Monday, 22 July 2013

Thailand Awaits...

After saying this would be the year that I somehow managed to cut down on my clothes budget in favour of travelling more, I'm pleased to say that tomorrow I'll be taking on Thailand for nine days of island exploring on the east coast, seeing Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Pha Ngan. 

Rocks and bright turquoise sea on the coast around Koh Samui
This is definitely my kind of style [image via].

Rather than show you what I've packed in my rucksack clothes-wise, I thought I'd give you the lowdown after I get back, so I can tell you the things I took but never used, and the things I wished I'd included in my checklist but assumed I wouldn't need. For example, when I went to Iceland I assumed that I wouldn't need waterproof over-trousers; how wrong I was when I jumped onto a whale watching tour that had run out of spare overalls and I was wearing jeggings. 

In a similar trouser-related incident, I realised in Rome that it wasn't a good idea to wear skinny jeans on a Vespa tour (you don't want your movement to be impaired when you have to almost high-kick your way off the gorgeous Vespa). So, lessons learned in both cases, I'll be giving you a full packing overview after the event, as well as showing you Thai fashion trends. 

 My hero product [image via].

However, the one little gem I will impart is that I'll be taking Mrs. White's Unstung Hero with me. This has been something of a miracle product for many travel pros, with CN Traveller and the Independent both endorsing it for being an effective and genuinely lovely smelling natural insect repellent - it has an odour of lemon tea, not the whiff of the medicine chest. 

Now I've tried a lot of products to discourage mozzies, yet they often seem to find their way through my defences; not so with Mrs. White's on hand. The only thing I would suggest is decanting it into a 100ml plastic spray bottle from the 250ml glass dispenser that it's sold in - nobody wants to haul glass around in their luggage if they can help it. 

On that note, I'll be off to finish the very last of my packing. See you on the other side, and be prepared for a Thai fashion post when I get back!

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Mirror, Mirror: three brands launching beauty lines in 2013

It seems that the latest move for fashion brands isn't to launch a line of sunglasses or team up with a drinks company - it's beauty that's got them all motivated. Look at the retail success stories and it's not hard to see why, with Giorgio Armani counters consistently delivering cult products to beauty halls, American Apparel getting its claws well and truly into the heady world of nail varnish, and Topshop's lipsticks being a reliable staple in many women's make-up bags.
Iridescent nude nail polish by Marc Jacobs
 [Marc Jacobs images via Popsugar].

Of course, with every fantastic cosmetics line like Gareth Pugh for MAC (be still, my beating heart), there is always the risk of a dud - does anyone remember the ill-fated Rodarte range, also for MAC, which made light of the feminicide in Juarez and was therefore scrapped at the last minute? The best thing is to stick to inoffensive but cool product names, a mixture of quirky disco colours and wearable everyday shades, and ultra-glossy packaging. Here are the newest three ranges you should be adding to your shopping list pretty soon.

It's all about orange.

 This burgundy polish is perfect for autumn.

Marc Jacobs

Whilst there have been a few tempting images doing the rounds on the internet over the last few weeks, Popsugar was the site to release a preview of the entire collection. Ok, so nobody can get their hands on it until 9th August at Sephora (sadly we're Sephora-less in the UK), but there's no reason not to drool in anticipation over the wearable colour palette being delivered by the great Mr. Jacobs. Many of the products are the kind of thing that a Jackie Collins heroine would wear; slick tangerine lipstick, sparkling champagne nail polish, pillar box red lip gloss, topped off with an eyeliner called Magic Marc'er (utter genius). These little gems are the perfect kick-ass finishing touch to your beauty regime and I'm sure they'll sell like hot cakes.

Make Up inspired heels
 Make Up heel [image via Polyvore].

 The famous Pigalle [image via].

Christian Louboutin

Now, this story may be old news - it first broke in May 2012 - but there's no sign yet of the collection created by Louboutin with Batallure Beauty, despite him recently stoking the fire with a sound bite about women being 'unsophisticated' without make-up. Knowing that the great man is famous for his red-soled vertiginous heels (most notably the Pigalle style), it's safe to say that his cosmetics probably won't be aimed at wallflowers either, and red is bound to play a part in the colour palette. However, there's also a high chance of seeing some serious bling and loads of mad-cap unrestrained creative expression - very different from the simplicity of the Pigalle. After all, his shoes have been inspired by bondage, googly eyes, Guinness cans and the pointe position of ballet dancers. When the range does eventually launch in late 2013, you can bet that Louboutin stalwarts like Dita Von Teese and Daphne Guinness will be the first to sport it. 

Heavily embellished catwalk dress by Marchesa.
 The original Marchesa dress that inspired the wraps [image via].
Detailed floral nail wraps by Marchesa for Revlon.
 Ready for 3D designer talons? [Image via].

Marchesa for Revlon

Marchesa often makes waves for dressing glamazons on the red carpet, but this partnership with Revlon offers a bite sized - or finger sized - slice of luxury to an audience that can only dream of dressing like a star. Nail wraps are already a huge trend, so creating designs inspired by the brand's catwalk creations is a simple but effective way of spreading their appeal. All that's been revealed for now is that the first part of the collection will consist of eight different sets, called 3D Jewel Appliqu├ęs, and they'll hit the US in October - again, no word yet on when they'll be available to UK customers. The sneak preview image of one set shows gorgeous jade and turquoise florals inspired by a lace and tulle dress. Further editions from the collection will cover make-up and brushes, which should be similarly feminine and sophisticated. 

So, with all of these cosmetics lines dropping in the near future, the question is: who'll be next to jump on the bandwagon? I'm dreaming of eco-friendly Vivienne Westwood lipsticks, shocking pink Roksanda Ilincic blusher and punchy House of Holland nail art pens...

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Style in Almodovar's 'Women on the Verge...'

Anyone who's watched a Pedro Almodovar film will appreciate that the director likes his women strong, captivating and usually taking centre stage, but when I sat down to watch Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988), I wasn't quite prepared for how arresting their costumes would be. 

Every female character had a distinct look that only she could carry off, whilst the only memorable male outfit was the bizarre cartoon-esque get-up sported by Madrid's most sensitive taxi driver - think big 80s bleached hair and a heavy dose of lime green, against a leopard print taxi interior. 

Almodovar's Mujeres title piece with vintage women
 These well dressed women hint at how much fun you'll have with the film if you love style.

Opening titles of 1988 Mujeres al borde...
 The slick and eye-catching opening titles.

Minimalist costume design with collaged jewels for Almodovar
This is the man to thank: costume designer Jose Maria de Cossio.

This film not only had major staying power because of its complex plot and unexpectedly good one-liners during traumatic moments, but it struck me that the costumes were impossible to get out of my head. I kept thinking about Pepa's Vans-style trainers and hibiscus-print shirt, contrasted with her more business-like long line cardigans, which she even double-layered at one point. 

Pepa wearing Hawaiian shirt and standing next to fire
 What to wear when your bed bursts into flames, as demonstrated by Pepa (Carmen Maura).

Pepa (Carmen Maura) searches through Ivan's wardrobe
 Pepa examines Ivan's wardrobe.

Pepa (Carmen Maura) wearing two cardigans and sitting on bench
This calls for two cardigans.

I loved the innocence of her best friend Candela's tube skirt and top ensemble, worn with knee-high socks and creepers - an outfit that could have come straight out of Topshop this season. Candela (Maria Barranco) then borrowed Pepa's black dress, slicked back her hair in true 80s style and took on a much more serious fashion personality, as she tried to get to grips with the crazy and dangerous situation she'd found herself in, which Almodovar has made brilliantly tragi-comic.

Maria, Candela and Carlos in Pepa's flat
 L-R: Marisa (Rossy de Palma), Candela (Maria Barranco) and Carlos (Antonio Banderas).
Candela's working the stripes and the embellished jacket.

Candela with slicked back hair and black dress
A serious event needs a sharper outfit.

For another key character Lucia (Julieta Serrano), fashion was all about looking to the past, because the happiest times of her life were decades old. Cue meticulously applied eyeliner, a beehive wig and childlike accessories such as white tights and a hat that looked like it was once a traffic cone.

Lucia talking to Carlos with eyeliner in hand

The eyeliner excuse: probably used by women around the world. As said by Lucia to Carlos.

Lucia wearing pointed hat, outside Madrid flat
Totally incognito.

The most interesting costume moments definitely appeared when things really started to unravel for the women. That meant weird hair and gazpacho-soaked clothing to go with the heightened tension and urgency.

Almodovar's Lucia in vintage clothes with set hair
Not quite sticking to smart-casual here, Lucia.

Mujeres al borde... Pepa's gazpacho-stained outfit in taxi with Ana
One of the morals of the story, as Pepa explains to Ana (Ana Leza).

Carmen Maura on telephone as Pepa
This could almost be the basis of a Lichtenstein painting.

Basically, I can't recommend this film enough if you're into costume design and you love the 80s. There's so much expressed by the outfits in Almodovar's Women on the Verge... and it's great to see it lighting up the screen.

Monday, 1 July 2013

19 years on, Prada has cast another black model... yes, this is the 21st century

It feels weird writing about momentous news when it doesn't sound quite as momentous as it should be. I am so glad that Prada has decided to cast a black model in its ad campaigns for the first time in 19 years - the last lucky lady was one Naomi Campbell, when we were in the age of the supermodel, back in '94 - but how on earth has it taken so long? Why has there been no black model deemed suitable in the interim? Unless I'm mistaken, the past two decades haven't exactly been devoid of candidates. 

Prada's first black model in an ad campaign for 19 years
 Malaika's high-profile ad for the upcoming season [Image via]

Malaika Firth, the stunning British Kenyan model used in the Fall 13 campaign alongside famous Chinese model Fei Fei Sun, has now broken barriers in the fashion world for marking the turning point in this designer's campaigns. Miuccia Prada, whilst being a supremely talented woman, hasn't exactly done much for diversity in the past (see Jezebel), until she brought Jourdan Dunn onto the runway in 2008, which was seen as a revelation; please bear in mind, this was 2008, not 1908 - it should not have had to be a novelty. We should have been stamping down inequality on the catwalk decades ago, not just letting it slide because it's the done thing. There's making a trend, and then there's being narrow-minded.

Prada's advertising campaign with Naomi Campbell holding bag, 94
Naomi's 1994 campaign, shot by Steven Meisel [Image via]

In case Prada wasn't sure who would have been good to hire between 1994 and 2013, here are a few suggestions for potential ad campaign stars:
  • Sessilee Lopez
  • Chanel Iman
  • Joan Smalls
  • Arlenis Sosa
  • Liya Kebede
  • Alek Wek
  • Nyasha Matonhodze (I know she's not as high profile as the others, but I think she'd make a great Prada girl - did you see her cover for Love Magazine?)
Basically, as amazing as it is to see Malaika and Fei Fei being given the nod by Miuccia, I think it's really sad that they've had to wait that long for the tide to turn. How can it be that 19 years is allowed to pass, during which we can assume non-white women don't wear Prada, buy into its branding or worship its designs (and, if they do, they're left feeling alienated and ignored)? This has to stop. 

P.S. If you want to read more about my writing on the catwalk's lack of ethnic diversity, check out my blog series. For more on body shapes and equality on the catwalk, click here.
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