Pork Stars” – because the show was called Pop Stars: The Rivals. We were all fat… we were all fat! Not fat, chubby. ‘And Louis Walsh had come out publicly and said, “They’re all fat. They all need to lose weight.” And the record label sent us all to have training.’ When asked if ‘training’ meant ‘fat camp’, she replied: ‘Probably, but we were just thinking they were doing us a favour at the time. We were so deluded.’The singer said she ‘just ate everything’ after her brush with malaria, and has previously spoken about how being ill changed her priorities. ‘It’s now less about work, work, work and more about making time to chill and be with my friends and family,’ she said. The star also confessed to a crush on Prince Harry. ‘I love Prince Harry,’ she said.’Actually, I had a dream last night I married Prince Harry and was a real-life princess! It’s true.’  

Jennifer Lopez

You’d really think the Bennifer disaster would have taught her a lesson. Jennifer Lopez was never more unpopular or lampooned than in the aftermath of her nauseating 2002 video for Jenny from the Block which co-starred her then boyfriend Ben Affleck. The pair were shown cavorting on a yacht, with the Academy Award winning actor nuzzling into J-Lo’s bikini clad body and untying the hot pink top. Now married to Jennifer Garner with three little ones, Affleck – who was engaged to marry the Latino singer – says he regrets doing the video. And you’d think that maybe Lopez,42, would too, but apparently that’s not the case. In fact, she’s gone and done it again, this time a little more desperately with toyboy Casper Smart,24, in the video to accompany her new single Dance Again. You’ll have to wait until Thursday’s American Idol to see how much in love and lust the couple want you to know they are, but ever benevolent, Lopez has released some teaser shots. What’s odd is that the pair have been coy about their relationship in public.If you were cynical, you might think that Lopez was building interest to a pique for this musical release… but that would be very cynical.In the video, Casper is seen shirtless and blindfolded, with the words ‘Love is blind’ written across the black cloth.Going from the lyrics, we can expect a lascivious feast – J-Lo sings: ‘Nobody knows what i’m feeling inside, I find it so stupid, So why should I hide, That I love to make love to you baby (yeah make love to me)’The Dance Again single is available on ITunes today. Smart, who is usually in the audience during American Idol, has been photographed with Lopez everywhere from Miami Beach to Brazil. ‘There is a lot of love between [them], he treats her like a queen,’ People magazine reported.  


A Russian girl’s road trip through hell In “Cargo,” which comes to New York this month, Russian director Yan Vizinberg exposes the sex trafficking trade and still finds room for redemption.In the compelling scene from the independent film, “Cargo,” the protagonist, Natasha, is bound with silver duct tape to the front passenger seat in a filthy van–after spending at least 24 hours in a small cell in the back. The viewer has already endured Natasha’s ordeal as a prisoner of traffickers, and seen her beaten and humiliated on her brutal journey from the Mexican border to Brooklyn. She fought back every step, and created enough of a ruckus in her cell that the driver, an Egyptian transporter named Sayed (Sayed Badreya) has put her in the front. She plaintively begs him for her freedom, recalling that all she ever wanted was for her friends and family to see her on TV, or in film, and be proud: “Wow, there is Russian women Natasha from Irkutsk.” “Cargo” is a dark road trip and ultimately, a story of redemption, but it offers up a wrenching portrait of human trafficking in the United States along the way. According to the filmmakers, 17,500 women are trafficked into the United States each year. Hundreds of thousands of young men and women are virtual sexual slaves behind our streets. “Cargo” is a product of New-York based Persona Films and was co-produced by Chris Cooper, whose documentary, “Living in Emergency,” about the group Doctors without Borders, was nominated for an Academy Award last year. His partner, Abigail Honor, produced the documentary “Saints and Sinners,” about gay Catholics struggling to be faithful.  

Russian women

Russian dynamo claims gold at Skate Canada She’s tiny, a Russian upstart, a prodigy, a marvel and very very young. Elizaveta Tuktamisheva of Russia took a wild big step into the international spotlight on Saturday when she won the gold medal at the Skate Canada in only her first appearance at a senior international event. Battling a nine-hour time difference from home and admitting to a bit of jet lag, Russian women Tuktamisheva’s youth overcame all, apparently, admitting to a tiny bit of nerves, but you wouldn’t know it. She recognizes there is pressure at home to excel before the Sochi Olympics, looming in 2014, and there is pressure on her for her already stellar career as a junior international skater. But Russian women Tuktamisheva says she just doesn’t think about it, hides any knee-knocking and charges on. She steps up to a microphone like an old pro. She speaks English rather well. “Even if I am nervous, I try to hide it. I want to stay calm and approach everything in a calm way. Russian women Tuktamisheva won the gold medal with 177.38 points, about five points more than veteran Akiko Suzuki, who is 12 years her senior. Taking the bronze medal, well back with 165.48 points was Ashley Wagner of the United States, a 20-year-old. Russian women Tuktamisheva didn’t win the free skate, though, finishing second to Suzuki’s mature routine to the Die Fledermaus Overture. Canadian skaters, Amelie Lacoste finished sixth of 10 skaters, showing off a new expressiveness, but not quite pulling off the technical content; Canadian champion Cynthia Phaneuf was seventh with a fall on a triple loop, a step out of a double Axel, and a few scalebacks of jumps. Phaneuf was coming off an overuse injury to her right hip, and only began training again a week before the competition. She did accomplish one of her goals, to put the pesky triple Lutz as her very first element in the program, just to show it could not foil her or destroy her. She landed it. Adrianna deSanctis finished ninth, ahead of former U.S. champion Rachel Flatt, who is overcoming so much, a stress fracture that she competed with at the world championships, and her work at university. She has a midterm exam in calculus on Tuesday. The women’s event is always a bit of a scramble, it seems, except for Russian women Tuktamisheva, too young to know failure. Russian women Tuktamisheva won the technical mark as expected, especially after she tossed off a triple Lutz – triple top loop combination with ease, the most difficult triple-triple combination of the event. But she lost on presentation marks, with the third best behind Suzuki and Wagner. It’s not surprising. She skated her entire routine in the middle portion of the ice surface – never made to the ends. One bold judge – probably correctly – gave her only a 4.75 out of 10 for choreography, the part of choreography covered by ice coverage. While few would disagree that it’s exciting to watch a precocious youngster, not everybody was convinced that she is a senior skater, style-wise. Some said she still looked like a junior skater. .”In this competition, we have a little girl who has very tiny legs and she can rotate like a bat out of hell,” said Frank Carroll, coach of Mirai Nagasu, who finished fifth. “She’s doing triple-triples like nothing while these other girls are more mature and struggling with it.” But Carroll, known as the coach of Michelle Kwan, watched Tuktamisheva practice on Saturday and found her routine to latin music very junior-level, with ‘no maturity, looking like she should be in a novice or junior program, executing these wonderful jumps, but lacking what the other girls have to offer,” he said. He said if the judges scored her correctly, they would give her high technical marks, but should be scored at six or seven for the presentation marks. Many judges gave her marks far higher than that, with some as high as 7.75.One gave her a 8.25 for performance and didn’t give her a mark lower than seven (out of 10). Tuktamisheva will have to learn to skate much more like a woman, with maturity, he said. “The movement is so immature right now,” Carroll said. He’d like to use the word “childish” but feels it’s too harsh. On the other hand, John Nicks, the 84-year-old coach of Wagner, said he was more than pleased that his skater fell off the edge of a triple Lutz, and then came back and did three triples afterwards. That’s the mark, he said, of a mature skater, who has learned how to overcome adversity. Tuktamisheva may turn out to be a marvelous skater, come time, Carroll said. He can remember Kwan being the same way when she first burst upon the scene as a 14-year-old, and “completely lacking the concept of how to be a mature skater, but having what this little girl has,” Kwan became known as the queen of mature skating as her career evolved. “So let’s she if she can become a Michelle Kwan,” Carroll said. Carroll says women’s skating is hampered by the new judging system, which requires them to build up points with countless elements, giving them no time to explore the artistic side of skating, “the long sweeping graceful moves,” .The programs are crammed with content, and the spins are convoluted, he said. “The sport has become much more complicated, maybe too complicated for the women,” Carroll said.  

Russian girls

Russian bear getting its growl back Elizaveta Tuktamisheva was a precocious Russian girls who astonished coaches in her hometown in central Russia when, at age 10, she could land any jump with three rotations. Russian girls was a prodigy for sure. Now, still only 14, she is trying senior international competition for the first time – and it’s going well. On Friday, she won the women’s short program at Skate Canada International, about five points ahead of three more experienced American girls. The Americans are all talking about taking baby steps to get to their best. The stylish little Russian girls Tuktamisheva is taking giant steps, with the Sochi Olympics in her sights. A year and a half ago, the Russians left the Vancouver Olympics with far fewer medals than usual, and with no gold at all in figure skating. With the Sochi Olympics looming closer in 2014, the Russians are turning things around – quickly. “At the last Olympics, they were just really skunked,” said Louis Stong, a consultant for Skate Canada who conducted a seminar in Frankfurt, Germany, early this year about world-wide skating development. “But they’re hustling now. It takes a lot of money. But they are very focused and they are focused on Sochi.” Nina Mozer, coach of the exciting new Russian pair team of Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, the current world silver medalists in only their first year together, said she believes Russia will be able to turn things around for Sochi. The whole system has changed in the past year, she said, noting all coaches with top skaters now have teams of specialists built around them, including medical experts. Stong said the Russians are spending a lot of money to prepare athletes for Sochi, but they are not spending recklessly. The Russians have always been good at selecting promising athletes, and now the country is ensuring those skaters get the help they need to excel as quickly as possible. Good young skaters are given a certain amount of money to use for training. If the skaters get results, then they get more money, Stong said. Results count. Mozer said there is also a new mindset in Russia. At the very least, the competitive fires have been stoked anew with the Sochi Games in sight. And she admits that for many years, Russian coaches and the country’s skating federation ignored the intricacies of the new judging system, which awards marks for every element and for various aspects of presentation. Now they have realized that they can’t continue to do so. “Other countries went forward [with the new judging system] and we were still working as if the old system was in place,” she said. “At first we didn’t take the new system very seriously. But then once we realized that the new system is going to be there, forever, we started to catch up.” Now Russia has very able young athletes who have grown up with the new system, with the strength coming mostly in the women and ice dancing disciplines. Russia’s pair skaters have also begun to pick up steam, and at the top level, there are six pairs fighting for spots on the European and world championship teams this year. Only the men lag behind. Mozer said many young men were discouraged over the years, with Olympic champions Alexei Yagudin and Evgeny Plushenko dominating the sport for so long. During junior grand prix events this season, Stong saw another young Russian woman, Julia Lipintshaia, win a short program by 10 points. She’s the top qualifier for the junior grand prix final, and will go there with two other Russian girls. Three of the six dance teams that have qualified are Russian, as well. “When you look at their feet, there is not a waver,” Stong said. “They do it either through selection or through terrific training. They do a lot of work on the actual ankle development and the ability to use the ankles and the toes. Toes are turned right out and pointed. The ankle flexes like crazy. I think they work a lot on their skating skills.” It was no surprise that Volosozhar and Trankov of Russia – Mozer’s team – won the pair short program on Friday at Skate Canada with 70.42 points. Stong said their skating skills are top notch. Stong said he has no idea what will happen in Sochi. The Russian strategy will be to have as large a resource as possible to choose from. But if the junior-level skaters are going to be a factor, they will have to be doing well at the senior level by 2013. “The Russians have always been good at getting ready for the Olympics,” he said. “With the exception of the last one.”  

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Passionate, hot women on free dating – a dream of every man, and yet such a lady, even with a large sexual appetite could well bring his partner to complete impotence. It is about nymphomania. Cases where a woman every minute of thinking only about sex and was ready to surrender to the first comer, known since ancient times. Doctors consider such an abnormal sexual attraction to the illness or blame mental or endocrine disorders. True, nymphomaniacs still less than the mythical inhabitants of forests, whose name gave the name of the disease – two and a half thousand Russian brides, only one  dating- a real nymphomaniac  on 100%  free dating. Men often use this term to refer to sexual promiscuity in the behavior of women and are not even aware that men similar disease gets its name from a different mythological character – Satire. Legends tell us that a woman at least once slept with an insatiable satyr, then could not meet a single man. Hormones in men giperstrastnyh after intercourse immediately restored, but because they are again ready to love challenges. Modern Satire is ready to copulate for hours on end. Here’s what else they write about women’s magazines nymphomaniacs: Nympho can not resist the call of nature and given to anyone. It can attract anyone, regardless of physical appearance or gender. She may want the boy and the old man. Perhaps it is the main feature of the nymphomaniac from the usual passionate woman. Nymphomania – not just obsessed with sex on free dating, a disease that now prefer to treat rather than ride. Call someone nymphomaniac no apparent reason you should not, and besides, the nymphs are different. Some people love the music and sunshine, while others only think about orgasm. Incidentally, with regard to orgasm – nympho could well have it, but the fault of those same hormones wants it again. Some Russian women can orgasm from a single touch to their genitals, that’s just an orgasm, this did not seem real, because the internal heat had already asked another. Some nymphomaniac like Don Juan leads a list of his amorous conquests, some given for any reward, well, there are those that, in pursuit of new sensations change partners, such as gloves. Nymphomania can be observed in some mental disease or disorder in the brain. In any case, it’s not a whim of a woman, and her punishment and sickness. Disease nymphs …  

adult Ukrainian women

But the main things – do not tune negatively and do not take a hostile all you hear from the partner (partner). To a greater extent this applies to women, as they still are not even aware that they can hear. Most of the fantasies of adult Ukrainian women are only a fantasy; they are not going to implement them. And many secret desires of men are quite specific and they would like to implement them, and, it is with you, his partner. Secret desires of men to adult Ukrainian women may seem trivial, cynical and even obscene. Here is an example of such fantasies: “She pushed the legs in front of me, and I saw a gaping red cave that attracted me. I pulled out my dick, hard as steel, and planted it in a cave for the most eggs!” My dear readers, you shocked? That I am still a literary handled what the dream of many men, but in fact to him, they sometimes use different words, which I just cannot lead. And do not think, dear hot girls, what about such a dream only some “dirty infantile youths who cannot treat a woman. Perhaps you this may seem surprising, but that does not cease to be true – like, as often even more “cool” sexual fantasies, sometimes spiced with unprintable words, the wandering mind of virtually every male. Education, intelligence and social status with have no meaning. Quite is the contrary. The higher the intellectual level of men, the more daring sexual fantasies, he is betrayed, and the greater use of unprintable words, which does not allow himself to normal life. That is it, and excites. Surely you’ve heard the well-known desire of men: “The adult Ukrainian women must be a nun in a normal life and a whore in bed”. This means that during the intimacy a woman should behave in a completely relaxed, allowing the men to realize their most daring sexual fantasies.  

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