Articles

Do your shoes measure up?

 Shoes are the be all and end of any outfit. This can mean many things, from style to comfort, to the brand or even the height of the heel but what is really the most important factor? Women for centuries have battled with the comfort of shoes, and time after time we continue to wear shoes that look great but often hurt. Thankfully, many retailers have come to rescue and extra wide womens shoes are now available. Not only can you choose from wider shoes but boots also come in various calf sizes. Hooray! I hear you shout, what kind of style do they come in? Well depending what retailer you choose the selections are fantastic. Fashion has infused with comfort and shoes are now beginning to look and feel great. So, what looks are hot this season? The peep toe is definitely the biggest look on the catwalk ranging from kitten heel to the all-important stiletto. If you feel that the peep toe is too revealing why no opt for the court shoes with a twist. Bold colours are essential this season and compliment with a matching clutch to take you through those endless Christmas celebrations. Boots this winter are key and very different to previous style with the aviator look appearing. The good news is that they have fur and a heel so they will keep you warm at the same time. If you are opting for a flat boot this winter, go for the over the knee boot in brown or black. So step out in comfort and style this winter and dance the night away.

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Men’s tailoring taking over the female wardrobe

Curves are very much back in fashion with the addition of ‘hips’ to this seasons tailored trouser. The hourglass figure is complimented well with great styles to suits all shapes. Silhouettes will look fantastic this winter with nipped in waists and loose fabric around the hips. Items such as the cape are helping those legs look thinner and skyscraper heels are adding height. Capri pants are big this winter and the voluptuous look suits all. So which type of tailoring will you go for?

Men have influenced the catwalk this winter from brogues to braces. Waistcoats, ties and clean cut trousers are a fantastic look which seems to be appearing across the high street everywhere. Womens clothing has taken a complete U-turn this season and masculine is the new feminine. This look perceives British fashion extremely well, with the outdoor influencing fabrics and styles such as Tailoring in tweed and velvet. The added addition to this look is the leather belt. Accessorise to the max, you can never wear enough. So girls, hunt for bags, belts, boots, and braces to top this seasons masculine trend.

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This portion of the website is devoted to fashion news and designer articles that track the rise and fall of fashion trends and the way in which they shape the fashion industry as a whole. Check back often for the latest in fashion articles and stay informed.

 

Hot or Not

 

A recent fashion article by Cynthia Nellis, posted on makeover.about.com, discussed the rise and fall of fashion trends and the relative pattern it follows.

 

There is no greater fashion sin than looking (gasp!) last year. This is much worse than inadvertently sporting a muffin top or pitching up at a trendy eatery wearing the exact same outfit as the seating hostess.

 

Trends are notoriously fickle – what might be all the rage in fashion news today could be totally passé tomorrow. This begs the question; can the death of a trend be predicted? Apparently so. According to the AMA (the American Marketing Association) the average ‘fashion cycle’ consists of the following stages:

 

1.        The emerging phase: This refers to the part of the cycle when an item/style emerges on the runway, red carpet or in popular media like music videos and movies.

2.        The emulation phase: Right now, everyone wants a piece of the action. At this stage you will notice the trend in magazines, newspapers, fashion news, internet posts and on television.

3.        The saturation phase: At this stage the trend hits the mass market at relatively low prices in the shape of knock-offs/imitations.

 

Most consumers will acquire a fashion article somewhere between the second and third phase. During the initial ‘runway’ phase these fashions are only available to celebrities and those high up in the fashion pecking order. The second phase consists of high-priced designer collections, while the third is epitomised by affordable mass-marketed fashion articles.

 

The fashion cycle as we know it today did not exist thirty years ago. Back then it took a few years for a trend to make it from red carpet fashion news to mass market; today it can happen in as little as a few months. This is telling of an industry that has been put into overdrive by its manufacturers. ‘Fast fashion’, as this phenomenon has been dubbed, represents somewhat of a double-edged sword. On the one hand it means those of us on realistic budgets have ready access to fashionable looks; on the other hand it suffocates a given trend in a much shorter space of time.

 

So, is it possible to predict how long a certain trend will last? There are a few guidelines, these include:

 

·          It is completely unpredictable : Although not a satisfactory yardstick, it is the truth nevertheless. On average a trend has a shelf life of at least a year. Some, however, inexplicably stick around for longer. Take Sarah Jessica Parker’s ‘Carrie’ necklace for instance. Seen for the first time in the second season of "Sex and the City" in 1998, this fashion article sparked a personalisation/initial craze that eventually expanded to include handbags, sweaters, etc. Interestingly enough, it took a full five years for this trend to reach the saturation phase.

·          The 20/20 rule : There is a certain school of though that believes fashion moves in cycles of 20 years. Therefore the mini (that made a great splash back in the 80’s) is making a comeback.

·             Location, location : Often you can judge how long a trend will be viable by looking at where you purchased a fashion article. If you bought it at a discount store, chances are that it will be out of favour in about a season. This gives you around six months of wear before the item becomes passé.

  • Ease of wear : Looks that are difficult to pull off (think Uggs, high rise jeans, etc.) generally do not stick around for long. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have fun with an item while the trend lasts, you should just realise that by the following season it will probably be replaced by the new ‘it’ thing.
  • Longevity : Some trends (think Capri pants, tank tops, flip flops) have gone from fad to wardrobe staple, all because consumers just wouldn’t let it die.
  • Spotlight trends : Conventional wisdom states that the higher the profile of a trend, the greater the odds that it will not stick around for long. Furthermore, radical cuts, colours and prints (think batwing sleeves, acid neon, animal prints) are also not known for their longevity.

 

The easiest way to safeguard against fickle fashion trends is to assemble a core wardrobe of jeans, shirts, jackets and dresses that can be spruced up by accessories.

 

Becoming a fashion designer – Myths and Truths

In other fashion news, a recent article by Jennie S. Bev, editor-in-chief of StyleCareer.com distinguished between the popular truths and myths that abound about life in the fashion industry.

 

Fashion design is the new ‘it’ career. People see it as a way of combining a love of beautiful clothes with the need for a profession and spend hours envisioning themselves working with sumptuous fabrics, wafting down crowded red carpets and revelling in lavish praise from the fashion industry elite. In reality, of course, this is only the outcome for a select few. So, how do you become a fashion designer and what does it take to become successful? We debunk a few myths and unveil an equal amount of truths:

 

Myth 1: I can’t design clothes; I’ve never worn ‘designer’ clothes. Every single piece of clothing you own has been designed by the hand of a fashion designer. People often confuse the term ‘designer’ with ‘designer collection’ – the high priced seasonal lines created by high profile designers.

 

Myth 2: I can’t design clothes, I don’t have a degree . Certain fields of study (medicine for instance) require a log of classroom instruction and practical training. Design, however, you can learn just about anywhere. Ask around, you’d be surprised at how many important designers do not have any special qualifications.

 

Myth 3: I can’t design clothes; I don’t live in a big city. Living in a big city is advantageous in the sense that you can more easily attain an internship. BUT, big cities are choked with fashion designers. Smaller cities and towns are less saturated, which means you can make your mark more easily.

 

Myth 4: I can’t design clothes; I can’t draw or sew. Starting out, everyone battles with the basics. Being motivated and persevering in the face of possible failure is much more important.

 

Myth 5: I can’t design clothes; I am uncomfortable in high-profile situations. Fashion design is 90% hard work, 5% luck and 5% glamour. On average a fashion designer will spend between eighteen and twenty-four months designing and manufacturing a range that will be in the spot light for about a week.

 

So, there we have it – five popular myths debunked. Let’s move on to the truths, shall we?

 

Truth 1 : Fashion design is as much about entrepreneurial spirit as it is about creativity . Designing in the name of art will get you nowhere if you cannot market your product. This basic principle has been the downfall of many a promising designer.

 

Truth 2: There are many ways to skin the fashion cat. Once you are established in the industry there are a great many avenues to pursue, including things like quality control, pattern making etc.

 

Truth 3: It is extremely important to know where you are headed. Establish early on whether you would like to work for yourself or whether you would be happy working as part of a team. Then work your way from there and keep your goal in mind every time you have to make a career decision.

 

Truth 4: Stay informed. Read, travel, keep up with industry-related trends and fashion news. Pore over as many fashion articles and designer articles as you can. By staying informed you accrue a wealth of inspiration that is simply priceless.

 

Truth 5: Stick it out. Do not chicken out. Perseverance is the most important trait you can bring to the fashion design table and will see you through to the peak of your career.

 

Tastemakers:

Fashion is quite literally everywhere and it’s a well-known fact that the individuals who populate the top of the fashion food chain pretty much dictate how and what we eat, drink, wear, think and buy.


A recent fashion article published on forbes.com discussed this phenomenon and highlighted those designers that play a large role in how consumers spend their money. According to reliable statistics, the American public is spending more and more on clothes every single year. The NDP group, a New York-based retail research company, tracked fashion spending for the period between September 2004 and August 2005 and came back with the staggering number of $177 billion.


However, as spending increases, so does the rivalry. The industry is fast becoming saturated and in order to make your mark you have to get in with a splash and maintain consumer interest by hook or by crook. A few hundred years ago, fashion labels did not exist. Wealthy women employed dressmakers who would design and make their clothes according to the latest fashion trends. Up until the 19th century, designers and dressmakers were treated more like servants than artists, but this all changed when Charles Frederick Worth began designing dresses in Paris.


Today’s successful designers are business people at heart. They carefully cultivate their image and market their labels across various platforms, including perfumes, hosiery, etc – effectively ensuring that they reach consumers at every income level.   In 2005, the team at Forbes fine-combed the fickle fashion industry and came back with a list of that year’s 10 most influential tastemakers. Along the way they tried to establish what exactly it is that puts one designer apart from the rest. Here is what they found:

·          They sell clothes, not trends . Take Ralph Lauren for instance. Here is someone who doesn’t believe in trends or fads, yet strangely manages to stay contemporary while consistently producing high quality products.

·          They move in the right circles . Designers like Christopher Bailey of Burberry and Stefano Pilati of Yves Saint Laurent are as popular as they are because they know all the right people and are seen at all the right events.

·          They think outside of the box . Rei Kawakubo, for instance, approaches design with an intellectual edginess that is hard to ignore. His designs suit the American lifestyle and therefore sell like hotcakes.

·          They diversify . Mass market outlets have opened their shelves to budget lines from high fashion designers. Designers like Isaac Mizrahi and Karl Lagerfeld grabbed the opportunity and now reap the benefits of being visible on all levels on the market.

·          They see fashion as a means of self-expression . In today’s increasingly modulated world, consumers use clothing to set them apart from the crowd and to pledge their allegiance to a certain way of life (Miu Miu for the hipsters, Ralph Lauren for the country club set). By realising this, successful designers tap into the mind of the consumer and send pieces down the runway that people want to buy.


If a designer did not make it onto the list, it doesn’t necessarily mean that their label is dead or that they have lost their touch – it just means that they are no longer as innovative as they used to be. The only constant in the fashion industry is change – people, trend and brands come and go. But that’s what makes it so exciting!

 

Personalising the Latest Looks

Following fashion trends can be an excellent way to get a great look. Taking pride in your appearance is nothing to be ashamed about, and if you take care of yourself it means that you are capable of taking care with other aspects of life. Following and adopting certain trends does not mean becoming a slave to fashion, but rather a way of expressing yourself.

 

Magazines, films, advertisements, and celebrity endorsements all encourage us to adopt the latest looks that fashion designers are offering. But rarely can a person take the same creation shown on a catwalk and comfortably wear it while walking down the street. The models will often be dressed in unusual combinations of clothes, have their hair in extreme styles, and wear dramatic make-up. They are in a show where a more subdued look will have less of an impact on the audience. Fashion shows give designers the opportunity to let their creativity explode and take over all aspects of the event. Rather draw inspiration from fashion shows, adopting part of a look that the designer has created and combining it with your individual style.

 

Celebrities are often seen wearing the latest looks, or setting the next fashion trends. While you may not have the budget of a high-profile celeb, you can copy their look with items that look similar, but are far more affordable. Many celebrities have their own clothing lines, which offers you another way to copy the celebrity look that you so admire.

 

Fashion trends are constantly changing and the list of the latest, “must have” items grows at an enormous rate. It would be impossible, not to mention very costly, to try to encompass all of the different fashion items into your lifestyle. Accessories are an excellent, not to mention cheaper, way to update your look without slavishly following each and every fashion trend.

 

Not all styles will suit all body shapes, and in this case following a fashion trend is a bad idea because you will not feel comfortable and confident in a style that does not suit your body. In this instance it is essential to have a few “classic staples” in your wardrobe. Designers will agree that classic styles never go out of fashion, so you need not worry about not having the latest fashions. By incorporating fashionable accessories such as wide or skinny belts depending on the trend, and handbags or shoes, you can update your classic style without completely altering your look.

 

Some women only realise what the latest looks are when everybody around them is wearing the same style. By this point it has ceased to be the latest look and has become a fashion trend. Not everybody will go to a fashion show to draw inspiration, so magazines can be an excellent way to find out what is fashionable.

 

Lifestyle and fashion programmes on television, and celebrity and entertainment websites are another way of keeping up to date with the latest fashions. Many fashion designers have their own websites where they will show examples of their latest collections, all which could be used to set the next fashion trend.

 

If you feel the need to follow trends and want to do more than just update your look with accessories, then purchasing one or two versatile items that you can incorporate easily into your current wardrobe could be an idea. Alternatively, if you are quite handy then buy patterns and material and make your own clothes. That way you will be sure to have the style and colour you like, in a size literally tailor-made for your body.

 

When it comes to following fashion trends, as long as you are comfortable in what you wear, you will always look good.

 

Check back often, we will be adding fashion articles, designer articles and fashion news frequently!


Don’t let the one-shoulder give you the cold shoulder

The most prominent features a girl uses to flaunt the latest fashion trends are her legs and breasts, but sadly not all of us are blessed with the best of these assets. A style that is both sensuous and captivating is the one-shoulder/single-shoulder trend.


Kate Moss included this style in her 2007 clothing range, and it rapidly became the style that celebrities worldwide were seen wearing. The one-shoulder style is a popular fashion trend because it is sexy without looking tacky. Bearing a collar bone and shoulder is far more mysterious than showing off cleavage with a plunging neckline, or legs with a short skirt. One-shoulder styles are going to be a major part of the fall fashion trends.


The one-shoulder style incorporates other 2009 fashion trends, such as the cut-out trend, as well as other trends such as space-inspired, rock-chic, Grecian, romantic and very simple styles. The Grecian style is particularly good example of this trend, where a toga-inspired dress with drapes and folds is gathered and pinned at one or both shoulders. This style is often paired with gladiator sandals, platforms or heels to complete the look. Cut-out styles are just that: styles where part of the material has been cut out to expose either the bare skin or material underneath.  As well as the exposed shoulder, the cut-out style will give a further glimpse of the sultry, seductive flesh hidden beneath the clothes.


One-shoulder styles are not limited to tops and dresses, although these will be the most common items featuring this style. Other garments will include swimsuits such as the full one-piece, the monokini and the bikini. Wearing a one-shoulder one-piece is incredibly sexy and very tasteful as it is not overly revealing, but leaves something to the imagination.


There are one-shoulder tops that can be paired with jeans for an elegantly casual look, or dressed up with a pair of heels for evening glamour. Likewise, there are a variety of one-shoulder dresses to choose from, ranging from casual mini-dresses to flowing gowns. While this style does flatter most body shapes, keep in mind that it draws attention to the neck area, so toned arms and slender collar bones are advised if you plan to incorporate this fashion trend into your wardrobe.


The skinny on jeans

It seems as though skinny jeans is one of the fashion trends that is here to stay. This design made a huge impression on women and men worldwide, and was the style to be seen wearing. As designers realised the potential of this trend, they began to churn out variations of this garment, which has filtered down from the catwalk to department stores and into the wardrobes of fashionistas around the world.


The skinny jean fashion trends for 2009 include brightly coloured jeans and pants. When these pants were first introduced to the fashion world they were available in a variety of denim washes, as well as black. Today it is available in bright pink, red, green, teal, and even yellow and aqua blue. These can be mixed with tops in equally bright, complementary colours, or accented with tops in white or black.


This style is no longer restricted to denim fabric. Skinnies are available in cotton stretch and satin, as well as a variety of other fabrics. This means that the garment is more formal and can be appropriate for work when worn with formal shirts and tops. Although the latest fashion trends will insist that your skinnies be brightly coloured, more subtle hues such as charcoal and champagne, or the traditional black are more appropriate for the office.


Patterned skinnies are also being introduced with patterns such as tartan (very hot right now), pin stripe, and even floral printing – just in time for the spring fashion trends. Skinny leg pants designs are incorporating other styles such as high-waisted and longer leg length. And with the revival of the ‘ripped denim’ look, this could rapidly be incorporated into the skinny leg style as well.


Skinny leg pants are incredibly versatile, and can be worn with sky high stilettos, wedges, tucked into boots, or paired with ballerina flats, pumps and sandals. If you, like the rest of us, are not wraith-thin team your skinnies with a tunic top as this will cover the hips and help balance out your silhouette. Wearing heels will make your legs look longer, making your physique appear slimmer. High-waisted skinny jeans can also be worn with flats or heels, but if you are short then heels will add height. Because the major 2009 fashion trend is for skinny jeans to have a longer leg length, heels will prevent the hem of your jeans from getting dirty. If this does not bother you, then the scrunching of the hem over your flats makes for a look that is very ‘now’. Regardless of peg-style and wide-cut pants, it seems as though the skinny jean fashion trend is going to stick around for a while longer than first expected.


Punk steams ahead with fashionable flair

Steampunk is one of the latest fashion trends to hit the fashion world. Steampunk is a sub-genre of fantasy, and draws inspiration from the era when steam engines were still used (Victorian era). This inspiration is then incorporated into today’s fashions and styles.


One of the most notable applications of this trend is clockwork and similar instruments that are incorporated in many jewellery designs. Think of how the inside of an analogue watch looks when you remove the back cover. There are many little metal cogs and wheels. This open-backed watch has been used in designs for pieces such as bracelets, rings, pendants on necklaces and even earrings. Compasses and pocket watches also form a part of this fashion trend.


The fashion for men is to wear suits with ties and waistcoats and top- or bowler hats. Walking canes, gloves, round spectacles and moustaches also tie in with this trend. Leather waistcoats and multiple belts are another way for men to work this style. The look you are going for is a 1930s fashionable gentleman, or an explorer of the same time – think of films such as ‘The Golden Compass’ and ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ (2004 version), as well as ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’. These films incorporate the fantasy/explorer/scientist themes of that specific era, and thus can be classified as steampunk.


The fashion trends for women’s clothing include corsets, ground-skimming skirts, high-neck collars and hats in various styles. Puffy sleeves, full skirts, lace, and ruffles also form part of this trend. Bustles, gloves, feathered hats and parasols complete this Neo Victorian look. If you are going for a more casual or masculine look, long white shirts hanging over three-quarter pants, waistcoats, poor-boy caps, goggles and a pocket-watch make this look. Women’s steampunk accessories are similar to men’s, but are more elegant, decorative and feminine with lots of brass and heavy chains. Necklaces range from chokers to long, multi-strand chains; rings are small and elegant, or chunky and eye-catching.


With its tendency towards longer clothes and layers, steampunk is a trend that will easily be incorporated into upcoming fall fashion trends. If the idea of dressing completely in steampunk style does not appeal to you, a prominent 2009 fashion trends  is statement jewellery, so work a steampunk-inspired piece into your outfit.


Statements for stand out style

Perhaps the biggest of the fall fashion trends will be statement jewellery. A few pieces of fashionable jewellery can be considerably cheaper than purchasing a new wardrobe that features the latest fashion trends. It is also easier to incorporate a few pieces of jewellery into your individual look than it is to incorporate your look into the latest fashions.


Large, thick bracelets, huge chandelier earrings, statement necklaces, and big, bold rings are at the top of the list of latest fashion trends. One of the great things about this trend is that allows for creativity and individuality. If you like an African theme, wear wooden jewellery or necklaces and earrings with feathers for ethnic inspiration. If you prefer to make a statement using colour then the brighter and more eye-catching, the better. Think bold glass beads, sparkling gemstones or smoky quartz ornamenting not just jewellery, but shoes, clutch bags, hair accessories and even clothing.


Bracelets, bangles and cuffs are available in various forms, from simple chains for a touch of elegance, to thick and chunky bracelets. Bracelets can be big and bold where it takes just one to make a statement, or thin and stacked for eye-catching appeal. Perhaps the most popular of this fashion trend will be the cuff, worn either at the wrist or on the upper arm. Cuffs are painted with tribal designs showing ethnic influence, have a cut-out pattern, or feature large, bold jewels – anything goes as long as it makes a statement.


While 2008 was about teaming simple clothes with jewellery that stood out, the 2009 fashion trends are about mixing brightly coloured clothing with accessories that have unique detailing or are equally bold and over-the-top. Pearl necklaces, brooches and rings reminiscent of the Victorian era make a statement, as do pleated fabric cuffs, and Acapulco-style necklaces. Large plaited chains are styled to create cuffs, bracelets, as well as chokers and longer necklaces. Earrings come in the form of chandeliers, or oversized studs in the shape of flowers, hearts, giant pearls and so on. Statement jewellery is set to be one of the biggest fashion trends of the season and is a great way or updating your look without breaking the bank.

Getting Top Marcs!

Affectionately known as MJ’s (and no, not the Mary-Jane shoes!), the Marc Jacobs line creates clothing that the fashion designer would want to have in his own wardrobe. In short, it is clothing that you can see yourself wearing and that you want to wear, as opposed to the inventive creations seen on catwalks that rarely transpose well to daily street fashion, which is a key aspect of this label’s desirability and Marc Jacobs’ popularity.


Born in New York City, Marc Jacobs began his foray into the fashion world at a young age. At 15 he worked as a stock boy in the upmarket Charivari boutique. Here he met Perry Ellis whom he would later work for. In 1981 Jacobs entered Parsons School of Design where he continued his design studies. In 1986 Jacobs launched his first ‘Marc Jacobs’ collection, and in 1989 he and business partner Robert Duffy began working for Perry Ellis. Ellis disapproved of a radical ‘grunge’ collection that Jacobs designed in 1992, and although he received yet another award this year, Ellis nevertheless dismissed him. In 1997 the two business partners joined Louis Vuitton where he created the company’s first ready-to-wear fashion collection.


Always outspoken about his homosexuality, in 2007 Jacobs realised that there was another aspect of his life that needed addressing. On 12 March 2007 Jacobs entered rehab to help overcome his increasingly prolific drug use. Declaring himself clean for the past few years, Jacobs has focused on his line, with regard to which he has teamed up with other companies to include sunglasses, fragrances and other items in his label. The brand is favoured by a host of celebrities including Scarlett Johansson, Uma Thurman, as well as Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. His styles encompasses bright colours, empire lines, layers, oversize buttons, bows and prints – anything that evokes a reaction from the crowd, to which he adds, “It’s indifference that bores me to death”.


While Jacobs is known for his interest and forays into the ‘grunge’ trend, his fashion shows usually include a number of men’s suits. In the Spring/Summer 2009 fashion shows in March, Jacobs made use of bold colours such as bright red, as well as greys and black, while daring to combine suits with shorts in these colours for men’s fashion. Women’s fashion, however, was redolent of highland plaid, spring florals and waist-cinching corset belts, with plenty of layering, daring print combinations and innovative jewellery designs.


Jacobs is not afraid to take the plunge and be daring, yet he ensures that his creations are wearable. This is an incredible challenge both to himself and to other fashion designers, that of being simultaneously creative and practical. By ensuring that his audience is never left indifferent, Jacobs has managed to claim his spot as one of the most influential designers in fashion.


Slick, suave and sophisticated – the influence of Tom Ford

The fashion designer who has had probably had the most influence on recent men’s fashion is Tom Ford. His meteoric rise to fame as the creative director of Gucci coupled with his work at Yves St. Laurent stood him in good stead when, in 2006, he launched his own lines and opened his own stores.

 

Tom Ford was born in Austin, Texas, on 27 August 1961, but spent a large part of his childhood in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His mother is alluded to as the epitome of the overly-dramatic Southern belle and it is she who impressed upon Ford that to be badly dressed is a way of showing disrespect to those around you. At age 12, Ford was presented with a pair of Gucci shoes – the first of many sartorial gifts from his mother. Art history and acting did not keep hold of Ford for long; he left New York University to pursue acting, and then transferred to Parsons School of Design in New York, and thereafter in Paris. After completing these studies, Ford returned to New York where he began professional training as a fashion designer.

 

In 1986 he joined the team of Cathy Hardwick, moved to Perry Ellis in 1988 where he worked under Marc Jacobs, and then in 1990 he moved to Europe as an unknown where he joined the Gucci team. Here Ford started out designing ready-to-wear women’s fashion, and moved up to the position of design director in 1992. The following year proved bad for business, during which time Ford nearly lost his job. Gucci was taken over by Investcorp in 1994 and Ford was promoted to creative director. Ford has been accredited with restoring glamour to the Gucci brand and made its clothing desirable and ‘hedonistic’. When Gucci bought a controlling share of YSL, Ford was assigned creative director of this label as well, yet managed to retain the individuality of both of these labels as seen both at fashion shows and in the stores.

 

Ford is most commonly seen in his black and white suits and it is this innate sense of sophistication and style that he brings to his designs. In 2004 Ford and the chief executive, Dominico De Sole, left Gucci and has since launched Tom Ford – a fashion company that offers exclusive high-end fashion. Fragrances (in collaboration with Estee Lauder), sunglasses and ready-to-wear men’s fashion that is exemplary of Ford’s signature style, comprise this range.

 

Celebrities who are fans of Ford’s designs include Madonna, Bianca Jagger and Trudie Styler.  When a celebrity wears or claims to like a certain designer, this can influence fashionistas around the world. Madonna, certainly, is one such celebrity. Her fans cross age-, race- and class boundaries the world over. In the eighties, lace and crucifixes were made popular through Madonna’s music videos. In more recent years, leotards and tights have become common clothing items worn by younger singers in their music videos. And it is from these, as well as fashion magazines, that the general populace draw sartorial inspiration and develop trends.

 

Glamorous clothing and provocative fragrance campaigns, as a result of Ford’s influence at Gucci, appealed to the public resulting in mass consumerism. Ford’s fondness for clean lines and simplicity in his Tom Ford designs creates an image of a suave, confident and sexually appealing man. In fact, Ford was asked to design the wardrobe for James Bond (played by Daniel Craig) in Quantum of Solace.  The idea that being as suave as 007 is as simple as donning a Tom Ford suit holds mass appeal, another sure fire way of promoting a label.

 

With his incredible influence and labels of notable desirability, Ford is a style icon in his own right, as well as one of the world’s most influential fashion designers.

 

Viva Versace!

On 15 July 1997 a shocking murder ripped apart the fashion world. The infamous Gianni Versace was found murdered in his beach house in Florida. Known for his glamorous designs favoured by celebrities and royalty such as Princess Diana, Versace brought new life to the fashion world. Said to be so sexy as to border on vulgar, the Versace label became high end fashion.

 

Gianni Versace learned his trade in his mother’s small tailor shop, and then worked in a number of procurement positions. He freelanced for Italian labels Callaghan, Complice and Genny and then, in 1978, launched his own ready-to-wear range of women’s fashion. Gianni Versace produced trademark siren dresses and utilised innovative materials and techniques that created aluminium mesh, as well as fused leather and rubber fabrics. Versace was also asked to design stage costumes for artists such as Elton John, Tina Turner and Madonna.  Constant additions and extensions to his original line kept Versace in business and in demand. These innovations included a workshop for high fashion models; a contemporary line for young people, Versus (the classic line), Signature, followed by Home Signature, as well as a numerous books.

 

His sister, Donatella Versace, had been designing for the Versus label at the time of his death. Their brother was the CEO of the Versace holding, and Donatella became the new head of design. Her daughter, Allegra, is now the major stakeholder of the Versace empire. Donatella’s style is glamorous with an air of sexiness. Versace designs make use of bright colours, bold prints, as well as curves, plunging necklines and high slits.

 

While the Versace brand is synonymous with daring designs, bold prints and high end fashion, it offers a range of other items too. Accessories such as bags and sunglasses, watches, fragrances, jeans, as well as furniture and other home wear also bear the Versace label. A concept resort, as well as the interiors of private jets and helicopters have also been designed by or are associated with Versace.

 

Versace is a major name at the fashion shows in New York, Paris and Milan where celebrities and editors of high end fashion magazines view the latest collections and to draw inspiration for the new season’s fashions. Italian couture is highly desired but also very exclusive due to its high price tag, which increases when items are imported for purchase in local boutiques. To wear Versace is not just to say that you can afford it, but also that you are sexy, confident and alluring (or suave). Gianni’s gowns and dresses were not just about glamour, but about embracing a woman’s inherent femininity and making her feel unique and special.

 

This is the ultimate theme in the Versace label: using glamour to maximise femininity while improving the wearer’s confidence and individuality. Whether observing the latest collection at a fashion show, women’s fashion in Versace boutiques and even the items worn by the fashion designer, Donatella Versace herself, this central theme continues to be embodied in the designs of Versace today.

 

Punking up the West(wood)

Vivienne Westwood is the fashion designer largely responsible for the innovative punk and new wave fashion movements. Yet this dame of fashion is able to produce glamorous and elegant men’s and women’s clothing just as easily. Her incredible lack of fear allows her creativity to come through in her designs, creating fashion that has impacted the world’s opinion as well as various subsequent trends.

 

Vivienne Westwood was born in Derbyshire in England. When she was 17 her family relocated to Middlesex where Westwood trained and then taught as a teacher. She married and had a child with Derek Westwood, but they divorced after just three years. Marriage to Malcolm McLaren, manager of infamous band The Sex Pistols, followed, and McLaren proceeded to open shop which sold, among other items, Westwood’s outrageous and controversial designs. Members of The Sex Pistols band started to wear Westwood’s creations, and this new punk fashion trend was rapidly adopted by the masses. Items that were used to accessorise at the time of the punk trend’s heyday included bondage clothing, safety pins, bicycle chains attached to clothing, as well as razor blades and spiked dog collars; while hair and make-up went beyond bold.

 

When Westwood staged her first runway fashion show in 1981, her collection showed how her style had evolved to include not just the street culture of the youth, but also tradition and technique. Throughout the years her designs have been influenced by the 17th and 18th centuries where the theme of her collection was ‘adventure and exploration’ as well as ‘gold and treasure’; ethnic Peruvian designs; the feminine figure; as well as innovative knitwear and velvet. In 2005 Westwood joined up with the British Civil Rights group and launched T-shirts and baby wear with the slogan “I AM NOT A TERRORIST, please don’t arrest me”. Westwood claimed that this and the proceeds thereof were for the support of this campaign.

 

As well as punk, Westwood is also known for her more glamorous designs. The recent film Sex and the City featured Sarah Jessica Parker’s character, Carrie Bradshaw, wearing a Vivienne Westwood Gold Label Lily wedding gown to the first wedding. This stunning dress sold out almost instantly in stores – a combination of gorgeous design and the SJP influence. Westwood has been quoted as saying: “You have a much better life if you wear impressive clothes”, and she has endeavoured to be fearless in the non-conformity of her designs, whilst retaining a sense of tradition and exploring historical costume.

 

Westwood was awarded the title of British Designer of the Year in  1990 and 1991, was named Export Designer of the Year and awarded the UK Fashion Export Award for Design in 2003, and was awarded a D.B.E. by the Queen in 2006 for Westwood’s incredible contribution to fashion.

 

Her punk styles continue to influence today’s fashion trends the world over, from high-end to high street fashion, the punk trend and its influences return season after season. Dame Westwood’s contribution and influence have made her a household name, as well as one of the most renowned fashion designers of our time.

 

Styles to suit you

Often it has been said that “clothes maketh the man” and while this may not be correct in its entirety there is certainly an element of truth in it. While expensive designer clothing is often desirable, rarely does it suit all body types. The label is not important. What is important is dressing in clothing that flatters the figure, and this is possible regardless of your body shape and size.

 

We do not all look the same but most bodies can be classified into certain categories. These include:

 

  • Triangle: broad shoulders, large bust, small waist and skinny legs.
  • Pear: small shoulders, small bust, small to large waist, broad hips and large bottom and thighs.
  • Hourglass: hips and shoulders are the same width, medium to large bust, nipped-in waist.
  • Boyish: straight up and down with very few or no curves, small bust, no waist, small hips and bottom.
  • Apple: body is round, the shoulders are small and the bust, waist, hips and buttocks are large.

Now that we have defined the body types we can discuss which clothing styles will suit each type, and which should be avoided.

 

The Triangle body shape has a large bust and shoulders and so the first step towards achieving an elegant silhouette is do purchase a well-fitting bra. Necklines on tops and dresses should be a deep v-neck, which will flatter the top, and should be gathered underneath the bust to draw attention to the waist. A-line skirts flatter this shape as they flare out at the bottom, adding width to this narrow area and balancing out the figure. Boot cut or flared trousers will also achieve this. A fitted jacket or blazer with a button under the bust will help to define the waist, giving an hourglass appearance.


The Pear body shape has broad hips and narrow shoulders. Dark colours worn on the bottom half of the body and bright colours on top will draw attention away from the hip area. Flared skirts and trousers will help to balance out the bottom half of the body and will hide bulges. Decorative and fussy necklines will draw attention to the top half of the body. Broad lapels, strapless tops and any detailing will achieve the same effect. Slight padding in the shoulders can also help to balance out the figure. A wrap dress with a v-neck that will emphasise the bust is also a wise investment, while the A-line skirt will drape over the broad lower body, thus camouflaging it.

 

The Hourglass body shape is considered the sexiest and therefore the most desirable. Fitted clothing will emphasise curves for a sexy silhouette. V-neck or scooped necklines will slim broad shoulders and flatter the bust, while a fitted jacket with a button underneath the bust will emphasise a nipped-in waist. Pants should be tailored and straight, while not pulling at the hips. Clothes should define the waist so corsets are always an excellent option.

 

Just as those with curvy figures complain about their bodies, so do those with the Boyish body type. Women’s clothing is often designed with curves in mind, but there is plenty that a girl can do to make the most of her body. The Boyish figure can benefit from dresses that drape across the body, creating definition. Halter tops will create curves on top, while skinny jeans will cling to the hips, adding definition to this otherwise straight area. By wearing a belt that cinches in the waist you will create curves. This can be worn over tops, dresses, jerseys and so on.

 

The Apple body shape can be the more difficult body type to disguise and flatter, but as you are blessed with slender arms and legs you can use these to your advantage. Tunic tops are floaty and will disguise the waist, while empire styles begin under the bust, enhancing this area and drawing the eye away from the waist. Tops with lower necklines will also keep the eye above the waistline. Wide-legged trousers will even out the broad waist and slim legs, while Capri pants will draw attention to slender ankles.  Wide skirts and those with a higher waistline will disguise a larger stomach and help to balance the figure.

 

Most department stores will have a variety of clothes in different shapes, styles, colours and sizes. By following these simple guidelines you can make the most of the body shape that you were blessed with. And remember, whether you purchase designer clothing or item from the high street, as long as you are comfortable your confidence will shine through.

 

 

A pair of shoes for every occasion

There are certain things that we love in life: handbags, lipstick and of course a pair of sexy high heel shoes. While these have the ability to brighten any woman’s day, it may not always be appropriate. Thicker heels, wedges or even plain flats may be the more acceptable footwear for certain occasions. Sexy stilettos may make you feel great at the office, but the boss might think them inappropriate. Likewise a pair of flats at a fancy soiree may not conform to the dress code.

 

Fashion trends come and go and each season there will be a new style on the market. From kitten heels to stilettos, wedges to peep toes, and gladiator sandals to platforms and pumps, there is a shoe for every occasion and no woman should confine herself to just one pair. Fortunately there are always new styles being added to a store’s collection, enabling us to shop to our heart’s content.

 

At the office a simple court shoe with a medium heel is appropriate (between 2 and 2 ½ inches). This will enable you to move around the office quickly if need be, while still being comfortable and formal enough for work. Strappy sandals and peep-toes may be suitable for the office provided that the style is not overly decorative or the heel too high. Should you work somewhere such as a medical centre, there may be regulation footwear that is appropriate for the position. Because you may be on your feet a lot of the time, you can be sure that these will be comfortable shoes to wear for extended periods of time.

 

School functions, formal recitals, as well as concerts and operas demand a smart shoe. High heeled shoes with a pointed toe are often the way to go. And because these are usually black in colour and simple in design, it complements the more formal attire. A heel of 2 ½ to 3 ½ inches is appropriate. Make sure that the toe is not too long as you may walk over carpets or up stairs and you do not want to trip.

 

Weddings, dances, parties and special occasions are the delight of any girl as she can choose just about any sexy high heel shoes that catch her eye. Delicate straps and floral embellishments are perfect for the party princess, while the vixen may prefer patent black stilettos or glossy cherry red heels. So long as you do not draw attention away from the birthday girl or bride, you can literally go wild with your choice. Heel height is, again, up to you, although if you are going to be dancing for hours you may want to wear the shoes in beforehand.

 

Casual get-togethers, picnics in the park, Sunday lunches and other such events are the domain of the peep-toe and wedge heel. These shoes are comfortable, cute and stylish and are perfect for the more casual event. It is also easy to walk in which may be important should you be helping to carry plates or walk along pavements and paths. Heel heights should be between 2 ½ and 3 inches.

 

With the vast array of sexy, cute, chic and formal styles and designs, women’s shoes are more varied and exciting than ever before. Now you can match your heel height to that special occasion and complement your casual outfit with the perfect pair of wedges. But if it’s a confident boost and some longing glances that you’re after, it’s sky-high sexy high heel shoes that you need.

 

The Little Black Dress

The Little Black Dress (LBD) is a staple item that must form part of every woman’s wardrobe. It is the perfect item for every occasion, especially if she cannot think of what to wear. It is her armour against the world, giving her confidence, glamour and allure when she is fearful. And its classic timelessness ensures that she will always be in style.

 

Audrey Hepburn epitomised the LBD in Breakfast at Tiffany’s with her high neckline, knee-skimming, fitted LBD, and it is this elegant look that you should aspire to recreate with your own LBD. The dress covers up a fair amount of the body, but because it is fitted it enhances your sexy shape. Likewise, although the skirt length is longer than you may usually wear, the calves are visible and give a little taste of what is hidden underneath. The nipped-in waist creates an hourglass silhouette, giving you a look that is sexy without being slutty.

 

Every fashion designer worth their salt knows that the LBD is a classic item. Each season they reinvent this classic look by adding a unique touch to it, giving you classy style with a current twist. While these designs are attractive, keep in mind when selecting your LBD that what is the current trend now may not be in six months time. Grecian, one-shoulder or cut-away styles may be fashionable now, but it is the simple styles that are timeless.

 

When you set out to find a little black dress that is perfect for you, there are a few things to take into consideration:

 

  • The hourglass figure should not have a problem finding an LBD. Just make sure that the dress does not gape anywhere (particularly the lower back) or that it does not stretch over the bust or over the hips. The skirt length should skim just above or just below the knees.
  • For those with broad shoulders a v-neck style will draw the eye downwards, rather than across. A fuller skirt will also help to balance out the body.
  • If you have narrow shoulders and broad hips then you will want to draw attention to the upper body. Detailing such as sequins around the neckline and straps will achieve this. The skirt should drape over the hips and length should be above the knee. A strapless dress with an A-line skirt will also suit you.
  •   For those with few curves, your LBD can help to create these. A halter neck style will give your bust and shoulders shape, while a flowing skirt can add definition to the hip area. Alternatively, don a fitted dress and add a waist-cinching belt. This can be in black to maintain continuity or in a bright colour for additional emphasis. A shorter skirt length will draw attention to your legs and make you appear taller.

 

The LBD should always be worn with heels, although the height of these can vary. Strappy stiletto sandals and peep-toes are ideal for summer, while court shoes will complement a sophisticated look. Shoes can be in a bright colour to add a little fun to this smart look, while bright or fashionable accessories can bring this classic style into the latest trend. For a sophisticated look that transcends current women’s fashions, the Little Black Dress is the ultimate statement in style.


The essentials for your wardrobe

Fashion trends come ago and if we are to slavishly follow these then our wardrobes will overflow with clothes that we only wear for a few months and then discard (although many of us do this anyway). Then there is the problem of having too many clothes and not being able to decide what to wear. By including a few classic styles in your wardrobe you will always be able to conjure the image of a stylish and well-turned out woman, with a few of the latest items thrown in to keep your look current.

 

French women in particular are often depicted as being very chicly attired, yet they rarely have an abounding wardrobe. Instead they select their clothing very carefully, ensuring that it is of excellent quality so that it will last a long time, yet is in a classic style that will not date. Designer clothing can be a good buy as certain designers are renowned for their quality and style. Do not be too shocked at the price – one good quality item that will last for years will work out more affordable than many cheaper items that need to be replaced frequently.

 

The following items are essentials and should form part of your wardrobe:

 

  • A classic white shirt: a collared white shirt in a classic men’s style is the ultimate item for women on the go. The formal style of the shirt makes it perfect for work and work functions, while undoing a button or two will make this look casual enough for after-work drinks. It can be worn throughout the seasons and looks equally smart under a v-neck jersey or a blazer as it does on its own.
  • The Little Black Dress (LBD): you will get no better wear out of a single item than that of your LBD. Necklines and hemlines will rise and fall, straps may be thick or thin, but the LBD is a timeless piece that will be fashionable regardless of what is being strutted along the catwalks. Think of Audrey Hepburn’s LBD in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and you cannot go wrong. The LBD is elegant, it is sophisticated (it is slimming) and it can be brightened up with accessories and shoes in the colours and styles of the season.
  • Cashmere cardigan: a cardigan is a versatile item that can smarten up a casual look, tone down a formal one or just simply keep you warm. Cashmere has a luxurious feel that will make you feel like a pampered princess, while adding a touch of class to your outfit. It can be worn over dresses or teemed with skirts and pants for a look that is practical yet stylish.
  • Denim jeans: this is a vital item for every wardrobe. Not only are denim jeans incredibly comfortable and perfect for slouching around the house, it is also sexy and can easily be smartened up for a night out. Although it is generally the relaxed fit that will not date, the boot cut is an equally good, year-round style.
  • Trench coat: this item will smarten up your look in seconds and gives the wearer elegance and sense of mystery. It can be teemed with most items; dresses, pants and even jeans. Oversized sunglasses, a stylish bag and pair of heels add to the intrigue.

 

You will find these items at a variety of stores in a variety of styles, as designers know that these are the staples of women’s clothing. Vintage clothing stores are also good places to look for these classic items. Whether you are partial to designer clothing or prefer to purchase your clothes at a lower price, these are staple items that your wardrobe cannot do without. 

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