Really immersive

Debuts First TV Ad Campaign.

Really immersiveThe e-commerce behemoth will today unveil its first TV ad campaign to support its fast-growing fashion category. The commercial is part of a multipronged campaign centered around spring dresses and follows the news last November that the e-tailer leased a 40,000-square-foot space in Williamsburg, in Brooklyn, N.Y., that will act as a photo studio for Amazon Fashion (which also owns MyHabit and Shopbop).

According to Cathy Beaudoin, president of Amazon Fashion, the e-tailer wants to use TV to “create greater awareness” that Amazon.com is a destination for fashion editorial content, point of view and a large selection of brands. The overall campaign spans TV, print, outdoor, online display and social platforms and ties back to a “really immersive site experience,” she said.

“Because we know our customers are everywhere, consuming media across the board — online, media, print, TV or even two or three at once — we want to be where they are,” Beaudoin said, adding that the same dresses are featured on the site, in print ads and on the 30-second TV spot.

Dennis Leggett, Amazon Fashion’s creative director, worked with Peggy Sirota, who directed the commercial, which will air in select markets during prime-time programming.

“It’s not a traditional storyline where you start at [point] A and end at [point] B. It’s a series of vignettes, and we made sure the brand came through. Because we haven’t been on TV before, a main goal was to make sure the customer knew it was from Amazon,” Leggett told WWD, noting that this was achieved by spelling out the letters throughout the spot, whether the models skated or hula-hooped through them.

Beautiful

Diesel Celebrates Collection with Edun.

BeautifulAFRICAN BEATS: Diesel took over Paris’ Gaîté Lyrique theater on Sunday to launch its 25-piece capsule collection with Edun, the clothing label founded by Ali Hewson and her husband Bono. It is manufactured in Africa with cotton from Uganda.
Bono, wearing Edun pants, said he did not advise his wife on the collection. “Our marriage would end if I advised Ali on design,” the U2 singer said, with a smile. “Unfortunately, this is not an equal equation; she knows a lot more about music than I know about fashion.”

As for cotton, Bono described it as “a beautiful thing. I love to be in the cotton fields.”

Solange Knowles performed her song “Losing You,” while wearing a Diesel dress, Kenzo shoes and assorted jewelry. “I have a little bit of a ring obsession,” she confessed backstage.

Knowles first met with Bono when she was 17. “I was going to Johannesburg,” she explained. “He was part of charity initiative with Nelson Mandela [and] there was a big concert. I sat next to him on the plane between South Africa and Houston. I went there with my sister, who was performing.”

Jessica Alba, sporting Maje knitwear and Céline, said she is going home after the shows to launch her new lifestyle book that includes recipes and organizational tips. It was published by Rodale.

Among other guests were Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Yves Carcelle and Ellen von Unwerth.

The party continued with African singers and dancers’ performances. “I love African music; it carries you away,” said von Unwerth, while snapping photos of the party with her small digital camera. “I was taking African dance lessons when I was young, but I saw myself in the mirror and I stop right away, as it looks totally ridiculous on me.”

Latest star

Beyonce Attacked By Morrissey And Animal Rights Groups Over Fashion Choices.

BeyonceThe ‘Crazy In Love’ star has come under fire from the Vegetarian singer at his recent show in Los Angeles.
Beyonce is the latest star to fall victim to comments from famous vegetarian Morrissey.The 53 year-old singer told the crowd at his recent show in Los Angeles that the Destiny’s Child star’s choice of handbags is leading to the extinction of the rhinos.

The female star’s footwear has also upset animal campaign group PETA after it was revealed some of her footwear has used skin from such animals as snakes and stingrays.

“These custom-made kicks come with a high price – and it’s paid by the various animals who were beaten and skinned alive or cruelly farmed and killed,” a spokesperson for the group told the Daily Mail.

“Although most people aren’t as familiar with the types of animals killed for this single pair of sneakers as they are with the cats and dogs we share our homes with, these animals are highly sensitive living beings who try hard to avoid capture and suffer enormously when trapped, netted, speared and skinned alive.”
PETA added: “We hope that Beyonce will choose to wear more clothes from her own clothing line – which features faux fur – and that one day she’ll go completely cruelty-free.”

The items were made by a company called PMK who insisted that: “No animals were beaten, harmed or killed in the development and crafting of the sneakers.”

Watch a video of Morrissey speaking about Beyonce’s handbags wiping out the rhino below:
“She can always choose the cruelty-free and ‘green’ fashion favoured by compassionate, chic celebrities such as Natalie Portman and Anne Hathaway and designers such as award-winning fashion queen Stella McCartney.”

It’s not the first time PETA have criticised Beyonce this year, after her Super Bowl halftime show outfit was slammed for containing python and iguana skin.

Seasons

303 Day Fashion: Flares.

Skinny jeans have been a fashion focal point for a number of seasons now. And with a number of recognizable retro styles making reappearances—from geometric prints, to cat-eye glasses—flares have also carved out their niche for coming seasons. Not boot-cuts, or a slight bell, but a true flare.

The trick with flares is to make sure that they are cut well. The most flattering flared pant has a fitted leg and then widens from the knee down. The narrowest part of the pant should be the knee and the widest should be the cuff. The flare should be wide enough to cover your shoe—but don’t worry, when they’re cut well and are made of a nice fabric, your shoes will still get plenty of showmanship.

Flares, particularly when paired with tall heals or wedges, have an uncanny ability to make your legs appear longer and thinner. For women with narrow hips, flared pants add a nice bit of curve to an outfit. And for women with hips, flares do a wonderful job of balancing an outfit. They draw attention to the narrowest part of your legs as well as your waist.

Besides the obvious

Besides the obvious—that flares are wildly flattering and stylish—they’re a fun way to vary your everyday wardrobe. Whether you represent the rock n’ roll queens, the chic ladies, or the hippie sisters of the world, flares can be worked into your look.

Flared pants do not need to be limited by your overall sense of style, nor do they need to be limited by color or fabric. Denim, silk, linen, or neutral, bright, and patterned are all viable options. Wear this trend with your own flare.

Flares have been around for quite some time. They come and go as a trend, but they have never truly gone out of style since they first hit the scene. And as very wise woman once said,
When worn properly, flares are a part of enduring style. Dress them up or dress them down, good style is good style. By adding tops that accent the shape of the pant, the look is best achieved. Whether you pair the pants with a long top or a short one, make sure that the top shows off your waist in some capacity (note: this is not an excuse to wear your “little sister’s” shirt—that will never be stylish.) Because your shoulders and the flares represent the widest parts of your outfit, your waist balances the look as the narrower point in between, which compliments your figure.

So if flares are a part of eternal style, they flatter your body and they are a fun way to change up your usual look, why wouldn’t you want to wear them? If you don’t already have a pair or two in your closet, take the time to find a pair that best fits your body and your current sense of style. Incorporate flares into daily style—don’t change your style to accommodate flares.

Hamster

Breaking Free of Fashion’s Hamster Wheel.

HamsterAs I said in a previous post, Alber Elbaz saw the problem of all these fashion shows, running like a hamster wheel, each format virtually the same, and in his own way did something about it. But now I’ve seen Raf Simons’s Dior show, and also Undercover (by the amazing Jun Takahashi), and they all express a similar attitude — which is freedom. It sounds silly to say that of talented and well-paid designers, but there’s a reason you leave their shows feeling good.
Paris Fashion Week

Coverage from in and around the Paris shows.

I’ve seen editors sitting in a trance at shows, often at Prada and Céline, where there is as much an interest in what’s new as in the heart-pounding thought, Can it be mine? But it has been a while since I saw anyone watch a show with a smile on her face, as Ikram Goldman, the Chicago retailer, had during the Undercover show.

The deal between Mr. Takahashi and his audience was very simple. It was: I’m going to show you some interesting things I’ve been working on, and I hope you will like them. Of course, he kept his end of the bargain. The clothes were delightful. Could a less talented designer be so free in his mind? I doubt it.

Big brands are stuck. They have to feed a global market, and that’s why their products not only look similar, they also lack a hands-on quality. That’s why I admire Mr. Elbaz for breaking Lanvin out of a rut. It also has to feel like a victory for him.

Mr. Simons, now in his third season at Dior, also refuses to do the expected. Ready-to-wear sales have been very strong, giving him an incentive to build on his designs. But he also wants to challenge himself. It’s really a personal thing for him, I suspect.

Recently he said: “Maybe it’s not a good moment to shock people, because they won’t be shocked anyway. Maybe it’s not a good moment to please people, because they won’t be pleased all the way.”

One thing his show on Friday established is that he wants many types of women to be interested in Dior. That’s a free state of mind. He smiled. “Suddenly, I’m more patient.”

Trendy contemporary stores

Paris Fashion Week fall 2013: Isabel Marant review.

Take a stroll through any of the trendy contemporary stores in Paris, or L.A. for that matter, and it’s clear that Isabel Marant is the designer everyone is chasing. Her hidden platform high-top sneakers, tweedy cardigan jackets, studded jeans and paisley boho dresses are selling like hotcakes, driving trends and spawning imitations. So naturally, all eyes were on her Friday afternoon when she presented her fall 2013 collection during Paris Fashion Week, to see what she would do next.

The look: Hard and soft. Soft, sometimes sheer knit layers contrasted with silver studs. Cropped shrugs over long-sleeve sweaters over minis edged in studs. Corset-like knit over a sheer long-sleeve crew-neck and all over studded wrap mini skirt slung low on the hips. A boxy jacket decorated with silver hardware. Super skinny scarves (somewhere between a scarf and a necklace, really), covered in studs. And the new boot is a pony hair wedge with Velcro straps. Palette of black and white.

The verdict: Marant seems to be trying to chart new territory away from the boho, denim-based Americana vibe she’s been mining for a few seasons now. These clothes were easygoing and wearable. But the collection as a whole felt more like a first step than a giant leap.

Real

Some Play to the Crowd and Some Are for Real.

1More and more high fashion resembles an extreme sport, the X Games of glamour. Everything is amped-up: furs, glitter, nice Italian tailoring. Even the language wears extra padding.

This was especially true at the Oscar ceremony, where the red carpet is, after all, a marketing arm of the fashion industry. Dior, Prada and Giorgio Armani were the night’s big winners (“We did well,” an Armani executive said before the designer’s show here), but between the frantic commentary of cheerleading pundits and the mad race to wear spectacular fashion, you are less aware of a star’s charm or personality than an empty space on the carpet.

In Milan, because of the sheer number of outfits on a runway and the blinding amount of redundancy, you can see and not see. Dolce & Gabbana showed 75 looks, nearly twice as many as other designers. Half the collection was in the rich red and gold patterns of Catholic icons. The other chunk was in bourgeois-looking tweeds.

But the problem was not that the opposing selves refused to meet, or that the church pieces looked like costumes — some were dazzling. Rather, it was the sense of waste. How many of these garments will be produced? And if only a selection of the runway pieces winds up in stores, what are the many reviewers at the show or online really reviewing?

The public knows that much of fashion is smoke and mirrors. It’s also entertainment and part of the social-media contract, with Twitter feedback increasingly used by companies to decide which styles to push. At Ferragamo, the designs of Massimiliano Giornetti can be generically sophisticated, but you have to give him credit this season for emphasizing sleek coats and a sexy pair of lace-up boots with a semidetached pump. They’re visually grabbing, ideal for digital imagery.

Still

Still

Still, the most arresting fashion has a strong human element. It’s not shamelessly touting brand power. Nor is it all brain, which was the problem with the Jil Sander show and, to a lesser extent, Tomas Maier’s collection for Bottega Veneta. Peter Dundas is a somewhat underrated designer, but his Pucci show was full of unfettered charm. He nicely reprised the house’s 1960s Otto print for silk tunics and blouses, and kept the silhouette short and breezy, using wool shorts and stick-thin suede boots. So far, he’s one of the few fur-friendly designers to think playfully, turning shaved marabou or curly sheepskin into chic fuzz balls.

“Languid is the word,” said Angela Missoni of her deceptively simple collection based around pajama dressing. Well, PJ’s are in the air. They also suggest a longing for a more realistically intimate connection with fashion, and that’s what Ms. Missoni offered with gorgeously soupy coats in cashmere and alpaca knit, silky pants and jackets that appeared to be printed but were in fact knitting bonded with chiffon.

Marni looked as if it had been abducted by Prada mavens. Except for a lighthearted shag coat in autumn-lead shades, the collection was as dark as it was drenched in fur. Maybe the company’s new partner, Renzo Rosso, who was in the front row, will help restore some of the Marni funk.

Mixed

Though black with silvery white was the dominant tone at Armani, and the collection retold the boy-girl theme, there were some good switch-ups. One was the low-slung cut of trousers, mixed in with the more classically elegant Armani tailoring, and another was the everyday use of black velvet. Rather shrewdly, Mr. Armani also stuck to lightweight fabrics, and throughout the collection used a man’s vest in clever ways, glazing it with smoky sequins or violet petals for evening.

Despite misgivings among women about wearing wool (it’s too hot), Mr. Maier made a statement with it at Bottega Veneta. Boiled, bonded or washed, the wool left a dry impression, though it gave him the precise shapes he wanted, especially for belted coats with a ’40s flair and skirts with raised, fluttery pleats.

There were also a few slim black dresses lightly mixed with black duchess satin, and one in black wool twill with a flat knitted bodice set at a slight diagonal. These were more successful, to my eye, than the collaged or pleated numbers.

Ms. Sander’s collection was all about control, and, as her press notes stated, the shapes indeed cut “a regal figure.” She also used the word “incorruptible.” I knew what she meant, from the serene lines of the clothes, but I thought: impenetrable.

Why does control obsess designers? Again, the effort to create rigor seemed another case of extreme thinking, without a drop of emotion. Strangely, she had a gem of that buried in all that minimalist wool — a silky brown coat in beaver that was rough on top and smooth on the bottom. That bewitching piece could have been the starting point for an entire collection.

Fashion

Three fashion bloggers flex their inner Miss Selfridge.

While it is said that too many cooks spoil the broth, one can only expect the exact opposite in fashion, where collaboration is welcome. So when three of the country’s top fashion and style bloggers were invited by Miss Selfridge to style an editorial shoot for their autumn-winter collection, what ensued was creative output that captured the independent spirit of the brand and the vibe of the season.

Patricia Prieto, Tricia Gosingtian and Camille Co each picked their favorite pieces from the brand’s collection of embellished blazers, biker jackets, bodycon dresses, Peter Pan-collar tops, playsuits and feminine skirts to create style capsules that are young, playful and on-trend while still incorporating their unique aesthetics with every look.

Patricia Prieto
It takes so much fashion risk to reconcile an edgy look with sophistication, but Patricia Prieto has achieved both with her European street-style aesthetic. “Style is a form of self-expression. If you want to be edgy, girly, boho or whatever floats your boat, then go for it. You look best as you and not as someone else,” Patricia said.

She gushed over the collection’s jackets and peplum dresses. “I am a sucker for leather jackets, skirts, shorts and all that jazz, and I love how Miss Selfridge comes up with a balance of sophisticated and dressy pieces. I always frequent the store and am impressed with the clothes.”

This season, style icon and fashion blogger Patricia is predicting a full-on military trend with an unconventional twist. “Many will be into the whole camouflage thing, the sneaker wedge trend and lots of rich tones.”

Tricia Gosingtian
From how she describes her personal style (a fashion synthesis between western high-street fashion and Japanese gyaru), Tricia Gosingtian is far from your average fashion plate. “I have a ton of style icons but right now I am loving Ena Matsumoto from EMODA for looking so polished all the time even without wearing anything fancy. I also can relate with Miranda Kerr’s and Olivia Palermo’s street style…very laidback but also modern and chic,” she enthused.

Modeled

A common thread of trendsetters is their knack for experimenting with various looks and with Tricia it’s more of “injecting bits of cuteness or youthfulness in classic pieces,” something she was able to translate while styling for the Miss Selfridge shoot.

“Shooting for Miss Selfridge was so fun since I got to work with two other blogger friends who modeled for and styled it. I love all the shiny, rich colors that are super fitting for the holidays. You can mix and match their pieces with other items to create the most wonderful outfit combinations!” Tricia explained.

Camille Co
While she is evidently having a lot of fun dressing up, Camille Co is also working hard to give her followers something to look forward to every time. “I’m at a stage in my life where I want to keep trying new things and you can see that in how I dress. It’s not always girly or edgy or funky. But no matter what look or style I’m going for, I always make sure to look put-together,” says Camille thoughtfully.

She defines style as “an extension of ourselves.” “It’s like the language we speak, only much more straightforward and personal.”

Collaborating with her friends and fellow bloggers for the Miss Selfridge editorial shoot was a refreshing experience for the designer-blogger-entrepreneur. “It didn’t feel like work at all be-cause I was with friends!” she enthuses.

Camille is partial to the collection’s tweed and leather mixed-material jacket, a versatile piece that can be worn with a dress, shorts and skirts.

Robinsons Specialty Stores, Inc. (RSSI) is the exclusive franchisee of Miss Selfridge in the Philippines. Visit the UK high-street fashion brand in Greenbelt 5.

The place is new

The journey continues.

Change and continuity are two sides of a coin to Vivek Karunakaran, who launches his flagship store in the city

“It’s now or never. It’s a huge leap of faith,” says designer Vivek Karunakaran, before the launch of his flagship store in upmarket Rutland Gate.

The place is new, but the designer doesn’t waver from his aesthetic. You can’t ignore the nonchalant ease of dresses in chocolate-wrapper hues. Or the deep-toned fitted jackets with fierce, youthful tailoring in buttery Italian fabric. As you let your eyes linger on clever colour blocks on versatile shifts, another creation with trompe l’oeil bird print catches your attention. Vivek’s signature accent on form, fabric and subtle flourishes shines through in the new collection as well.

The designer who was operating out of his home studio in Kottivakkam decided to move to central Chennai to give clients “a complete retail experience.” Besides off-the-rack options, he will also offer bespoke. “I’ve stuck to my gorgeous-edgy sensibility for six years. But I’ll be thrilled to design something over-the-top or even incorporate monograms on clients’ requests. A flagship store is a big step forward for me. But I wanted to make the VK label more available and give Chennai-ites something that’s on a par with what’s shown at fashion weeks. I have to do more numbers, increase production and put out something new on the racks every fortnight. It’s a huge creative challenge and it’s time to keep a watchful eye on the commercial pay-offs as well,” he says, looking serious.

The style

The designer who began his journey with the Victorian-inspired “Dark Romance” (debut line at Lakme Fashion Week, 2007), beckoned the style set with his subsequent lines “Urban Vagabond” (Lakme Fashion Week, Winter/Festive, 2010) and “Wanderlust” (that opened this year’s Chennai International Fashion Week). Creative detours came in the form of shows for the Handloom Export Promotion Council and Cotton Council of India.

The latest collection is an extension of the “Wanderlust” theme. It reflects change and continuity. “As far as the aesthetic goes, I’ve only made some subtle tweaks. The only big difference is I’ve moved away from my predictable palette. There are cobalt and vermillion, teal and aubergine, and the fabrics are chiffon, georgette and silk. Known for walking the tightrope between structure and drape, Vivek says, “Garments must be well cut. Silhouettes play a stellar role in my designs.” The importance he gives to form shows in his restrained use of embellishment — delicate stitched-down pin-tucks, barely-there piping, discreet use of embroidery and buttons. It’s a simple straight-forward look with some surprise elements thrown in. “Clothes must enhance the personality, not override it.”

The new line has a range of menswear as well — shirts and jackets with interesting details on luxurious fabrics (think Egyptian cotton and Italian velvet).

“Wanderlust” as a line has both emotional and intellectual resonance to Vivek’s journey as a designer. While it’s the maiden line at his newly-opened flagship store, it also marks the evolution of the “Urban Vagabond” into an urban outfitter. “Our journey has seen many ups and downs. I’m glad we stuck through it all…” he says, smiling at his wife and designer Shreya Kamalia (both are ex-NIFT-ians). “She’s the backbone, not the face of the label. She likes it that way. I owe much of my success to her.”

Show

Joan Rivers heads the ‘Fashion Police’.

Fashion Police (9pm Fri, E!)
Along with Giuliana Rancic, Kelly Osbourne, and George Kotsiopoulos, Joan Rivers will call out the best and worst of celebrity frocks, naming the “Fash-Hole” who’s committed the most egregious crimes against couture.

The word “Fash-Hole” only begins to suggest Rivers’ raunchy approach to this subject. Now pushing 80, she can still elicit gasps with her foul-mouthed jokes. But her genius — and no, that’s not too strong a word for this pioneering female comedian — is that she can also elicit laughs while making you deeply uncomfortable. It would require a Ph.D. dissertation to explain exactly how she pulls this off, but I think it involves the fact that she’s as hard on herself as she is on her victims. Plus, Rivers is just plain witty — much more so than most of the mean-spirited women comics who’ve followed in her wake.

Goaded by Joan, the panelists help make Fashion Police one of the most transgressive shows on TV. “We’re all going to hell,” Rancic told her colleagues on one broadcast, following a particularly nasty bit. “You know that.”

They probably are going to hell. And I, for one, can’t wait to hear what they think of the clothes down there.

Impractical Jokers (9pm Thu, truTV)
I reluctantly gave this prank show a thumbs up when it premiered last year, despite its lowbrow concept. I wanted to be the mature TV critic and look down my nose at it, but I was laughing too hard.

The idea is that four friends compete to embarrass each other in public situations. For example, one of them is installed as a receptionist at a business, and the others give him instructions (through an earpiece) on acting weird around the people who come through the door.

There’s a fair amount of cruelty involved, but the friends direct it at themselves, not at innocent bystanders. And they have so much fun humiliating each other that it’s hard not to have fun watching them.

Look at me, trying to sound like the mature TV critic with my justifications for Impractical Jokers. The bottom line is: The show is indefensible and irresistible.

Looking sweets

American Masters (9pm Fri, PBS)
“Joffrey Ballet: Mavericks of American Dance” chronicles an artistic revolution. Before Robert Joffrey and partner Gerald Arpino came on the scene in the 1950s, American classical ballet companies reflected European and Russian traditions. The Joffrey Ballet was a truly indigenous company, with American themes and music. The choreography opened classical ballet to modern-dance influences, and it also responded to current events. Thus, the troupe premiered antiwar and psychedelic-rock ballets in the 1960s, blowing audiences’ minds.

Along with the dazzling dance footage, the documentary offers decades’ worth of colorful anecdotes. On a tour of Afghanistan in a freezing auditorium, the audience applauded silently while wearing mittens. In the 1990s, Prince became enamored of the Joffrey and offered the use of his songs royalty-free. That led to both financial solvency and temporary artistic bankruptcy.

“Joffrey Ballet: Mavericks of American Dance” is an enjoyable program that will have you applauding, with or without mittens.

Sugar Dome (7pm Sun, Food Network)
In this reality competition, cake designers and sugar artists team with professional from other fields (animatronics experts, sand sculptors) to create dessert-oriented food art. I like the idea but not the execution, as the producers themselves seem to be on a crazy sugar high. Lights flash incessantly; deafening music drowns out the contestants; sound effects bleep and boom; the host yells; a robotic voice issues commands; and the hyperactive camera creates whiplash effects. Might I suggest that Sugar Dome’s concept — people making pretty-looking sweets —  deserved a simpler treatment?

For me, the program has done what countless diets have failed to do — put me off sugar.

Great Performances

Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest (9pm Mon, ABC)
ABC gallantly keeps Dick Clark’s name in the title of its annual New Year’s Eve special, even though Clark died last April. On top of that, the network precedes the show with a two-hour special celebrating the DJ/host/producer. In a business not known for its humanity, I’m touched to see evidence of a heart on broadcast TV. Let’s raise a glass of champagne to ABC, and to Dick.

As for the New Year’s Eve program: to watch or not to watch? Over time, I’ve noticed that this show can set the tone for the year to come. I’ve often tuned in at midnight only to find some awful third-tier act on stage, ruining my night. Then, for some reason (hey, I’m not a scientist), January through March tends to suck as well. Luckily, this year’s broadcast goes first-tier with a performance by the irresistible Taylor Swift.

I’m already getting a good feeling about 2013.

Great Performances (8:30pm Tues, PBS)
“Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy” explores the curious fact that the American musical tradition was created almost exclusively by Jews. Songwriters like Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers, George Gershwin, and Leonard Bernstein borrowed melodies from Jewish prayers to fashion stories about outsiders overcoming obstacles — a subject they knew a little bit about. In the process, according to commentator Ben Sidran, “They created a way for all of us to explore the ideas that have been part of what we call the American Dream.” It probably says something profound about the United States that a Jew (Berlin) wrote our most popular Easter song (“Easter Parade”) and Christmas song (“White Christmas”).

The documentary is packed with enlightening interviews, rare clips and, of course, the lovely melodies that form the Great American Songbook. We learn about the essential role of Jewish summer camps and discover Hebraic strains even in such secular songs as “God Bless America.”

Bernstein’s daughter comes up with the best theory of why Jews flocked to Broadway: “They were misfits, and they all found themselves in musical theater because it was a place where, with their unusual brains, they could collaborate and coexist in an environment that allowed for that flexibility.”

Culture

Fashion sometimes needs to be reined in.

Did anyone else happen to notice the t-shirt worn by one of the students in the Barnett Elementary photo? It read, “It’s only funny until someone gets hurt … then it’s hilarious.” This type of thing is totally inappropriate in light of our current culture and what happened in Newtown, CT less than a week ago. How insensitive can someone be?

I do not fault the student. I fault parents who would purchase this for a child and allow him to wear it. I also fault the politically correct culture in which school officials have their hands tied about allowing these types of logos at school. After all, we can’t offend parents in their right to choose what is best for their child.

I am an elementary school teacher myself. I have 2 beautiful granddaughters who attend elementary school only 30 miles from Newtown, CT, so I am especially sensitive at this time. However, I probably couldn’t do a thing to stop this t-shirt at school because I would be accused of stepping on someone’s free speech rights if I were to complain.

Lady

Best Dressed of 2012: Victoria Beckham Bags The Number 7 Spot.

Victoria Beckham out and about in New York – 09 Sep 2012

Drum roll, please! In the latest issue of Grazia, we proudly announce 2012′s top 10 best dressed. Our judging panel consists of footwear supremo Manolo Blahnik, fashion designer Zuhair Murad, Grazia’s fashion director Susannah Frankel and Grazia’s fashion editor Catherine Nieto who trawled through the style stars of the year to narrow down the year’s finest dressers. Right here on Grazia Daily, we’ll be counting down the top 10 so stay tuned and today we bring you the A-lister who landed at number 7: Victoria Beckham.

Lady Beckham’s main line is known for its figure flattering, well-fitting, 360 degree good view. Her collections feature many a pencil skirt, nipped-in waist and sumptuous yet tasteful colours, and a sexy exposed zip detail runs from top to bottom on the back of some of her signiture frocks. So who better to showcase the elegant creations than Victoria herself.

And Victoria’s eye for what’s flattering doesn’t stop at her designs. Regardless of her company or the occasion – be that at the Spice Girls reunion or an outing with Anna Wintour – we’ve noticed that La Beckham stands one way for photographs, and one way only. To copy the VB Pose, which is officially THE most super-flattering in the world ever, follow our simple instructions below…

Step 1: Stand with your right foot in front of the other, keeping your feet 60cm apart.
Step 2: Tuck your left arm behind your body.
Step 3: Lean and twist your upper body back (and we mean right back, ladies).

PS. Victoria has had many occasions to practice this gravity-defying pose and is an expert at it. The first few times you try, you might want to ask a friend to break your fall.

Pretty good

Kaye’s Fashion Forward.

Kaye Lee, our go-to fashionista, shares what she’s wearing, buying and admiring this month.
Chances are pretty good that your New Year’s resolutions include exercising more, which means you’ll be spending more time in workout clothing.
I’m a firm believer that what you wear affects how you feel about yourself, even if it’s comfortable workout clothing. What you choose to wear to the gym can shape your attitude toward working out and motivate you to go the extra distance.
Here are a few suggestions before you head to your local fitness store:

• Purchase gym clothes that fit you comfortably now. You may not feel great about yourself at the time, but selecting baggy shorts and oversized tops will not get you off the couch and to the gym.

• Opt for black bottoms for a more slimming look, and try to add a punch of color with your tops. Color is the key to making you feel energized.

• Get professional help on the type of shoes you need for your workout plan, and then make sure they’re going to look hot with the rest of your outfits. To me, shoes are the most important part of an outfit, even if they are workout shoes.

• Buy a great workout bag and water bottle. There are all kinds of stylish gym bags and eco-friendly water bottles, and many come in bright colors with inspiring words to help keep you motivated.

• Be sure to look good starting and ending your workout by adding a comfortable-fitting jacket. Leave the jewelry at home, and accessorize with a stylish colorful scarf for a casual and chic look.

Traditional favourite

Fashion, silks and action are popular festive fare.

TUMUT’S annual Boxing Day races are a traditional favourite Christmas wind-down for lots of people and yesterday was no different.
See your ad here

Almost 2500 people filed through the gates at the picturesque Tumut racecourse, donning their best suits and frocks to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.Tumut Turf Club secretary Lauren Roche was thrilled with the size and behaviour of the crowd.
“It was a really festive, family type crowd and everyone enjoyed the day,” Ms Roche said.“It was very successful, very good.“We were lucky the weather was fantastic this year and everyone was able to get out and have fun.”Racegoers were forced to run for shelter at last year’s Boxing Day meeting when the rain set in and almost caused the cancellation of the final race of the day.
See your ad here.Luckily all five races were run yesterday and punters – the serious and the once-a-year gambler – were able to get their fill.

The Tumut Turf Club will now begin preparing for the 153rd Tumut Cup to be run on Saturday, January 12.A calcutta for the Cup will be held on the Friday night, while the day itself will feature fashions on the field, live music and plenty of activities for the younger ones.

Boutique

Bollywood Boutique brings a different fashion to Visalia.

Jeri Ali and her daughter Chasity get a kick out of watching people walk by their new store, Bollywood Boutique. That’s because the passersby are often still straining their necks to look at the mannequins clad in elegant saris, lehengas and other Indian and Pakistani clothing.
It’s not your typical boutique, and Jeri Ali is happy she’s filling a niche. Ali, who is originally from Texas, started wearing this type of garb just a couple of weeks after meeting her husband, who is from Pakistan.

“I found them to be very comfortable,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of customers who have the perspective: it’s comfortable clothing that is elegant.”Many of the outfits are long, embellished tunics in richly toned materials worn with matching pants, but there are also dresses, skirts and the aforementioned lehengas. At $250, the lehengas are the costliest items in the store, but that’s because the two-piece outfit is heavily embellished with ornate handsewn embroidery, beads and sequins.

Ali stresses that all the raw materials for the clothing are from India, and then she has them sewn by a tailor in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. While the clothing is sized as small, medium and large, they are designed with extra material so they can be sized up or down. Ali uses a tailor here for alterations, for an additional fee. She said she wants to be as accommodating as she can, in every way; she said that’s why her prices start at $40 and don’t go higher than $250.

“My husband always tells me I’m his queen, and I want my customers to come in here and feel the same way,” she said.While some of her customers have an Indian or Pakistani background, Ali said she gets customers of all types coming into Bollywood Boutique.“Every culture comes in here. I’ve had a really good response from people of every race and religion,” she said.

She’s provided a plush loveseat piled with pillows by the dressing rooms — it’s typically used by husbands while they wait for their wives to try on clothes, Ali said with a laugh. She herself is very family-oriented, and wants to promote that atmosphere in the store.
“We love it when the children come in here, we’re always oohing over the little babies,” she said.As for the men and children, while their clothing isn’t displayed as prominently in the little store, it is available. Jewelry, cologne, sunglasses and purses are also sold there.

Friends

Fashion duo’s coup at Chinese label’s first London store.

TWO Hucknall-based fashion designers have helped to make history in the industry.
Friends Nick Holland and Ash Gangotra have created the clothes with which one of the largest fashion brands in China has moved into the UK market for the first time.The pair have come up with an uprmarket menswear collection for Bosideng, which has more than 8,000 stores across China and has now opened a £35 million flagship store in London.
Nick and Ash were asked to design an entire 500-item wardrobe which looked European but also reflected Chinese influences.
The duo, whose fashion consultancy is located on Bolsover Street, Hucknall, first met nearly 25 years ago.
At that time, Ash had a work placement at the former Cormans hosiery factory on the same site, where Nick’s father was production manager.
From that point, both made big strides in their careers. Ash launched his own street and clubwear label called Chameleon while Nick set up a classic English clothing label, Holland Esquire.

The pair achieved a major breakthrough three years ago when they became founder directors of Oasis superstar Liam Gallagher’s new fashion label, Pretty Green, designing its award-winning range for two years.
After Ash and Nick left Pretty Green, they accepted an exciting invitation to design a range for Bosideng’s first store outside China.The offer arose by chance when the wife of a retail director for the Chinese company was working in a clothes shop. She saw garments designed by Nick and found that she liked the style.Trips to China over several months have enabled the pair to research areas of design appropriate to the country’s culture.

Singer Jahmene Douglas and pop stars JLS were wearing the duo’s designs when they were photographed at the premiere of the James Bond movie, ‘Skyfall’.Despite worldwide recognition, Ash and Nick have remained virtually unknown in their own community. That does not bother NIck, who says: “I’m happy to keep a low profile.”

The man

Valentino Garavani: The man who turned fashion into an art form.

Christina Patterson is wowed by a Valentino show but hates his world.
Audrey Hepburn wore them. Elizabeth Taylor wore them. So did Grace Kelly and Jackie O. It seems, in fact, when you go to the exhibition at Somerset House, that anyone who was anyone, and who was beautiful, and glamorous, and famous, and chic, wore Valentino clothes. And the clothes, it seems, weren’t just clothes. The clothes, it seems, from the way they’ve been displayed, in a new exhibition marking the 50-year career of Valentino Garavani, were art.

When you walk into the main gallery, and down what you’re probably meant to call a “runway”, the clothes certainly look like art. The clothes are on mannequins where the audience would usually be, mannequins which look as if they’re looking at you looking at them. And the clothes, which are arranged in clusters of colour – of cream, and orange, and red, and, of course, black – are amazing. Some of them, and particularly some of the clothes from the 1970s and the 1980s, are quite strange. The shorts and cape, for example, and the bat-sleeved sequined dress. But most of them are beautiful. Even to someone like me, who buys clothes as cheaply as I can, these clothes are beautiful.

You can see the work in them. Sometimes, it’s just in the cut, but it isn’t “just” a cut, because the cut, like a line in a Picasso, is the mark of the master’s art. Sometimes, it’s in the beadwork, or the edging, or the stitching of a piece of cord. Sometimes, it’s in a piece of silk that’s been cut to make a rose. When you leave the gallery, and go into the room that has cabinets showing close-up examples of the craft, it almost makes you gasp. It makes you think of those medieval artists who carved whole worlds on tiny bits of ivory.

Art

It is art. Even to me, it’s art. The exhibition, which is presented in white rooms with, apart from the one with the mannequins, very little in them, is a portrait not just of a master craftsman, but of an artist. But it isn’t just a portrait of an artist. It’s a portrait of a court.

Before you go up to the gallery with the runway, there’s a room with those gilded chairs you get at banquets, glass cabinets and a giant rose. In the cabinets, there are magazines, with front covers of people wearing Valentino, and signed photos, letters and cards from people thanking him for designing clothes – people such as Julia Roberts, Jacqueline Onassis, Princess Diana, Anna Wintour and Meryl Streep. The letters say things like, “Thank you for a magical weekend.”

And there’s a room that makes you think of a real court. This is a room with a wedding dress that was made for Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece. The dress, apparently, took 25 seamstresses four months. Like, perhaps, the dresses of Marie-Antoinette. But at least the seamstresses are called seamstresses. What Valentino calls his seamstresses (or used to, before he sold the business on) is “le ragazze”. “Le ragazze” means “the girls”. It must be quite strange to be a 60-year old woman and called a “girl”. It must make you think of those Brits who called their adult male African servants “boy”.

“To dress stars or empresses is very pleasant,” says Valentino, “because their concept of high fashion remains so pure.” He isn’t joking. He really seems to think that the world he displays, of money, celebrity, flattery, name-dropping, and, of course, an all-consuming obsession with appearance, is something to flaunt. Nice frocks, caro mio, but as for your world, you can keep it.

Wishful Thinking

Wishful Thinking: Fashion Predictions, Lofty or Otherwise, For 2013.

As the curtain draws on 2012, we can’t help but to ponder — nay, obsess — over what’s yet to come. New trends emerged on the Spring/Summer 2013 runways, but whether or not they’ll stick (and whether or not we even want to see them stick) is another question. With the scope and interconnectivity of the modern fashion model forevermore accelerating, ARTINFO breaks down the best and the brightest of what we think we’ll see tomorrow.

Dries Van Noten’s Spring/Summer 2013 Collection, Everywhere

If social media had a vascular system, it would’ve been white-capped with adrenaline when Dries Van Noten showed his S/S13 collection, a lineup that garnered what must have been 99.9% praise. Yet the e-gushing was totally deserved — Van Noten’s collection was the standout of the season, with its modernized take on grunge and its androgynous pattern-clashing. Smells like well-dressed teen spirit.

For Better or For Worse, Céline’s Fluffy Footwear

Say hello to spring’s cutest hypebeast: Céline’s Muppet footwear. Expect to see stylists violently banging down Céline’s PR door to get ahold of these cushy accoutrements. Hate ’em or love ’em, they certainly incite bloodlust. They also beg the question — to what extent are designers consciously toying with the street style try-hards?

Brave New

Incandescent Iridescence 

From twinkling crepes to matte satins, reflective fabrics will see a notable resurgence in 2013. The lynchpin in the light brigade? Raf Simons, who, for his debut Christian Dior ready-to-wear collection, showed a series of full-bodied skirts that crackled with static electricity down their spot-lit stage. The world was watching, thus sheen will surely be in demand. Keep an eye on Burberry Prorsum and Jonathan Saunders, too.

Python is an Un-Endangered Species

Snakeskin — in authentic, synthetic, or printed form — slithered its way onto Spring/Summer 2013’s runways. Cavalli is probably breathing a sigh of relief, like, “Finally!” But the imminent reptile invasion won’t necessarily be all Roberto. Proenza Schouler showed diamondback patterning with color-blocked neons, and Erdem worked in boa scales over dainty lace. This trend will certainly be widely mimicked across High Street — it’s easy, and everyone loves a little exoticism.

Instagram, Out

Everyone’s favorite party drug, Instagram, sunk its claws into the fashion elite’s skin this year (selfies with Derek Blasberg, anyone?). Then it hit a little snafu, proclaiming and then retracting its intent to own and possibly capitalize on every image ever posted on the app. Given Instagram’s hype, and the fact that it’s basically a glorified on-the-go vanity project for so very many people, perhaps the bubble will soon burst. At least give us an update, or a dislike button!

Brave New Internet

It’s been the year of the World Wide Weird, and things are only getting wilder. We’re talking next-gen collabos and cross-cultural, cross-gender, cross-media mash-ups. Take Dis Magazine, the online publication where micro-trends and invented fads are explored in fetishistic detail, and superstars like Fatima Al-Qadiri and Mykki Blanco reign supreme. We’ll definitely see more of this post-post-postmodern aesthetic in fashion and beyond as we head into the 20-teens.

Luxe

Fashion Grows Up.

Recent seasons have seen a more grown-up look come back into favor, with grungy, model-off-duty slouch appeal giving way to something a bit more structured. As a new wave of designers comes of age, their collections are evolving right along with them. (Don’t believe us? Just look at Alexander Wang’s evolution from T-shirts to his latest offering, subdued suiting — a momentum he’ll have to continue at the hallowed house of Balenciaga.) And while we’ll always have a place in our hearts for studs and leather, here’s looking to polished tailoring, pastels, and pointed pumps.

The New, New Fashion Map.

This year cemented the status of fashion’s latest international hotspots. Leading the pack are Sydney and Tokyo, where hometown designers like Dion Lee and Phenomenon have more and more editors paying attention — while cities from São Paulo to Moscow to Berlin are nurturing young talent of their own. And don’t underestimate the influence of purchasing power, as the high-end market courts the consumer hubs of Asia and the Middle East.

Shake-Up Shockwaves.

Between designer hires and major magazine moves, 2012 was the year of the shake-up. Could the shockwaves continue in 2013? This year we saw Sally Singer’s return to Vogue; maybe Anna’s exit is next? Could this be the year Karl finally retires? Who will helm the Schiaparelli relaunch? Will Hedi’s (Y)SL sell? The questions are endless.

Toned Down Luxe.

With the global economy precariously perking up, major luxury brands are rethinking how they do business. While bags and shoes are still moneymakers, the new retail model is becoming a bit more sustainable and subdued. Whether it’s Dior’s streamlined couture, the Row’s label-less essentials, or PPR’s young designer grab, expect less theater and more pragmatism — and more salable clothing.

Cool

Cool & Noteworthy 2012: Viviane Sassen’s fashion work gets the acclaim it deserves.

Viviane Sassen is probably best known for her personal work; in particular, for Flamboya, the book published by Contrasto in 2008 that brought her international acclaim. But she is also emerging as one of the world’s leading fashion photographers, as her first major retrospective confirms.

Viviane Sassen studied fashion design for two years before she got into image-making, and worked as a model for designers such as Viktor & Rolf while studying photography in the mid-1990s at the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht, Netherlands.

In and Out of Fashion, the three-month show at Huis Marseille Museum for Photography (15 December 2012 – 17 March 2013) in her hometown of Amsterdam, is accompanied by a book of the same title, published by Prestel. While Sassen is very happy about it, she’s also a little wary of the attention, arguing that fashion photography is a particular genre with its own language and economy, and that putting it into a museum can sometimes be a mistake.

“I find exhibitions of fashion photography within the context of a museum rather problematic,” she says. “Most fashion images aren’t art, they’re fashion photographs, which is fine, but if you put them in a museum, enlarged and in a frame, they become something else. They aren’t meant to be that way. Art photography doesn’t have to serve any purpose, fashion photography does, and that makes a difference. It’s a kind of puzzle that has to be solved.

People

“There are people who work with fashion in very interesting ways – I like Juergen Teller a lot, for example, and Guy Bourdin really pulled it off in the early years. There are images which are really between art and fashion, which I hope I do myself. But it’s very different. I chose different ways to show the work [at the Huis Marseille] – most of the images are shown in a projection on the walls, which still has this kind of disposable feel.”

As she points out, fashion and art photography also require different approaches. For her fine art, she works with film on a Mamiya 6×7 and usually travels to Africa with just one other person – often her husband – while in fashion she works with a large team, and usually shoots in digital. “They are separate worlds, so different from each other,” she says. “But I love them both – I love the group dynamic [in fashion] and collaborating with other people.”

Even so, she’s happy to concede that there are many similarities between her fashion and art photography, “mostly in the formal aspects of the work”. Her fashion imagery has a distinctive visual signature; a creative freedom of expression she’s worked hard to carve out for herself. She worked for years on small, innovative titles that gave her creative space – small Dutch magazines such as RE-Magazine, Butt and Kutt (all founded by Jop van Bennekom and Gert Jonkers, who have gone on to find critical acclaim with Fantastic Man and The Gentlewoman) – plus independent international titles such as Purple and Self-Service. These days, if she takes on a commission, it’s with brands such as Carven, where she works directly with the “inspirational” designer Guillaume Henry. “It took me quite a long time, but I took the time to develop my style,” says the 4.

Popular

In an interview published by Huis Marseille, her agent Olivia Gideon Thomson at We Folk says: “She told me recently that she really did carve out her own visual language in terms of her fashion photography, and I think that’s why she is so popular – it’s fresh and unique, and it’s consistent.

“Although it changes, [her visual language] will deviate, it’s also very consistent. You can tell it’s Viviane, which I think is attractive in a commercial practice. Even though fashion is obviously very commercial, it’s important to have a voice.”

For example, she often obscures her subjects’ faces. Sassen says she’s not sure why she does it, she just finds the images more intriguing that way. She’s also suggested that doing so takes the emphasis off the individual models, allowing their bodies to become more archetypal, or even sculptural, in the overall image. When the Aperture Foundation invited her to respond to one of its publications recently, she picked out Edward Weston’s Nudes because of his similarly sculptural approach. “I sometimes say I’m more like a sculptor than a photographer,” she says. “I’m just joking, but there’s some truth in it.”

In fact, Sassen includes a lot of nudes in her fashion stories, and considers this work much closer to her artwork, so she’s happy to present these images in frames at the Huis Marseille show and is devoting a whole room to them. Some of them are erotically charged, but despite this, and the fact that they also tend to obscure the models’ faces, they feel fresh and sexy rather than objectifying. Sassen is unwilling to be drawn on whether this is down to her gender, but will say her own experience of modelling makes a difference.

The model

She told Camera Littera that an early shoot for Purple was inspired by Helmut Newton and Araki, adding: “I was being photographed as a model by numerous male photographers who wanted to depict me as a sexual object. Maybe I had the feeling that I had to empower myself, to put something next to these male visions of women but still using their own visual language.

“I have an idea how the model might feel – I kind of click with her because I know how she might feel when I ask her to pose,” she says. “Being a model was not for me; I was miserable because I knew I wanted to be behind the camera, not in front of it. But later on I described myself in that period as a shy exhibitionist. It’s a weird contradiction but I think maybe there was something in it – my nudes also have this exhibitionist thing, but they’re also shy in that the models don’t show their faces.”

Sassen works closely with her models, often singling out a favoured few as she does with the magazines and brands she collaborates with. She’s worked closely with young Dutch star Anna de Rijk over the past couple of years, for example, and although de Rijk has featured in some pretty raunchy shoots, the 23-year-old says she always feels appreciated and included on set. “She’s so open to other people’s opinions,” de Rijk told Huis Marseille. “And she takes your opinion seriously.”

In fact, Roxane Danset has served as both a model and a stylist for Sassen; as with her other partners, the photographer tends to work closely with a handful of stylists. Early on, she collaborated with a good friend, Emmeline de Mooij, for example; more recently she’s clicked with big names such as Vanessa Reid. “A good stylist brings something amazing to a picture that I couldn’t have thought of beforehand,” says Sassen. “I do a lot of fashion for Pop with Vanessa; we have this kind of energy that is really interesting.”

These collaborations mean Sassen has to get organised before a fashion shoot, seeking out interesting sets and sharing visual references. Even so, she prefers to keep shoots loose and intuitive, working out a few parameters, then seeing what happens on the day. She laughs that it’s difficult for more commercial brands and magazines to accept, particularly as she doesn’t like her images to look too perfect. “I don’t plan everything in advance – that makes things flat and dull,” she says. “For me the shoot feels like a kind of explosion.”

Best

Fashion brings colour to grey race day.

The Ellerslie Boxing Day races were dominated by another ‘r’ word today: rain.
It wasn’t the day race goers had hoped for, but they still came in their Boxing Day best with today’s ultimate accessory – the umbrella.Fashions in the field became fashions indoors, and one entrant who wore a dress made of paper was fretting a little more than others.

“Luckily when I got here it wasn’t too rainy and I had to put it in a plastic cover,” says Sian Palmer.As the rain eased, punters bravely made their way outside.Click here to find out more!

Around 25,000 people were expected to attend today, with presales ahead of last year’s. But the lousy weather has mean some have decided to stay at home instead, and it’s estimated 15,000 were in attendance.While some were watching the horses others were watching the fashions on show.And the lady of the day was Anna Campbell – the supreme winner of fashions in the fields, whose daughter was also a finalist.

“The skirt was made by my mother, and Claudia’s top was made by her grandmother, so she’s our sewing lady,” says Ms Campbell.
She was a shining winner, on a wet, grey day.

Body

Best in Fashion 2012: 10 styles that made our heads turn.

Every year fashion offers up the good, the bad and the ugly. But what the industry is really built on — and consumers respond to — is buzz.

Here are the top moments of 2012 that made our heads turn:

1. Angelina Jolie at the Oscars. The leg that peeked out of the high thigh-high slit of her Versace gown was the most exciting appearance on the red carpet. The gown fit perfectly into the sleek, simple, sexy mold that Jolie favors, but it was Jolie’s picture-perfect pose to expose just enough thigh that launched a thousand memes. Her companion Brad Pitt gets an honorable mention for his scruffy appearance in a Chanel fragrance ad that left many scratching their heads.

2. Michelle Obama and Ann Romney’s matching hues. The wives of the presidential candidates turned out to the second debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in practically the same shade of hot pink. But they weren’t by the same designer: Romney’s was by Oscar de la Renta, and Obama’s by Michael Kors. A potential matching prom dress-style embarrassment was chalked up to timing: October’s breast cancer awareness month.

3. Marc Jacobs’ Louis Vuitton show. Many of the designer runways seemed more of the same — stark stages, thumping music and audiences distracted by their electronic gadgets — but the Louis Vuitton fall catwalk in Paris commanded attention. Models dressed in their very best traveling clothes stepped off a reconstructed retro steam train. Valets carried the vintage-inspired hat boxes and vanity cases. The trip seemed refreshingly refined and modern.

4. Two-tone Stella McCartney dresses. McCartney, no stranger to the red carpet, has created a style that celebrities can’t get enough of. Her ultra-flattering “silhouette” dress has become almost ubiquitous. It features one color on the bodice and back, and a graphic opposite on the sides and sleeves. Kate Winslet has worn several versions, and Brooklyn Decker, Kate Moss, Edie Falco and Liv Tyler have, too. The best turn might have been Jane Fonda at the Cannes Film Festival.

5. Beyonce’s back-from-baby body. Some new mothers claim they feel sexier than ever. Beyonce was living proof at the Met Gala, the important industry event co-hosted by Vogue’s Anna Wintour. Beyonce’s skin-tight, largely sheer — save the bodice beading and feathered fish-tail train — gown by Givenchy announced that Ivy Blue Carter’s mom wasn’t going to hold back. An honorable mention goes to Jessica Simpson, who dieted her way to a Weight Watchers ad then wound up pregnant again.

Supermodel reunion

6. 007′s slim suits. Daniel Craig’s wardrobe in “Skyfall” is impeccably tailored — and quite tight. Unlike the James Bonds that came before him who all liked the traditional looser, longer cut of a Savile Row-style suit, Craig, whose wardrobe is created mostly by Tom Ford, takes his suits Euro style with tapered legs and shorter rises. There’s no question Craig’s super spy Bond will go down in history as one of the best, but it’s fair to ask if he could pull off those impressive chases in clothes that tight.

7. Supermodel reunion at the London Olympics. Gold was the new black at the closing ceremony with a parade of supermodels wearing gilded gowns in a tribute to British fashion. Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell both had on Alexander McQueen, Georgia May Jagger’s was by Victoria Beckham, Karen Elson was in Burberry, and Stella Tennant donned a Christopher Kane Swarovski-crystal catsuit. The soundtrack — of course — was David Bowie’s “Fashion.”

8. Another supermodel reunion at New York Fashion Week. Alexander Wang’s show has become must-see viewing, partly for influential hipster clothes, but also for the model line-up, a who’s who of top catwalkers. It was a coup even for him, however, to get the likes of Gisele Bundchen, Carmen Kass, Frankie Rayder and Shalom Harlow, who all very rarely do shows, to walk in February. Start the wish list now of who he’ll nab for his debut at Balenciaga next year.

9. Miley Cyrus’ cropped cut. When Cyrus cut off the long hair her fans had become used to, she took some heat. She has said (and Tweeted) repeatedly, though, that she was pleased with the new punk-pixie look and was sticking with it. Short hair turned out to be a big trend, with Alicia Keys, Rihanna and Anne Hathaway all ending the year with much shorter locks than they started with.

10. Julianne Moore at the Emmys. Moore’s neon-yellow Dior Haute Couture outfit (really a sweater and ball skirt) spawned a love-it-or-hate-it debate among armchair style critics. What was largely left out of that conversation, however, was that it was Raf Simons’ big celebrity debut for Dior, which he took creative control of after the John Galliano scandal. At least Simons can claim the better reviews when it came to his showdown of next-gen designers at historic French houses against Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent Paris.

Menswear line

There were the fashion trends of 2012: Color-blocking continued. Women of all shapes delighted in the return of the peplum. Guys and gals frolicked through town in salmon-pink skinny jeans. Metallic wedged sneakers were retro ’80s chic. Ombre hair was hot. Ombre nails were hotter. And Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte brought icy grills back into the fashion fold.

But there were also the moments. These flashes in time forced us to rethink our shopping habits, challenged our long-standing stereotypes, and allowed guys to be girls and girls to be guys. Here are 12 moments of 2012.

Wherever I go, there you are. Brad Pitt became the first man to serve as the face of a women’s perfume with one of the most-spoofed commercials in history, and high fashion continued to change the rules. Other gender-

bending examples: YSL’s creative director used a woman, Saskia de Brauw, as the face of its menswear line. Lady Gaga posed as her alter ego “Jo” on the cover of Vogue Japan.
“Greige” gets a platform. America was introduced to the gray and beige combo color after first lady Michelle Obama wore the nail polish to the Democratic National Convention. Overnight, it skyrocketed from runway grunge to soccer-mom chic.

YSL goes longer. Creative director Hedi Slimane dropped the YSL moniker from its ready-to-wear line in June, becoming just Saint Laurent Paris. The name change signaled that luxury labels can get stale and that the “Housewives” can cheapen a once-elite brand.

Salon in the sky opens. Vidal Sassoon died, and we remembered the British stylist who was single-handedly responsible for creating the now-classic asymmetrical bob of the 1960s. It freed women from hairsprayed helmets that were twirled and curled and gave them hairstyles that needed no setting.

Michael Vick unveils V-7 Apparel. The Eagles quarterback launched his line of compression shirts and shorts with a lot of fanfare. But the apparel, and later the accompanying app, never really took off – kind of like the Eagles’ 2012 season.

Budget style

From workout gear to searing symbol. Florida teen Trayvon Martin’s death forced us to ask the unfortunate but necessary question: Does a black man become menacing merely by donning a hoodie? Americans of all backgrounds pulled up their hoods as a way to challenge racial stereotypes within black and white communities.

The poor ponytail. Gabby Douglas may have won an Olympic gold medal, but black women slammed her for her messy do. The resulting brouhaha illustrated a culture’s misplaced priorities: Perfect hair trumps all.

Opening-ceremony Olympic uniforms at a loss. Ralph Lauren’s preppy made-in-China getups touched a nerve with Americans dealing with a dismal economy. Lauren promised the team’s winter 2014 uniforms would be made here, and we all started to think twice about where our clothing comes from.

Daffy’s goes dark. After 20 years, the designer discount retailer closed its doors, forcing on-a-budget style seekers to find the perfect velvet blazer elsewhere.

Intermix opens; Knit Wit moves. These stores up our fashion quotient, but their addresses mean more to Philadelphians than the DVF and J Brand labels they both carry. Walnut Street, once home to a string of upscale, independent boutiques, now is populated by fast-fashion stores and chains. And it seems the homegrown designer stores have moved to Chestnut. But with Center City rents continuing to skyrocket, who knows how long that will last?

Kanye West as legend in his own mind. The 35-year-old rapper launched a womenswear line in February at Paris Fashion Week to less-than-stellar reviews. It was the first move in a year of peculiar fashion choices: from dressing the same as Kim Kardashian – the couple became known as Kim-ye – to performing at the Concert for Sandy Relief in a skirt.

A Spanx shout-out. English songwriter Adele admitted to wearing four pairs at one time under her Grammy dress, illustrating our addiction to shapewear. Forbes dubbed founder Sara Blakely the youngest self-made female billionaire this year, and the King of Prussia mall landed the specialty store’s second U.S. location.

Business models

Fashion model drives success of hot restaurants.

It’s only when you analyse Australia’s hottest restaurant, the Thai-inspired Chin Chin, as a retailer more in common with Spanish fast-fashion chain Zara than other chic eateries that colonise the Sydney and Melbourne CBDs, that you truly realise the global ambitions owner Chris Lucas has for his cool diner.

Lucas, who opened Melbourne’s Chin Chin last year and its stablemate, Italian trattoria Baby, only two months ago, talks of business models not menu options, consumers not eaters, he ponders over social media rather than napkins and table settings, and speaks about retail products rather than food.

”I think the food game is a retailer, basically you come in here and buy a retail product – rather than wearing it you are consuming it.”

And it’s a business philosophy that seems to be working. While a typical restaurant might turn over 200 to 300 customers a day, Chin Chin and Baby are racking up 800 diners from breakfast to dinner, and still turning away hundreds more each night. It’s ”no bookings” policy has people queueing for hours for a table.

”This is not a gentle evolutionary change,” says Lucas, ”this is a revolutionary change going on in the food business and there are a lot of restaurants that are sitting empty, literally empty, while we are doing on average 800 customers a day.”

Jetting off to New York and London last week, Lucas now wants to take his restaurant – or business – model to the world and is seeking fresh capital and partners to turn Chin Chin into the template of an international chain to rival upmarket Japanese franchise Nobu or global noodle bar Wagamama.

”There is a massive gap in the market for what we are doing,” he says. ”The top end is catered for, the mass market at the bottom end is catered for. But it’s that everyday quality experience at affordable prices that hasn’t been catered for, a la retailers like Zara or GAP or Top Shop. I like to think of Chin Chin and Baby as the Zara of the food game.”

Retailer

The link to Zara is apt. The Spanish fashion retailer, described by one industry executive as ”possibly the most innovative and devastating retailer in the world”, has built a cash cow empire on the concept of fast fashion. Imitating cutting edge designs straight from the catwalk, using good quality fabric but priced at affordable levels, has made the 1700-store Zara a billion-dollar fashion juggernaut.

Lucas has simply twisted and reshaped that model for food. He buys his produce from the same suppliers as his upmarket city competitors, but where they might charge $50 for a main course he is spinning dishes out from the kitchen at $15 to $25.

From his vantage point running two successful restaurants, Lucas sees the same destructive forces that are shaping and shocking the retail sector now turning their power on the restaurant game.

”What’s been going on in the retail sector for the last five years is going on in the food business right now, and that is the consumer is dramatically changing their behaviour in a number of ways.

”Our object was to do what has happened to a certain extent in retail, that is go from a low volume/high margin model, to a high volume/low margin model. Most top end restaurants just aren’t making enough money, hardly any margin, and for many their profit margins are around 5 per cent.

”We are probably tracking at two or three times the standard industry return, so 10 to 15 per cent [profit margins] and climbing. Our brands are so successful that our volumes are continuing to grow month on month.”

The change in restaurants is being driven by younger consumers, argues Lucas, empowered by iPhones and tablets, people working non-traditional hours and eating at non-traditional times.

”It’s not like the old days where our mother and father would go out at 6 for dinner, eat, have one drink and be home by 8 – which is why probably nobody is watching free-to-air TV these days. We have become the new social hub, the kids instead of going to the grungy nightclubs are now coming to places like this, having a drink, some great food … and it’s fun.”

He claims there are nights where he has turned away up to 1000 customers, although many plot a course for the bar beneath Chin Chin for a drink – another nice little earner for sure.

Platforms

Social media has replaced word of mouth, and advertising is done via platforms such as Facebook and twitter. Its no surprise then that among his 250-strong staff of chefs, waiters and dishwashers, Lucas employs a social media officer.

The ”no bookings’ tactic is another example of the loosening of traditional formalities and while it might have ruffled the feathers of some traditionalists, Lucas believes it is a luxury (as well as a nuisance) that the restaurant sector can no longer afford to support.

Sitting at his hip and humming Chin Chin restaurant – it’s not even noon and already there is a queue of hungry city workers lining up for tables – Lucas says he has learnt from the shockwaves pulsing through retail and is copying those brands that are beginning to dominate the new reality.

”So our model basically follows the same sort of principal which is, I felt, that five or six years ago the restaurant business wasn’t really delivering to the consumer what they wanted – which was value, a more relaxed fun, environment, less stiffness, less formality.

”It’s about the way we conduct ourselves and the space we fit out, and the same is true for retail.

”So, no longer do customers want to walk through marbled Versace-style retail spaces that costs developers and retailers millions, they are happy to walk into a warehouse stripped back to its bones as long as it has got the product that they want – in other words, they actually don’t give much of a damn anymore about the physical space.
”My view is that you embrace change or you get trodden over by the hordes that are driving the change.”