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White Swans: Young Designers Envision a Monochrome World
Posted by richard | October 31, 2011

Whoever said you shouldn’t wear white after Labor Day never met today’s crop of fearless young fashion designers.

A recent contest invited emerging designers from around the world to show what they could create using an all-white palette — and the results are mind-boggling.

From bags to shoes to jewelry, corsets, dresses, BDSM accessories and even mittens, the entrants in the White Swan competition showed astonishing creativity. As you might expect, there’s a fair bit of bridal-oriented pieces, but that’s just the start. The diversity of concepts and use of unusual fabrics (like a tutu made from bridal gown scraps, or a gown made from a parachute) is breathtaking and should give you a fair glimpse into the future of fashion around the world.

The White Swan competition drew more than 250 submissions, and 25 winners were chosen by online voting (which, sadly, produced weak numbers). There was also a set of jury prizes, and those chosen will get a public showing next weekend at the annual Les Coulisses du Mariage bridal show in Paris.

White Swan — which was a sort of rebuttal to last year’s Black Swan-themed fashions — was conceived by Carnet de Monde, which showcases young couture designers, in parternship with Le Figaro.

Below we offer a few of our favorites from the contest, but there’s plenty more to look at on the competition’s website:

Delphine by Cliff Lee, France
Hand-pleated dress long in front, short in back.
Breathing Coral Polyp by Malgorzata Dudek, Poland
Layers of silk chiffon structured with spiral metal boning.
Inspired by the Great Barrier Reef.
Dancing Swan by Michael van der Meide, Netherlands
Unique dress made from 1951 American parachute cloth.
Bouquet d’Organza by Princesse Prune, France
From the AW 2011-12 jewelry couture collection, Auto-Portrait.
Tulip skirt by Tristan + Trista, USA
Distressed chiffon layers arranged to mimic the petals of a tulip.
Two Halves of One by Marie Dean, Italy
Macrame weavings in cotton, silk, linen and straw.
Love and Peace by Lily Griffiths, France
Lace headbands with rose and crystal adornment.
Gone With The Wind by Larisa Katz, Netherlands
From the art couture label’s summer 2012 collection.
Necklace by Naomi McIntosh, UK
Slinky-like flexible necklace in polished acrylic.
Camilla Mikama, Finland
Viscose/elastane dress with puzzle-piece cutouts.
Ice Queen by Claire Garvey, Ireland
Hand-beaded gown with feathered headpiece.
Caged Spine by Anna Osterlund, Sweden
3-piece white denim suit held together with shoelaces.
Angel by Dora Kelemen, France
Giant knitted cover-up from the Hungarian conceptual artist/designer.
Tutu by Ek Bacharack, South Africa
Handmade from discarded bridal tulle scraps, attached to a corset base.
Inspired by nightmares following viewing of Black Swan
Lace mask by Ek Bacharack, South Africa
See above, from the SS 2012 collection Hypnagogic.
Madeleine handcuffs by Fraulein Kink, Germany
White fur cuffs with gunmetal chain and closures and ribbon bow.
Black Swan by Edyta Jermacz, Poland
Dress made from raw silk pieces stitched to transparent body..
Ashita by Joanna Hawrot, Poland
White muslin dress inspired by Japanese fashion.
Shirt in Pieces by Iris Loeffler, Germany
Deconstructed shirt dress inspired by menswear.
Draped dress by Heureka, UK
Draped jersey with three-dimensional structure.
Dila corset by Khatuna Tskhakaia, France
From the Parisian stylist’s collection Georgie.
Man’s shirt dress by Lena Ivanova, Ukraine
Designed like a man’s shirt worn backwards, with print frills like a swan’s tail.
Ur by Dorit Loffler, Germany
Silk and merino wool mittens and hat inspired by early farm workers.

It’s hard to believe, but Halloween is already less than a week away. If you want to dress up as something sexy, exciting and unique, you may have to spend a little extra time planning and researching.

Don’t want to be the hundredth naughty nurse at the party? Are you less than thrilled about being just another dirty cop? Don’t despair. There are a few new trends that are popping up with some out-of-the-Halloween-ordinary outfit ideas that are sexy enough to be transferred from the bedroom to a party.

So, if you aren’t quite sure what to dress up as yet, here are a few examples of what costumes are hot this year to help you look hot Halloween night.

Geek Chic
Geeks have infiltrated our everyday life. No longer are the technology-obsessed seen as overweight, lonely, unwashed men in their parents’ basement. These days, the geekier side of society is seen as creative and edgy entrepreneurs, and even — dare I say? — sexy.

This phenomenon is apparent in TV shows such as The Big Bang Theory and Glee, the number of ever-popular comic book and video game conventions, and in a whole slew of movies (The Social Network, Transformers, Tron, and, oh, about a hundred superhero films.)

The nerdy trend is definitely seen in Halloween costumes, too, where shoppers are tending to prefer pop culture costumes over old, scary favorites — and not just men. Now, more than ever, women are choosing costumes featuring geek-chic characters that at one time may have been considered less-than-desirable, but are now sexy and cool. Here are some examples that could help add to your hipster-nerd cred:

  • Codex, from the web series The Guild (above left)
  • Sexy Red Plumber (above right)
  • Tron body suit, Wonder Woman, Glee Cheerio Cheerleader

Elaborate Classics
There is no denying that there are a number of costumes that will never go out of style. Themes like pirates, storybook characters, and scary-yet-sexy favorites like vampires and witches will always be popular during the spooky season.

However, those who choose this type of outfit that still want to stand out from the crowd should consider splurging a little for the holiday. At many costume retailers, there are deluxe versions of most costumes. These styles are a little pricier, yes, but it shows in the quality. These erotic costumes are well-constructed and have more details and pieces to give the outfit an authentic look.

So, don’t worry – there’s nothing wrong with picking a classic costume for Halloween, but if you want to stand out from the rest this October, here are some choices:

  • Deluxe Pirate Wench (above left)
  • Red Hot Riding Hood (top photo)
  • Vampire countess (above right), woodland fairy, German beer girl, Alice in Wonderland

Vintage Sexy
Vintage-inspired Halloween costumes can make anyone look sexy, classy, and timeless while dressing up for the holiday. Thanks to TV shows like Mad Men, Pan Am, and The Playboy Club, retro looks have taken over clothing lines and now Halloween shops, whether the show was successful or not.

Party-goers can choose their favorite decade and fashion style, as well as how much skin they’d like to show. (Just because you aren’t scantily-clad, doesn’t mean you aren’t looking sexy! Also, perfect for girls in the chillier climates.) For the retro-lovers of the world, here are some examples of classic costume looks from the past:

  • Flight Attendant (above left)
  • Flapper girl (right)
  • Playboy bunny, pin-up girl, 50s housewife

This guest article was contributed by MaDonna Flowers of SexyCostumes.com, a website that sells sexy costumes that are perfect for Halloween or a night in.

Today is the 14th annual Love Your Body Day, which was started by the National Organization for Women to educate women about body image issues and eating disorders. It’s also meant to draw attention to the relentless barrage of print and TV ads that make women feel inferior about their bodies and seek improvement through diets, push-up bras and cosmetic surgery.

There are a variety of local activities being held to mark LYB Day across the U.S. but, in the busy calendar of public ‘awareness’ days, this important occasion too often goes by unnoticed. (Wouldn’t Michelle Obama be a fantastic public ambassador for this issue?)

For its part, NOW asks women to do one simple thing on LYB Day: talk about it.

To promote that message, NOW created the Let’s Talk About It campaign earlier this year to get women to open up about a subject that is very private and often wrapped up in shame and self-loathing. They invited women, including some well-known faces from the fashion industry, to submit personal videos that document their experiences with the bottomless pit of anxiety that is our self-image.

Here’s a gripping and articulate testimony from Crystal Renn, the supermodel who has often been the subject of humiliating public scrutiny because of her fluctuating weight. If you only think of Crystal as a plus-size model, wait till you hear her talk about how a battle with anexoria got her down to 95 pounds — 95 miserable, self-hating pounds. Watch the whole thing, as Crystal’s final comments are terrifically inspiring.

There are a total of 14 short videos in this series on NOW’s YouTube channel, featuring other models, writers, actresses and average women too.
As you watch these films, keep these statistics in mind: 80% of women say they are dissatisfied with their appearance; 50% say they would consider plastic surgery; and only 4% say they would use the word ‘beautiful’ to describe themselves.

Talk about this, girls, and don’t stop talking about it. There is huge power in collective action, as NOW has proven throughout its history.

In the meantime, if you do nothing else to mark Love Your Body Day, read the helpful list below of ‘15 ways to love your body‘. It’s reprinted from Margarita Tartakovksy’s insightful blog Weightless, which offers tons of advice, support and perspective for anyone affected by these issues. (You can find the original post here, which includes links to other parts of Margarita’s blog that address each of these points specifically.)

15 Ways To Love Your Body

1. Look at your layers, and begin with the inside.

2. Be aware of habits that hurt your body image.

3. Consider the moments you feel best in your body, and keep recreating them!

4. Figure out what loving your body even means to you. Body love isn’t some abstract, nondescript term. It’s made up of certain perspectives, attitudes and actions.

5. Remember that loving your body is a daily process. Just do one thing.

6. Spread the body love by helping others, which will in turn help you, too.

7. Remember that loving your body (and accomplishing your goals and practicing your passions) won’t happen X pounds from now. Don’t you see,  you don’t have to wait?

8. Pamper yourself, regardless of how you feel about your body.

9. Consider ditching dieting and the mentality that comes with restricting yourself and focusing on calories, points, etc., and ignoring your internal cues.

10. Reflect.

11. Cultivate a sense of gratitude for all the amazing things, big and small, your body helps you accomplish.

12. Get past body envy and comparison-making.

13. Think about five things you love about yourself and these four other body positive pick-me-ups.

14. Reconnect with your body.

15. Bask in life’s beauty.

NOTES: The main image above was created by Shanti Rittgers and was one of the winners in the 2008 Love Your Body poster campaign. … You can find Crystal Renn’s gripping 2010 autobiography, Hungry: A Young Model’s Story of Appetite, Ambition, and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves here.

Steve Jobs Changed Fashion Shoots, Too
Posted by richard | October 9, 2011

Russell James, the celebrity fashion photographer, added this tribute to Steve Jobs over the weekend, showing how the former Apple CEO changed the way model shoots are done.

James posted three images on his Facebook page that offer a behind-the-scenes look at a recent Victoria’s Secret photoshoot, and how Apple products became surprisingly indispensable parts of the process.

“As I look around my shoot,” he writes, “it’s very apparent he was a game changer, even in our niche world of photography.”

“When Steve Jobs told us he would reinvent the phone what we didn’t understand was that he would reinvent the way we archive, share, listen and see,” Russell says, offering the photo above of Adriana Lima as an example. “Iphones are synchronized with my camera from the first moment of my shoot. Anyone from makeup artist to stylist to set designer can take out their iphone and see exactly what they need to. He put the shoot right in our pockets.”

The launch last year of the iPad presented Russell and other gadget-hounds with a new dilemma, he adds.

“When Steve Jobs announced the iPad I remembered all of us on set saying ‘But if I have a macbook and I have an iphone why would I need that thing?’. He nailed it again. One tryout and it became the way we previewed images on set, shared concepts and edited our shots. Once again he knew what we wanted before we did.”

A nice shout-out to Steve and Apple and another example of why all this week’s testimonials were so well deserved.

You can see Russell’s album ‘Steve Jobs – Contemplating The Loss’ here. While you’re there, take the time to look at the work Russell is doing with Nomad Two Worlds, and let’s all remember to support the good guys while they’re still with us.

The Lingerie Project: Naked Truths from Real, Real Women
Posted by richard | September 20, 2011

The most overdone trend in lingerie marketing is the use of “average women” to lend a veneer of everyday realism to a brand’s carefully packaged fantasies.

When done sensitively, these campaigns can give consumers a useful reference point. But they can also come across as exploitative: in almost all such cases the volunteer models aren’t paid, their “average” figures are given a Photoshop brush-up, and their personal stories must pass through the filter of the marketing agency that packaged the pitch.

The people behind these campaigns could learn a lot from Lorna Laurentino, a lingerie design student at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology who has created a remarkable archive of what real, real women think about — and look like in — their undies.

Lorna’s photo blog, The Lingerie Project, focuses on ordinary girls and women from all backgrounds and invites them to a) pose in their favorite intimates; and b) talk about love, sex, identity and fashion … and how all those subjects intersect. (TLP is one section of Lorna’s personal blog, lornalaurentino.com.)

So far there are about two dozen individual profile-portraits in The Lingerie Project, and Lorna says she will be starting the series up again with a new batch this fall. Each of the profiles includes several professional-quality (and un-airbrushed) photo portraits and often-lengthy interviews.

Here’s what she has to say about her project:

Having grown up in a family made up completely of women, I’ve always felt a strong connection with the female body and knew this was the creative medium I was made for.

The Lingerie Project is not only about lingerie, but also about the woman in her lingerie. I like to explore the idea of what is sexy through a somewhat feminist approach, by addressing issues concerning body image and women’s status in society. 

The project showcases the everyday woman with the strength to bare herself in her favorite undergarments. She takes the opportunity to have her voice heard on a public forum, discussing why the undergarments are her favorite, things that make her feel sexy, what makes her feel uncomfortable, her relationships with men, women, and society.  The images are never photoshopped in any way, because every curve and dimple about a woman is beautiful.

Lorna’s subjects in The Lingerie Project offer exceptionally candid confessions as they talk about past and current loves and how their self-image has evolved as their bodies change. They come across as fearless, articulate and very self-aware.

Lorna’s gallery skews toward younger women, but the range is broad and diverse: from virgins to the sexually adventurous; women in love and those wounded by love; gay, straight and every other color of the rainbow; Victoria’s Secret fans and luxury label fanatics.

Once you’ve read a few profiles, The Lingerie Project begins to feel like an anthropological study of contemporary women — there’s a lot of depth here.

In one truly fascinating profile — the only one in which the subject’s identity is concealed by a pseudonym — a woman poses in her favorite lacy underthings while describing in heart-wrenching detail how she found personal freedom after a double mastectomy.

For Lorna, lingerie becomes a lens through which women can see and understand themselves more clearly. And her subjects will never be more naked than they are when discussing their deepest feelings in their favorite intimate apparel.

Below, we’ve reprinted some individual images and brief snippets of what the women in the photos say about themselves. If you’re like me, though, you’ll want to keep checking The Lingerie Project to see the latest instalment.

This isn’t just a cool blog, it’s terrific journalism.

“I’m a princess. I get what I want and I do what I want. That sounds really bad, but it’s true. Say I want a girl; I figure out her little quirks and what she likes and I play off of that. I act like I’m the shit and I seduce them. Because that’s really what you have to do; act like you’re royalty.”

“I always go back to the vintage thing. I love the idea of diving into your innermost personality; having another part of your personality under your clothes that you don’t always show to everyone.”

“If a guy is checking you out on the subway or in the supermarket, there’s nothing wrong with dropping your number on his lap.”

“I try and love all of me, but the things that I don’t necessarily love I work with. Sometimes I don’t like my stomach, so I go for the high waist panties and corsets… I wish I could go through life always wearing a corset.”

“It’s usually a roller-coaster in my skin. You have good weeks and bad weeks. I try and do things to help my body. But I do it for me, not for anyone else. And that feels great to have that independence again. It’s liberating  to be beautiful only for myself again.”

“I think the industry is lacking a good moderate priced intimate designer. If you want beautiful lingerie, you have to buy Kiki de Montparnasse or Agent Provocateur, and who can really spend that much on lingerie? Elle Macphearson has the right idea. Her lingerie isn’t cheap but you’re not only buying a name, you’re buying a design.”

“Women of status from 600-630 in the Middle East did not breast-feed their children. They always had a wet nurse, and the one to the man that would become the prophet, her name was Halima. Halima translates to the feminine of ‘dreamer’. I picked that pseudonym because the irony runs very thick within it for myself.  She was the woman that breast-fed the prophet. I have had a double mastectomy and will never have the ability to breast-feed.”

“When I was little I thought breasts were so intriguing. When my sisters started developing I became so fascinated; I wanted to learn more about how they worked and what they were for. I would even ask if I could take showers with them, and I’d try to feel them up in the shower. I just wanted to understand them … but I never got them. I always wanted boobs, but I never got them.  It’s kind of a running joke in my family.”

“I’ve had people tell me the idea of sleeping around is creepy or disgusting, but I personally think it’s perfectly natural for humans to be together, regardless if you know them or not. That’s what the human body is made for.”

“I have been through so many trust issues with girls… I put so much into all of my friendships and I just always felt like I would get screwed over…but through it all I’ve met so many real people and I’ve realized that girls aren’t always like that. I’ve formed great relationships… and I’ve come to realize that there’s people that you keep in your life for a reason, and if they’re not gonna treat you right then they aren’t worth having in your life.”

“I’m really passionate about being comfortable with one’s sexuality. I happen to have been with men and women… Regarding my orientation, I like to answer to people lately that I am a ‘wonderful question mark of love’. I don’t like labels and I don’t see why I couldn’t be with either an amazing guy or girl.”

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